I don't own any of the characters of Ashes to Ashes

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In the seconds before she fell, Gene saw fear and wonder swim behind her hazel eyes, and a metal hand twisted his stomach in a vice-grip as he stared, horrified and amazed. The haze of the smoking barrel drifted up in front of his face, creating a screen between him and her, twisting like a snake into his nostrils, burrowing into his sinuses, clinging to them, imprinting themselves on his memory as his heart began to thump vigorously against the bones of his ribcage. Blood pounded in his ears, his tongue went dry, his hands began to sweat and his eyes watered; he didn't know whether he was crying, or if his eyes were simply reacting to the acrid smoke that twisted up and towards him, but he didn't care.

Her mouth fell open, her eyes full of terror, and all he could think, the only thing that came to mind was "Bolly!" He couldn't move, frozen to the spot as she stumbled, crumpling, falling to the floor with one hand over her bullet wound. Her mouth was opening and closing, and either she wasn't making noise or the volume of the scene had just disappeared. Nothing else registered except the sight of her lying there, looking helpless and vulnerable, and all he could do, the only thing he could say, was "Bolly!"

It felt like forever before the others joined him; he probably wouldn't have noticed at all, but Ray had brushed past him on his arrival and he vaguely noted that Shaz and Chris stood to the right of him... She was still staring, looking at him, at them, like she needed help, like she wanted him to do something... He couldn't.

"Gotta call an ambulance, Guv," he heard Chris say, somewhere in the distance, it had to be, because he couldn't sound that hollow, that resonate, if he was only a metre away. Someone put a hand on his arm, but he didn't do anything, couldn't think or talk or say a thing. All he could do was stare as her eyes crinkled with fear, as her face scrunched up with pain... and then her lids closed over those sparks of life in her eyes, and the world crashed down around him. His knees gave way as he stumbled forward, dropping the gun from numb fingers and collapsing, falling to his knees beside her, not noticing that he was knelt on a shard of glass from a discarded broken bottle as his hands reached, shaking, for her cheeks, her neck, searching out a pulse for reassurance. He found it, and it was furious. Breath short, lungs burning with oxygen deprivation, he leant forwards to hear her breath; it was shallow, laboured, but it was there... the only thought that went through his head, a permanent mantra as her painful breathing echoed in his ear, was 'thank Jesus'. His hand traced the lines of her face, still shaking with fear and nerves and relief.

"Bolly... Bolly... Bolly..." he wasn't trying to call to her, he wasn't trying to wake her up; he didn't know what he was doing. It was a slow repetition of a single word that made no difference, and yet it held his whole life at its heart. It was a rhythm, a pulse that he attempted to match to her heart, to calm her down, to keep her safe... keep her well... keep her alive...

"Bolly..." Oh shit, what if she died? They'd put him in prison... killing a police officer! Jesus Christ, he'd near killed suspects for doing that... imagine the courts... cop turned cop-killer... he was screwed!

"Bolly..." what if she thought he was angry with her? Bloody hell, that was worse than being a cop-killer. She'd been right... It was a bent copper... what if she really was from the future and he hadn't believed her? Oh Christ, what if she was bloody mental and he'd left her to roam the streets alone?

"Bolly..." They had a connection... she couldn't go and die on him.

"Bolly..." He'd threatened her life in front of the whole of CID... wouldn't that just look bloody brilliant in court?

"Bolly..." He'd told her to stay away... what the bloody hell was she doing here anyway? If she made it through this, he'd wring her neck for insubordination.

"Bolly..." He couldn't be sent to prison for it...

"Bolly..." He couldn't lose her...

"Bolly..." He couldn't face thugs and criminals without his psych-twattery colleague on his left getting all high and mighty about the ins-and-outs.

"Bolly..." He couldn't lose her... not now... not without telling her...

"Bolly..." He was going to kill Jeanette... nobody grabbed his officers round the neck and put a gun to their heads and got away with it...

"Bolly..." He was going to kill Jeanette, and then he was going to kill himself too...

"Bolly..." Oh God, she'd gone white... she was as white as her jacket... he loved that jacket... bloody stupid woman...

"Bolly..." She was scaring him... her lips were open... she was still breathing, but her head wasn't supporting itself...

"Bolly..." His hand cupped her face, wishing she'd wake up...

"Bolly..." He leant forward, pressing his mouth to hers...

"Bolly..." It had worked before...

"Bolly..." Any second now...

"Bolly..." Why wasn't she waking up?

"Bolly..." Oh God, let her wake up...

"Bolly..." If she woke up, then he could tell her... or he could show her...

"Bolly..." If she woke up, he'd never let her go again...

"Bolly..." If she woke up, he'd kiss her till his head was spinning...

"Bolly..." And if she woke up, he'd hold her every morning for the rest of this life and tell her what a bloody foolish, dippy, dopey, poncy, nancy tart she was...

"Bolly..." And then he'd tell her that if she ever left him again, he'd chase her till the ends of the earth...

"Bolly..." She had to wake up first, though...

"BOLLY!" He was verging on tears... his arms wrapped around her and he held her limp form to his chest, feeling the warm blood trickling from her wound onto his shirt... he didn't care... his hand pressed to the bullet-hole, hard and pressurised, trying to stem the flow... he wouldn't let her die.

"Bolly!" He sobbed into her hair, no tears were falling yet but he was shaking, trembling, cold and feverish all at once...

"Bolly..." He was crying now. He didn't bother holding back... he vaguely wondered why he hadn't been dragged away from her yet, why he was being allowed to hold her... She felt so good in his arms... why hadn't he ever noticed before? At the vault, in the restaurant, in that kitchen... She was perfect against him...

"Bols... Bols..." There was the sound of a siren in the distance, the flashing of lights and the screeching of tyres, but he didn't care... he held her close, hand buried in her hair, rocking her back and forth gently, slowly, tears falling helplessly...

And then she was being pried from her arms, pulled away on a stretcher, and he didn't have the strength to resist, even though he wanted to, even though all he wanted to do was clutch her against him and never let her go... He was vaguely aware of Ray and Chris hauling him to his feet, each of them throwing one of his limp arms around their shoulders. And then Ray spoke, and he couldn't even argue.

"Gonna get you 'ome, 'ey Guv... come on."

He gave a half-hearted nod, turning his head to see two paramedics carrying Alex away, one of them leant over her like he was talking... "She's gunna be ok..." Gene whispered... "Bols... she's gunna be fine..." He looked at Chris, whose face was drawn. "Right?"

Chris gulped, then nodded. "Yes, Guv... I'm sure they'll do all they can."