I don't own any of the characters of Ashes to Ashes
Fingers traced over the smooth edge of the envelope, testing the grain of the paper, feeling the slight abrasion as he traced the folded and sealed lid. It was a simple invention, when he thought about it; a few folds in a piece of paper and they called it a bloody revelation. It was simple, but it was terrifying. When he'd been given it, he wasn't sure what he should expect; a proclamation of friendship? A declaration of love, maybe? Now, having heard the tape, he wondered just what it was that Alex really thought of him; he'd spoken to Chris, and Shaz, and Ray, and their letters had all been reasonably positive- a few harsh words about Rays choice of violence, and Gene was positive that would be repeated in his own letter – but nothing revolutionary. What about him, though? He liked to think, before the events of the past few days at least, that he and Alex had been closer than the rest of them; they drank together, they ate together, he'd spent a few nights passed out on her sofa, the most recent of which was only days ago, and he'd woken up to find her head resting on his stomach as he lolled across the sofa, one arm thrown over the side, holding a whiskey glass in his hand. He tried not to remember finding her arm around his waist, or the fact his other hand had slid beneath her blouse and was tracing her skin with feather light touches before he even awoke to it.
Now though, he was scared; had he not heard the tape, he'd be confident that everything was going to be dandy- he might wipe at his eyes once or twice, might hit the whiskey for his loss, but he wouldn't have been bricking himself before he even touched the damn letter. Now, he wished he'd done the same as the others and just ripped it open the second he'd gotten home. Instead, he'd left it in his jacket pocket overnight, and then he'd ended up giving it back... It had taken a lot of coercion with Luigi to get it back, involving a large cheque to cover the bar tab and a slightly more aggressive than necessary warning that if he didn't co-operate, Luigi was going to have a broken door to fix. So he'd gone in, he'd looked around, and on the corner table, there they all were, his the only sealed envelope remaining. He'd disregarded the others and pocketed his own, returning to the hospital.
He was sat in an uncomfortable wooden chair now, his butt hurting because he was used to having leather padding on his chairs, but he didn't really care... his fingers traced the envelope a few more times, shadowing the flowing script of Alex's own hand. Looking at her, motionless in the bed, it was hard to believe she'd been capable of the movement at all. He took a deep breath and pulled out his paperknife, slipping it beneath the envelope flap and slitting it open. There was a horrible moment of trepidation as he looked at the crisp white paper encased in the envelope itself. It was just a scrap of paper, really, and yet it meant so much more than that to him... it was the definition of their relationship, it would tell him all her real feelings for him, and more... it was going to make or break him, and he was terrified it would be the latter. It would have been nice, he thought, to just speak to her about it; they'd been drunk so often together, he could probably have asked straight out and she'd have told him honestly enough... but that was just another regret, another memory to sweep under the carpet; he hadn't seized that chance, so now, all he could do really was sit there and bear it. He could either read it, or burn it... the urge to burn it was so overbearing it scared him, but it was that urge that told him to do exactly the opposite; before Alex, he'd have burnt it because that's what his instinct told him... but now, she'd made him do things that he'd never have considered, that went against all that he believed in, and she'd always been right. So his fingers closed around the thin paper, and he drew it out of the envelope and unfolded it, separating the sheets from one another.
And then, with his heart clenched in his chest, his throat dry and his palms sweaty, Gene began to read.
Where do I begin? You're brash, harsh, violent and argumentative, and everything Sam ever told me you were... and yet, I know there is more to you than that. You hide yourself behind words and actions that I'm not sure even you yourself believe. I know that, deep down, you have regrets that you won't let anyone hear, but, I suppose in your line of work, it pays off to be brave. I wish I had spent more of my time getting to know the real Gene Hunt... the Gene Hunt behind the mask you've built for yourself. I'm sure there were times when I could have asked; I was just never brave enough, never knew how... because as much as I wanted to leave, Gene, it was you that made me wish I could stay, and by not knowing you better, I held that small excuse of staying just one extra day.
You're more to me than I know how to show. You may be a Neanderthal of a man, and sexist, homophobic and racist to boot, but it would appear, in a world where I've had nothing, you've been my only shoulder, my one constant backup. You've shown more belief in me than I could have hoped for; you've changed how I view policing, and how I view the world, and, in some ways, how I view myself. I don't mean to say I agree with some of your methods; the number of times I've wanted to hit you for beating a suspect into hospital is huge, but I know why you do it, why you are so passionate about keeping criminals from the streets, and so, even if you go about it in a way that is cringe worthy, you are one of the most admirable, underrated police officers I have ever met.
It's hard to imagine my life here without you. You were my rock after the Price's deaths... I know you never understood how it hurt me as much as it did, and I suppose that, since I'm home now, it can't hurt to tell you the truth... They are my parents. Caroline Price was my mother. I am little Alex Price... and I know how very crazy I sound. I've gone over and over it in my head since I arrived here, but I'm not meant to be in 1982... I'm twenty-six years behind where I should be... right now, I'm meant to be living with Evan – my Godfather. I know, it's impossible, and I may well be round the bend, but I believe it, Gene. I know it, in my heart. And it was you, the man who held my hand after their deaths when I was only four years old, that kept me from falling to pieces... just as you always do. Just as you promised; I could always call on you- the Gene Genie.
You've been my saviour more times than I can count, and yet in some ways, sometimes, I think that perhaps, if you hadn't been here, I could have gone home sooner. I couldn't have stayed here if I'd died in a freezer, or walked in front of a car, or any of those things... who knows how I'm going to get home. But if you've read this, then I've gone now; I won't be coming back, much as it pains me to say it. I have a beautiful daughter waiting for me at home, and I cannot leave her again. If there was a way for me to do as Sam had, to come back to the people he loved and cared about, then I would, but only if I could bring my Molly with me. She needs her mother... she needs me. And I need her... I have to protect her, to look after her... don't I? And I know I will miss you; you, the one and only Gene Genie, who has kept a small, if reluctant, smile on my face for as long as I have been with you. I've needed you, needed your support, your help, your friendship, your love... but I can't be selfish any longer, Gene. I'm a mother. I have a responsibility to my daughter, as you do to your 'patch'. I cannot imagine policing without your brashness, your honesty, your driven approach to everything, your loyalty to the people who matter... it won't be the same, returning home to my job... not without you.
It has been hard for me here; you, more so than all of CID, have been on the end of my rash approach to this life, this time frame... I was amazed, the first day I met you, to find your heart beating; I honestly believed that you were an imaginary construct, a fabrication... but over time, the line between reality and imagination has blurred. This is still a reality; it just isn't mine. That, I know, is partly why I am so confused about you, Gene. What are we, Gene? What is this place I've landed myself in? Why can I hate everything about it, and yet never want to leave because of one, strange, dangerous and wonderful man? I've never been able to understand before, just how I feel about you. Even now, reflecting on what might be my last night here, I wonder if what I think is right is or not. You fascinate me; your psychology –not psychiatry-, your personality, your demeanour, your beliefs... everything about you is inexplicably intriguing and I can't even begin to scratch the surface... and yet, I'm not sure I would even want to. You have so much to offer, Gene. Someday, some incredibly lucky woman is going to be swept off her feet by everything you are, and she'll see you, clear as day, as I do now... wonderful, mysterious, and, yes, incredibly sexy.
And now... now I don't even know how to say goodbye. Part of me wishes this envelope could remain sealed forever, that I'd stay with you, for good. But I can't Gene... The other part of me, the part that knows you don't need love and men to survive, wants more than anything to see Molly again. I just hope that you, Gene Hunt, realize that if there was one reason for me to stay behind, to live out my life here, that reason would be you.
With all of my love,
The first page ended and Gene frowned. She was bloody mental. Had to be; Caroline Price was not her mother... how could she be? Christ, she'd only have been sixteen or something when she'd had her if that was true... but then, hadn't she told him, just before he suspended her, that she was from 'the future'? Whatever tosh she'd told him, it seemed that she really did believe it... she honestly thought she was from the bloody future? Bloody hell. It seemed that for all her psych-twattery, she hadn't managed to stop herself going loopy... and yet somehow, he found himself believing her. He didn't know why; maybe it was just the fact she knew things nobody else could comprehend, or the fact she was always spurting out names of apparent objects that he'd never heard of; a few weeks ago, she'd turned and asked him what year the CD was invented, and gone on to tell him it was a wonderful, clever little device that would put tapes to shame. He looked at the letter briefly. Her rock, she'd called him. Her saviour. Why would she have been so bothered by the Price's if they weren't related? He gave a sigh, pushing the letter aside to look at the piece of paper. He was torn between laughter and tears as he looked at it.
At the top of the page, she had somehow uncovered and unfolded his obscene doodle, and had stuck it down to the paper. Underneath it, she had added one of her own, and he felt a watery smile dawning on his face.
She'd drawn a stick man, and a stick woman, standing next to a red car with their arms around each other and hearts bursting out in all directions around their heads. Two arrows pointed separately at the man and the woman, labelled "you" and "me", and then, next to them, stood a smaller stick person, a girl, and there was another small arrow, labelled "Molly". At the bottom of the page, she'd scribbled another little note.
P.s. I always knew about the doodle. If this could ever happen, it's what I'd pick. Bols x
It took him a few minutes to collect himself, staring alternately at her words and her drawings, before moving to sit himself on her bed, moving to place his hand over hers, then changing his mind and simply laying it beside her own. "I'm sorry, Bollykegs," he muttered gruffly. "Shouldn't 'ave read it... should've waited 'til you'd gone home again... but you need to wake up, you fruitcake, if you wanna get back to Molly..." He tentatively curled one thumb around hers, looking at their touching hands in wonderment before murmuring softly to her. "Dunno if you're crazy or what, Bols, but... don't care, really... I like you crazy... dunno 'bout love... but I like yer... and I hope you get 'ome... wherever the 'ell that is." He hesitated, looking out to the empty corridor to see if anyone was around, then turning back to lean down and whisper in her ear. "You're what I'd pick, too, Bolly..."
Ten minutes later, he pushed a folded piece of paper into his pocket, brushing coarse, rough lips across her forehead before he left. A single tear splashed onto her closed eyes as he pulled away.
In 2008, Alex Drake woke up. Clutched in her hand was a folded piece of paper, looking thoroughly worn and aged. Nobody was there. The room was empty and her heart monitor was beeping slowly in the corner. She unfolded it with a frown, fear and relief and heartbreak and wonder washing over her all at once. Instantly recognizable were the two doodles stuck down to the fragile paper. Scribbled under her note, in a thick black scrawl she recognized instantly, was a note she had not seen on the paper before.
I'll always be your Gene Genie x
And under it, there was another small, hard to decipher, doodle. When she held it close to her face, she saw that it was a lamp, and a crudely drawn hand, with the notation of 'rub me' to the left. She snorted through the tears that were cascading down her face, tracing the outline of the shaded-in lamp with her thumb, just as the door opened.
"You understood it then?"
Alex looked up and blinked when she saw her godfather, Evan White. "What?"
"The note," Evan nodded towards the piece of paper in her hand. "I never did understand it... but I got a visitor, when you were a little girl, telling me to give you that when you 'came back to us'. I didn't understand it at first... but Gene Hunt always did have a way with fists... I wouldn't have dared to question him." He smiled warmly, then held out his hand, an eraser rested on his palm. Alex frowned.
"What's that for?" She asked, taking it from his hand.
Evan smiled. "I believe it's to follow your instructions." And then he left. No kiss on her forehead, no hug round the shoulders, just a smile that said he knew exactly what had happened to her. She looked at the paper and frowned. The arrow pointing towards the lamp seemed to be jumping out of the paper at her. Nervously, she ran the corner of the rubber over the pencil lines covering the inside shape of the lamp. She made a scraggly white line with the rubber, beneath which, she could see a thin line of blue... excited and terrified all at once, she rubbed until all of the grey pencil had disappeared, and she was left staring at a cramped note.
I will miss you x