Title: How Things Began (21/23)
Rating: T
Author: jlrpuck
Pairing: Ruby Quarles, Elias McCoy
Disclaimer: The characters contained in this story are the products of my imagination; as such, I retain all right to and ownership of them.
Summary: Welcome to the story of how Elias McCoy and Ruby Quarles met, and grew to became the characters we know.
Notes: Thank you to [personal profile] ginamak for acting as a sympathetic listener and excellent sounding board as I frantically penned this tale (and for enabling my Elias McCoy love), and for providing the first crack at beta of it when it was done. Huge thanks, as well, to [personal profile] earlgreytea68 and [personal profile] chicklet73 for their beta work, especially given how utterly insane their lives have been these past months.

Any mistakes in this story are mine, and mine alone.



Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21


The remainder of their honeymoon passed quietly, the days given over to rambles on the property of the hotel, the evenings occupied by supper and, at least a few times, leisurely lovemaking. Ruby would usually wake him up in a pleasant manner as well, one morning luring him into consciousness as she brought him to completion with her mouth, another morning providing him with the glorious sight of her above him, riding him to her own orgasm before his release. It was a blissful haze of amazing company and brilliant sex, and Elias thought that if they could have a week like that every year for the rest of their marriage he’d be able to die a very happy, very content man.

The week came to an end all too quickly, though, and they were soon in the car driving south once more. Ruby was quiet as they passed along the lochs, the snow-covered ground slowly giving way to the boring brown of the lowlands.

“All well?” he finally asked north of Glasgow, when her silence continued unabated.

“I’ll miss it.” She turned to him, her hand finding his. “It was magical, this week.”

“It was.”

“Even if I am a bit sore from it all.”

“I’ll not apologise for that.”

“Nor should you.” She sighed. “It’ll be a rude awakening, going back to work.”

“Do you think we’ve missed anything exciting?”

“Even if we have, I think we had the better end of the deal.” She gazed frankly at him. “Will you be like that at home?”

“Like what? Randy?”

“You’re always randy,” she laughed. “You just seem…happier. And…” She tilted her head, trying to think of a word. “Just more confident. I liked it.”

“Are you saying I wasn’t, before?”

“Confidence is not one of your problems,” she replied drily. “It was just…I liked it. The way you were up there.”

“I’ll remember that.” He kissed her hand, then released it. “Just don’t think I’ll be investing in a pair of handcuffs any time soon. Not for recreational purposes, that is.”

She laughed, and they spent the rest of the drive to his mum’s house talking about anything and everything.

They spent the night in Carsethorn, setting out early the next morning for the long drive south to London. It felt positively tropical by the time they reached their flat, the temperature a good fifteen degrees warmer than they’d experienced for the week, and he was stripped down to his vest by the time they finished dragging their luggage up the stairs. Ruby lured him into the shower once they’d locked the front door behind them, and it was in a much cleaner and more relaxed state of mind that he re-emerged into the flat a half-hour later.

The next day they both returned to work, Ruby going in four hours before him as she’d usually done. It meant he awoke to an empty bed, and came home to find her already in her pyjamas, staying up only to have supper with him before crawling into bed for the night. It had been a fair enough schedule for them before the wedding—if nothing else, it gave them the same days off—but it was frustrating to have to return to it after a week of having Ruby to himself all of the time. He was in a fair foul temper from it by the end of their work week, to the point that Ruby sat him down over breakfast on their first morning off together.

“What’s the problem?” she said without preamble, taking a long sip of her coffee.

“Nothing,” he sighed, gazing down at his tea. His eggs sat on his plate, still untouched.

“None of that.” Her voice held a note of warning, and she set her mug down firmly.

“I just miss having you to myself.”

“But you have me to yourself. I’m your wife.”

“No, I mean: I miss having you to myself during the day.”

Her brow furrowed. “Elias. That’s…” She caught herself, then continued. “Very sweet. But a bit unhealthy, don’t you think?”

“What?”

“I love being with you, too, and enjoyed Scotland quite a bit. But it’s good for us to have some time apart. It makes me miss you, which in turn makes me want to do all sorts of naughty things to you when I get time with you. If we were together all of the time, I suspect that wouldn’t be the case.”

“I know, I know. I just got spoiled by our week of escapist shagging.”

“Is that how you’ve described it to your colleagues?”

“Ah, no.” He glanced up to find Ruby trying not to laugh. “But it was a lovely week, you have to admit.”

“Oh, no arguments from me. And we’ll have to do it again. But to do it again, we need to work. Which, sadly, means keeping our punishing schedule. But, one thing which might help there is that I’ve heard a rumour I’ll soon be set free from the DCI’s clutches.”

“I thought you liked working for him.”

“I do. But I’d prefer to be back on set fieldwork. I miss having my own cases to work, and my own partner.”

“Any idea when?” He picked up his fork, and poked at the now-cold eggs on his plate.

“Not really. Aaron mentioned it when I saw him yesterday; Cunningham hasn’t said a word.”

“Interesting.” Aaron had filled in for Ruby while she’d been on leave. “Will he take your slot, then?”

“I suspect so.” She smiled slowly, “He’s welcome to it, if I get his partner.” Aaron worked with one of the senior DIs, a man renowned for getting the best cases—but also for being a stern taskmaster. Trust Ruby to relish the thought of the challenge, Elias thought.

“And the shift?”

“If I get Channing? We’d be on the same hours, if not the same days off.”

He pondered that. It would mean he’d get to spend more time with Ruby at night, and more time sleeping with her—but they’d not get to drive out of town with so much regularity. Still… “I think I’d like that.”

“Good.” She grinned. “No more sulking, then.”

“I wasn’t sulking!”

“You go on thinking that.”

Aaron’s information turned out to be correct, and within the month Ruby had been reassigned. Aaron happily took over duties as Cunningham’s assistant, while Ruby gladly stepped up as Channing’s DC. The first few weeks after the switch were, predictably, a roller-coaster for Ruby as she got used to dealing with her new partner and his particular peccadilloes. Once she and her new partner found their footing, however, Elias had to admit that she was the happiest he’d ever seen her.

He was amazed by how quickly time began to pass, the calendar seeming to fly by as he and Ruby settled into a happy life together, both of them enjoying the challenges and rewards of their jobs, both of them happy to spend time with each other after the workday ended. It was so…normal. The routine of waking up, of getting ready together and having breakfast together and going to work together; of then riding home together at night—on the subte, something Ruby convinced him to do—then having supper together and relaxing together. The passage of each month was marked only by there being one solid day they’d get off together, and even Twelfth Night passed almost unmarked as the two of them stayed in London for the holiday.

It was with something of a start that he realised, one day, that he’d been working for the Met for four and a half years. He and Ruby had been happily married for over three years, their rows infrequent but quickly settled when they occurred. During that time, in addition to growing together as a true couple, as individuals each of them had built a reputation for being very good at their jobs. He’d begun to hear rumblings about Ruby being promoted, and knew that more than a few people were working to encourage her to do so. Whenever he mentioned it to her she replied that he was one to talk—and the result was that they’d both finally agreed to put in their paperwork for the process. Which was how he’d come to think of how long it had been since they were married, the application requiring him to list relevant dates and time periods for each of the major milestones in his life.

Three years. They’d been married almost as long as he’d known Ruby before they got married. Which was really rather amazing.

He shook his head, returning his attention to filling out the paperwork before him, and then stifled an exasperated sigh at the small electronic noise chirruping from his desk drawer. Tossing his pen down he jerked the drawer open, pulling out the box containing the earpods he’d been issued by the Met. The blasted things were meant to replace his mobile, but they made his skin crawl; he hated the thought of putting them on, the idea that they’d isolate him from the world around him. They chirruped every day now, at the same time; everyone’s seemed to, which only made him view them with more distrust . He’d thought he was being paranoid, until Ruby had confided her own distrust of the devices—but they were two outliers in a department who otherwise seemed to adore the things.

He stabbed at the small discs with a disgusted poke of his finger, then buried them back in his desk drawer. If he didn’t think he’d get slapped with a huge fine for lost property, he’d take the damned things out to the skip and toss them away without a single hint of regret.

“Why don’t you just wear them, Elias?” His partner of two years slid into the desk across from him, not caring that the earpods blinking over his ears made him look like a cartoon. Phillip was from Essex, a fifteen-year veteran of the force who had a keen eye for detail and a fantastic sense of humour. Elias had enjoyed working with Ephraim, but he had to admit he’d learned more under Phillip’s tutelage. It helped, he suspected, that Phillip and he got on as friends as well as partners, to the point that he and Ruby had gone out with Phillip and his wife for dinner many times over the course of their partnership .

“They’re not right.” It was a debate they’d had since the things had appeared, and one that wasn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon.

“You’re a luddite.”

“You’re a lemming.”

“We’re even, then.” Phillip laughed, then noticed the paperwork before Elias. “Finally putting in for that promotion?”

“It was the only way to get the wife to put in for her own.”

“Does Ruby know you refer to her that way?”

“She suspects.”

“Brave man.”

“Aren’t I just? Not bad for a luddite.”

“Are you putting in for the same process?”

“I think so. If nothing else, we can prep each other for the interviews.”

“Will you be upset if she gets promoted and you don’t?”

“D’you really have to ask that question?” Phillip surely knew him better than that, after their time together.

“Some people would. Not you, of course—just some people.”

“I happen to like having a wife who outranks me.”

“And that, right there, is toeing the line of too much information.” Phillip laughed again. “Good luck, let me know what you need—if anything at all, experience-wise.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m here to serve you.”

Elias picked up a piece of paper, balling it up before winging it at his partner.

It was a few months later that the world fell apart around them.

“Eli. Turn on the telly.” It was Ruby, her voice shaking down the line. She’d worked late, dealing with one of the many missing-persons cases the Met had lately been presented with. The statisticians had been going mad with the skyrocketing numbers, and every detective on the force was finding those types of cases to be burying anything else.

“What’s wrong?” He reached for the remote, flicking on what should have been the sport channel. Instead it was showing news, a pale-looking presenter staring grimly at the screen. He heard Ruby answer him even as he read the scroll at the bottom of the screen. Gunfire at Vitex Mansion; President reported dead. “I’m coming in.”

“No!” Ruby’s voice cracked, stilling him. “Elias, stay home. Please. There’s…I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m hearing strange things. You’ll be safest home.”

“But—”

Pleasei.”

He heard commotion outside the window, and hurried to flick off the lights before taking a look out. What he saw made his jaw drop: Lines of people marching down the street, earpods blinking, and what looked to be men in silver suits behind them. “What the hell?”

“What?” Ruby’s voice was alarmed.

“Ruby…I…”

“Eli?” Her voice grew panicked.

“I’m here, Rue. I…I’ll get there when I can. As safely as I can. Don’t you go anywhere. Understand me?”

“You’re one to talk.”

“If you change locations, you call me.” He practically barked the order out as he moved around the darkened flat, hunting for the darkest clothes he had, wondering where he’d put the knife he’d carried in the services and which he’d kept as a souvenir.

“Same for you. Please, please be careful.”

“Aye. I love you.”

“Love you,” Ruby whispered.

He hung up, then glanced contemplatively at his mobile. He hurried back to the window, noting the line of people and the silver-suited men were gone. He needed to move, and fast.

He left the mobile behind when he left the flat, knowing Ruby would be furious with him but unable to ignore the feeling in his gut that it would be a liability . It took what felt like an eternity to get downtown, the usual hour’s walk taking twice that as he ducked and dodged and skulked his way along. He wasn’t the only one out, but he was one of the few who appeared to be able to move of his own volition; and he noticed that everyone who was marching, zombie-like, had earpods on. His jaw was aching by the time he reached Scotland Yard, his teeth clenched from the stress of making it to work; and he was horrified to enter the building only to find it practically empty.

He sprinted up the stairs, making for Ruby’s desk; she was nowhere to be seen, and he felt a flash of panic at the thought that she might have gone looking for him when he didn’t answer his mobile. He scrawled a note for her, leaving it in the spot he always used for his notes to her, then ran back downstairs to his own desk.

Ruby was seated in his desk chair, her head resting on his blotter, her arms splayed out next to her. He desperately hoped she was simply asleep.

“Rue,” he whispered, crouching down next to her, his hand stroking her hair. Her eyes fluttered open, and then she leapt at him, her arms coming around him in a hug.

“I thought they’d got you,” she mumbled into his neck.

“Nae, not me.”

“You didn’t call. And you didn’t answer your mobile.”

“No. I left it home.”

That earned a punch from her, and he winced. “You bastard! You said to call, and you said you’d call me!”

“Aye, but—something didnae feel right.”

Ruby pulled back, her eyebrows furrowing quizzically. She reached down, her hand finding his hip then sliding down; and then she arched her eyebrow. “Is that a knife in your pocket?”

“Aye.” He reached down, pulling it out. “Reckoned I needed something.”

That, oddly, got her to laugh, and led to her leaning into him for a quick kiss.

“So, what’ve I missed?” he asked when she stepped back, his hand sliding to hers.

“Madness. Utter madness.” She told him of how a quiet shift had turned chaotic, news of the President’s assassination spreading through the squad room like wildfire and, in the ensuing confusion, almost everyone in the building streaming outside. “It was like they were zombies, Eli. Just…blank stares. Like—” She waved her hand in front of her face. “Channing was out getting tea—I don’t know where he’s gone, but I think he might be out there with all of the other detectives. It’s like they all got a memo I didn’t, and suddenly reported elsewhere for duty.”

“Why didn’t you go?”

Ruby was seated across from him now, comfortable in Phillip’s chair, and she leaned forward. “Where would I go? Out there, where by all accounts it’s mayhem? I grabbed a radio, started listening to the reports from the PCs; half of it didn’t make any sense. No, far better to stay back here, to try to get a feel for what’s going on and then determine what to do before diving on in.”

“What about the other people here?”

“I know there are some—communications is still running, for one thing, so there are people working the radios. And I saw a few detectives about. But other than that?” She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Anyone in charge upstairs?”

“No one was up there that I saw. Been a while since I wandered through, though.”

He nodded. “Let’s go for a wee wander.”

Most of the people they encountered as they walked through the building were clustered around televisions, watching in shock as the events of the evening were replayed before them. The President was confirmed dead, and many of the leaders of the country—all of them at the Tyler Mansion—were reported to be dead after an attack by some unknown group of people. There were widespread reports of people’s ear pods malfunctioning, complete with some instances of people being killed by them.

It was, without a doubt one of the most harrowing nights of his life—but he counted himself lucky that had Ruby with him.

~ - ~

Chapter Twenty-two
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