Jim Keats finally felt as though everything had come together for him.
And it had been a long time coming.
There was no fighting the smugness in his smile as he arrived in the car park of Fenchurch West. Technically he'd been there weeks but in the way of the world a lot of time had passed in the blink of an eye so to him it had been far, far less. He faced Alex, her eyes turned downward with a strange and distant look upon her face. It made her appear as though she was frozen; through cold or through fear? Well, his car was warm enough so Keats suspected the later. "
"This is it, Alex," he said, the unanticipated level of excitement in his voice a difficult thing to hold back, "your new place of work."
"I haven't had the best of experiences with officers from this station in the past," Alex said coolly, thoughts of Martin Summers passing through her thoughts momentarily.
"That was the Fenchurch West of old," Keats said, speaking with confidence, "they wanted a new broom and they got a fucking broom. I've been sweeping clean from the moment they gave me the job."
"And," Alex's eyes finally flickered to him for a moment, "exactly when did they give you the job?"
Keats gave a laugh to mask the fact that this was a question he didn't want to answer. Alex knew about the state of the world now. She understood that this was a life beyond life. A new life after death, not quite the afterlife but a stepping stone full of promise and hope along the way there. The last thing he wanted to do was to build on that knowledge. The less she knew now, the easier it would be for her to forget.
And she would forget, he was sure, given enough time. That wasn't the usual experience for someone like Alex who had entered the word already knowing the truth; a copper who arrived only half dead would usually remember until the day they either passed on or went back. But Alex….
He couldn't take his eyes from her beautiful features, the same features he'd regarded jealously every damn day that he'd been working at Fenchurch East. Bloody Gene Hunt. that's where her eyes had been focused. But Gene wasn't there any longer. Now she would only see him. She would see him, she would hear him, she would listen to every word that he said and she would be drawn closer and closer to him as the word engulfed her.
She was isolated now. He knew that he was her only lifeline and if he buried the subject of the world, the pub and the little fact that there was a daughter she had left behind in another world then soon her previous life would simply fade into the background, like a dream that she could barely remember.
Alex's voice stopped his day dreaming for a moment. Hearing her say his name brought that smugness back to his features.
"Hmm?" He couldn't remember exactly what she'd asked him but knew there had been a question before held become lost in thought.
"When did you get the job?" she asked again, "what happened to D and C?"
Keats gave a slight laugh to mask the feeling of resentment and insecurity that threatened to creep into his demeanour. That was something nobody even realised about him. He did a very good job of covering that part of him up, but it was there nonetheless and if anyone had bothered to truly analyse his behaviour they would have seen it there too. The fact was, he was nothing but a paper-pusher and he knew it. Always had been. He felt enormous resentment for that. Policing the police – that was as far as he could go. That was as far as they would let him go He was a DCI and yet he was never allowed to do the good stuff. He never had the strength and the power that he needed, that he felt he deserved. All of that changed when he stepped into Fenchurch East to check up on the DCI who seemed to have 'forgotten' and found himself enveloped by an energy that transformed him slowly.
"When did I get the job?" he repeated. He gave the kind of laugh that made Alex feel as though she has asked the most stupid question in the world as he looked all around. "Alex, the world has changed. Time passed by. I was… enamoured by my time at Fenchurch East. Liked the area. Felt like sticking around. The post came up and after the good work I did at your… previous place of employment… I was a shoe-in."
A shoe-in. A shoe in someone's back as he took the post he so desperately desired. By fair means or foul? It was all the same to him. The line had become blurred. He wasn't going to go into the details. Alex was better off not knowing.
"I thought you enjoyed your work at D and C," Alex said. He stared at her, as sure as he could be that her questions were a little more than interest and curiosity. His expression changed as he told her firmly,
"Listen, DI Drake, my career isn't the focus of today. The focus is yours. You need to get yourself back on track. You have been out of the loop for a long time. Three years. It's only felt like a couple of days to you but the world hasn't stayed still while you were sobbing into a beer mat and taking a misguided leap of faith." He saw her head droop a little at his words and allowed himself to gloat momentarily. "You need to bring yourself up to speed on current standards and procedures."
"I'm sure I can adjust –" Alex began but Keats cut her off.
"I need to make sure that you're on top of your game," he said to her, "and in order for that to happen you need to familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations as they have changed."
"It's only been three years, Jim," Alex said a little tiredly. The whirlwind of the last two days had taken its toll and she was desperate to just sleep away the rest of the day. She noted with caution that his expression seemed to change and darken.
"Even so," he said stiffly, "the world has moved on without you. Look at how different things were at your previous station when you attempted to reintegrate. People come and go and rules change." His mouth twitched into a smile before he could stop it but he wrestled it under control before Alex saw, "It won't take long for you to get yourself reacquainted, Alex. Be patient. You may appreciate a little peace and quiet for your first couple of days while you acclimatise. He unfastened his seatbelt and gave her a sly smile. "There's an empty room in the basement that would be perfect for you."
Somehow Alex felt sure her heart had never sunk so fast before in all of her life.
He felt a little like he had the day he'd paraded the local under 14s flower-arranging trophy through the school corridors, except that this time he hopefully wouldn't' get laughed at and hit. Alex was on his arm like the biggest prize of all. He'd bundled her into the toilets to get changed into her new clothes and she had emerged feeling annoyed, self-conscious and not at all like herself.
"Now that is much more like it," a large gloating grin appeared around his face as he circled her a little like a wild animal encroaching on their prey. She froze on the spot as his hands came to rest upon her shoulders and dusted them down for imaginary lint, no more than an excuse to exert his touch upon her. She watched him coolly as he walked around her, determined not to let her eyes betray even a hint of emotion. She felt lost, trapped and scared but there was one person she was determined not to show that. She wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.
"I feel like a member of Milli Vanilli," she mumbled as she tried to adjust to the giant shoulder pads.
Keats completely ignored her.
"I know you think this is all a little unnecessary, Alex," he began, "but you'll soon see the difference. Soon you will wonder how you ever let Hunt and those other meatballs treat you like a pair of breasts on legs."
"I did not ever feel that way," Alex told him crossly. In honestly he could say what he liked about her and she didn't care; she could block almost anything out, but the moment he started on the people she cared about who weren't there to defend themselves he crossed a line. He didn't seem to notice though.
"This is a whole new world," he told her as he took her arm and began to lead her through the corridors, showing her off like the most valuable trinket.
Alex considered asking if he was about to break into song but thought better of it. She knew that she needed to keep calm and centred. This was just one of the little hoops she had to jump through. She knew she had no choice but to play along to begin with. This was just a small step up on the ladder. She'd be standing on her own two feet soon. She just needed to focus on that part.
The feeling in his chest swelled and burned as he led her through to the main office of Fenchurch West CID. With every head that turned his pride and smugness grew a little more. That's right, he screamed with the look in his eyes, you stare. Just carry on gawping. Because she's mine. She's all mine.
He watched the faces of the men and women that turned to watch her entrance to the department. There was jealousy across every last one, in his own mind that was a fact. The women all wanted to be her, the men all wanted her on their arm. But Keats had her, and she was one of a kind.
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of Fenchurch West," he gave a broad smile and laid an arm across Alex's shoulders as through to drill home the point of whom she belonged to, "I'd like you all to give a warm western welcome to Alex Drake," his eyes turned to her as he said curtly, "our new detective sergeant."
Alex's eyes widened in an instant and her neck snapped around. All at once her body turned cold as she stared at him and hissed,
"Alex," Keats spread his palm innocently, "you've been out of the force for the last three years," he spoke as though he was using great patience to explain a complicated matter to a child, "you can't expect to step straight back in. That's what all your retraining is about, you know that."
"You said I had to read some rules and regulations," Alex reminded him through gritted teeth.
"We have to do things by the book, DS Drake," Keats told her, his deep, dark eyes focused upon her, "or we could end up both facing disciplinary and dismissal, and then you could be right back where you started. You don't want to be back on the street with no money and no ID, do you?"
Alex's breath caught as she realised once again that she was most certainly stuck where she was. He was right; if she left now she would have nothing. She swallowed and tried to calm herself as she felt her temper starting to flare; she needed to be cool and sensible about this. This was just a small blip, an extra leg of the journey. It wasn't as though she was planning to spend the rest of her career at Fenchurch West, climbing the ranks. So she'd spend a few months as a DS – so what? It was no big deal.
Bide your time, she told herself, bite your lip and go along with it. Because in the end it doesn't matter what it says on your arrest warrant. You are Detective Inspector Alex Drake. You are strong. You are a fighter. And you are GOING to come out on top.
But Keats couldn't have cared less what was going on inside of Alex's head as he watched the jealous masses peering at her warily. He felt like the kid who brought in the best, biggest, most expensive toy on the last day if term and, for him, the games were just about to begin.
A/N: Back in the highly medicated corner so time for this fic to get an update! I just wanted to say thankyou to those of you who are reading and a huge thank you to Fen for reviewing (I owe you a PM later x)
Also I wanted to give two quick reminders about this fic; first of all that it is the same 'universe' as my main series of stories but the one difference is that Alex jumped from the wrong window and did not go back to working with Gene at Fenchurch West so one of the challenges with this is trying to keep to what I have already established as canon but applying it to the changed universe. My brain is warping! The other reminder is that this is a much darker work than my usual fics. I can't promise any happy outcomes or uplifting events in this piece, this is where my dark feelings come out when I'm trying to deal with higher levels if pain and I'm channelling them into something constructive. I owe Ranty a massive bundle of thanks for helping me take back the darkness and run with it after avoiding it for so long x