He hadn’t bothered going home. Looking back, he wishes he had. But he’d known he wouldn’t be able to sleep and anyway, he’d practically lived at the station, hadn’t he?
~ ~ ~
He’s pacing. CID is empty, the lights low. He’s sent them all home, telling them to rest up, it’s a big day tomorrow. And it is, it’s a massive day. But he’s pacing and pacing, in circles around that chequered floor, hands in his pockets, listening to the silence and all he can think about is Alex.
He’d really thought they were the ones.
He perches on the edge of Chris’s desk and looks at hers. Her nameplate is still there but she’s gone. They’re gone. It doesn’t matter which way he turns it, he can’t see any way back from this. And all he can hear are her words,
(I trust you which is why I’m telling you the truth)
her lies, because they can’t possibly be true.
(Can they, Gene?)
He hears the door open and for a split second, finds himself hoping it’s her. But it’s not. It’s Jeanette.
‘How many nights d’you spend here on your tod?’
His legs are stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankle, hands still in his pockets. He just looks at her, asking the silent question but not really caring about the answer. He’s just...glad to see her.
‘Front desk were making coffee.’
Like she’d heard him.
‘Ain’t Fort Apache this, really.’
And she has his attention.
‘You like Westerns?’
She perches on Drake’s desk, opposite, mirroring his posture. He’s glad not to see that nameplate any more.
‘Wayne, Stewart, Cooper or Eastwood? It’s important.’
‘Wayne for the machismo, Stewart for the warmth. Cooper for the romance. Eastwood for the mystery.’
‘But not for the romance.’
‘No, not for the romance.’
‘Not against a bit of romance though, are you?’
She’s smiling that smile again, like she knows him. Knows what he wants. He doesn’t know what she wants and stands, takes a step closer. She hasn’t stopped coming on to him since they met but that was all a ploy, wasn’t it? And it wasn’t what he wanted.
‘What d’you want from me, Jeanette?’
‘You have to ask?’
Beautiful women don’t come on to him like this. They tell him to piss off and leave him pacing the office late at night, on his own. They tell him he’s a Neanderthal and a thug.
They act like they can be trusted and then slip a knife between his shoulder blades.
‘I like to think I don’t scare easily.’ She’s standing too, so small, and her hands are playing with his lapels again. ‘But...I’m lonely, Gene. And I just think, if you admit the same then may...’
He shuts her up with a kiss.
He doesn’t want to think about how alone he is.
~ ~ ~
He wonders now if he’ll ever get the chance to admit to that little indiscretion. Or even if he would, given the chance. He doesn’t like to dwell on it now but it’s hard, at times. Those few days, they’re on a constant loop in his head until the whiskey slows it down to the point where the gaps between memories are far enough apart to stop hurting so much. But he never forgets that bit and never stops cursing himself for it. Hadn’t he made himself look stupid enough? Half an hour in his office with some tart who took him in and played on everything that was already raw. And it wasn’t like it was her kneeling in front of him at all. All he’d thought about was brown hair and hazel eyes; the more he’d tried to push them away the stronger they’d become. The more he’d thought about her, the more he’d felt the loss and no amount of blonde slags sucking him off would make it better. He knew that now. He just wished he’d known it at the time.
~ ~ ~
At least there’s the job to take his mind off it. They’ve got everything planned, everyone knows what they’re doing. And everyone knows that if they see Drake within two miles of the bullion route, they’re to nick her. He bloody means it as well. Really.
Chris is sitting tight until he gets the nod from his bent mates. Ray’s following the bricks. The Quattro’s on backup, circling the area until they know for sure where it’s going to happen, ready to descend. And this is good, this is easy. This is the sweet bit of the job; fast car on the chase, bad guys ready to be nicked, blood high and your trusted colleagues sitting next to you.
‘King Douglas, bloody rubbish. They’ll hit ‘em in the High Street.’
He gets on the radio and tells them so.
‘Under starter’s orders. We’re in the sweet spot, boys!’
He can practically hear them grinning.
‘I love the sweet spot. D’you love the sweet spot?’
The lads get it. Much better than any poxy girls. And everything else starts to disappear. This is what it’s all about. This is what matters.
Until Viv gets on the radio. Then it all starts coming back because there’s a fire on the High Street and traffic’s getting diverted.
To King Douglas bloody Lane.
He sits for the space of three heartbeats or so, letting out a breath that could be a snarl if it were just a bit louder. If there was anything he didn’t want her to be right about, it’s this.
(What else could she be right about?)
She’s still a liar. It just means...it must mean she knew more than she ever let on. Maybe he was wrong to give her any benefit of the doubt yesterday. He’d told himself that no, she couldn’t be in on it. But if she knew where it was going to happen (they told her at Hendon?) then she must be involved. Maybe she was working with young Summers and the dislike of him was all a ruse. Maybe...there’s no time for this. Foil the blag, the rest can wait. He swings the car around and heads towards King Douglas Lane.
‘Ray. Hang back. Let the blaggers ‘ave their fun. We need to nail those bastard coppers as well.’
For a few moments, he doesn’t know whether he’s more angry about this heist, that Drake appears to be involved in it or himself for having been taken in all this time. He swears as he drives, hitting the steering wheel, desperate to get there. Because she’s there. He knows it. He can feel it. Involved or not, there’s nowhere else she’d be today.
It’s bloody Carnegie, from Fenchurch West. As he pulls up, he sees him with his arm around Chris, he remembers him just the day before in his office, asking him to sort out the murder of young PC Summers. When all the time, he was working with the man who killed him. So it’s satisfying, seeing him flattened all over the bonnet of the Quattro and then yanking on the brake to make him hit the ground hard.
‘Carnegie, you’ve just been Quattro’d!’
His lads swoop in, he’s glad to see Chris getting stuck in with the rest. He sorts a couple out himself but he’s looking around the whole time because he knows she’s bloody well here somewhere. The lads are cuffing the bent cops, Ray’s having the time of his life, Chris has gone haring off down the road after a runaway; he stands for the briefest moment, closes his eyes...and then turns on his heel, disappears off down a side street.
She’s standing there with a man he’s never seen before, having a gun pointed at her. He doesn’t think, he just pulls his Magnum out and levels it at him. No bastard pulls a gun on his DI.
They’re talking and he hears something
(‘when I saw you couldn’t be corrupted, I knew you’d uncover Rose’)
that makes hope explode in his chest. It makes things start to fit back into place. But there’s no time to analyse it; he just waits for his moment and then;
‘Police! Drop it. I will shoot.’
He cocks the gun. The bloke looks over and smiles.
He doesn’t lower his gun. It’s still pointed right at Drake’s head and he can’t have it. Even if he suspected her, really still suspected her, he couldn’t have that. And the man is still smiling and cocking his gun and turning it to the side and that’s all he needs. Gene pulls the trigger and watches him drop.
‘Who is it?’
He’s not dead. Not yet. There’s still time.
‘He’s a copper.’
Yes. A copper. He drops to his knees next to him, slides his hand under the weight of his head, getting heavier by the second. It’s alright. He knows how to do this bit.
‘Just a sick...DI. I messed up. I’m sorry.’
‘Yeah. ...I’m scared.’
It’s quiet in his head. Somewhere, as if far away, he hears the call of a crow above the wind. He knows what it’s like to be scared.
‘D’you remember? Young copper. Ready t’put the world to rights. Spic an’ span, very proud. D’you remember that?’
Gene remembers that.
‘...hold on t’that thought. It’s a good ‘un.’
The man half-smiles, and says ‘it is,’ and dies right there in his arms.
For a moment or two, he stays there. He puts the guy back down to the floor and looks at him. They were all young coppers once. They were all spic and span and very proud. Somewhere along the line, they all mess up but that’s why h...
He’s jolted away from a memory by a gunshot.
Jeanette. And she’s holding a gun to Alex’s head.
‘I don’ believe this! Where’s me bleedin’ money?!’
It only takes a second for the realisation to hit. And he finds that he’s not surprised, not even the tiniest bit. Because beautiful women don’t do that with him, do they?
‘You’re on your own, Jeanette. Whatever he offered you t’get between us, it was a lie.’
He’d love to be able to say it hadn’t worked.
‘It’s over, luv.’ His gun comes up, pointed at that blonde head that isn’t as pretty now it’s wearing that snarl. ‘Let her go.’
She stares at him, her gun tight to Alex’s head. And no, he can’t have this. Drake starts yelling for him to just do it but he can’t, not with her right there, what if...Drake hits her, Jeanette fires wildly in his direction and he’s ducking out of the way and his finger squeezes the trigger without him knowing anything about it.
Jeanette’s running away.
And Alex is falling.
It’s so quiet here. No traffic, no birds. Just him, standing over her, with a gun smoking in his hand.
(Please, not her)
They arrive, all of them. Chris and Ray and Shaz. He can feel them at his shoulder, his team. But no one can move. They all just watch her bleeding out on the ground, stunned into immobility, watching her die.
~ ~ ~
Was that the moment of rock bottom? He can’t remember, now. It doesn’t matter. Those few days, they were one long moment of rock bottom and he hasn’t found a way to crawl free yet. Oh, he’s free. He has all the Scotch he can drink, he has sun and sea and the best full English you could ever want. But he doesn’t have his office, or his team. He doesn’t have her.
Maybe tomorrow he’ll be able to go home. He’s just waiting for that call. He knows it’s coming.