A/N: I've had a lot of fun writing this story, but I'm not too sure how successful it's been. As much as I love the GALEX pairing, I don't know how realistic a relationship is. This story was my attempt to work around that a little bit. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think!
She sat brushing her hair at the mirror and watching his reflection. She had expected him to be gone by the time she woke up in the morning, but he was still there, sound asleep and snoring lightly.
In the hard light of day, she wasn't sure what to think of what had happened between them the night before. There was no way this could work, could it? They were too different; there was too much counting against them. It had been a mistake. But if it was a mistake, why, when they both found themselves awake in the small hours of the night, had they silently made love again before drifting back to sleep? Why did she feel safe and content for the first time in months?
Behind her, he began to stir and pulled himself up to a seated position. He reflexively reached out for a pack of cigarettes on the bedside table and cursed under his breath when he didn't find them.
She swallowed hard. "Good morning," she said, as evenly as possible.
He ran his hands over his stubbled face and through his hair. His puffy eyes made him look like the middle-aged man he was. "Morning." His voice was thick and rough with sleep. He threw his legs over the edge of the bed and sat for a moment before reaching for his pants and his trousers and yanking them on. She watched over her shoulder as he shuffled across the carpet in bare feet and retrieved his scattered clothes from the floor.
"There's breakfast in the dining room until nine," she said with a feigned casual air and then groaned inwardly. It was a feeble thing to say. He ignored it and continued on his search for a missing sock. "Shouldn't we…talk?"
"Talk? What is there to bloody talk about? Why do women always want to talk?" he growled, his eyes still on the floor.
She tried to search for what to say, but all the words she could summon sounded inadequate. "About…us."
"There's no us, Drake!" he bellowed.
"We can't even discuss this?"
"Because I am your superior bloody officer!"
She hit the back of her chair with her open palm. "You stupid man! Is that what this is about? Rank?"
"Too bloody right, it's about rank. Mine and yours. That's what you posh birds like, eh? A bit of rough on the side?"
"Is that what you…?" she sputtered. "That's not fair."
"Then what? You think you're gonna put me in some red braces and take me to Royal Ascot for champagne and caviar with your mates from the Honours List? It won't happen."
"That's not what I want," she said shaking her head.
"Then what the bloody hell do you want, Alex?" The words erupted out of him with explosive force. "This wedding has turned you soft. You think I'm gonna carry you across threshold and we'll eat our beans on toast in front of the telly and watch Coronation Street? You'll iron my shirts while I'm down the pub? Is that what you want, Alex?"
He stood in front of her, with hard, angry eyes. She wanted to say something, something to smooth things over and make it all right, but when she opened her mouth, no words followed.
No. That's not what she wanted. That's not what she wanted at all.
She couldn't speak, but her silence was telling. There was a brief flicker of hurt in his eyes before he bent down and grabbed his tie from the floor, and then he was gone.
She sat there trying to take calming breaths before crossing to the shower, where she stood numbly under its stream for a long while. She dressed and packed quickly and then called for a taxi from her room. She didn't want to risk running into Gene, or anyone else for that matter. The cab was waiting by the time she made it downstairs, and she couldn't help but glance over to the hotel car park to see if Gene's car was still there. It wasn't.
It was all she could think about on the train ride back to London. It was true; they were too different for this to have worked, even if they had wanted it to. But somehow she had managed to push away the one person in this world she felt she could trust. She knew it would never work, but she hadn't thought the realisation of it would hurt quite so much.
She pressed her head against the window and watched the scenery speed past.
She was glad it was a Sunday, and she knew she wouldn't have to face Gene until the next day. That would come soon enough. For now, she was content to sit alone at Luigi's, empty but for Luigi himself, who stood behind the bar drying glasses and looking at the lovely signora with concern.
She hadn't eaten anything since she'd left Essex, so the enormous plate of spag bol had seemed like a good idea when she'd ordered it. Now, she only sat picking at it with her fork and sipping ruefully at a glass of red wine. She was about to leave it there, half eaten, and head upstairs to her empty flat, when the little bell over the door jingled and the air pressure shifted, as it always seemed to do when Gene Hunt entered a room.
His face was dark, and he nodded gruffly at Luigi as he propped himself against the bar. She froze like a rabbit in headlights, watching him, waiting for him to notice her, and wondering if she could somehow slip past him and hide upstairs.
But it was too late, and as Luigi slid him a glass of lager, he turned his head towards her, and his face registered. She tried to read him, but Gene Hunt was giving nothing away. She gave him a weak smile, and he stood for a moment as if trying to make up his mind about something. Finally, he crossed to where she sat alone in a corner and took the seat across from her. They were silent for a moment while she fiddled nervously with her food.
"You look dreadful. Best thing for a hangover is fish and chips not pasta."
"For your information," she started wearily, "I'm not hungover because I wasn't drunk last night. Even if you'd prefer to think so." It came out with more bite than she had intended.
He took a mouthful of beer before speaking. "Bolls–"
"Look, don't say it, all right?" She threw up her hands. "Just don't start. You were the one who asked me to dinner that time, not the other way round. So don't flatter yourself imagining I've been chasing you like some lovesick schoolgirl. We were both there, and we both wanted it to happen. And it wasn't just a shag."
"Now who's flattering herself?"
"Oh, please, Gene. Your eyes? Your whole body language? The room wasn't that dark, and you're more transparent than you think."
"You don't know the first bloody thing about me!"
"But that's just it! I do! You're not perfect. Quite a long way from it, but I see you for who you are, Gene. I see you for the boorish, insensitive, obstinate, arrogant, charming, clever, loyal, decent man you are."
He looked down at the table, and she waited for him to speak.
"It won't work."
"Probably not," she said with a teary smile. "And we'll probably kill each other within a week."
He sat for a minute, looking down and swirling the remains of his beer. Then he rose slowly. She thought he might turn to go, but he crossed and sat next to her, still silent for a moment. "We're from different worlds, you and me."
She let one corner of her lip curl up. "You have no idea."
They sat quietly for a moment. She had come into the restaurant believing she had no desire to be in anything more than a professional relationship with Gene Hunt. But then he had walked in, and she'd seen the look on his rough, handsome face, and she knew he was as damaged and lost in his own way as she was. She understood that they somehow needed each other. This wouldn't be easy, and maybe they were doomed, maybe it was a mistake, but it seemed more of a mistake not to at least try.
They sat the way the always did at this corner table, elbows on table, chin in hands, heads pressed close together.
"Shame to let that go to waste," he said finally, and nodded toward her plate of food.
"It's all yours."
He took her fork and tucked in. "Maybe we could pop upstairs later for a sweetie."
"Steady on! Again? I don't want you having a heart attack on me."
"I don't know what's going through your filthy mind, Bolly, but I was talking about pink wafers and garibaldis."
She gave him a teasing smile. "Just as well. Three times in 24 hours is a big ask for a man your age."
He looked at her with a cocked eyebrow. "Never underestimate the Gene Genie."
They sat that way for a long time, talking easily and finishing off a carafe of wine, and afterwards, they walked upstairs to her flat together. As she stepped inside, he seemed to hesitate, but she took his hand and pulled him inside. She wrapped her arms around his neck and drew him in for a long, slow kiss as he kicked the door shut behind them.