OK, so this is a post-ep 6 oneshot I wrote for, well... no conceivable reason. It's an idea I have randomly been toying with and so I wrote a oneshot on it. Some credit to my best friend who actually DOES have a fear of lifts. Please R&R and enjoy!
Martha Lawson stood and switched her computer monitor off. Shrugging her jacket on, she looked over at the clock as she left the Identity Unit. 23:07. She sighed. She knew she'd been working ludicrous hours, but in truth, it was mediate between the office and her flat, or stay at home and mediate between the vodka and wine bottles.
As she pulled open the glass and chrome doors to the foyer of the dreaded lifts, she shivered. Something felt wrong tonight. Well, she thought, Something's felt wrong ever since Bloom left.
But she tried to allay her fears, and heels clicking on the tiled floors of the eleventh floor of New Scotland Yard, she told herself not to be so ridiculous. Pulling at the door handle of the gloomy stairwell, she felt her stomach drop as her tugs were met with resistance. The stairs couldn't be locked, surely. Please, no. She tugged again, praying the door would open. Nothing. She turned to face the lifts, her stomach clenching. She couldn't.
Whipping out her BlackBerry, she dialled Tessa, trying to keep the panicked tremor from her voice, trying to compose herself.
"Martha?" Tessa answered, her tone bemused and tired. Martha felt a pang of guilt. She knew she had phoned the older woman relentlessly ever since Bloom had left, and she knew how pathetic she was about to make herself sound.
"Tessa, the stairs are locked… what's the overriding security code?" She asked, her voice shaking.
"What? Martha, just take the lifts. It's eleven fifteen. Why are you even still working?" Tessa asked, her tone weary.
"But –" Martha was cut off before she could protest or explain.
"See you in the morning, Martha." Tessa said, and there was a click as she hung up.
Turning, Martha swallowed, trying to quash the rising panic inside her. She stared at the gently thrumming metal doors, fighting the memories. Shouting. Threats. Fear.
She hit the button in a daze, her hands shaking. Before, when she had ridden in these lifts, there had always been someone with her. Other officers, Tessa, José… Bloom. And she had felt safe. She had always avoided riding them alone, always taken the stairs whenever she worked early or late. Ever since that day, when she trained…
The doors opened with a whoosh and she was jolted from her trance. Her whole body quaked as she stepped inside, her breath coming in ragged, panicked gasps. She tried to remember how to breathe, tried to calm herself. The world spun as she pressed the button, and as the doors closed she leant back against one of the mirrored walls, the sides of the lift seeming to encroach on her.
Placing a hand to her forehead, she tried to clear her head of the memories. Tried to remember what he was like, tried to calm herself with thoughts of him. John. Remembering how they used to talk. Remembering what it was like to be close to him, close enough to see the flecks of grey in his hair, close enough to smell his aftershave. She convinced herself that when the lift stopped, he would be stood, waiting for her, a cardboard cup of coffee in his hand, extended towards her, and her fingers would brush his lightly and he would smile at her, that lopsided smile she knew so well…
And for a brief instant, it worked. She calmed down enough to rationalise, enough to catch her breath and make the walls stop moving and stay where they should be.
And then, in the exact second her brain reminded her of the damning fact she tried so hard to overlook, in the exact second when reality came crashing back to her and she remembered he was gone, he had left her for Adile, and he was never coming back, the lift shuddered to a juddering, wheezing halt. The lights cut. And Martha screamed.
How she screamed. The memories returned in a flood, and she couldn't stop them, reliving every second. Clutching her head, she felt the scar that ran the length of her hairline, invisible to all except those who knew where to look. One hand traced the scar along her stomach, and she sank to the floor of the pitch-black lift, remembering…
She had been a young WPC, assigned to protect a businessman. It was a supposedly simple job, escorting him to a meeting. She had been naïve and foolish, all eyes and teeth and trying to flirt through the macabre blackness of her uniform. He had played up to the attention, the other men in the lift joining in, laughing and joking, making comments about the young Police Constable. And she had revelled in their flattery and flirtation, so when the lift had juddered to a premature halt on the twenty-first floor, she had barely noticed.
Graham Matthews had not even deemed to be that important, that significant a target. The protection was routine, and she had expected a new entrant to the busy lift, a security check…
Certainly not the militia man with an AK47 who had been stood there. She had been dumbfounded, too shocked to move, too shocked to respond. The men around her were frozen, and as the terrorist opened fire, only one of them had the forethought to push her behind his form, shielding her from the worst of the gunfire that raked the lift. As he crumpled to the floor, mown down in the hail of bullets, she fell with him, his blood soaking into her uniform. She faked death, holding her chest still, as the assassin destroyed the mirrors lining the chamber, covering the now-dead occupants with vicious shards of shattered glass. There was a bang as the lights went out, and then the doors closed and stayed shut.
The terror, previously kept at bay by the adrenaline rush and thrill of the events, the sheer sense of unreality, that any second her Training Sergeant would give the order and they would sit up and laugh, suddenly hit. She cried out once, a pathetic, wretched sound, a cry of desperation.
None of the men, previously so engaged in banter with the young woman, now laying still and silent, their blood staining the velvet carpet, responded. They lay, unbearably heavy, the weight of the one chivalrous individual that had thought to try and save Martha now a crushing, immobilising force, stopping her from breathing freely. It felt disrespectful to disturb the dead in their immortal slumber, but she needed to breathe. As she pushed him from her, she finally felt the burning in her stomach, at her head, and catching sight of her fractured, dark reflection in one bloodied fragment of mirror still attached to the wall, she started to scream. It was a scream that had previously caused people to do as she bid, that brought people running to her, but trapped in this claustrophobic box it failed to have any effect.
Clawing at the doors, she tried to escape, tried to catch her breath although there was plenty of air. If only she could stop screaming – the never-ending tumble of sound that issued from her mouth becoming white noise to her shocked ears – then maybe she could think enough to try and get out of here.
But then the lift jolted again, and she fell, arms scrabbling for a handhold, fingers meeting with tiny fragments of razor-sharp mirror, landing spread-eagled across the rapidly-cooling figures of the businessmen. Her radio crackled as she did so, and she gasped through tears she did not know she was crying.
A radio. She had a radio. She had a method of communication with the outside world, a method of getting help. She pressed the button down on the top of the handset, trying to control her shaking voice as she spoke into the microphone. Releasing it, she held her breath, sides shaking, pulse racing.
Static. Nothing but static. She was trapped here infinitely, with these dead men and their blood. And she was dying too, she was sure of it… It was an irrational thought but one the paranoid side of her brain latched on to, feeding, encouraging, and she suddenly felt acutely aware, even in the dark. She could hear the rhythmic drip-drip-drip of blood onto the carpet, feel the chill air on her skin through the rips in what she had once deemed to be an unnecessarily modest uniform. With every movement, she felt shards of glass scraping over each other in the folds of her clothing, felt it falling from her form as though she were some emerging, glittering butterfly.
She tried desperately to calm down, tried to tell herself she was going to be fine. But as she looked in the disjointed mirror, trying to pick out any injury to her face – a feature that at the time, vain, conceited Martha prized highly – in the light from the small torch all officers were issued with, all previously-vanquished thoughts of death were immediately recalled.
What she had previously taken to be a strand of hair, the blood of others, she know realised with a feeling of sickening foreboding, was a cut. And that was her own blood trickling down her face. She was going to die.
Death seemed a suddenly terrifying prospect. She had convinced herself over and over that she could face it, tried to tell herself that with nothing to seriously tie her down, she had nothing to lose. That when her time came – no matter how prematurely, in whatever circumstances – she would be able to look the arrival of her own demise with dignity and calm, and face up to it.
But now, at the tender age of twenty-two, Martha Lawson realised she was very, very afraid of death. It seemed such a damning prospect, such an ultimately final concept. She did not want to die. She could not die. No… death… no… death… NO…
Her mind in turmoil, head spinning, the words circling her thoughts, all-encompassing, all-consuming, requiring every last shred of consciousness to maintain their circulation, she passed out.
Die… die… die… die…
Die… Martha shook her head. She was not going to die. Not this time. She had survived once before, and she could do it again. She remembered waking up in hospital, alone, the sole survivor of the assassination attempt. She learnt the name of the man who had saved her, had visited his grave, and perhaps it had helped a little. He was a hero, she supposed. But then they made her sign the Secrets Act. Swore her to secrecy, leaving her with a crippling phobia and a year and a half's worth of counselling – government approved – and a grim determination to survive, whatever the odds.
Next time, she vowed, I will be the hero.
Except time and time again, she could not quite bring herself to make the ultimate sacrifice, could not bring herself to put herself on the firing line. She had worked away, quietly but surely ascending the ranks until she made Detective Superintendent.
It was then that she realised she was no longer happy. Then that she realised that she should have died years ago, a no-hoper with no future and no family, rather than a successful young businessman. She berated herself daily, wishing only for the cool reprieve of death but never daring to end it herself. She thought about it, of course she had, but nothing more. Just desperate, depressed contemplation on lonely nights, never anything serious.
Until she founded the IDU. Finally, the Unit she wanted, a salary investment bankers would have approved of, wonderful colleagues and recognition for doing what she did. It was then that it became more than a job, then that it became a way of life. Eat, work, eat, sleep. Over and over, with a damning monotony, until finally she could bear it no longer and she made up her mind. She would end it, and end it soon, any means necessary.
But one thing stopped her. Suicide was contemplated, explored and brushed over carelessly, the idea flirted with but nothing more. She didn't want to take the coward's way out, alone in her flat with a razorblade one night, a smudged note her farewell to civilisation. She wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, fighting the cause. She wanted to be remembered.
It was fatally ironic that she was now trapped in a job that ensured no such opportunity arose, that ensured she would not have the chance to take a bullet for a colleague or push anyone from the path of a speeding train. And none of her colleagues were, she realised with a guilty pang, worth dying for. Not in her opinion.
The only exception, of course, was John Bloom. He was mysterious and unintelligible, an untamed force of nature that somehow stuck two fingers up at the establishment and yet at the same time conformed to a social stereotype. He was both free and a caged beast, wild and yet strangely tame.
He was her raison d'être. For him, she would have died a thousand deaths, for him she would have gone to the ends of the earth. Seeing him every morning somehow kept her going, empowered her and gave her a purpose in life.
And yet at the same time, he was her reason to die. She knew she could never hope to control or own a spirit like his, never call him hers or hold him as the nights grew colder. It was wishful thinking, and only dreams. As the pressures of work grew greater, he became more remote, more distant. She knew he was going to leave her, and soon. When Halit came to her door, she knew she was ready to go. As she screamed in the back of the dark van, as she hung from her wrists in the dark garage, she had already given up. He had gone. John had left her. If she survived, she only planned to go back to her flat and end it with a bottle of whiskey and a stockpiled supply of Valium.
And then he had saved her. He had come for her, just as she was preparing to lose the fight, preparing to let Halit slice her throat open and die a hero's death, die a martyr for the cause of the police force. And suddenly she could not bring herself to die, she had a hope, something to cling to.
Now he was gone again. With no regard to her, he had left without looking back, no goodbye, no farewell letter other than the gnomic resignation correspondence he had left her the day before he abandoned the IDU.
Now, as she sat, crumpled against the wall of the lift, feeling the metal warm under her skin, she tried to hold his face in her mind's eye, the familiar greying hair and flecked eyes, which could be as impenetrable as a fortress or as easy to read as an infant's picture book. She pictured the crows feet he got when he smiled, that mysterious, flirtatious smile that had always made her weak at the knees and slightly short of breath.
She had always been able to disguise her feelings, but here in the dark, cold lift, she could deny it no longer. She missed him. She missed him more than she ever let on to the others, more than she even let on to herself. All she wanted was to feel his arms around her, hear him comfort her, but she knew it could never be.
As she accepted this fact, as she told herself that he was lost to her forever, the lights came back on with a low hum, and the lift juddered back into motion. Martha let out a long, tremulous breath. Power cut. It was just a power cut. There was no-one coming for her, no-one trying to kill her. As the lift doors slid open, she staggered to her feet, entering the wide, open-plan downstairs lobby of New Scotland Yard with relief, taking great lungfuls of unprocessed air.
And then she looked up and saw him, stood there. At first she thought it was delirium, a wild construct of her mind that had been created in her panicked state. A calming imagining, there to soothe her troubled mind and slow her racing heart.
Until she spoke, and she knew that no construct could ever sound that way, the rich full-bodied tone of his voice filling her ears and causing her breathing to slow, caused the whole room to slow.
"Martha…" he said simply, and she collapsed onto a nearby leatherette sofa, the cool material cradling her form and she tried to remember how to speak.
"John…" she managed. "Why are you here? Why have you come back?" She whispered, and then he was beside her, and she was reliving her dreams. He was holding her close, reassuring her, telling her it was going to be OK, and she could only gasp into his shoulder and sob pathetically.
"I've been watching you for weeks. When the power cut… I remembered your fear. And I was getting ready to get help when the electricity came back on. I was worried…" He explained, and her whole being tensed, wary. How could he know? How could anyone possibly know? She had worked so hard to conceal it, worked so hard to appear normal.
"John… how…?" She stammered, and he raised her chin, looking deep into her eyes.
"Martha… I was there. I pushed you behind me… they told you I died because I was undercover, but here I am. I thought you knew, I thought you'd worked it out…" Suddenly everything made sense. She thought back to the man who had saved her, remembered how he had looked at her with that sparkling smile.
And she felt so angry, such a rush of rage and fury that he had never told her, that he had left her in the dark. He had lied to her for a year… she couldn't believe it. As she opened her mouth to speak, to unleash the feelings she had held inside her for so long, he placed a single, warm finger to her lips and she stopped, shocked.
"Martha… just accept I'm your hero. And remember what fair maidens always do to the hero." He murmured cryptically, and she shook her head in a clear signal – I don't know.
"They kiss them, Martha." He whispered, and closed the gap between them, his lips meeting hers and moving them, coaxing them to respond. Her arms went around his neck involuntarily, holding him close possessively, not wanting the kiss to end.
"Stay," she commanded, when she finally had enough willpower to pull away, and he nodded, his lips returning to hers, his hands finding hers and holding them close to his chest.
"Forever." He told her. "Forever."