This is my vision of how DCI Gene Hunt may well get on with his new female sidekick in the Uk TV series Ashes to Ashes, which will be a spin-off to the popular Life On Mars that will be screened in 2008. You will really need to have seen the original show to get the backstory. It's a slow burner though!
Alex looked up from her desk as she heard the crashing noise, peered out of the internal window of her office into the office proper. Even before her eyes sought out and found the offender, moving purposefully now towards his own office that sat adjacent to hers - parting alarmed officers in his wake -she well recognised the sound of DCI Gene Hunt's door slamming by now. She had been here long enough as well to match the strength of the slam to his mood. Today, there was no doubt. He was particularly pissed off.
Her light eyes now focused quite clearly on him as he stopped abruptly just short of his office door. Through the partly-drawn blinds she could see his not-insubstantial frame quite clearly, rocking back and forth on his heels. He was suddenly considering, she realised, on whether to turn and seek refuge elsewhere, away from all these "bloody fags and nancies", probably in the warmth of the nearest hostelry. His jaw was set in one of barely- controlled rage.
No doubt he'd just been in with the boss, she thought to herself. Because whereas the Gene Hunt of 1973, she was certain, would have said whatever had come into his brain even to his superiors, and left the office smiling – the Gene Hunt of 1981 had learnt, however painful, it was on occasion better not to give your boss the most savage tongue lashing.
You see, this Gene Hunt had learnt to rein in at least a few of the most unacceptable traits of his personality to protect himself from the rising numbers of bosses that would have loved to have pensioned him off by now and were often just looking for that excuse. Their enthusiasm to get rid of him though was certainly for macho competitive reasons than whether he was actually a good cop, that had become clear. Although Alex knew Hunt was still the bigoted, racist, sexist, violent wildcard DCI Sam Tyler had described prior to his accident. Still a man keener to beat a confession out of a man than use the skill of the interview, Hunt had not changed.
But she had been here for six months already and seen the subtle but obvious differences from the man described by Sam. Hunt was now certainly reining himself in – but only to his own methods, and where necessary. The recorded version of an interview now happened, but only after the muffled, off-record one in the cells – although he took greater care these days not to bruise. The bribes – something she knew Sam had tried to stamp out -had invariably become more necessary to get results without violence. But he always seems to come up smelling of roses, however, with that "What me?" pseudo-innocent smile.
But a repressed Gene, she had learnt in just these six months, was also a considerably angrier, frustrated, and dare she say it - even slightly more dangerous – Gene. Like a lion in a wolf's clothing, even his clothes could not hide his true nature. He wore an attempt of a smart suit, a nod towards the emerging era of the power executive, but it was ill fitting, the tie was pulled messily – by him no doubt – at an angle. He had also attempted to slick back the sides of his hair – but instead the mid-length dirty blonde/greying locks refused to be tamed, and fell about his face in a nod towards the sideburns he used to have, long since shaved. With the addition of a pair of aviator shades, the look was one of a man's man, rough-edged but suffering attempts at grooming, a man of the seventies forced to operate in a decade and place that he didn't fit.
A feeling she well knew.
You see, had you of said to DCI Alex Drake – a sensible, some might say slightly posh, well educated north Londoner – but a few months prior that eventually she would find herself in this bombastic, nightmare-fantasy world she now either lived or dreamed in, she would have laughed – or probably more realistically, filed a record of it in her Met psych files and made a note to send herself off for therapy. But here she was. She well knew from her experiences investigating Sam Tyler's case that 'here' was really a hospital ward and she was seriously in la-la land following some kind of accident. But what she didn't know – or at least, what she hadn't been expecting from even her reading of Sam's notes – was just how vivid the la-la land really was.
The other thing she hadn't been expecting though was the effect Gene Hunt would have on her. That is, that a strong-willed, educated, liberal, post-feminist such as herself would after six months be developing some extremely disturbing feelings for the - what had Sam said? The "overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding."
Even now, as she looked out of the window at the 'Guv', she felt her heart and head clash spectacularly for the umpteenth time since she had begun to realise the fact she spent much of her waking hours obsessing about his behaviour perhaps pointed to other things.
Her heart told her, that in 1981, she wasn't the only alien, out of step, and out of time. Despite the fact he was an arsey, frustrating, wilful bully who had made her job a bloody nightmare since she'd first walked through that door, she also knew that, although in 1973 he threw off offensive remarks for the pure joy of simply being him, these days the remarks had become more like shields he used to fend off those people he found unnecessary, self-obsessed, indecisive, apologetic, and generally dull. In other words, anyone who wouldn't let him do his job the way he saw fit.
But, despite his efforts, she knew he could never win, and for this her every sense wanted to help him.
Her head told her however, that hurting Gene Hunt – this pacing lion who had lost his jungle - was the only way she would ever get home to her daughter. Molly, the centre of her life that she missed so badly, at times she felt as if she were missing a limb.
Again, for the umpteenth time, she closed her eyes and felt her chest begin the throb with a pain she imagined must be the reality of a heart beginning to tear.
And again, she asked herself: "How did I get here?"
The details of her accident were extremely hazy. Even six months on, Alex could only remember a row with her wilful daughter at home, in 2007, rudely interrupted. Then darkness, a flash, and then – 1981. Then she had been in her London station, except it wasn't, and then she was introduced by a man in chief inspectors stripes to a team, told it was hers (again; it wasn't), and that "it was great the force was trying something new."
It had come to light that she was head of a 'new' type of team that was involved in psychological profiling, her name was still DCI Alex Hunt, she had two DIs working for her – both men – and her team was being twinned with another DCI's who was "in need of some soft soap." The man who told her this was again the man with chief stripes, a man who she now knew as Chief Inspector Nantwich.
"You'll soon meet the DCI in question. A real rough touch. Basically, anything you can do to prove he's the psychopath we know he is, then all's good," Nantwich had said, his slight frame looking smaller still as he sat behind his oversized desk. "If not, at least you'll have improved the look of the station, hur hur..."
Etc etc. It hadn't taken her long to figure out what had happened. She was in hospital, in a coma, and was having an extremely similar dream experience to DCI Sam Tyler. Except not quite. It was obviously not the seventies, and these people around her were not the same.
Take her DIs. One, DI Long, was barely there, and certainly not at all interested in working in a new team. "What are your – qualifications – exactly?" she had remembered asking him, shakily, in those first few days as she tried to make sense of the world around her, get used to being without Molly (as if she ever could).
"Well, my mother was a psychic..but to be honest, I thought that was bollocks. I'm really on the sick, and there's nothing else I'm fit for," he had replied, dully.
So she had almost fallen over herself then when she had met her other officer. DI Taylor was both her own age, apparently bright, keen, and also, it appeared, extremely modern. It was a massive relief, and a comfort.
"This is a great opportunity ma'am. I mean, this is the future isn't it? Understanding why they are what they are...it'll be sure to help us catch them," he had smiled, his not-unhandsome face like a ray of light piercing a chaotic and unfamiliar world. "And can I say, how great it is to be working with a female DCI..."
Slowly, it all began to piece together. She was in 1981, still a DCI, still based out of Bermondsey, and still essentially doing the same job as she had ever been. Except whereas in her world her work was routine, here she was a pioneer. And a female one, to boot. Personally, her old flat in Docklands was nowhere to be found. Instead, it appeared she lived out of a single room in a less-than-bijou Brick Lane. But the basics were there.
Except of course, Molly. Even now, six months on, just the memory of her sweet, yet sly, sixteen year old face brought tears to Alex's eyes. But it was something she had realised early on, that is she was going to survive just as Sam had, it was a memory she couldn't dwell on. Instead, she had to focus. On getting home.
The true reality of what was going on only hit her a good week after she 'arrived' however. When, as she stood in her new office, staring at the piles of alien paperwork that piled up on her desk where usually she would expect a PC, she heard heavy footfalls leading their way up to her door. And then...
He had come barging through the door, his fist raised, obviously already prepared for a fight. But then he had stopped. Looked at her, confused. Barked: "Love, I'm looking for a DCI Hunt. Seen the sod, have you?"
For a moment, she had wondered who this man was. "Well...if you're looking for DCI Alex Hunt...well, that's me," she had replied.
To which he had looked at her with such an expression of confusion, mixed with hilarity, denial, shock and horror she knew at once that her initial impressions of where she was had been somewhat left of centre. She looked at him, then looked at him again. The clothes were different...but the face...
"You're...you're Hunt, aren't you," she had said. And time had suddenly seemed to stop.
She had known who he was, not just from a hunch, nor from some physical information gleaned from Sam's recorded notes of experiences. But because, in 2007, she had seen a photograph of DCI Gene Hunt. Unlike Sam, she had found out, Hunt had never just existed in his mind. He had been real.
How had she known this? Because as the chief psych profiler in her unit, she had been briefly drafted in to give an opinion on Sam's mental state as part of an internal investigation into what was eventually his death. She had known Sam – not well – and met with him a few times before he saw fit to throw himself off the roof of his Manchester station. She had seen his body, seen that ivory face, broken and bruised.
But something hadn't made sense. When she had looked at his face, she had realised, it wasn't the face of Sam Tyler. It was the face of a man who looked very much like him, but it wasn't him. In fact, it was as if Sam had never been in that body at all. It had spurred her on to dig a bit deeper. Something, she knew, didn't sit with this case. He had been confused following his return to conciousness, but depressed? Suicidal? No. Something else had happened to Sam, she was sure. The evidence said he was dead – but something niggled inside her head, said something else. Crazy.
So she had set about some research of her own. And almost immediately, stumbled upon records of a mysterious police officer who had turned up from nowhere to serve in Manchester City police force in 1973. A DI Sam Williams, who went for sometime undercover to monitor the systems used by a certain wildcard - DCI Gene Hunt.
Hunt, she had found out, had been saved by DI Sam Williams in 1973. The DI had saved him physically in the train shoot-out. This went totally against what Sam Tyler had claimed in 2006 – who had obviously been struggling with the idea he had left Hunt & co to die - which had piqued her interest even further into what may have really happened to Sam Tyler. But what had interested her just as much was that Williams had then gone on and saved Hunt from losing his job.
Although the DI had been sent in to find evidence against Hunt, to tackle his policing methods that some of the more senior officers were beginning to have problems with, in the end the officer had actually argued against his pensioning off following the train job. Williams had argued that despite his failings, Hunt was a good, if not great, copper. He deserved a second chance. And miraculously, despite very firm arguments against this by a DCI Morgan, Hunt had got it. He had been packed off for 'advanced training', been read the riot act, but been allowed back. The records of beatings had tailed off significantly after that.
So much so that in 1980, she had found a newspaper report of a DCI Hunt being transferred to London to tackle 'emerging threats' due to his 'exceptionally high clear-up record.' Accompanied by a photograph of exactly the same, scowling, rough-edged man that stood before her now. The same man that was now, apparently, talking.
"Sorry...what?" she asked.
"I said, you deaf bint, you can't be Drake, because you're a woman. Now who the hell are you, and be quick, as believe me I'm the last man here you want to be telling porkies to."
At which point she had, despite herself, immediately become annoyed. But also, she had realised later, vaguely excited. She was actually meeting this man, whom Sam had detailed so carefully, but whom she had found out, had actually lived. She couldn't help herself. Wherever she was, for this instance, she wanted to rise to the occasion, see whether she could tackle the infamous, nightmarish, Gene Hunt.
So she had retorted: "I am Alex Drake, I'm a psychological profiler, a DCI, and oh yes, thanks for reminding me – wow, I've got tits. But I think you'll find our current PM has too."
At this, Hunt had took a step back, and looked at her, hard. He snarled: "If that's what passes for a woman these days."
"You mean a woman who's not just happy to sit in the kitchen cooking for unappreciative fat bastards like you, well I guess yes." Looking back, she couldn't believe how out of character she had been. She had been so familiar, so judgemental, also... swearier. Like some DCI Tennison character. But it was only natural, she had reasoned with herself later. She knew him already. And he represented...a challenge.
Alex could barely admit it to herself, but when she had listened to Sam's descriptions of Hunt, she had become incredibly interested in the larger-than-life DCI that Tyler had described. He had seemed awful, yet at the same time far from a bastard. He was hugely loyal to his team, his city, and it seemed, his wife. And it was obvious Sam had come to similar conclusions. There was a deep fondness in the way Sam had spoken about him, even when he had obviously been at his most frustrated with his methods. She understood why.
In her time, she had never met a man such as this one. Someone who seemed so very passionate, yet so very flawed.
But back to the past. He had spoken: "You guess, do you? Well I say - bollocks."
Hunt had then approached her desk, pushing his sleeves up in what she imagined was theatrical effect, though she could also see he had been slightly wrong-footed by the way she had spoken.
"Now shut it, and let me tell you how this is going to work. I don't care who you are, tart or not, it's obvious to me you are supposed to be checking up on me. I have no idea what you do or what your supposed talent is, but I imagine it involves being a pretty good shag or Nantwich wouldn't have you in here on some pretence. It's also obvious you think you have one over on me. Well, you haven't. Whatever anyone's told you is bollocks, as you'll never know me unless I want you to."
He leaned on the desk and looked her squarely in the eyes.
"I'll work with your team, because I know I have to be seen to to keep this job, which is the only thing I give a shit about as it lets me lock up bastards and run around with a gun, but I'm only going to pretend to, but no-one will notice as I pretend pretty good these days, and you're a woman so Nantwich will only listen to you if he thinks there's a roll in the hay in the offing so not really give a shit.
"I see you're not married -" at which point he indicated to her empty ring finger, "So there's no husband, and even if there was I could beat all sorts of shit out of him anyway and say he was jealous of my sexual magnetism. But what I'm saying is, you are all ALONE so any pretence you have of being one up on me is a girly fantasy that probably also involves Barbie & Ken, the latter whom you find vaguely attractive as he's got no bloody cock to scare you with."
Alex's head swam. Up until he had said 'alone' she had been feeling utterly unmoved by what was essentially a stream of pointless vitriol. But when he had said it, she felt as if the wind had been kicked out of her. All she could see was Molly's face, and all she could think of was the vast distance that stood between her and her daughter. It was if Hunt had looked at her for a second, looked into her insides, seen her one weak spot, and smacked it with a bloody great police baton.
She looked down for a moment, to compose herself. When she did she was Hunt had a great shit-eating, triumphant look on his face. He started again, like a tiger moving in for the kill.
"Tell you what," he had then roared: "If you want I'll have a word with Nancyboy, tell him that really you'd like to pack it in, go and find yourself a nice doctor to marry, and have those kids you know you really wanted but are probably just about a bit too old to have now. What are you – 35? I mean, leave it much longer, and you'll only have a life made up of staring bastards like me down during the day, failing, and watching Jim'll Fix It every Saturday night in tears for means of fun. But you know that don't you? Life isn't fun trying to match up to the guys is it? Especially as the best it is going to give you is a job you had to shag you way up to get, working with bigger bastards than me who would rather slag you off that tell you to your face they'll never take you seriously."
At which point, she admitted, she had lost her customary cool. She got overemotional.
"All of what you say, DCI Hunt, may well be true," she had replied: "But you can keep your fucking misogynist views to bore your long suffering wife with."
She had then stood up, leant forward, and matched him stare for stare across the desk.
"I'm here to stay, at least until I figure out what I need to, and then I'll be glad to leave you to, probably, drink yourself into oblivion. Just one thing – you won't believe me, of course, but I have worked my way up to DCI because I'm bloody good. Normally I would never lower myself to convince anyone, never have to, but to make my time here easier, and more importantly, more fun, I can see that's what I need to do. So bring it on, DCI. Give me the toughest job you have and watch me go do it faster and better than any of yours. Then come back to me and tell me I don't know what a cock looks like, because I've probably got one, metaphorically speaking, bigger than yours, plus I look considerably hotter in a dress."
For a moment, her words just hung in the air. She stared at him, he at her. There was only one word for it - electric. She could see his mind working, working, deciding which way he was going to go next, and she hoped it was somewhere where – in her current weakened state – she could cope with. But where he did go, she realised later, was probably the place she least expected.
He had lowered his head, and moved back, away from her.
"My wife," he had said, suddenly very quietly. "Died last year. It's why I came to this southern, fake, unfriendly shithole, because every corner of Manchester was another bloody place she's been shopping or nattering with her mates."
Again, Alex felt herself wobble. Shit. The wife had been alive in Sam's time. She'd assumed.
He continued: "Now you can mention anything else you like about me. Call me a fat bastard, a boozer, a bully. But don't mention my bloody wife. And never ask me about it either. Because I don't give a shit whether you're a shrink or not, and whether your nancy boyfriends normally wet themselves with excitement as you probe their tiny minds, I don't want to talk about that ever, that nor anything else, and if you try, well you may be a woman, but I'll will slap you."
"I'm – I'm..."
"And don't say sorry, you stupid cow. You weren't to know. Though I have absolutely no idea why I just told you that, or indeed why your language is so bloody filthy. Or why you just spoke to me like somehow you think you bloody know me."
He had looked at her, warily, before continuing: "So bollocks to this. Okay. I believe you, you're a bird, and you're a DCI, and we're supposed to be working together. Also, I think we can now safely tick the 'blazing row' and 'inappropriate emotional sharing' boxes for our fledging relationship you are no doubt recording in some sodding book to send me down with at a later date.
"But for now, if you are going to be any use other than making the tea or having a nice arse we can all look at, it will come out in time. I seriously doubt it, but you're a new type of tart aren't you, and if you're going to make it easier for me to lock up bastards then that's going to be good for us both. Until then, though, stay out of my face."
To which, he had stormed out of the door, leaving Alex standing – but only just.
She wasn't sure who had just won. It was only afterwards she realised he hadn't mentioned the thing she would have expected immediately. That is, her skin colour.