Hey, this is a one-shot I thought of last night as I went to bed and was listening to this song on my mp3. It's one of my favourite songs, purely because every word of it is true. Hope you like it; please tell me what you think at the end. Even if you didn't like it! Tee hee, X =D

Disclaimer – I don't own Ashes, the BBC does. And this amazing song belongs to James Morrison.

Love Is Hard


I see lovers in the streets

Walking without a care

They wear it out loud

Like there's something in the air

Oh well, I don't care

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She had only been back at work two weeks and already; he wanted – desperately wanted – things to go back to the way they were. He missed the 'old days' when they could laugh, when he could tease her and carelessly flirt with her, hiding his feelings behind a mask of innuendo and suggestion.

But no, he knew that something had changed between them, and that bullet had been the final straw. The wedge that had been driven between them had exploded, forcing them further apart than ever. He missed her. Missed his Bolly-Knickers. He didn't know this cold, silent stranger by the name of DI Alex Drake.

Because even now, at work she didn't talk. She only spoke when someone asked her something, or if she had to explain something. But even then, she didn't expand like she used to. She kept it short, and then went back to her desk, or out to whomever they were banging up this time. It was like her body was there, and her brilliant mind, but she had no soul, no spirit to animate them. She didn't walk like before, head held high, hips swaying slightly. Now it was more of a slow wander. She hardly ever babbled about Psychology.

In short, she was different. And no matter how many times he tried, he didn't know how to put it right.

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They're treading lightly

No, they don't sink in

There's no tracks to follow

They don't care where they're going

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He knew the reason for her silence, the explanation behind why she could never look him in the eye on one of the infrequent occasions that she would briefly speak to him. She always looked down, or past him at the wall. He missed the times where he had unknowingly looked deep into her eyes when they were having a conversation, those lost moments in Luigi's where they would stop bantering, just for a moment and be silent, just looking at each other.

She was disgusted, saddened and most of all, angered by him. He had shot her. And it didn't matter whether or not it had been an accident, he had shot her. With that one, treacherous bullet, all her trust in him had evaporated, all her faith, all of the small feelings of friendship. Gone. Gone, in one gunshot.

He was sorry, but he didn't know how to say it. How to say it without admitting how he felt. The Gene Genie didn't do feelings, and he certainly didn't fall in love with his colleagues. Especially ones that hated him.

Yes, hated him. He could see it, the way she held her body so stiff when work forced her to talk to him, she avoided his gaze, and made sure she was stood a good metre away. Not like before, when they used to stand, almost nose to nose, glaring at one another during an argument. Or she'd perch on the edge of his desk, one arm over his computer as she filled him in on the case.

But not anymore. She was hurt. She was disgusted. She was angry.

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And if they're lucky, yeah

They'll, they'll get to see

And if they're really, really lucky

They'll get to feel

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Even now, as he stared at her from his office, her head was bent slightly to the side; she was reading a case file. Her eyes had a blank look to them; their spark had gone, the candle blown out. She wasn't here anymore. Not his Bolly-Knickers.

How could he say sorry? How could he tell her just how sorry he really was? How he didn't want things to be like this anymore? How could he say all of that, without telling her that he loved her? Because he wouldn't say that, never, ever. Because he couldn't say it. He was Gene Hunt, and he didn't know how to.

How many times had he wished to go back, to change everything? To make that bullet whoosh back into the barrel of his gun, to never have seen the blood seeping from between her fingers as she clutched her torso. Her blood.

Gene bit his lip and lit yet another cigarette, taking a long drag as he continued to look at the empty shell that was his DI. She used to notice him staring at her like this, she used to look up and depending what mood she was in, she would either smile slightly and look back down, or glare at him. Even the glaring would be better than this. She didn't notice things anymore, and they're success rating was suffering for it. It was like she wasn't here at all.

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And it kicks so hard, it breaks your bones

Cuts so deep, it hits your soul

Tears your skin, and makes your blood flow

It's better that you know,

Love is hard.

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Gene glanced up at the clock, and seeing that it was six o'clock he stubbed out his cigarette and stepped out of his office, looking around with his eyes lingering on Alex. Maybe today would be different, maybe today she would get up, grab her jacket and come with them, laughing and joking just like before. But he knew she wouldn't. This was reality.

'Right everyone, lunch time.' He announced, without his usual enthusiasm. Beer wasn't the same without her sat across from him, looking at him with drunken eyes, a glass of wine in her hand.

At his words everyone scuttled out, leaving just Alex still sat at her desk. She always did this, every night she would stay behind and he'd see her walk through Luigi's at about eleven o'clock. She wouldn't stop, but carry on to her flat, not looking at them, not speaking to them. God, she didn't even talk to Shaz anymore.

'Bolly?' He said tentatively, which was a new one; the Manc Lion didn't do tentative.

Her head snapped up, but again she was looking determinedly behind him.

'My name is Alex, Guv.' She told him, her head dipping back down as she continued to read.

What should he say? He didn't know...it was hard to apologise to someone when you loved them and they hated you.

'Get some sleep.' He murmured, making his way out as Alex stared at his back while he went.

He'd chickened out; he could have spoken to her. Speaking to her about the bullet was better than not speaking at all. But no, he was Gene Hunt, and he'd lost his nerve.

She was still beautiful, he thought as he sat down with Chris, Ray and Shaz, ordering a beer. But it was empty beauty, her face was attractive and her lips still the same ones he had wanted to kiss just a few weeks ago, before Operation Rose got in the way. But her eyes didn't light up her face like they used to, they were just a feature, rather than bright portals to her soul. Because that seemed to have died along with the bullet, too.

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Love takes hostages

And gives them pain

Gives someone the power

To hurt you again, and again

Oh, but they don't care

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He sat, still joking with the others, still laughing. But even they knew that it wasn't his real laugh, it was less than half-hearted. He didn't really find what they were saying funny, his mind was elsewhere. Maybe if he didn't love her, he could apologise and stop the hurt that she was inevitably feeling. But he couldn't. He was hurting her, even now when the bullet had been removed, he was hurting her.

And that's when he saw her. It was earlier than usual, only nine o'clock, but there she was. Walking through the bar with her head down as always and beginning to climb the stairs to her flat.

'Follow her.' A voice in the back of his mind commanded, but Gene stayed where he was.

That was until he saw it, of course. Just as she turned to the right at the top of the stairs, he caught a glimpse of something hidden under her jacket.

A very familiar revolver.

'Bolly.' He muttered, getting up and pushing past Chris to run up the stairs two at a time. No, she couldn't, she wouldn't. Would she?

He had to admit, and it pained him to, but she was depressed. She didn't speak, she didn't function like usual; she never looked up from her desk or the ground. So...maybe she would.

'Shit.' He said to himself, finding her door locked. He began kicking it and barging it ferociously. 'You daft, daft bitch.' He mumbled, finally kicking the door in and running through to the living room. His eyes had no time to look at the familiar couch, where they had sat drinking wine and talking. No time to inhale the comfortable scent of her that lingered in the air.

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Oh, and if they're lucky, yeah

They'll, they'll get to see

And if they're really, really lucky

They'll, they'll get to feel

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Because there, stood by the window, looking out with a solitary tear running down her cheek was Alex. She held the gun to her temple, though her hand was trembling, Gene watched, frozen to the spot as her shaking finger reached for the trigger.

'Alex!' He yelled, diving for her, pushing her from the window and wrestling the gun from her. To his surprise, she fought him. Kicking, hitting and screaming, all the time reaching for the gun that Gene had managed to prise from her grasp.

'Give it back! Give it back! I'm only finishing what you started; now give me the bloody gun!' She screeched, tears running down her face as she stared at him madly.

Gene quickly removed the bullets, and in a wise move, threw them clean out of the window before handing her the gun back.

She didn't take it; instead she just stared at it, her lip trembling, hair sticking to her face from the salty tears. And then, she looked him in the eye.

Gene was shocked. He'd known she was upset, and that she was angry, but he hadn't anticipated this. Her eyes were wild, empty and betrayed her haunted feeling, her traumatic secrets.

'Alex...' He said softly, reaching out to her, but she just stepped away from him.

'Go...go get the bullets, give them back to me. I need them.' She said, her voice shaky as she still stared at him.

Gene stayed there, held captive by her eyes. 'No. You don't want ter do this, Alex. You don't want to die.' He said gently, putting the empty gun down on the table and looking back up at her.

'What do you know about me?! Nothing! You don't know how I feel, you have no idea! Because you're just bloody Gene Hunt, aren't you?!' She screamed, collapsing on the floor and sobbing hysterically. Gene watched for a few minutes until she calmed down and lifted her head.

'You'd want to die, if you were me.' She whispered.

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And if they're, they're truly, truly blessed

Then they'll get to believe

And if you're damned

You'll never let yourself be deceived

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Gene stared at the broken woman in front of him and walked silently over, sinking down onto the floor next to her. 'Tell me.' He commanded quietly.

She turned her head to look at him, her eyes cutting him once again. 'What if I don't want to, Gene? What if I'm tired of answering to you? I wanted to go home, and now I can't.' She said, her voice breaking on the last word as yet more tears escaped her haunted eyes.

'Why...why can't you go home?' He asked, unsure of whether it was the right thing to do.

'I don't know. Ok, I don't know.' She told him dangerously, looking away again. 'What do you care? You shot me, and the only thing you regret is that it didn't kill me. Well, I feel the same.'

Her words cut him, kicked at his soul and tore at his heart. Although he knew that she thought he didn't care, it still hurt to hear her say it.

He raised his hand slowly and cautiously placed it over hers, looking into her eyes, searching for any kind of warmth there, to show that there was perhaps some of the old Alex there.

'I didn't mean ter shoot yer, Alex. You don't know how many times I've wished I could rewind, ter go back to that moment and catch that bullet in mid-air. To stop it hitting yer.' He said truthfully, his face for once betraying some of the emotion he had kept pent-up for the last few weeks.

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And it kicks so hard, it breaks your bones

Cuts so deep, it hits your soul

Tears your skin, and makes your blood flow

It's better that we know...

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She blinked at him, trying to take his words in. 'You...didn't mean to shoot me?'

He shook his head, moving his hand to her face, holding her chin gently. 'Alex, I would never want ter hurt yer. But I am...'

She frowned slightly. 'You're not hurting me, Gene. It's my daughter; I haven't seen her in so long, not even in my mind. I can't remember her. That's hurting me.' She whispered, moving her face slightly to lean into his hand, her eyes closing for one heavenly second.

Her daughter. It was her daughter, Molly. But Gene knew that she was not being honest, because he was hurting her, too. 'I should have talked to yer sooner, I'm sorry, Alex. I never wanted to hurt yer.' He repeated.

'I know.' She whispered as she opened her eyes, and just then, Gene saw a flicker of the life return to her eyes. That made him smile just a little bit.

'I mean it, I'm so sorry. I can't even tell yer.'

'It's alright, Gene. Leave it.'

He looked at her levelly, still cupping her cheek. 'Promise me you'll never do anything like that again.' He murmured, gesturing to the gun on the table with a jerk of his head.

'I promise. Can you promise me something?'

He nodded. 'Anything.'

'Don't leave me like you did, I needed you and you weren't there.' She told him, tears escaping from her eyes again.

He watched the tears run from her eyes and over her cheek before pulling her close and just holding her. 'I won't, I'm sorry. I'll be honest, I promise.'

She pulled back, looking at him gratefully with the new, slightly brightened eyes. 'Thank you.'

'So, I'm being honest now, am I?' He checked, attempting a smile to see if she would follow suit. He'd give anything to see her smile.

'Yeah.' She breathed, her lips spreading into a smile – a small one, but a smile nonetheless.

He nodded, bringing his hand up to her face again, running his fingers down her cheek before cupping her chin again. 'Ok, then.' He took a deep breath as her eyes connecting with his again.

'I love you, Bolls.'

Soft lips pressed against his as his free hand moved to her neck as she kissed him, and he kissed her softly back.

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It kicks so hard, it breaks your bones

Cuts so deep, it hits your soul

Tears your skin, and makes your blood flow

It's better that we know

That love is hard, love is hard.

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He pulled back, still looking into her eyes. It would take time and it would be hard, but eventually, maybe he could have things back the way they were. In time, the brightness would return to her eyes, he'd see her smile and hear her laugh. But healing takes time, but it would work. They would work it out, in time.

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Love is hard.

If it was easy it wouldn't mean nothing, no.


Please review and tell me your thoughts, good or bad. X =D