Fandom: Ashes to Ashes
Word Count: 1000 words.
Notes: Gene/Alex. Written for this challenge 'write a genre piece in the style of another genre.' I chose romance as noir. Title is from the song by Rod Stewart. And this already doesn't comply with canon.
The neon was blinding against a backdrop of a dark and grimy wall. All around her was black except for that one sign - 24 HOUR CHEMIST - like a beacon for the lost and lonely. Zafash Pharmacy was the favoured haunt of asthmatics and diabetics alike - for the night shift workers and suddenly struck insomniacs in desperate need of a pill or two. And the drug addicts. They were hard to ignore.
Alex Drake was at Old Brompton Road on account of a lead for her latest case. Not her case, if you wanted to get particular about it - someone else's case, but she wanted the answers and she wasn't afraid to do the work to track them down. She was curvy, with legs up to her armpits and a gaze that pierced through steel. A brunette who liked curls to soften what could be a hard jaw, tasteful make-up that accentuated her lips, her eyes. She used this to her advantage, but didn't really believe in the stares of the men she'd walk by.
That was inconsequential to the action. It didn't matter what Alex looked like when she discovered that she had been right about the brand of anti-depressants to be found at Zafash's. Didn't matter that she had cracked the mystery wide open, discovered exactly why Sam Tyler had hurled himself from an office roof in Manchester. What mattered was the call ringing through the night, asking a ransom for the release of Molly, her daughter.
He was a boor. He was a jerk. He was strong and dominant and respected by all around him. He was considered a magnificent bastard - ruthless, but nonetheless with the public's best interests at heart - even though he referred to the public in derision; those prickish pansies, those weak-willed Southern poofs. He was dark and brutal and funny when he wanted to be, terrifying when he didn't.
Gene Hunt was a character like none other - an icon in an age where avatars were torn down and the individual with upward mobility was the key. Anyone could make it, anyone could be a star. And the stars that reigned the skies were just there to be aspired to and then stamped on by another up-and-comer.
Alex didn't believe he was real, but that didn't stop her believing in him. He was a force to be reckoned with; magnetic, electric, any other bag of clichés used to define those who defy description. When Hunt stared at her with his intense green eyes, the world focussed into a pinprick and blurred at the edges - black became blacker, white became whiter, and her heart thumped treacherously against her ribcage, like a jackhammer on speed.
She hadn't told him. Not how she felt. Not what she knew. She was too scared, too busy. She had told him he was taller than she imagined - telling him she thought he was imagined, but he waved it away as a joke and ever since she hadn't summoned the skill to flip it back and say that, actually, she hadn't been joking - this was beyond a joke.
He had been staring at her for five minutes. Alex didn't know why. It was disconcerting, it was alluring. She wanted him to stop.
"Do I have something on my face, is that it?"
"Yeah, you do. It's called your nose. What's wrong, Octopussy?"
Everything. Anything. The world spins round on an axis of cruelty.
"Had a friend once who used to say that. Used to shout at radios."
Hunt levelled her with a stare, analysing her in concentration. The unspoken name hung between them, thick as smog and twice as deadly. It wasn't right.
Jimmy talked after the fifth slap, words spilling out with blood and bile. He was a weasel with a superiority complex, wearing fur and gold like insignia. He gave them the skinny on the whereabouts of McMillan and they were hurtling towards the building at perfect pace, lights and sirens wailing like wolves on a hunt.
The place was grungy, dust and grime smeared on the walls and paper fluttering. An oil patch on the ground glinted in the moonlight, black and slick. Danger lurked, pressed into the dark corners, waiting for a wrong footing, a twisted ankle, so it could surge up and claim another life. Not everything she did here had any basis in truth, but for a girl who had been used to getting her own way, she had managed to adapt quickly.
Hunt whispered orders, using hand signals and glares. He checked his piece and started banging it against his palm in furious staccato.
"Shit. Shooter's cocked up. Bloody typical."
Alex pressed her gun into Hunt's hand and smirked. "You know how to use a gun, don'tcha? Just squeeze the trigger and blow."
"What about you?"
"I'll be fine, Hunt. I've been shot before."
It was always a word here, a glance there. Never subtle. He wanted her, she knew it. And she wanted him, that was the hard part. She watched him light his cigarette, the quick flash of flame and spiralling smoke.
"You think you know me," he said, voice low and menacing.
"So what if I do?"
"You don't know nowt."
Hunt took five long, hard drags on his cigarette and stubbed it out, crossing his arms and gazing at her through heavy-lidded eyes. Alex nodded to herself, because he wasn't lying. Alex didn't know fiction from reality, reality from fiction, and half of her thought that if she just gave herself into it, everything would crystallise into meaning.
"I don't know you," Alex repeated eventually. She stepped forward, into the shadow, close to Hunt. She tilted her head to the side. "But you'd like me to."
His hands were rapier quick, but his touch was shockingly soft. He shrouded her in warmth, spinning her into the corner, his face obscured in darkness, his fingers tight around the tops of her arms. She opened her mouth to speak, but he silenced her with a kiss. For a large, fierce man, he was soft and supple and she arched back, lashes fluttering as his tongue slipped between her teeth and they shared the taste of tobacco. Alex could feel herself losing the battle and she wrenched herself away. There was a beat, two.
"I know what happened to Sam."