A beautiful song by Lifehouse that reminded me so much of Gene/Alex, I had to write a songfic for it. Not my usual smut, but I hope it's enjoyable =]
I don't own the song, or the Ashes to Ashes characters
strangled smile fell from your face
It kills me that I hurt you this way
The worst part is that I didn't even know
Now there's a million reasons for you to go
But if you can find a reason to stay
He wasn't a man for words and admittances, and he was pretty sure anyone who'd ever met him knew just as much, but he knew when he needed them, he knew when they were necessary if you really wanted to change something; he liked his fists, and he liked his feet, and using them made him feel safe and normal, but there were some things that were beyond physical expression, because sometimes, the chance to get 'physical' was torn away, and words had to be spoken, feelings poured out and hearts laid bare, before there was any sort of physical consolation. Like now, when he looked across at Alex Drake, a shadow falling over her face that was nothing to do with the lighting of Luigi's; her smile was bright, but it didn't reach her eyes, and he knew it better than she did. He'd seen it so many times in the last year; the months after the Price's deaths were full of smiles like that; fake, forced, untrue, and though he'd never understood it, he'd never questioned it, but accepted it, because she clearly wanted to grieve. Gene didn't think he'd ever been the cause of it before; maybe he was wrong, but at least he'd never witnessed that look as a result of his own stupidity and idiocy before. Now, as she fake-laughed and fake-smiled along with Ray and Chris and Vic and Shaz, he knew it was his fault, knew why it was there, and he couldn't think of anything he could say to it.
It had been a stupid enough argument; she kept talking of Molly, as though she would never be able to see her again. He'd told her they'd find her, he'd wrapped his consoling arms around her body as they lay curled up in bed and sworn that he'd help her see Molly again. Alex snapped at him, telling him there was no way, never anyway, that she would see her daughter again; she was too far away. He'd offered her the money for the travel fares; if it was her problem it was his problem, and if seeing Molly would make her happy, he knew he'd break the bank to see the smile that lip up her eyes. She'd shrugged him off and spent the night on the couch. He'd spent the night hunched over his knees and smoking without interval, doors and windows shut so the room was a foggy mess when he finally drifted off, about half an hour before his alarm sounded and he'd made his way out onto the landing, blinking at the visibility of the landing and stepping across to the shower.
They'd made up that night; she'd kissed him lightly when she entered the bar after work and he'd assumed everything was ok, taking her upstairs and enjoying her body, savouring it. She had nightmares for weeks, Molly's name escaping her lips in strangled sobs; he didn't speak of it again, simply choosing to gather her closer each time, until she woke herself up, screaming Molly's name in anguish. He'd sat up, grabbed her arms to stop her pulling her hair out and tried his best to calm her down. She'd yelled at him, and the words echoed in his mind constantly for the next twenty four hours, until now, where he sat drinking his sorrows away and watching her with unashamed sadness.
"I don't want to be here Gene!" She'd shrieked, and even though he felt the sincerity of her words at the time, he'd sworn to himself she was simply overreacting to the nightmare, and even as his heart cracked and splintered in his chest, he'd tried to gather her close, stroking her hair; she'd struggled and pulled away from him, sobbing. "I want my daughter! I don't want Ray! I don't want Chris! I don't want Shaz! I don't want you! I want my MOLLY!" She'd shrieked like a ten year old throwing a tantrum at the last word and he'd tried to shush her, placing his hand on her shoulder.
"We'll find her Bols, I promise we'll find her..."
And then it had all fallen to pieces; she'd told him how much she hated being stuck with an alcoholic, chain-smoker when her daughter was God-knows-where with God-knows-who. He'd told her that maybe he was sick of having to consolidate her when she wouldn't tell him anything; he'd told her he couldn't be expected to help if every attempt he made was thrown back in his face or simply left in the middle of the table, brushed aside and ignored. She compared him to Peter, her ex-husband, and he compared his to Louise, his ex-wife. She said Peter never came home drunk and rolled her over in her sleep expecting a quick one; he told her Louise didn't flirt with every bastard under the sun and then come home expecting him to kiss her hello and rub her feet.
She threw the alarm clock at him; he punched a hole in the wall and yelled at her to get out before he did something stupid. She'd left, and hadn't turned up for work, simply turning up in Luigi's when the rest of them rolled in. He didn't know why he'd gotten so angry; he couldn't imagine the pain of not knowing if you would see a child again, but nor could he understand, unless Molly was dead, why Alex couldn't see her. He'd nearly asked her that this morning, before she launched out of the bedroom, but she threw herself into a tirade of why she wanted to go home; Molly, Evan –he thought of Evan White briefly, but he knew it was absurd – her job, her friends, her house, her garden, her car, her CD-player- he hadn't even bothered to ask what the last was, knowing she'd just make out he was being useless again. She seemed convinced; she wanted to go home, to Molly, so he grabbed his wallet from the bedside table and threw it at her feet as he passed her.
Now he sat staring at her, wondering if there was anything about being here that made her happy; he knew she loved her daughter, knew she missed her life in Hyde or wherever it was she came from... he just hoped that maybe, just maybe, if she left here, she'd realise there was something she missed about him.
I'll do whatever it takes
To turn this around
I know what's at stake
I know that I've let you down
And if you give me a chance
Believe that I can change
I'll keep us together whatever it takes
He knew he'd miss her, and he knew that he hadn't meant any of the things he'd said about his ex-wife that day; she'd been a miserable sod, rarely been home, and the reason she hadn't flirted with everyone and come home expecting a kiss was that she flirted with everyone, got a kiss off them, and rolled in at four the next morning when he'd crashed out drunk on their sofa, and she'd got her kicks from someone younger and better looking.
Gene loved Alex; he knew that much. She did too, or at least, he'd told her so many times he hoped she knew; he wanted to worship the ground she walked on most of the time, and he'd willingly jump in front of a speeding bullet for her if given the opportunity. He didn't know if or when he'd ever felt like this before, but he also knew that he'd never feel like it again, and if he let her stand there, with that pained look on her face for the whole evening, he'd end up going home and drinking himself into a coma in the room in his old house – the one he'd kept when he and Alex had moved into a new place with the intention of doing it up and selling it on, the one that would have provided some of the money he needed to buy her an engagement ring and set them up for building a family of their own- that he hadn't slept in for five months and that would probably smell of damp and stale cigarettes; the house he shared with Alex always smelt fresh, generally because she kept the place aerated and always sprayed her little can of freshener about. He knew he wouldn't sleep for weeks if he let it go on, and he knew he'd regret it tomorrow if he didn't try; she wanted to leave, and she'd spoken about it so often in the past that she probably wouldn't need too much pushing if she thought he didn't care.
He wanted to change things between them; he wanted to walk over, take her face in his hands and kiss her so that she would know, straight away, that he loved her, that they would work things out, and that if she wanted to cry about Molly every night that was fine, as long as she did it in the crook of his arm with her face in his neck and her smell in his nostrils, and just so long as her tears were falling onto his skin, and as long as her hand was seeking out his chest for the reassuring pulse of his heartbeat, not anyone else's.
He knew it didn't work like that; he wasn't naive enough to think that all their problems would simply slip away from them at a touch of the lips, but he didn't care; he knew that once he made that first move, she'd understand his desire to fix things, whatever ends he had to go to do so... he just had to pull himself off his own arse and stop fannying about like a fairy.
She said "If we're gonna make this work
You gotta let me inside even though it hurts
Don't hide the broken parts that I need to see"
She said "Like it or not it's the way it's gotta be
You gotta love yourself if you can ever love me"
As he stood up, determined to approach her and explain himself and, if needs be, plead forgiveness, he remembered the night that had started this, brought them both together, two years ago now, but it was clear as day in his minds eyes. He'd been berating, if that was the word for it, the two year anniversary of his wife leaving him; not because he missed her – most days he woke up and hardly even remembered her name – but because it was another mark of how little he had to show for his life; he'd been approaching his forty-fifth birthday, and the only thing he had to show was a police badge and a couple of scars; no wife, no kids, no real friends outside of the job. He'd been miserable, he'd been aggressive, and she'd stormed into his office after a multitude of angry outbursts, the final one of which was that he'd yelled at Shaz and Chris for looking at each other in a slightly-more-than-friendly manner, then demanded a cup of coffee and a garibaldi from Shaz, slamming into his office and shaking the glass door in its frame.
She told him later that she'd practically screamed at Shaz to stay still when she leapt up to follow his orders, stalking in to see him without knocking and throwing an unrelated file down on his desk as though to make a statement, though he still struggled with what it was.
She'd been like a woman possessed, and he remembered wondering if, had he met her, Alex, his Bolly, twenty years ago (or as long ago as was possible without him being labelled as a cradle-robber, anyway,) he might have had something worth showing off in his life; he'd fantasised briefly, as she yelled and shrieked at him for 'bringing whatever your problems are at home into work', that they'd have lived in a modern, semi-detached house, with a back garden and a long drive to park the Quattro and her own car (he'd probably have purchased her a Cortina, simply because then he'd have had an excuse to drive his old ally again), which she'd use to drop off their kids at school in the morning; a boy, he thought, a few years older than his sister, and football crazy, with brawn as bad as Gene's own, but with maybe a little bit more of Bolly's intelligence... He'd been brought back down to earth when he heard her voice crack slightly, and his eyes had snapped to her face and seen a strange emptiness and hurt in her own green orbs that gave his stomach an odd lurch as he looked at her.
"... can pretend not to care about what's going on in your life if you like, Gene, but don't you dare take your problems out on Shaz just because you are having a bad day!"
"I'm the senior officer here, Drake, or are you forgetting that?" He hadn't meant to snap back at her, not really, but he didn't want to explain himself to her; she'd think he was pathetic, tell him that he needed to grow up and get a grip on his life, and the some other psycho-babble he wouldn't be able to understand, but probably focused on the fact he was depraved of some innate need in childhood and therefore had unresolved issues with his father...
"Then start acting like it!" She hissed through her teeth, and he'd caught a lovely view of her breasts as she'd leant forwards to slam a hand down on the desk. "Those officers out there look up to you and you're treating them like nothing more than inconveniences! You've been acting like a miserable sod all week and it's ridiculous! You're forty-five this week Gene, so bloody start acting like it!"
Her chest had been heaving, she'd looked flushed and angry, but there was also a pain in her expression that made him want to enfold her in his arms and crush her to him, never letting her go... instead, he'd felt himself crumple in his chair, hand covering his eyes as he pressed his fingers into the eyeballs to try and block it out; it failed, and he'd ended up mumbling incoherently until she'd snapped and told him to talk properly or not at all... So when he looked at her, he spoke more sincerely than he'd managed in years, to anyone.
"Forty five Bols... what've I got to show for it, 'ey? 'Cept maybe a poisoned liver and a stack of divorce papers?" He hadn't even bothered trying to put on a brave face; he leant forward and reached for the whiskey on his desk, pouring himself a generous amount and throwing it down his throat quickly. "Got no wife... no kids... the force is going to the dogs, got corrupt cops comin' outta me ears... what's the point, Bols?"
Alex had walked round the desk, taken his hand in hers and twined their fingers together as she whispered. "Is that what this is about?" And he'd nodded glumly.
"Two years this week Bols, since she waltzed off with that fanny-Adams tosser... saw it comin' alright... knew we were useless together anyway... but least I could say I 'ad a wife at home who'd cook me tea and tuck me into bed when I was too rat-arsed to do it meself... Now I just faint on the sofa and eat god-awful Italian every night... bloody useless." He didn't put much emotion into his voice; he supposed he felt devoid of emotion when he came to that part of his life for so long that even when he was talking about it, he could fool himself into thinking he didn't mind... not much...
"Tell me about her," Alex had murmured, rubbing her thumb in soft circles on the back of his hand and stroking his arm with the other. It reassured him, made him feel human and warm for the first time in years... so he'd told her. He'd told her absolutely everything.
He told her about how they met, when he was twenty and she was seventeen; she'd been pretty, funny, and not exactly a prude, which suited him just fine. They'd dated a year, gotten engaged, and by the time she was twenty they were married and he was a DC in the force; they'd spent every night together for the first ten years, but no kids- she didn't know she wanted them, and he was always worried about work, the effect his job might have on his children if some convicted criminal got out and wanted revenge. By the time he was thirty three and she was thirty, she was spending three nights a week with girlfriends, getting drunk and crashing round their houses; he'd started going to the pub regularly, eventually getting it to five nights a week, and spending the next two trying to get her to pay him some attention. He acknowledged he hadn't been the best husband; he spoke openly about how he disliked her parents, he didn't join her at the very occasional dinner parties they were invited to, and he constantly brought his work home with him once the honeymoon period was over. He used to fall asleep on the sofa with a case file in his lap and a whiskey glass in his hand. When he reached DCI, his hours went up and he was home less and less, feeling it necessary to join his team after work, particularly after gruesome cases such as murders and rapes; by the time he met Sam in seventy-three, they were both having affairs of some sort. His were casual, drunken one-nighters that he scolded himself for on a regular basis; hers were long term, and probably meant alot more to her than he did. He didn't act on the instinct that said they didn't love each other and they should break up; he waited seven years, spending nights on end away from her, sometimes crashing at Sam and Annie's when the weight of his failure got too much. It had been she that walked out in the end; the latest conquest had shown up on her arm and they'd disappeared into the sunset; she'd organised the divorce papers and he didn't even put up a fight about it, watching her leave, then skulking off to get drunk with Ray and Chris. He hadn't seen her since.
Alex had nodded her head sympathetically as he explained, watching the set of his jaw as he spoke, seeing his throat gulping repeatedly while he tried to speak, his mouth dry and tongue heavy. When he was done, she cupped his cheek, stroking across the rough stubble and whispering softly to him. "Thank you for telling me this; I know it must be hard for you... but I want to help Gene; you're a wonderful man, mister Hunt... and just because you're divorced doesn't mean you've messed up your life. There are plenty of lovely, pretty women who would be only too happy to have a family with you... this is just life, sometimes... we all have to do it someday... but before you can love anyone else, you need to learn to love yourself... then whoever your lucky other-half to be is will find you... I promise..."
And then he'd cupped her hand, meeting her eyes and saying gruffly, "don't want nobody else Bols; I already found her, 'bout a year ago... some posh dippy tart who does my nut in... but some'ow, Bols, I reckon she can do alot better... don't deserve 'er..." There'd been a question burning in his eyes, and he hadn't been sure she'd seen it at all until she blinked softly and leant forwards to press her lips to his chastely. Her reply had changed his world forever, and to the day it still made his heart swell; "maybe it's her that doesn't deserve you..."
I'll do whatever it takes
To turn this around
I know what's at stake
I know that I've let you down
And if you give me a chance
And give me a break
I'll keep us together, I know you deserve much better
Gene approached the bar hesitantly, stepping up to order another whiskey from Luigi as he looked down the polished wooden surface to take her in; she took his breath away, and he didn't think she'd ever know it. Looking at her, it was impossible to think what he would do without her; he'd thought about it, and it would probably kill him. He couldn't go back to the way he had been before she entered his life; he was miserable, drank twice his body weight most nights, spent the nights in the same old bar chatting up the same old seedy tarts who weren't good for anything but sex and who, when he woke up, made him want to heave at the stench of cheap perfume.
Alex was different; she smelt like softly crushed rose petals, mingled with a soft, warm scent of vanilla that teasingly wafted into his nostrils and entangled itself into his memory. Her skin was always smooth to the touch, warm and welcoming, just as it had been the first time, when she cupped his cheek and changed his life forever; he'd always thought she was the type of woman to manicure, pedicure, moisturise and re-moisturise to keep her skin that soft- living with her he found that she didn't do any of that, except the occasional use of body lotion during a gentle massage in the evenings. She was natural, so unlike all those women he'd been with, and losing her would be like losing all of his limbs and being refused euthanasia. The prospect was terrifying and he knew he couldn't possibly let her go without reminding her of all the happiness they shared, all the things she'd made him see, that she'd changed in him...
She was talking to Ray, who was apparently drunk and making gesticulations with his hands that said he was describing her, or someone else's, breasts. Gene ground his teeth; if it was hers Ray was referring to, he was too bloody late. He'd made a point, the first time they'd slept together, of telling her how bloody perfect she was... he still felt the need to wake her some mornings with a soft confession that he thought she had "great tits". Usually, it was returned, in kind, by her concession of how great his own appendage was, then followed by a demonstration of both goods in turn. It wasn't that his relationship with her was based purely on the physical expression of lust between them, but he liked to remind her, every so often, that she had the best body he'd ever viewed outside a porn magazine or a brothel... he didn't like to think what he'd do if he didn't have that body to come home to.
She was talking now, her voice drifting over, but the words not registering as he closed his eyes and listened to the soft tone, the gentle lilt that said she'd grown up in a posh house, with posh parents and gone to a posh school; he loved that voice. Everything about it drove him crazy; always had. She'd yell at him and he'd melt inside because her voice did wonders for her sex appeal, especially after having slept with her, having discovered that that same voice rang out, with the posh lilted accent remaining prominent even when she was screaming profanities that made him grit his teeth to stop from spurting like a teenager. It was beautiful and wanton and it gave him a strange satisfaction to know that she was so intricately wound in that way of speaking that it couldn't even be shagged out of her... it was odd to think that way, when he used to fantasize about getting her to drop the accent because he was just that good... he was just as good now, he just treasured the voice that changed his life a little bit more everyday, the voice that warmed his heart when she'd come up behind him in the kitchen, kiss his shoulder and whisper how much she loved him. It was like his class A drug; expensive, dangerous, yet giving him the best kicks he'd ever had... she was addictive, and he didn't mind it. He loved her like he'd never thought possible; he told her so regularly, and he meant it every time – he couldn't survive without her.
He didn't want to try.
But remember the time I told you the way that I felt
That I'd be lost without you and never find myself
Let's hold onto each other above everything else
Start over, start over
When he told her the first time, they'd been together three months, seen each other every night, going out on proper dates to restaurants, the cinema, even, once or twice, a museum or art gallery; he hadn't been keen on either, but he liked to indulge her, especially when she got that beautified look of intelligence shining through her eyes; and he could sit through twenty presentations on Tudors and Victorians if it meant seeing her so happy... he'd even given his opinion on a few paintings to try and amuse her, to very good reception, making her laugh with his obscene views, especially when he pointed out that all of the women in the paintings he'd seen were fat, ugly, and trying to provoke some sort of eroticism in the viewer, and failing, in his opinion, miserably. He'd taken her to Hyde park in the middle of summer; he'd brought her a picnic, a blanket, and they'd sat and watched the sun go down over the river with a bottle of Bolly and, in his case, a packet of cigarettes. She'd sat in the crook of his arm, nuzzled against his chest with a smile on her face and watching as a few ducks swam by, whilst his fingers toyed with the hem of her blouse, head leaned slightly to the side so that he could inhale the fresh smell of her hair.
"Thank you Gene," she'd whispered, reaching up to stroke the skin showing at the v of his shirt with dainty fingers. "This is lovely."
When he'd turned his face to hers, his heart swelled and his face cracked into a slight smile, "not too bad yourself Bols." He kissed her softly, smiling into her mouth before gruffly saying, in a voice which grated with nervousness, "gotta keep you 'ere somehow..."
Alex had stroked his ear with a beaming smile on her red lips, meeting his eyes with hers and whispering softly, "I'm sure if you carry on like this, you'll convince me to stay."
Gene hadn't really known how to react to it, so he cupped her face with both hands, slightly dislodging her from his chest as his eyes pierced into hers searchingly, and with sincerity she later told him made her legs week. "Be lost without you, Bols... wouldn't know what to do with meself in the evenin's..." He'd heard it as it left his mouth and his face split into a broad grin as she cheekily responded.
"I've got first-hand experience that your hands could provide a more than satisfactory evening, Mister Hunt!" She'd giggled and moved to press their lips together; he'd moved aside so that his face was over her shoulder, lips next to her ear before he muttered gruffly, "I love you... Alex." And he hadn't waited to hear her response before moving to kiss her, putting a depth of passion he couldn't have foreseen into the kiss that left him breathless when eventually they pulled apart.
The look in her eyes was wonderful and terrifying all at once when she turned to him again, full of warmth and vulnerability that caused his stomach to churn; he'd never once regretted telling her.
As he approached her though, he wondered if she'd regretted saying it back; she barely even acknowledged him, the only sign she saw him being that she turned her body slightly away. He glared at Ray, who instantly fell away from them, retreating from Gene's glower to talk to a big-breasted blonde at the back of the pub. Alex looked at him in disgust, but didn't say anything.
I'll do whatever it takes
To turn this around
I know what's at stake
I know I've let you down
And if you give me a chance
and believe that I can change
I'll keep us together whatever it takes
"Look Bols," he started, but she turned away, looking to Luigi and ordering a large red wine. He sighed, nodding for another whiskey for himself before touching Alex's shoulder lightly. "Look, Bols," he repeated, "stop getting your knickers in a twist and listen for a sec... if you don' like what I gotta say you can storm off upstairs and I won't bother following you."
She turned to him, face set and blank. He sighed, fingers tracing down her arm and wrist as he pulled his hand back towards himself. She was warm and soft, and all he wanted to do was pull her against him. "Remember what I told you once, Bollykegs? Back in Hyde Park... 'fore I told you I loved ya... told you I'd be lost without you... an' I am, Bols... it's only been a bloody day and I feel like a bloody nancy fairy for sayin' it, but I don't wanna see tomorrow if it's not you I'm waking up with..."
Alex's face remained impassive and he swirled the whiskey in his glass before going on, voice quiet and soft, reeking of vulnerability. "I know I said some things Bols... but you know I didn't mean 'em... if you say you can't see Mols, I'll believe you... and if you don't wanna talk about it, I'll understand that, too... and if you really wanna go home, I know I can't stop you... but if that's really what you want, then I wanna go there with you..." He looked her in the eye, emotions laid bare and eyes glittering with tears as he looked at her. "But I guess, Bols, if you mean it... that you don't want me, I mean... then I've gotta let you go.... and I will... just... don't want to..." he blinked briefly, throwing his whiskey down his throat and motioning for another; out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw Alex swipe at her eyes, but when he turned back she looked unaffected.
With a sigh, he turned and looked at the collection of liquor behind the bar, continuing to speak, but not looking in her direction at all. "I know I'm useless Bols... I don't need you to tell me that I drink and smoke too much... I know that already... I need you to stop me doing it. And I know sometimes I expect too much of you... sex-wise, I mean... but if you shove me off I'll give over Bols, you know that... Don't wanna let you go Bols... can't go back to what I was before you... I hated myself... I was a mess Bolly, and I never wanna see that bastard in the mirror again..." he looked over at her again and saw her looking at him with softening eyes. He didn't move, but spoke even softer, "give me 'nother chance... I'll change Bols... I'll quit the fags and the booze, and I'll stop askin' stupid questions 'bout Molly if that's what you want... I let you down, Alex... but I love you, and if it means keepin' yer with me... well... I'll do pretty much anything... if you've got a ferret, I'll shove it down me trousers and let it chew me balls off if it means getting you back..." He turned to her then, eyes pleading. "Just tell me what to do, Bols..."
He thought maybe she'd laugh, tell him that if he thought she'd get back with him just because he offered to have his testicles chewed off he was mental; he thought she might storm off after telling him he didn't understand that she just didn't want him... he even considered that she might slap him and go and get Ray and drag him upstairs... What he didn't expect was for her to throw her arms around his neck and begin balling her eyes out. When she did, though, his arms were around her like a shot, one hand soothingly caressing the back of her head while the other lightly traced the bare skin at the base of her back, a trick he'd learnt long ago was good for stilling her shaking sobs.
"You don't have to do anything..." she sobbed, "just... don't... don't ever leave me..." her crying shook her whole body and he held her tighter to him, hearing her shaking breaths slowing down as he whispered soothingly to her.
"Won't leave, Bols, you know that... 's long as you stay with me too o' course..." He kissed her hair briefly. "We'll be ok Bols... somehow... promise you... we'll sort it..."
He held her there, in the middle of Luigi's, for the best part of half an hour, before she pulled back slightly, eyes red and puffy, and looked softly at him. "One day I'll tell you about Molly," she whispered, "one day... I promise."
Gene smiled, believing her, and knowing he'd wait until she was ready. "I know you will Bollyknickers... I know..." Their lips touched briefly before he murmured, "and someday, maybe, if you fancy it... maybe we can have a kid of our own."
I'm not sure about songfic's, but I wanted to write it, so there it is, hope you have enjoyed the perusal... hopefully it wasn't too bad if you've lasted long enough to read this.