Life from the Ashes

Chapter 6: Degrees of Reality


"...Police officers present - Detective Inspector Robson and Detective Chief Inspector Hunt..." Robson spoke for the purpose of the recording, but Gene sighed over him.

"Get on with it then, Daniels," Gene said to the would-be criminal.

"...I heard it said your a good copper..." he said to Gene.

"I came 'ere 'cos you said you wanted to talk, not ter give my ego a non-needed boost," Gene said.

"Look...you have to promise me..."

"I don't have to promise you anything, you law-breaking shit stick!" Gene replied.

"Guv..." Robson sighed as Gene continued to show undeniable signs of wanting to beat the living daylights out of the young man sitting opposite them. He drew forwards in a very intimidating manner and Daniels jumped back with a look of shock and fear as he held up his hands.

"Okay...okay...look...it wasn't my idea...Mickey just told me he was knee deep in shit an' if I didn't 'elp him he'd send someone after Dotty," the young man said. "She's...she's a friend...so I did wha' he told me to...now I'm in the shit!"

"Well tha' tends ter 'appen when yer plan the worst blag in history," Gene muttered without a hint of sympathy.

"I didn't want it to work!" Daniels replied, "I don't do that stuff anymore...I don't..."

"I don't believe it," Gene scoffed.

"It's the truth! Dotty's pregnant...I don't do tha' stuff anymore 'cos of them. I wanted ter be a good dad. I wanted ter marry her!"

"Need money fer tha'...and wha' a bloody coincidence, if this'd worked you would've and some!" Gene insisted, "And that, you little scrote, is what we call a motive!"

"No!" Daniels screamed and threw his arms down into the table. "It weren't like that! It wasn't! I swear...I swear, if you let me off, I'll tell you why he needed the money so bad...okay?"

"I don't deal with tossers!"

"Guv...I think we should hear him out," Robson whispered to Gene. "We can promise to put in a good word...you'd only get about 6 months," he said to Daniels.

"Yeah, yeah, that's good, please...I'll tell you."

"Right," Gene sighed in anger. "So tell me then. And this better be good!"

"...He got in debt...lot of debt...he said someone'd let him off the hook if he started organising these shipments...only he needed money ter fund this first lot, otherwise he wouldn't 'ave lasted a week 'fore someone offed him," the young man replied.

"What shipments?" Robson asked.

"People...I heard..." came the answer, "He said if I helped he'd pay me...and he wouldn't hurt my Dotty...I didn't have a choice."

"You could've asked for police protection," Robson replied.

"Yeah...right...the police'd help someone like me..wi' my record...whatever..."

"So...you planned a dodgy robbery?" Gene scoffed lightly.

"Yeah...Mickey'd never pulled a big job, he didn't have a clue, bloody useless git...he were just tha' desperate."

"Who wanted him to arrange these 'shipments'?" Robson asked.

"He wouldn't tell me."

"Oh come on!" Gene growled.

"It's true, Mr. Hunt! That's all I know!"

After a minute of angered silence, Gene stormed from the room where he found Alex waiting in the corridor. He noted her kind smile and was about to speak when D.I Robson joined them from the interview room.

"So...how did it go?" she asked.

"Apparently Micheal Brown was heavily in debt to money lenders and he was recruited for human trafficking to work it off. But that's all Daniels said he knows," Robson told her.

"Well, then, we need to talk to Micheal again," Alex nodded.

"He won't talk," Gene said with confidence, "Bloody idiot's a useless waste of police time."

"Well, if someone wanted this 'shipment' in they'll find someone else to do it. If Micheal knows who's behind it, he's our only chance of stopping it," Alex told him.

"She's right, guv, D.I Drake is a psychologist as well, maybe we could talk to Micheal again...gain his trust, then maybe he'd tell..."

"I know how ter make him squeal, and it's a lot bloody quicker than talkin' ter the bastard," Gene growled.

"We need to gain his trust, not further mar his view of the police, Gene. He clearly already hates us, it's going to be hard enough as it is, without beating him to a bloody pulp," Alex told him calmly with a hand on his arm. "We're both trained for this, let us handle this."

"...Fine...but if you psychiatrists fail..."

"...You get your turn...I know," she nodded and watched him walk off. She then turned to see Robson staring at her curiously. "What?" she asked.

"Nothing...it's just...well...I've never seen him actually listen to something so reasonable..." the man frowned.

"He's been known to...on rare occasion," she replied.

"You...you worked here before me...didn't you; people said you'd transfered out."

"Well...I came back," she shrugged.

"I can't imagine why," he shook his head, "People here don't appreciate psychology at all."

"No, no, maybe not. But when it matters they'll listen to it, trust me," she smiled, "Well, shall we make a start?" she suggested and they walked together from the corridor.


"What the bloody hell is goin' on?!" Gene bellowed as he froze by the doors to C.I.D. He was watching his officers pushing furniture around and shouting instructions at each other. It was utter chaos!

"Brining in some more desks, guv," Chris answered, as though it was obvious, "Only there were no room fer 'em...so we..."

"Are you trying to tell me, D.C Skelton, that in the time I've been interviewing scum, you lot've couldn't even bring in desks without cockin' it up?!"

"S'not our fault, guv; room's not big enough," Shaz said quickly.

"Make 'em fit," he growled and stormed into his office, slamming the door on the noise that continued the minute his back was turned.

He poured himself a whiskey and sat down in silence as he thought about the case. Remembering that it wasn't all exactly 'real' made it difficult to want to work. But then he remembered that even though the world wasn't 'real', the people were; they had lives to live here, and it was their job to help them.

And now he had two psychologists in his team at once. It was all he needed; two psychologists nagging at him constantly, never shutting up, never letting him have his own way. Granted, that Sam, and Alex had gotten results, Gene didn't want to think about how Alex and Robson would get along. They'd probably get along a treat, and she'd probably be better off with someone like Robson; an upper-class, over-educated, well-spoken, all-round-classy-bloke...the complete opposite to what Gene was. And he hated the fact that when he thought about it, it sent a knife through his gut; a very large, sharp knife, that wouldn't relent.

He tried to push the thought from his mind and focus on the case. He read the files on the blaggers and drank his whiskey and thought back, several times, to the one and only time he'd kissed Alex. Thinking about that was far better than thinking about watching her walk off with another man.

He had no idea how much time had passed when Alex and Robson walked into his office without knocking. "Well?" he asked, ignoring the fact that he somehow noticed the two D.I's walking in tandem.

"Well...he's stubborn," Alex replied and leaned against Gene's desk rather informally while Robson remained standing.

"Oh, dear, psychology didn't work, then?" he smirked slightly at Alex's look of surprise at him getting the word right.

"It will," she insisted, "But unless we can find evidence of this human trafficking operation, we won't be able to justify holding them here, rather than prison, for much longer."

"Nah, send 'em down, might make 'em talk," Gene said.

"I think we'll have to pretty soon," Robson replied. "We've got no proof, and no reason to keep looking into this case. If we don't find anything we won't be very popular, and we'll all be in trouble."

"You don't believe this human traffic whatnot?" Gene asked

"Trafficking," Alex corrected gently.

"I do believe him," Robson nodded. "He was genuinely sincere."

"Could just be a bloody good liar," Gene replied, not even sounding convinced of the idea himself.

"Could be, but I don't think so," Alex said, "And neither do you."

"When did you become a mind reader, Bolls?"

"One of my many eccentricities, guv," she smiled in reply.

"Hmm," he nodded and drained his glass once more.

"Guv, I think Daniels doesn't know anymore than he's told us. We need to question Michael Brown again, I think we can gain his trust..." Robson began.

"Didn't work so well with Daniels, did it?" Gene asked him sarcastically.

"I think it did, he can't tell us anything if he doesn't know anything,"

"I agree, guv," Alex said, "If Daniels is telling the truth then Michael Brown could be the key to uncovering a major human trafficking operation."

"Thank you for spelling that out for me, Bolly-kecks," Gene rolled his eyes, "But what's it phone man 'ere already said he ain't talkin'."

"It's IPhone," Robson muttered and Alex smiled.

"Whatever," the guv replied, and stood up, "Right now, though, it's beer o'the clock."

"But, guv, we're on the verge of..."

"The only place I wanna be right now is the bar in Luigi's nursin' a nice pint o' bitter..."

"You can't just leave whenever you feel like it, we're..."

"I can 'just' do whatever I bloody well like, Robson, and don't you forget it."

"Guv, I really think..."

"Look," Gene said, looking out towards the group of people in the main office, "They barely had a break from the last big case an' they been workin' flat out on this mess since it came our way. Now you wanna be the one to tell 'em they gotta pull an all nighter - again - because you 'think' you might be able to make him crack."

"...No, guv," Robson sighed.

"Right, so off you pop, like a good little boy an' take the troops to Luigi's, me and Lady B'll be right behind you."

"I..." Robson began to protest but gene stared at him and he decided it was best to relent rather than continue to argue, "Fine," the D.I muttered and slammed the door behind him as he left.

"Work on closin' door properly well you're out!" Gene bellowed after him.

"Go easy on him," Alex sighed.

"He's not a baby, Alex," he replied, and they stood in silence as they heard the room outside the office begin to clear out.

She walked across to him, uneasy and spoke again, "Gene...just erm...just how real is all this? I mean, everything seems so convincing, but then I remember it's not so I don't know what to believe," she said and at once, he took her hand in his own.

"Feel that, don't you?" he asked.

"Yes, but..."

"Then it's real enough."

"Okay," Alex nodded, grateful, taking a gentle squeeze of his hand before she let go and moved away.

"Where you goin'?" Gene asked quickly.

"I want to see if I can talk to Robson," she answered.

"I told you, he doesn't need a babysitter," he said. She gave a long suffering smile and rolled her eyes, then followed after Robson, leaving a bemused D.C.I alone.

She caught up with Robson in the corridor and she could see that he was still fuming.

"Rob?" she questioned.

"I...I don't see how you can stand it here when he gets like that...I don't know why...everyone's just so...ridiculous..." he sighed, running a hand through his hair in frustration.

"When I first came here I would've agreed with you," she nodded, "It makes things difficult when it's so different here than with you're used to."

"I know...how am I supposed to do my job when everyone here's just so...cold..." he said, "They don't care...they don't care about procedure, they don't care about other people...they..."

"But they do care, you have to have seen that...even if it's only been one time," she probed, "I heard about that kidnapping..."

"I bet they told you that straight away...I tried...I tried but...I couldn't...I didn't mean for..."

"I believe you," she nodded.

"I just...I want to go home...I need to go back to..." he trailed off as he apsaid to the ground, leaning back against the wall.

"To what?"

"...Liz...to Liz..."

"Who's Liz?"

"My...my girlfriend..."

"And where is she?"

"Away," he chuckled ruefully, "Far away."

"Let me guess..." Alex began, but before she could continue, the doors crashed open and Gene back stormed in front of his D.I's

"Get up," he ordered Robson.

"Guv, I really don't think..." Alex began.

"Go away 'guv'," Robson muttered helplessly.

"I said get up! And stop waggling yer bloody fingers when yer say my name!" Gene growled and holstered the D.I up by the lapels of his jacket, pushing him against the wall.

"Oh piss off," the man scoffed just before Gene threw him across the corridor.

"Go and do your bloody job, if you don't get him ter talk, I will!" he growled dangerously.

"How the hell do you expect me to do my job properly in these conditions?! I've never seen a station so...that's it...I can't take anymore...I'm going mad. I must be...I only want to go home...I..."

"You don't go anywhere till I say so! You're part of this team, and don't you bloody well forget it! We have a job ter do 'ere, and until you do it properly you better get used to it!" Gene told him with fierce confidence.

"I don't want to be here!"

"Oh well, then, that's alright, he doesn't want to be 'ere!" he repeated sarcastically, "Boo-bloody-hoo! You listen to me, and you better listen good. You remeber whn you went off ter play 'mr hero'...a kiddie died! You play by the team, yer do the job, and yer don't go off on yer own!"

"I only..."

"Did I say you could speak?!" Gene shouted and Robson said nothing more. "If you don't start playin' by the rules, Robson, you're gonna be in a world of shit! Start acting like a copper, and get the job done."

"Sometimes there's more important things than the job!"

"Like what?!"

"Like the woman I love!"

"A woman! A woman!" Gene shouted. "Do you have any idea...

"Well, I'm sorry, guv, but I'm not you," Robson shook his head. "I know that know. When it was her last birthday, I had to tell her I couldn't make it because of the job. Because of the job I missed valentines day as well. Because of the job I wasn't there when we were supposed to be looking for a new house! Because of this bloody job I..."

"That's the job, you don't like it go join the fire brigade!" Gene scoffed. "Why'd you join?"

"I...I wanted..."

"Why'd you join?" Gene repeated.

"I was a kid! I wanted to lock up bad guys like most kids! I wanted to use psychology to protect people."

"Bloody psychiatry," Gene grumbled, "You're a copper 'cos you're here to keep the streets clean fer people like this woman so she can have parties and go house huntin' without some scumbag tryin' to hurt her. And if that means you have to miss a cosy dinner or two on the job, you know where the door is!"

Robson sighed deeply and nodded, "I know, I know...it just doesn't make things any easier when I'm...why bother...you wouldn't believe me..." he waved his hand in the air before walking away.

"And you, Lady B," Gene turned to Alex, "You were about to tell him, weren't you?"

"I...I just wanted him to know that he wasn't alone."

"Well, just keep shtum, alright?" he said quickly, "You tell him nothing."

"Would it really be so bad if he knew the truth?" she asked lightly.

"Bolls," Gene sighed, "It'd be like stickin' a ruddy big firework on his head and then lightin' it fer him. Yer not supposed ter know jack! It's fer your own good, an' if you don't learn that tout-de-bloody-suite we'll both get in the bollocks...one of us more than other."

"Alright..." she sighed, "Alright."

"Yer should get off 'ome, yer look knackered, Bolls," he said after a minute.

"Thanks," she raised an eyebrow, "...But where exactly am I supposed to go?"

"Where'd you think, yer dozy mare? Yer flat," Gene answered.

"It's still mine?"

"Should be," he shrugged and she blinked then shook her head.

"So...Luigi's?" Alex said.

"Thought you'd never ask," Gene replied before they left together.