The Lioness of Fenchurch East.
'We were going in together.' Alex sulked. 'You said we would, we'd storm Henderson's office and put him straight.'
Gene pulled her in closer and the bed creaked. 'I know, but I need to talk to him alone, I don't want him to upset you.'
'How can he upset me?' Alex replied, 'I'm not a wilting little flower, and I know the worst about everything, what more can he say?'
'Bolls…' Gene said tiredly, 'Please just let me talk to him. I need to find out what he meant when he mentioned my duties.'
'I'll go shopping then.' Alex threatened.
'Knock yourself out.' Gene said sleepily.
Alex arrived at Fenchurch late that afternoon. Everyone stopped and everything went quiet as she entered CID.
'It's brill to have you back Ma'am' Shaz was the first to welcome her.
'Debatable' muttered Ray, 'Yeah- brill' he nodded at Alex.
'New shoes?' Shaz asked.
Alex held out a long leg, 'Aren't they gorgeous? I couldn't resist.' The shoes were sapphire blue and sparkly with four inch heels.
'You'll be arse over tit in the snow before you know it.' Ray muttered, 'Dr Martens would have been more sensible.'
Alex ignored him and carried on the Gene's office. He had his bottom resting on the front of his desk and was looking pissed off. 'Close the door.'
She kicked the door shut with the heel of her new shoe.
'Good day?' he asked wearily.
She held up the bags, 'Not bad, I've been buying Christmas presents.' She moved closer to him, 'Look, I got these for Shaz…'
Gene peered into the bag, 'What the hell?'
'Toe socks' Alex nodded, 'she'll love them, they're so funky.'
'They look like they've been knitted by a half blind granny with a penchant for LSD.' Gene said.
'Tashe trimmer for Ray.' Alex said.
'To add to his collection.' Gene said.
'Soap on a rope for Chris.' Alex said, pulling out soap in the shape of a curvaceous naked woman.
'Where's mine?' Gene asked as Alex began shutting up the bags.
'Don't worry, you'll get yours.' she murmured, looking up at him.
He leaned in closer, 'If I get what I asked for it'll be a first.'
'Prepare to be astounded then.' she replied, reaching up and touching his cheek before remembering where they were. He looked so tired and so beautiful, she could hardly believe he was her man. 'Ready to go home?'
He rubbed his chin, 'Ah, Branson's been wittering on the phone; he wants you to get your stuff out of the World's End flat by Wednesday.'
'Oh hell- will there be room for all my clothes in your little attic?' she asked.
'Not if you carry on buying shoes at the rate you are doing.' he said drily, he leaned in close again, 'Am I going to be fucking you in those later?'
Alex whimpered and batted her eyelashes at him.
'I'll take that as a yes then.' he smiled. 'I thought about approaching Luigi..'
'Oh my god!' Alex breathed, 'I don't think he's into threesomes….'
'You have a filthy mind' he said, 'I meant about your flat- see if it's still available-maybe we could share and I could get away from that sodding bed.'
'Yes- good idea- although I love that bed.' Alex said, watching as CID emptied out, 'Shall we go there now? Ask him?'
'I still have to see Henderson.' Gene's expression darkened, 'He's been at some bloody meeting all day. Probably about us.'
'I stayed out of the way hoping you'd be able to sort things out with him.' Alex looked worried,' I'm sorry, I should have phoned you.'
Gene shrugged, 'He's either keeping out of my way or still drawing up the list of my 'duties'
Alex felt a great surge of protective annoyance; how dare Henderson keep Gene waiting around all day? She headed back out of Gene's office, 'Just nipping to the loo.'
But she went on past the Ladies and on to the lift. On the next floor she marched to the Super's office, knocked on the door and let herself in before waiting to be summoned.
Henderson looked up from the document he was reading,' DI Drake, firmly back in the fold then?' he sounded disapproving but resigned.
'Why haven't you spoken to Gene?' Alex demanded, 'you know perfectly well he's been waiting to see you all day. Why keep him waiting, is this some warped way of exerting your power?'
'I had a meeting to go to.' Henderson replied, 'Not that it's any of your business. The business between Gene and I can wait until tomorrow.'
'It can't ' Alex said crossly, 'Are you some kind of sadist? Don't you care how he must be feeling, knowing what he does about himself….and this place? If you cared anything about him at all you'd have at least afforded him the courtesy of seeing him as soon as was humanly possible.'
Henderson gave a deep careworn sigh, 'Look, he's not going to want to hear what I have to tell him. My views on this haven't changed. You need to move on and let him do his job. You hinder him, you are a distraction, that's all there is to it. There's no way around it.'
'Why don't you have a little faith in him?' Alex said quietly, 'He's not some pimply teenager embarking on his first love affair, he's a grown man who's carried this station for years- and while you're at it, why not have a little faith in me also? I'm not some femme fatale trying to lure your DCI away from his vocation, I'm here to offer him support, to work with him, to help all the lost souls find a way through this shit.'
'Alex you can't stay.' Henderson said exasperatedly, 'You must understand that the whole point of Gene's work is to…'
'Move people through' Alex cut in, 'To never have the same team around him, to always be working with strangers, to have the weight of their issues on his shoulders. Don't you think that sometimes that weight gets to be too much to bear? He needs people he trusts- a core of people who he knows. Ray and Chris….'
'Ray and Chris have been here far too long.' Henderson said.
'Maybe so, but there are two reasons for that.' Alex replied quickly, 'One is that they both still have issues, the other is that Gene trusts them, they're like a kind of family. He hasn't had a family, or any kind of affection even, for a very long time. No-one can carry on like that indefinitely. It's not fair that you're asking him to do it.' She picked up Henderson's phone and handed it to him, 'He's in his office waiting.' she said, 'Ask him up.'
'He won't be happy to know you've been meddling.' Henderson put the phone down again.
'He won't know, I'll make myself scarce.' Alex replied, she walked towards the door and then turned, 'Please Sir, give me a chance, give us all a chance. One year? Or less if things start to really crumble. If you give us a chance…'
Henderson nodded and reached for the phone, 'Alright, one year to see if it works- I'll listen to Gene, and if that's what he wants I'll agree to it. You need to know how much of a gamble it is though, and that I have severe doubts about the whole thing.' He stared at Alex thoughtfully, 'You know, Gene may call himself the Manc Lion but you're a proper little lioness aren't you?'
'I don't know about that, I just want things to be fair. Thank you for the chance.' Alex said, 'I promise you we'll make it work.'
She took a detour back to CID and when she got there Gene had gone, she hoped it was to see Henderson. His coat was still on its hook. She made tea and sat at her desk admiring her new shoes.
John and Yoko filtered through from the kitchenette, 'Happy Christmas , war is over.'
'If only' Alex whispered as she sipped her tea.
Gene came back from his meeting with Henderson looking slightly bemused. Alex had his favourite tumbler with an inch of scotch in it waiting for him.
'So- your duties?' she asked.
Gene rubbed his face, ' He reminded me that my job is to move people through; help them come to terms with things and take them to the pub. But he agreed that you can stay for a while, Ray and Chris too, and maybe Shaz. That I can build a basic team who will be around for more than a little while.'
'Well that's wonderful news.' Alex said. 'I knew he was a reasonable man underneath it all.'
'He rolled over a bit smartish.' Gene looked suspicious.
'He doesn't want to lose you does he?' Alex said, 'Come on, drink up, and then we can go and see Luigi. I want my flat back.'
When they arrived at Luigi's Gene stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked over at the Fenchurch rabble; Chris wearing a sprig of Mistletoe dangling over a silly elf cap and tormenting Luigi by trying to kiss him, Ray almost certainly sexually harassing a blonde, Shaz emitting high pitched giggles every few seconds.
'My core team' Gene frowned. 'Maybe I should go back to the drawing board.'
'Oh come on, you wouldn't have them any other way.' Alex said, 'Luigi! Can we have a word?'
Luigi agreed to let Alex and Gene have the flat, but insisted on a rental agreement, apparently Gene had been slightly remiss when it came to rent cheques. Alex shook her head, 'I'll be dealing with that side of things from now on Luigi'
'Good!' Luigi beamed.
'Maybe a little drink to celebrate eh Luigi?' Gene said, 'Mine's a single malt.'
Around midnight, Shaz was asleep with her head down on the table, Ray and Chris were playing spoof and Ray was losing ungraciously, Gene and Alex were in the corner pretending not to notice Luigi gesturing at them to move everyone out of the trattoria as he wanted to go to bed.
'Well, DI Drake.' Gene said, 'You do realise what you've let yourself in for?'
Alex put her hand over his, 'Yes, I think so. '
'You do know what a tyrant I can be? You think I'm going to be easy on you, think again. I shall be making unreasonable demands from time to time.' his head was resting against hers. 'You may regret deciding to hang around.'
Alex pressed her hair against his, ' I think I can cope.'
'When do I get my Christmas present?' Gene whispered.
'The clue is in the name.' she whispered back.
'Not sure I can wait that long.' he pouted.
'Shall we make a move then?' Alex said, 'Back to the creaky bed?'
'Yeah c'mon.' Gene said, 'Oi, you lot! Shift! Luigi needs to lock up. It's a week night and you all definitely need your beauty sleep- and Carling needs to get his curlers in. I need you all bright-eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow, we have Father Christmas murdering scum to catch.'
'Yes Guv!' Ray, Chris and Shaz replied with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
'See you tomorrow Ma'am' Shaz said as they stood on the freezing pavement outside Luigi's. 'It's so bloody lovely to have you back.' She grabbed Alex and gave her a drunken hug.
'Lesbo action' Ray cackled.
'Get in the car Shazzer.' Chris slurred. 'Bammo's on a promise, he wants to get home.'
Gene and Alex watched Bammo's Ford Fiesta until it had chugged out of sight.
'Come on then.' Gene said, 'Let's go back to my miserable attic where I shall definitely be making unreasonable demands.'
Alex stroked his bum lovingly, 'Yes Guv.'
Sorry it all got a bit miserable around the middle, but hope you agree it ended ok- thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, alerted and favourited, as always you've been fantastic Fen xxxxx