Disclaimer: I pay my TV licence…so in a sense I own a very small part of Ashes to Ashes, right? I probably own one of the gnomes. Brief interruption for an angry call from some heavyweight lawyers at the BBC. Apparently the BBC does not recognise my existence and I do not, in fact, own anything relating to Ashes to Ashes. Not even a gnome.
Ships: Galex, Chris/Shaz (Caz?)
Summary: Alex starts to doubt her own sanity when Molly appears in 1981. She is torn between her feelings and the evidence that proves Molly is actually Catherine Drake – her ex-husband's sister – who is due to die in a hit and run that afternoon. Can Alex prove the truth before she looses her daughter for the second time?
A/N: This is borne of an effort to write a fic that had a lot of episode like qualities – most especially the moral dilemmas that so define both shows. I've tried my hardest to make the plot interesting, make sense, and work as an episode might, but please forgive any mistakes.
Natasha Bedingfield was playing and it was early – too early – on a Monday to cope with it.
Alex groaned into her silk covered pillow and peeped over the edge to check the time on the digital display. Six. Where had Molly got this habit of early rising from?
She stayed still for a little while in the hope it might go away, but her dry mouth, full bladder, and pounding head made staying in bed as intolerable as the idea of getting up.
"MOLLY! IT'S EARLY! THE NEIGHBOURS!" she yelled.
Neither Molly nor Natasha Bedingfield showed mercy.
Alex rubbed her face with her palms and groaned in thanks as the music cut off. She opened her eyes and was confused for only a second.
She wasn't in her apartment in 2008. She was in her empty flat in 1981, all alone. No music. Natasha Bedingfield may not have been born yet. Molly definitely hadn't.
Alex slumped down onto the end of the bed. She fell for it. She always fell for it. She always believed she was back home, or that Molly was really there, and then she'd loose concentration, or she'd look away and there she was back in the dark ages.
It was six in the morning though (according to her wind-up alarm), so it was pointless going back to bed. She went into the kitchen and started a coffee.
As she waited for the kettle, Alex leaned against the counter and listened to the milk float turn into the street below.
The kettle finished boiling but she was too weary to turn and pick it up. Instead she remained still and allowed her eyelids to fall. There were a few moments of relief from the exhaustion. Then Alex felt the dark behind her eyes become darker, the ground disappeared, and she was falling.
It was like falling back into her own body from above. Her chest lurched as she gasped for air. The ground was hard and she couldn't move...but she was alive. She could open her eyes yet, but she could feel her eyes moving behind the lids. The suit she'd worn in 2007 was wet and heavy, and she remembered for the first time since waking up in 1981 that the suit had been – was– new and she had been – was – annoyed at its destruction.
And then her alarm clock clanged. Monday in 1981 began with her knocking it off the table and listening to a silence that was fast becoming stifling.
No Molly. No Natasha. But she'd woken up in 2008. If she'd done it once, she could do it again - and that made it the best Monday she'd had in a long time.
"Morning!" Alex trilled as she flounced into CID smile first. She was wearing blue silk and a grey skirt, her heels were clicking, her hair was bouncing, and her legs were out.
Her reception was a little more subdued.
"Gnh…" was Ray's contribution.
The rest of the office was engrossed in a deep and meaningful conversation about golf, which Alex found both surprising and interesting. Was this a further sign that her fantasy was cracking? She had never realised how much about football her mind had subconsciously absorbed – because the discussions trotted out on most Mondays were far beyond any understanding she had ever had in 2008. She'd been playing golf since her mother had first taken her when she was six. She loved it. If her subconscious was going to talk about sport, it would be a natural choice. Could it be proof that her subconscious was sticking to familiar topics?
Shaz was hovering at Alex's desk, and she gave a shy smile. "Morning Ma'am…"
"Hi Shaz, what can I do for you?" she asked, throwing her jacket over the back of her chair and dropping into it.
Shaz looked a bit embarrassed all of a sudden. "I just wanted to tell you…"
"Tell me what?"
She could no longer stop the smile she was holding back. A hand was thrust forward, fingers excessively splayed, and a twinkling ring was waggled at Alex. "Chris proposed!"
Sensing that Shaz probably hadn't had anyone 'ooh' over her ring in the male-dominated office, and so pleased for her that Alex didn't mind going over the top, she announced the ring to be the most delicate piece of jewellery in London, "-and it really suits your hand!"
"Probably spent a year's wages on it, the moron," said Shaz, who looked far from annoyed. "Mind you, it was dead romantic. He even asked my dad's permission first. He's still a bit shell-shocked 'cause my dad's six foot and has a wicked sense of humour – he made him really work for it!"
Alex smiled over to where Chris looked far too engrossed in his work to be actually doing anything. He was attempting to look both unflustered and to hide the smug look that Alex could see from where she was sat.
There was another groan from Ray.
"Ignore him," said Shaz with a roll of her eyes. "He's upset 'cause he has to write a best man speech."
"It's not that bad Ray," Alex called over to him. "Just mention one drunken embarrassing story about the groom, tell everyone how great the bride is, and tell another embarrassing story."
"I think it's that middle bit that's giving him trouble," said Shaz severely.
"Nah…you're an alright lass," protested Ray, "but what do the pair of yer want to get married for? Takes all the fun out of it."
Neither Chris, Shaz, or Alex had chance to reply, because Gene Hunt's office door swung inwards and the man himself stood on the threshold to survey his kingdom.
"Right you lot!" he announced as he stepped out into his lair. "We're not at the reception yet so get yer minds off the bubbly and back on to the scum we're paid to hunt down."
There was a general straightening out of attitudes and Chris buried himself back in his unread document on Crime Prevention in Modern Policing.
A file was thrust at her. Inside was a picture of a handsome dark-haired man at a wedding, and another of him lying crumpled in the middle of the road.
"Hit and run this morning. Deliberate."
"Victim?" asked Ray, with a pop of his gum.
Alex scanned the file. "Uh…Thomas Rider. Dead at the scene."
"And before you all ask, tee-total, married, no criminal record, and a regular church-goer. There was more justification for killing Christ than there was Thomas Rider."
Alex skimmed a witness statement. "Says here that he was at the edge of the road, ready to cross after the car had gone, but the car sped up and swerved towards him."
"Thankfully the witness had more than their usual spoonful of brains," sniffed Gene. "We got a registration."
"Uh…registered to a Richard Kolby," said Alex as she found the right page. "Doesn't look like he's reported it missing."
"Which means," said Gene with a sneer, "that we owe him a little visit."
It worried Alex that she had been around Gene that she was starting to class people in his terms.
When Richard Kolby answered his townhouse door, glass of white in hand, and styled hair indestructible to the breeze, she could hear the words 'ponce' as clearly as if he'd actually said them aloud.
"Can I help you?"
"You Richard Kolby?" demanded Gene.
"Who wants to know?" asked Richard. Alex was never one to judge people on class, having been on the receiving end, but even she couldn't stop the thought that this man's vocal chords were about to climb up his own nostrils.
What was more striking though, was the man's resemblance to Thomas Rider. Dark hair, same build, but slightly better dressed.
As one, they pulled out their badges.
"The man who wants to know why a vehicle registered to you was least seen hitting a pedestrian at sixty miles an hour," said Gene dangerously.
Richard's expression became sheepish. "Ah…this is about the Audi isn't it?"
"With respect, Mr. Kolby," said Alex, "this is a little more serious than a parking ticket."
He didn't even have the grace to look apologetic. "It's none of my business. The car's missing, you see."
"No I don't see," said Gene, in full 'Guv' mode now. "In fact I must be blind, and so must my colleague here, because we didn't notice that report you must have filed."
Mr. Kolby sighed. "Well of course I didn't report it missing. I know who took it."
"Well I'm sure it will be of great comfort to the victims' family to know that at least he was mown down by someone who was familiar with the transmission," snapped Gene.
"Look - I assumed my ex had taken it," he explained. "Clearly scratching 'cheating bastard' on the side wasn't good enough revenge for her. If you want to know where the car is I suggest you speak to her." There was a call from inside the house and he turned to reply. "Yes Miranda, I'm coming now."
"What's your ex's name, Mr. Richards?" asked Alex.
"Susan Gearny…she's a teacher at the local girls' school. I don't know where she and her son live now. Is that all?"
Alex started. "Mrs. Gearny?" Realising that Gene was eyeing her warily, she smiled awkwardly. "Um, anyway…"
"I suggest you don't go too far, sir," said Gene in that special voice he reserved for being respectful to people that he, personally, considered absolute turds. "Enjoy your lunch."
As they headed back down the drive, Alex couldn't help herself babbling and nudging Gene with her elbow. "She used to teach me English! I'm telling you – my subconscious is breaking down the fantasy and keeps taking me to familiar places in order to conserve energy."
"If by that," said Gene as he slid into the driver's seat, "you mean that you repeatedly babble the same lunatic things…then you an' me are of the same opinion for once."
Alex was still smiling as they swerved into the car park at the school. Even the bad memories she associated with this building couldn't dampen the mood.
Mrs. Gearny had simply been a forgettable teacher who had got them through their exams with as little fuss as possible. That her subconscious was expanding on this could be a sign. If she could work out the connection to that waking-up feeling she had this morning, it might lead her back to Molly.
"What are you grinning about?" demanded Gene as he stepped out onto the gravel and put his sunglasses on.
"Nothing…I'm just having a really good day," she smiled.
"Then you can improve mine by getting a round in tonight," he said. He gave her a sideways look. "What's so good about it then? Get off on the idea of people being laminated to the tarmac, do yer?"
"If I did, I wouldn't be half so nervous about your driving now, would I?" she smirked prettily. "It's this way."
They flashed their badges at a startled receptionist and strode through the corridors, Alex leading the way.
"So what is so good about it, then?"
"Everything. Seeing my old teacher. Chris and Shaz getting married…and best of all something wonderful happened to me in bed this morning."
Gene smirked twisted as though she'd flashed him a glimpse of her underwear, and she realised too late that she'd given him ammunition for the rest of the day.
"Thinking about me, were yer?"
They reached the classroom door where Mrs. Gearny could be heard finishing off the lesson before playtime. They waited outside for her to let the children go.
"No," she sighed, and as she thought about the morning she smiled at the memory. "It felt like I was waking up."
"I've got news for yer Bolly, waking up is not a unique sensation. And not a wonderful one with the amount you knock back of an evening."
"It wasn't like that," she said exasperatedly. She rested her head against the wall. "It went dark…and I could feel my eyes moving behind my eyelids…and it felt like my eyes were about to open."
"It's called blinking Bolls. Happens to everyone."
Before Alex could fire back a sarcastic remark a stampede of nine year olds rushed out of the classroom and Gene, in full 'Guv' mode once more, strode into the classroom.
And there she was as though the years hadn't passed at all (and really, they hadn't). Susan Gearny may have dressed like a particularly strict librarian, but her heaving bust, blonde hair, and big lips gave the impression that if she was a librarian, she was the sort who did pole-dancing at the weekends. She must have been in her late thirties.
"Susan Gearny? Formerly engaged to Richard Kolby?"
Alex looked around the room. There was the desk she'd sat at, she could even remember which of her classmates had sat where. The books she'd spent her school years reading were lined up in bookshelves at the back of the room, and somewhere on the walls was an essay she had written only weeks before.
Susan Gearny's expression changed. "Yes," she scowled.
"Last seen scratching 'cheating bastard' into his car?"
She leaned back against her desk and crossed her arms. "Actually it was 'cock-sucking cheating bastard'." Alex tried not to goggle as the woman she'd last seen reading her 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' said the word 'cock' without a flicker of expression. "I must say, he's taken his time in complaining. I suppose he wants me to pay for the damage? Well you can tell him that I'll pay for it when he turfs his whore secretary out of my bed."
"As delightful as this little rant is, what we're interested in is the whereabouts of that car," interrupted Alex.
She laughed bitterly. "He thinks I took it? Why would I want it?"
"Perhaps to aim it at an innocent pedestrian who, incidentally, bore quire the resemblance to your former fiancé," snapped Gene.
Mrs. Gearny narrowed her eyes. "I hate fast cars, I don't drive, and I didn't take it. Is that all? If you don't have any evidence against me then I suggest you leave."
As they were striding back across the gravel to the Quattro, Gene spoke for the first time. "She can't have taught you English Bolly. She's barely older than you."
They climbed inside.
That had surprised her. The vague memories she'd had of Mrs. Gearny were of a younger woman. But everyone seemed to be split into the very young and very old when you are in primary school. It was interesting, though. Was her subconscious reporting things as they really had been – or was it an embellishment?
"I must have confused her with someone else," she said eventually.
Gene sniffed and put the car into first. "Must have been all that excitement in bed…put you off your game."
They sped along the drive as the bell rang and the girls trotted back inside. Alex was half watching at the girls in their familiar uniform (how it had itched in hot weather).
The figure in white made her start.
There was the clown, making a deep contrast against the green grass and red uniforms. There was one little girl dressed in red who wasn't going inside. She was standing with him, holding his hand.
"Molly!" Alex gasped. "Stop the car! Stop!"
"What?!" Gene halted so quickly that Alex gasped for breath as her seatbelt knocked her back. She scrambled out of the car but by the time she was running towards the grass both the clown and Molly were gone.
"Bolls?" Gene got out as well and came up behind her as she stood staring at the empty spot in the middle of the field.
"N-nothing," she sighed, starting back to the car. "Probably something to do with this morning."
"It had the desired effect – they'd already got through another two cracks about 'wonderful sensations' by the time they reached the station.
A/N: Well I hope that was worth it/interesting enough. I would love to know what you think! This is my first Ashes to Ashes fic (although I'm a long-time fan of both A2A and LoM) and I tried really hard to get the feeling and banter right.
Apologies to anyone wanting an update on my Torchwood fic, but I've been having some issues that have made writing hard - this was written while I was away form home and couldn't get to my computer to work on that fic.