I didn't think I was going to do a Christmas Ashes story this year but somehow the Christmas plot bunny just wouldn't let go. Not that there's that much plot - just Gene, Alex and Christmas fun . . . and I dare say some festive fluff too ;-)
This story is set after series 1 and makes no reference to series 2 or most importantly the events of series 3. It's also not connected to my current ongoing story Rumours of Angels - and I will be getting back to that story shortly.
I hope you enjoy.
Note: I do not own the characters of Gene and & Alex - I'm just having fun and more importantly, so are they.
Away in a Manger….
"Bet you don't believe in Santa do you Gene?"
"You heard me." Alex took another sip from her wineglass as she interrogated Gene.
"Have you been on the cooking sherry again Bols?"
Gene wrestled Alex's glass away from her and sniffed the contents. "Luigi's house red – same thing. And for your information Mrs Woman I don't believe in fat men in red suits dishing out presents…or the flaming tooth fairy for that matter." He swallowed the contents of Alex's wine glass and handed it back to her.
Alex snorted indignantly as she moved to lean on the table – but missed with her elbow causing Gene to snort with laughter.
"Am not," Alex protested as she recovered her position and glared at Gene. "Anyway, if I'm pissed then so are you."
"DCI's do not get "pissed" Drakey, they get rip-roaringly, stonkingly, hammered – and I'm not there yet."
"Of course not." She poured them both another glass of wine and tipsily gazed around the restaurant where the rest of Fenchurch East were indulging in a little pre-Christmas celebration; Ray chatting up a busty red-head at the bar, Chris and Shaz drunkenly clinging to each other on the makeshift dance floor as Bing Crosby warbled in the background.
The day before Christmas Eve – and she was still stuck in the Eighties. It was enough to drive a woman to drink surely? She took yet another slurp of red wine and considered her drinking companion. More often than not these days, they ended up sitting together at 'their' table in Luigi's – chewing the fat, arguing, teasing, even flirting sometimes.
But then there were the other times, times when Alex relived the explosion that killed her mother and father – again. Of course Gene didn't know that. He thought she was grieving for Caroline Price or the loss of little Alex Price's parents. Didn't matter. What he did was keep her company as she sat in silence and grieved, fending off Luigi and all-comers who dared to encroach on their shared territory. Alex had been genuinely grateful for his gruff kindness. But was that all she felt for him? Gratitude? And was he just being kind?
Luckily Gene interrupted her thoughts before she could answer her own questions.
"Wanna know what I believe in?"
"I'm all agog."
He ignored her obvious sarcasm. "I believe in the power of a perfectly placed slap to any toe-rag that deserves it, the taste of good single malt, and the feel of a pert and peachy buttock in my hand."
"I might have guessed you wouldn't be serious."
"Who says I'm not serious? Especially about the pert buttock."
"Anyone's in particular?"
"You offering then Bolly?"
"In your dreams Hunt."
"You said it love." He drained his glass and then handed it to Alex. "Your round I think.
Half and hour and another bottle of wine later found them still winding each other up as they staggered up the stairs towards Alex's flat. Hard to tell exactly who was holding who up, but in theory at least, Gene was helping Alex to her front door.
"I don't need your help," she protested as they staggered up the stairs.
"Course you do…everyone does," he slurred. Gene had taken the rear position behind Alex, trying to ensure that she didn't fall backwards down the stairs. He wondered why he bothered sometimes, the amount of abuse he got in return. Actually he knew exactly why he did it. He just couldn't help himself where Alex was concerned.
"…and another thing."
"Oh give it a rest woman would yer?"
In his current drunken haze, Gene reckoned that one sharp nudge would be enough to get Alex up the final few stairs to her doorway. But he hadn't reckoned on exactly how tipsy Alex was. He pushed, she staggered, and then almost in slow motion she tumbled to the ground – but not before grabbing hold of Gene and dragging him down on top of her. For a few seconds they were silent, the wind knocked out of them both and their faces now far too close together for comfort.
For a shocking moment Alex thought he was going to kiss her. And for an equally shocking moment, she thought she was actually going to let him. Almost without thinking, her lips parted slightly as he moved closer. He was so close that she could almost taste the warmth and whisky from his lips. And then….
They both jumped like scalded cats as the door from the flat next door slammed, breaking the spell they had been under.
Gene quickly stood up and held out his hand. "It's late Bols, better get you tucked up for the night."
She looked at his hand and then up into his face. It was unreadable. As always. She allowed him to help her up and together they managed to find her key and open the door.
He hovered for a moment, uncertain. "Best be off then."
"Right. Yes. See you tomorrow."
"Bright and early mind." He started to make his way back down the stairs.
The next day, Alex was already at her desk nursing a hangover and a mug of black coffee when Hurricane Gene stormed through the office leaving chaos and destruction in his wake. Alex resolutely ignored his blustering, recognising that it was simply Gene's own way of dealing with the previous night's alcoholic excesses. Sure enough, after a few minutes, the storm blew itself out and Gene retreated into his office. It didn't really occur to Alex to wonder how she knew him so well.
"You okay ma'am?" Shaz hovered by her desk with a concerned expression.
"Nothing that eight hours sleep and a pint of coffee wouldn't cure Shaz."
"Oh. I thought you and the Guv…well I thought maybe you'd had another fight."
"No, nothing like that. Actually I think last night was one of our better nights. Or it would be if I could actually remember it."
"I'll just leave these files here then shall I?"
"Thanks Shaz…and if you could keep the caffeine coming that would be great."
"Of course ma'am."
Alex huddled over her desk for the next few hours, feeding her hangover with coffee, painkillers and the odd leftover mince pie from the canteen. It wasn't the ideal way of spending Christmas Eve for sure but at least it was warm and relatively quiet and she busied herself with catching up on outstanding paperwork. She also idled away the time by reviewing the events of the previous evening as she doodled Gene's name on her notepad. Not that anything had actually happened with Gene obviously but what would have happened if they hadn't been interrupted? She couldn't deny that there was an underlying attraction between them but was it really just physical? And if it was, did it really matter in the end? Would the world come to end if they kissed? She closed her eyes for a moment as she relived last night. She hadn't been so drunk that she couldn't remember the hungry look in Gene's eyes or her own reaction when they had stumbled into each other's arms.
"Wake up Drakey!"
Alex jumped and opened her eyes as a fist thumped on her desk and she came face to face with the object of her daydreams.
"What? I wasn't asleep."
"Could 'ave fooled me. Now mush, we've got a job to do."
"What….where…." She grabbed her leather jacket and ran to catch up to Gene as he swept out of CID, with Ray and Chris in his wake.
So much for a quiet Christmas Eve.
A scant hour later and the team were back at Fenchurch East but their work had not been in vain and they were accompanied by a couple of bedraggled Santa's, still protesting their innocence as Ray and Chris attempted to hand them over to Viv at the desk.
"Skip. Lock these two sorry bastards up before I beat the living daylights out of them just for fun," Gene barked as he leaned on the front desk.
Viv interrupted his conversation with a young couple and turned to Gene.
"You mean apart from being fat bastards impersonating Santa?"
Viv smiled. "Yes Guv – otherwise I'd be locking up half the city."
"In that case daylight bloody robbery."
Alex intervened. "They were swindling parents and their children out of money Viv – they set up a mock grotto but had no presents to give – or really crappy one's." She leaned forward and lowered her voice. "I don't think we can charge them with anything but let's just lock them up for a few hours and see what happens"
Viv winked in agreement. "Right-o ma'am. I think cell five is free and seeing as it's Christmas, I'll escort them personally – mince pies an optional extra." He led Ray, Chris and the two miscreant Santa's away to the cells.
"Thanks Viv – you're a star."
Gene raised his eyebrows with exasperation. "Right. Enough chit-chat then Lady B, time for a cuppa to warm up. Bloody perishing out there."
"Excuse me but that sergeant was talking to us!"
Gene frowned and turned to face a nervous but determined looking young man standing at the front desk.
"What?" He gave them his best bluster, his eyes now the colour of ice-chips.
"I mean…that is…."
"What my fiancé is trying to say is that we'd appreciate some help."
Gene glared at the young woman who now spoke up. "This is police station young lady and not a bloody maternity ward!" He glanced at her hugely pregnant belly as he spoke.
"Guv!" Alex stepped forward and turned towards the young girl. "What seems to be the problem?"
"It's silly really but it's just that…." The young girl suddenly stopped talking, a look of shock on her face as her knees almost buckled beneath her.
Luckily Gene was at her side a second. "Come on now love. We'll have none of that here." He looked desperately at Alex. "Find a chair then Bolly!"
"We could take her into one of the interview rooms," Alex suggested, "Get her a cup of tea."
"I'm fine….really. I just need to sit down for a couple of minutes."
"Don't you worry love, we'll 'ave you sorted in a tick."
Gene gently led the way to the interview room, his arm protectively about the heavily pregnant young woman, sitting her down carefully on a chair as she took a few deep breaths.
"Ere, you're not going to….I mean…." He gestured at her belly until she got the general idea.
"Give birth?" She laughed gently. "No. At least I don't think so. I just need a few minutes. I'm a bit worn out."
Alex returned with Shaz in tow, bearing steaming cups of tea for all of them.
"Look I'm really sorry about bothering you but we didn't know where else to turn," the young woman said.
Alex sat next to Gene and smiled at them. They looked so young and looked so innocent that her own maternal instincts were all to the fore. "Why don't you tell us what the problem is and we'll see what we can do to help. Won't we Guv?" She gently nudged Gene under the table.
"What? Oh right. Yes."
"That's very kind Mr…?"
"Hunt…DCI Hunt – and this is my colleague DI Drake."
"You can call me Alex."
"My name's Mary."
"Really?" Alex said with a barely suppressed smile. "Quite appropriate I suppose." She turned to the young man. "Now don't tell me – you're Joseph right?"
He nodded. "My mates call me Joe"
Mary and Joe's story was somewhat familiar - much to Alex's amused delight. Turns out that the pregnant Mary and fiancé Joe had come to London but now couldn't find anywhere to stay. Everywhere they looked was full to the brim and they were so desperate they'd come to the nearest police station.
"It's a classic!" Alex whispered to herself, "although I have to say that my imagination leaves a lot to be desired."
"You okay over there Bols?"
"What. Oh yes, don't mind me"
"As I was saying, you've tried all the inns?"
Joe nodded. "We've tried everywhere Mr Hunt – honestly we're at our wits end. We just didn't realise London would be so busy."
"No stables I suppose?" Alex suggested.
Mary and Joe looked at each other but Alex was already racing ahead.
"Stables? What am I thinking, no stables in London I bet?"
"You'll have to forgive my Inspector, she had a knock on the head as a young child and she's never been the same since." Gene turned back to the distraught young couple. "Not really sure what we can do for you to be honest. I mean we might find a spare cell….owww! He turned to glare at Alex who had just kicked him under the table. "What was that for?"
"You can't put a pregnant woman in one of the cells on Christmas Eve, Gene!"
"Well where else then Miss Smarty-Pants?"
"They can stay at my place," she blurted.
"What? Three faces turned towards her.
Alex warmed to her theme. "Yes. Why not? You can have the bedroom tonight and I'll sleep on the sofa. It wouldn't be the first time."
"But we can't let you do that…not on Christmas Eve," said Mary.
"Nonsense. It'll be a pleasure. Besides, anything beats a manger doesn't it?"
…To be continued