DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic contains a reworking of a conversation between Rachel and Gill in Episode 2 of Series 3.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To filbertfox.redux[at]gmail.com
SEQUEL: To Whatever Happens in Bristol ...
Miss Bailey Regrets
Rachel Bailey took a long swallow of sparkling wine and grimaced as the acidic, lukewarm liquid rasped its way down her throat and burnt a heartburn-inducing trail down to her stomach. Pausing to stifle a burp against the back of her hand cheap fizz always gave her wind she set the glass down on the table in front of her and looked over towards the crowd of people enjoying themselves on the dance floor. Her husband of a few hours, Sean, was still the centre of attention, cavorting around in his kilt to Take That like the overgrown schoolboy he was.
Shaking her head, Rachel took another swig of wine, no longer caring that it tasted like paint stripper. Nor did she care that she was sitting there like Billy no-mates at her own wedding reception, wearing a face that looked like a wet weekend in Morecambe. It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. It had turned out to be anything but.
Back when she'd been going out with Nick, Rachel had occasionally allowed herself to fantasise about what their wedding day might be like. In her head, she'd built up a picture of walking down the aisle of some quaint little village church in a made-to-measure dress not a meringue of course, something slinky and elegant. Afterwards, a reception at a posh hotel somewhere in Cheshire vintage champagne and canapés on a sun-drenched lawn, all of the male guests in morning suits, that type of thing. Clichéd probably, but she didn't care. Unfortunately though, Nick had turned out to be a corrupt, two-timing weasel who had dumped her, nearly ruined her career, and then gone on to try and have her killed. The aftermath of this little episode had sparked off a chain of events that had eventually culminated in today's hastily arranged trip down the aisle. A trip Rachel now suspected, or rather knew she'd been nowhere near ready to make. After all, how many brides walked down the aisle thinking, well, we could always get divorced?
It hadn't helped that she'd been so distracted by an upcoming disciplinary board hearing that she'd more or less abandoned the role of wedding planner to Sean. Really, Rachel reflected bitterly, she could hardly complain about the cut-price package deal in a dreary Oldham hotel, the cheap Cava and the karaoke machine (although who in the bloody hell had karaoke at their wedding, for fuck's sake?). On top of that, there was Sean's spur-of-the-moment decision to wear a kilt for a laugh. He wasn't even bloody Scottish! Then, Rachel cringed inwardly, there had been her mum. Her embarrassing, drunken, attention-seeking twat of a mother swilling back pints, hogging the karaoke machine, flashing her tits complete and utter fucking nightmare.
Feeling the urge to scream, Rachel counted to ten inside her head. She'd once aspired to a wedding day straight out of a Richard Curtis screenplay. What she'd actually ended up with had been straight out of an episode of Shameless.
It served her right for having ideas above her station, she supposed. For thinking she could escape the scummy little lower-class world she'd been born into. She should've known one day that it would end up sucking her back in. The fact that it had happened in such a public way was just the icing on the sodding cake. That certain people had been there to witness it
Gill, you mean?
Rachel frowned, not wanting to question why thinking about her boss, DCI Murray, should cause her chest to tighten so acutely. She'd been there, done that spent far too many sleepless nights worrying about the implications. Still, she couldn't stop herself darting a brief glance in the direction of the table Gill was sharing with Janet and Ade. The not-so happy couple were still there involved in what looked like a very intense conversation, Rachel noted but of Godzilla, there was now no sign.
Probably got bored of watching the freak show and decided to piss off home, Rachel decided, letting out a sigh as she returned her attention to the dance floor. Hearing Take That give way to Wham!, she reached for her glass and knocked back the inch or so of Cava that remained. She was just debating whether or not to cut her losses and get completely hammered, when the worst thing that could have possibly happened, happened Gill DCI Godzilla herself appeared as if from nowhere.
"I'm off," she announced.
"Oh right " Forcing a smile, Rachel rose from her chair and then stepped forward to kiss Gill on the cheek. She wasn't sure why, it just seemed like the appropriate thing to do, even though the DCI was about as touchy-feely as an electrical substation. Gill had clearly not been expecting it, and Rachel felt her stiffen like a board as contact was made. Flustered, Rachel pulled away. "Thanks for coming," she said awkwardly.
"Thanks for asking me," Gill replied. She paused for a beat, eyes narrowing as she studied Rachel closely. "Are you all right?"
Rachel nodded. "Yeah yeah, I'm just " Shrugging, she looked down at the floor, not quite able to handle the expression of deep concern on the DCI's face.
"You've been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, haven't you?"
Understatement of the century, Rachel thought as the events of the past few months flashed through her head like a DVD on fast-forward:
Nick dead, beaten to a pulp by her brother, Dom.
Dom banged up, insisting that a drunken Rachel had told him that she'd wanted Nick dead.
Rachel, unable to remember and so, crucially, unable to refute the allegation.
Suspended, accused, her career balancing on a knife edge yet again.
Throughout all of it, Sean had been the one constant. He'd stood by her, supported her and, most importantly, he'd believed her without question. He'd been her rock a solid, dependable rock, and as her world began to crumble, Rachel had clung onto him desperately, believing that his love was the one thing stopping her from going under. And so, she'd agreed to marry him had married him.
It was only now, with the dust beginning to settle, that Rachel had come to realise that there had been someone else who'd believed in her. A certain someone who'd sat in front of a discipline board, headed by the Assistant Chief Con herself, and had basically pulled her career back from the brink. Rachel felt her face begin to burn with shame as she recalled the off-hand "thanks, Boss" she'd tossed Gill's way afterwards. But at the time, she'd been so blinded by anger and resentment towards her, the job, the CPS everyone that in her fucked up head, it seemed like all the DCI had done was just state the bloody obvious. She was ambitious and dedicated. She had nailed Geoff Hastings single-handedly. She hadn't done anything wrong. Of course, now, Rachel could see just how hard Gill had fought for her. Shit, she'd even put her own neck on the line by tearing the board off a strip for allowing things to get so out of hand.
"I never did say thanks properly for what you said at the hearing," Rachel said, hearing her voice thicken as she made a concerted effort to look Gill in the eye. Just once, she needed the DCI to know how sincerely grateful she was.
"Yes you did," Gill replied, brushing it off.
"Not properly," Rachel persisted. "Look, Gill what you said "
Running out of words, Rachel sighed hopelessly. She looked down at the floor, not for the first time, wishing that she could turn the clock back to a time when her feelings for the DCI had been simple. Or rather, defined purely by a mixture of deep dislike, frustration and the occasional short burst of admiration. To a time before Bristol, and a frantic fifteen minutes of incendiary sex on top of a hotel bed that had turned her entire world upside-down. Perhaps that was why she'd channelled the lion's share of the anger and frustration that had been caused by her suspension towards Gill. It had provided a useful barrier, Rachel realised, one that had effectively obliterated her fears and doubts.
Rachel flinched, feeling a hand grip her upper arm. She glanced down at it: small, pale, fine-boned, felt the heat of it burning through the fabric of her dress.
"What I said was true, Rachel. Every word of it," Gill said firmly. "You're a bloody good detective and I'm bloody proud to have you in my Syndicate."
Rachel looked up, drawn by the unexpected weight of emotion in Gill's voice. Their eyes met and for a brief, weighted moment, the rest of the world seemed to exist. Then Gill broke the spell. Pausing to squeeze Rachel's arm, she let go. She smiled and Rachel returned it, suddenly feeling a bit better about things. It was strange, but she sensed that she and the DCI had both somehow managed to achieve some level of acceptance.
"Listen, I hope you'll be very happy together," Gill said, turning to look over at the dance floor. "You deserve something nice."
Rachel followed Gill's line of vision and joined her in watching Sean, still blazing a trail in the dance floor with his best man, Kevin. "Yeah, he's nice," Rachel agreed slightly wistfully. "He's very nice he's"
"A bit of a bloke?" Gill finished Rachel's sentence as she observed Sean bend over and flip up his kilt.
Rachel closed her eyes, mortified, thankful only that Sean had been facing the other way and that Gill hadn't been confronted by the sight of his arse. "Yeah." Shaking her head, she turned back to Gill, slightly mollified to see that the DCI looked quite amused. "I suppose I should be grateful that me mum's not up there with him. Mind you, what's she got left to show that everyone in here hasn't already seen?"
"My mum used to be a cleaner up at the Royal Oldham, did I ever tell you?" Gill nodded when Rachel shook her head, surprised. "My dad worked in a bakery. Shifts, so I didn't get to see him that often during the week. When I did, it was usually just the top of his head poking up behind the racing pages. Lived for his Saturdays in the bookies until he dropped dead of a heart attack during the last furlong of the 3.15 at Doncaster."
Rachel opened her mouth and then quickly closed it again, not quite sure how to respond to that.
"Never be ashamed of where you've come from, kid," Gill continued. "Makes you who you are. Puts the type of fire in your belly your average graduate fast-tracker could only dream of. And on that note, I'll see you on Monday, first thing."
Rachel grinned. "Can't wait." The smile became wider, more radiant as she was consumed by a sense of deep, joyful happiness for the first time in well, she couldn't actually remember how long.
"You, Rachel Bailey, need to get a life." Shaking her head, she favoured her DC with an indulgent smile. "Failing that, a honeymoon."
Rachel turned to watch the boss leave and then headed off in the direction of the bar. Surely even a shit-hole like this one could manage a decent bottle of red.
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