This is my first fanfic - please review kindly!

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It's the evening after Alex has witnessed her parents being blown up for the second time. In Luigi's, the team are celebrating Shaz's discharge from hospital. Gene calls over to Alex, asking her to join them, and she wanders over to the their table. Most of the group are rowdy but Gene is regarding Alex through narrowed eyes.

"You're still here, then." Gene exhales a lungful of smoke in Alex's direction and pours her a glass of house red.

"It would seem so," Alex agrees. "You're not getting rid of me just yet, after all."

"You don't look too happy about it. What's the matter, aren't we good enough for you? Missing your pony and your little place in the country?"

Smiling slightly, Alex gives a small shake of her head. "Actually," she says, looking up at Gene, "I was just beginning to quite enjoy it here."

Gene throws her a speculative look, wondering if she's trying to tell him something. "So what's it as is making you so grumpy? We're supposed to be a celebration and you look as happy as a hooker with herpes." He pauses as a thought occurs to him. "Or is there something – someone – you're just dying to get home to?"

Alex looks down, Molly filling her thoughts and disappointment dimming her eyes.

"You could say that, yes," Alex murmurs, picking up her glass and taking a thoughtful sip. Gene looks away uncomfortably, imagining Alex and some fantasy lover, tall, smooth and probably southern. He's unwilling to admit how much the idea bothers him.

Alex gives herself a mental shake. She's here now, and as she's no real idea when or if she'll be getting home again, she may as well make the most of it. She continues, "But plans can change in the blink of an eye and it appears that whatever's waiting for me at home will have to wait a bit longer."

"So we can expect the pleasure of your company in the office tomorrow, then, Bolly?" Gene only realises he's holding his breath when she gives an elegant nod as an answer. Draining her glass, she clarifies, "But I might be late." She holds out her glass for a refill and Gene pours hefty measures for them both.

There's a pause. Gene looks intently across at his DI, notes how the wine has brought a flush to her cheekbones and a sparkle to her eyes. She looks beautiful. He's about to speak when Ray leans across to catch Gene's eye.

"Guv, we're thinking of heading out to Ritzies. You know, make a night of it. Celebrate having Shaz back." Ray's speech is beginning to slur and his eyes are more bloodshot than normal. Alex notices that Ray and the rest of the gang have progressed from exuberant rowdiness to downright rabble-rousing. Ray continues, "Are you coming?"

Alex glances quickly towards Gene. She knows she wants to stay here at Luigi's, knows she wants to continue her conversation with Gene. But the Guv is nothing if not a loyal leader and she reckons he will want to share the team's celebration at Shaz's recovery.

Feeling torn, Gene risks a glance at Alex, only to look away quickly when he catches her eye. He makes a decision. He doesn't know how many more opportunities there will be to spend time with Alex – her obsession with getting home means she could leave him any day – and he's honest enough with himself to admit that he wants to take this chance to get close to her, even if that means letting his team down.

"Raymundo, I'm afraid you'll have to lead the troops into Ritzies on this occasion. The Gene Genie is staying in the bottle this evening." He shrugs apologetically. "It's been a long day." Ray looks confused and a little hurt. He looks at Alex and asks if she fancies coming along. "Oh no, thank you, I think I'll leave the disco dancing to you youngsters," she replies dryly.

Ray launches into a rambling attempt at changing their minds but is halted midway through by Shaz tugging on his sleeve. He looks across at her questioningly and she giggles then leans over to whisper something in his ear. Ray's eyes bulge and he splutters a mouthful of red wine across the table. "No way!" he mumbles disbelievingly, looking from Gene to Alex and then back again. Shaz and Chris collapse into giggles. Alex, embarrassed, looks at the ceiling. Gene shoots a filthy stare towards Ray, Shaz and Chris. "Pull yourselves together," he snarls, "you're acting like a bunch of schoolgirls who've just had their first slow dance."

The team, under the influence of too much red wine and excited by the prospect of a night on the town, is not to be subdued, even by Gene Hunt's sarcastic retorts. They gather coats and bags and head off, laughing, towards the stairs, taking much of the evening's cheerful atmosphere with them. Left alone in the booth with Alex, Gene tops up their glasses and calls Luigi over for a new bottle.

As Luigi arrives, Alex slips off to the ladies. Uncorking the bottle, Luigi asks Gene why he and Miss Drake haven't left to continue the party with their friends.

Slumping back in his chair, Gene replies, "I dunno, Luigi. Maybe it's my old joints, protesting at the idea of unnecessary movement."

Luigi throws a sly smile in Gene's direction. "Maybe it is, my friend. Or maybe it's the fact that your old joints prefer the company of Miss Drake to that of Mr Carling and the others."

Gene's eyes narrow impatiently. "How many times do I have to tell you? DI Drake is a colleague, nothing more," he bites out. Luigi bows his head in apparent agreement, although his eyes remain focused on Gene's. "Of course, Mr Hunt. That is why you sit here alone and look sad but sit here with Miss Drake and look – well – alive."

Gene shifts in his seat and then winces as he downs another slug of house red. "I don't know what you mean, Luigi. The Gene Genie doesn't need anyone to make him look alive. Certainly not DI Drake."

Luigi picks up the corkscrew and slowly replaces it in his pocket. "Mr Hunt. We are both men of the world, are we not?" Gene casts a guarded look in Luigi's direction. "Well, you're from Italy, I'm from Manchester, so I suppose you could say that," he replies.

Luigi smiles conspiratorially. "We both know that Miss Drake is a special woman." Gene grunts, but Luigi continues regardless. "In my experience, my friend, you must take your chances where you can find them." Luigi notices Alex's approach from the bathroom and begins his retreat back to the bar. "Remember," he whispers in Gene's direction before turning away, "she's a special woman. Are you going to let her get away?"

Gene slumps lower in his seat, consciously trying to block Luigi's comments from his mind. He catches sight of Alex making her way back towards him, and recognises the truth of Luigi's words – his DI is certainly special. A glimpse of cleavage is revealed as she navigates between tables and chairs and he feels his gut twist in response. Long neglected desires and ambitions battle for recognition within him but Gene is determined not to give in. He doesn't need any complications in his life, definitely no complications in the form of a tall, mouthy, posh bird who challenges his every definition of feminine desirability. His head tells him to call it a night, to get Luigi to make sure Bolly gets home safe and scarper before he does something he'll regret. But Gene is not in the habit of taking the easy way out, still less of following his head rather than his instinct. And his instinct is telling him to stay exactly where he is.

Alex flops onto the chair opposite Gene. She's woozy from the wine, although not so drunk that she's lost the ability to question herself and her feelings. Like Gene, she's aware that she's on the cusp of an important decision. His attitude towards her lately has left her confused; on the one hand he remains his usual aloof, sarcastic self, yet on the other she's seen glimpses of tenderness, vulnerability even, and the more he's tried to hide them, the warmer she's felt towards him. And she also realises that she's beginning to rely on him to protect her, to help her get home to Molly. For a woman with a fierce independent streak, it's unsettling for her to find that she needs someone else's help, especially when that someone else is the fully unreconstructed Gene Hunt.

Gene fills their glasses and settles back in his chair. "Well, Bolly. At least you're looking a bit less miserable now. You could've turned the milk sour earlier."

"It's been nice to be in the company of people so happy to be alive. It rubs off on you, you know?"

Gene shrugs. "Not on me, it doesn't. They'll drink too much, act like idiots in a poncey nightclub and regret it all in the morning."

Smiling wryly, Alex agrees about the hangover. "But," she continues, "isn't it wonderful to see Chris and Shaz so happy? She's so vibrant, so full of life. She could be the making of Chris, if he lets her."

Gene gives a dismissive wave of his hand. "If Chris knows what's good for him, he'll play a bit harder to get and then she'll be grateful for whatever crumbs he throws at her."

"Is that the extent of your approach to human relationships, then, Gene? Treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen?"

"Certainly leaves you a lot less likely to be on the wrong end of Cupid's arrow and a sharp prick in the backside."

Alex sighs in frustration. "But there's so much pleasure to be had in opening up to someone. Being intimate with them." She pauses, wondering if she's said too much but deciding to plough on anyway. "Intimacy doesn't have to be threatening, you know, Gene. It doesn't have to make you vulnerable. A partnership of equals can be empowering, even liberating."

Scowling, Gene stares into the bottom of his empty glass. She seems to believe what she's saying but it's so alien to him he's struggling to decide what to do next. He wants to follow his instincts – desperately wants to take what Alex seems to be offering – but he's still unsure, still afraid of opening up.

Alex leans towards him and looks at him searchingly. She reaches to touch his hand, but he jerks away as if he's been burned. He's confused, his physical longing for Alex contradicting his instinctive preference for isolation. He stands abruptly and mutters something about making a phone call. He heads towards the payphone at the bar and dials a fictitious number, his back towards Alex sitting alone in the booth.

Luigi has been following Gene's unusual behaviour and notices that Alex seems to be gathering her belongings and preparing to leave. He hurries over to her, determined to make one final attempt to make his favourite clients see sense.

"Miss Drake, it is good to see you looking so happy this evening." Alex looks up and pauses in her packing. "It is also a pleasure to see you and Mr Hunt together again."

Laughing softly, Alex replies, "Hardly together, Luigi. I honestly don't think Mr Hunt will ever lower the barriers enough to be together with anyone."

Raising an eyebrow, Luigi feels compelled to make Alex view the situation differently. "Mr Hunt, he is a good man, you know. He has not been the same since you arrived in his team. You bring out emotions in him that he'd rather keep hidden. You make him vulnerable. Don't hurt him, Miss Drake, but don't doubt him, either. Give him the opportunity to learn what you can teach him."

Gene turns away from his fake phone call and spots Luigi speaking intently to Alex. Having been on the receiving end of his own lecture already this evening, Gene worries about the trouble that Luigi might be stirring while he's play-acting at the payphone. He hangs up and returns to their table, just as Luigi is leaving. He sinks back into his chair but seems to have trouble in meeting Alex's eye.

"Gene," Alex says softly. She's made her own decision this evening, for good or for ill. Her fate is linked to his and she can no longer deny the effect he has upon her. She knows he's afraid but she can find the strength for them both.

Gene finally meets Alex's gaze. "Bolly." He exhales and shakes his head. "What are we doing here, Bolly?"

"Well, Gene, I think that largely depends on you."

They stare at each other for a moment longer than is necessary. Gene is the one to look away. "Not for the first time, Bolly, I don't think I follow you."

"It's going to be alright, you know, Gene."

"What's going to be alright, Bolly?"

She leans towards him, her face close to his, close enough to smell his skin, to sense his anxiety, to recognise his desire. "This is," she replies softly. And she leans closer still, curls her fingers gently around the back of his head and presses her lips against his.

The kiss, started gently by Alex, rapidly heats to boiling. Months of desire, frustration and longing pour into the contact between them. They are lost in the moment, sharing each other's pleasure, stoking each other's desire and seeking ever greater closeness and intimacy.

A discreet cough from Luigi is ignored completely. He tries again, somewhat louder, and Gene and Alex reluctantly break apart. Gene looks consideringly at Alex, sees her dazed expression, listens to her rapid breathing. He's transfixed. Without taking his eyes from hers, he takes a sip of wine and tells her quietly, "You're right, you know, Bolly." She doesn't follow and raises her eyebrow in question. "It's definitely going to be alright," he replies.