Thanks for all the great comments and reviews – final chapter here which is full of Christmas fluff. Hope you enjoy. I apologise in advance for any mistakes as I rushing to publish before Christmas sets in with a vengance.
"Run Gene…I'm right beside you…run."
For once in his life Gene did exactly as he was told – he ran with Cedric's voice ringing in his ears, the wind and snow pushing him onwards even as his legs began to falter and his chest began to heave with the sheer effort of his endeavours. In the back of his mind was the unsettling thought that he didn't really know what he was running from – was it from Mac or from himself? He wasn't a coward by any stretch of the imagination and had always faced up to impending physical force with a show of bravado – which left him with the uncomfortable realisation that he was trying to outrun the voice in his head.
Just as he realised that he could never escape his own thoughts he stopped, gasping and heaving as he gulped burning lungfuls of air. He looked up and was shocked to find himself standing outside of Cedric's small café – the very place that this strange adventure had started.
"Cedric!" He banged repeatedly on the little café door. "Oi…Cedric…you in there?" He listened attentively in the quiet still of the night – you could almost hear the proverbial pin drop. But there was still no reply. Gene staggered off into the night – his pace slower but still casting a wary eye over his shoulder. He hoped Cedric had just run off to wherever he lived – he'd grown quite fond of the little bloke when all was said and done.
Gene staggered blindly on, no longer sure of who he was and where he was going. All he knew was that he wanted his life to be the way it used to be. He wanted Ray, wisecracking and bullish, sitting with his feet up on the desk. He wanted Chris, earnest, contrite but willing to learn from his mistakes. But most of all he wanted Alex to be alive – he didn't care if she hated him or never spoke to him again. As long as she was alive.
Finally, defeated, exhausted and uncaring of the snow on the ground, he sat down on the pavement, head in hands.
"I want it back Cedric – my life. I don't care how difficult it is and I don't care that Alex might hate me – I'll try and make it right." He raised his head and looked up into the clear night sky. "Nick…Santa…or whatever yer bleedin' name is…just give me back my life. Give me a chance to make things right." He covered his face with his hands as the snow slowly started falling once more.
"You okay down there sir?"
Gene looked up in surprise, only to find a young uniformed PC looking down at him.
"Suppose Mac sent you?" Gene leapt to his feet and turned to face the young officer. "Well you can bugger off unless you want a good hiding."
"No need for that…hold on a minute. Its DCI Hunt isn't it?"
"Yeah – what of it?"
"I thought I recognised you…Fenchurch East isn't it? You were up here a few months ago investigating that murder in the strip club?"
"You know who I am? You recognise me?"
"Course sir. Lot of officers standing a lot taller because of you – what you did in Operation Rose."
"What? Nearly killed a fellow officer?"
The young man smiled and shook his head. "Accident the inquiry said and quite right too. No, you ferreted out those corrupt bastards in Fenchurch West. Dread to think what might have happened if you hadn't been there DCI Hunt."
Gene relaxed slightly but then his eyes widened in shock. "Wait a minute – you know me…you know my name."
The PC nodded. "Like I said…you sure you're alright sir?"
"I'm alive…I'm bloody well alive!" He hesitatingly touched the back of his head and winced as his fingers discovered bruising, positively laughing as he looked at the trace of blood on his fingers. Gene closed his eyes and gave thanks to Cedric, Nick or whoever it was that made wishes come true.
"I can get a squad car if…."
Gene laughed, grabbed the PC by the shoulder and planted a firm kiss on his cheek. "You beauty." Finally releasing the somewhat surprised young man; Gene looked up into the night sky and grinned as the snowflakes softly fell on his face. "Snow. I love snow. What's your name?"
"Bailey sir…PC George Bailey."
"Well PC George Bailey, I'm a bit busy tonight, but you come and see me in Fenchurch East on Boxing Day and we'll raise a glass – How's that?"
"That'd be great sir – look forward to it." He watched bemusedly as Gene began walk away from him, kicking the snow into the air and laughing as it fell around him.
Gene hurried down the street and was relieved to find the Quattro parked exactly where he had left it. Rummaging in his pockets he found money, warrant card…and car keys. After settling into the drivers seat he glanced at his watch and was amazed to see that only five minutes had passed since his encounter with Nick. "Well, dunno what happened tonight but I do know that there's something…someone I need to see." He only hoped that she would still be willing to see him.
Alex turned over in bed and sighed loudly, huddling the cosy quilt around her as she tossed and turned restlessly. It was Christmas Eve for goodness sake! She'd sampled more of Luigi's mulled wine and rum laced egg nogg than was probably wise – and she still couldn't get to sleep. She lay flat on her back and looked at the ceiling. This would be her second Christmas since being shot and leaving Molly. If you had told her then that she would still be here after all this time, she would have laughed in your face. Hell, she probably would have cried in desperation. But now…now, she wasn't really sure what she felt.
When Gene accidentally shot her, she had been so sure that she would wake up in the 'real' world and be reunited with her daughter. Instead she had had to endure some sort of fake 2008, a world where a bullet to the head was no problem at all – no brain injury, no devastating side effects or paralysis – nothing. In other words – a lie. She hadn't wanted to believe that she had simply gone deeper into her coma but the past few weeks had given her ample time to think about her current situation. For whatever reason, it seemed that she was where she needed to be for now. She also had a sneaking suspicion that her ultimate fate was tied up to the one man that infuriated her and attracted her in equal measure. Gene Hunt.
Almost on cue, she heard a familiar banging at the door to her flat. She sat bolt upright and listened again. She was dreaming – wasn't she? No, there it was again. There was only one man who knocked at her door late at night – although he hadn't done so for many weeks now. She scrambled from the bed, carelessly slipping her feet into oversized slippers and made her way to the door.
"Bolly? You in there?"
"Coming…coming…keep your hair on." She flung open to the door to reveal Gene, breathless with excitement and covered in a light dusting of snow.
"Can I come in then?"
"Not so fast," she said, restraining him with one hand on his chest. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Very late, although technically speaking it could be early. Couldn't this wait until tomorrow?"
"Not really. Besides, its Christmas tomorrow." He tentatively smiled and found that he actually liked the sensation and so did it again. He also liked what he was seeing right now – Alex dressed in oversized striped pyjamas and her hair mussed from restless sleep. He swallowed hard and tried to concentrate. "You'll never believe what 'appened to me tonight."
"Let me guess. You were shot and ended up in 1982 – you're from the future," she said sarcastically.
"Ah…" Gene rapidly began to reassess his approach. He hadn't believed her – why on earth would she believe him? "I need to…that is I want to…bloody 'ell Bols, you gonna let me in or what? I'm freezing me bollocks off 'ere."
"I suppose so."
She opened the door to let him pass by, and couldn't resist a small smile of excitement as soon as his back was turned. She couldn't really deny that she had missed him – the arguments, the banter but most of all, the straightforward companionship that he provided. But she also realised that she wanted more – needed something more if she was to remain in this world.
He was stood in the centre of her small lounge, dominating the whole flat with his huge presence.
"You should take that coat off. And turn up the fire – you're freezing."
As he finally managed to shrug off his heavy overcoat, she noticed a stain on his shirt collar.
"What this?" She touched his collar and frowned. "This is blood Gene – what happened?"
"What? Oh that. Its nothing, just fell over and cracked me head that's all. I'm bleeding," he said with a wide grin.
"Well I can't see it's anything to smile about." She experimentally touched the back of his head and found more blood matted in his hair. "Come with me."
Gene followed her to the kitchen in a slight daze. Her was alive and he was in Alex's flat – and more to the point, it would seem that she didn't really hate him. It was better than he had hoped for – better than he deserved really."
"Sit down." She gestured towards a seat at the kitchen table.
"Think I like it when you're being forceful Bols."
"I bet. Here – drink this." She placed large tumbler of whisky in front of him.
Gene took a mouthful as he watched her potter about the kitchen. By rights, it shouldn't be sexy at all – distinctly unsexy and unrevealing winceyette pyjamas were not the stuff of his usual fantasies – but on Alex there was something strangely alluring about them. He took another gulp of whisky.
"Needed to say something Alex."
He watched warily as she dabbed some cotton wool in antiseptic and then applied to the back of his head. "Ouch! You getting' your own back?"
"Maybe," Alex said with a half-smile, "hardly the same as being shot though."
"No." He stared glumly at the floor as he wondered how to frame the words. Maybe simple was best. "Sorry."
"I said I'm sorry…for everything."
Alex bit her lip as tears threatened to overwhelm her. "Thank you." She dabbed furiously at Gene's wound. "I'm sorry too."
"You? What 'ave you got to be sorry for?"
"For being a fruitcake," she said with a laugh. "For expecting you to believe the impossible."
He reached for her hand and pulled her gently into the seat next to him. "Tell you what Bols, after tonight the impossible doesn't seem quite so impossible after all." He took her hands in both of his and gently rubbed warmth into them.
"What did happen to you tonight?"
"Lets just say I had an encounter with Saint Nick and a bloke called Cedric that I'll probably never forget."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
Gene laughed. "Then you know what I feel like 90 percent of the time you talk to me." He continued to rub her hands gently before reluctantly disengaging. "Its late…I'd better go."
"Go? But you can't…I mean its snowing and you're injured and…stay."
"Yes. Stay here. On the sofa."
Gene had to admit that he was tempted. He was suddenly and overwhelming tired and the thought of going outside into the cold again wasn't very appealing. "On the sofa?"
"It wouldn't be the first time you've slept over?"
"True." Although this did feel different somehow.
"I'll get the spare quilt," Alex said before he could change his mind.
When she returned Gene had made himself comfortable, removing boots, tie and jacket, his long legs stretched out as he relaxed on the sofa. She handed over pillows and quilt and then hovered nervously.
"You'll be warm enough?"
"I'll be fine love – you get off to bed."
Reluctantly Alex made her way back to the bedroom and quickly slipped underneath the comfy duvet. She closed her eyes, expecting that sleep would now come quickly. But it didn't. After what seemed like an age of tossing and turning she finally gave up. Maybe hot milk would do the trick? She quietly crept from the bedroom, fully intending to bypass the lounge and go directly into the kitchen. At least that's what she told herself.
But of course, the sight of Gene sprawled on the sofa was far too delicious to resist. She tiptoed closer, hardly daring to breath, until she was looking down on him. She fought hard to repress a wistful sigh as she looked at his face; he was totally relaxed and oblivious to his surroundings, his features composed and peaceful, and a half-smile on his lips that sent butterflies racing around her stomach. She brushed away the hair from his brow and sat down beside him.
"I don't know why I'm here," she said quietly, "but as long as I am, then I'm going to live every moment."
She carefully lifted the quilt and slipped in next to him, wrapping her arms around him as she snuggled up to his chest. "Merry Christmas Gene." She quickly and effortlessly fell asleep.
Gene's eyes flickered open for a moment as he registered the warm presence in his arms. "Merry Christmas Bols." His arms tightened around her until he too fell sound asleep.
It wasn't the unnatural brightness shining through the blinds that woke Gene. Nor was it the distant sound of Luigi tunelessly warbling 'Adeste Fideles' as he made his way down to the restaurant. No. It was the unaccustomed sensation of holding Alex in his arms that roused his body to life. As he lay there willing his body not to get too overexcited, he realised that it was Christmas Day. It was Christmas Day and he was lying with Alex in his arms! If this was a dream, then it was one he definitely didn't want to wake up from.
However, not wanting to push his luck too far, he resolved to extract himself from this delightful but potentially embarrassing situation toot suite. As he edged closer to the edge of the sofa and tried to untangle Alex's legs from his own, she groaned softly and held him even closer.
"Go back to sleep love."
"Time is it?" she mumbled sleepily.
He watched as her eyes gradually flickered open and gradually focused on his face. Christ – he would give anything to wake up to that every morning.
"Morning petal. Merry Christmas."
Alex yawned and stretched and then smiled. "Morning." She closed her eyes but quickly opened them again. "Christmas! Its Christmas Day?"
"Last time I checked." Gene watched with amusement as she shot up from the sofa and ran over to the window and looked out. "Oh look," she turned around to Gene, beckoning him over, "its been snowing. It's beautiful."
"Yes. Yes it is," he said, not even looking at the snow.
Alex turned to face him, a glow of anticipating lighting up her face. "Merry Christmas Gene." She held his face as she leaned forward and hesitantly kissed his lips.
For a moment he thought he was still dreaming, but as a familiar warmth began to flood his body he knew that this was real – she was real. He only had one life and he had wasted so much of it already – his previous resolve to resist Alex was already crumbling to so much dust. He wrapped his arms around her, pressing her body closer, his lips now responding to hers with practised ease.
They slowly broke apart, flushed and smiling.
"What time did you say it was?" she said teasingly.
"Well in that case, I think we should go back to bed – don't you?" She led him by the hand until they reached the threshold of her bedroom.
"Alex." Gene came to a standstill as she continued to tug on his hand.
"If we do this…if I come to your bed now, I'll never want to leave."
Alex nodded and then leaned over to kiss his cheek. "I know – and that's what I want."
He nodded slowly and allowed himself to be led towards her bed. Once there, all hesitation and doubt vanished as quickly as Luigi's mince pies. What little clothing they were both wearing was quickly dispensed with, as skin brushed against skin with giggles and gasps of appreciation. They both dived underneath the covers to escape the winter chill, with Gene taking the opportunity to brush Alex's long limbs with his hands until she was tingling top to toe.
"Almost," she said. "I think you might have missed a bit though."
"Here?" His fingers passed lightly over her breasts, causing her to arch in pleasure.
"Or here?" he murmured, as his hands wandered down her body, caressing her hips and bringing her body closer to his.
Alex moaned and then did a little exploring of her own, her fingers tracing his shoulders and arms, her back arching as his lips found her neck. Her fingers itched to touch him, her legs entwined around him as she sought to bring him closer still. They had all the time in the world and yet she simply couldn't slow down. She needed him right here – right now.
Gene could feel her urgency as she whimpered and gasped but he was determined to savour the moment. He stilled her moans with his mouth, kissing her long and thoroughly before slowly moving down over her body. He nipped and teased his way to her breasts, almost sighing in contentment as he slowly brought each nipple to a peak, Alex's cries of pleasure music to his ears.
But Alex wasn't about to allow Gene the upper hand. She had waited so long – denied herself for so long – and she wasn't about to deny herself the pleasure of touching Gene for much longer. She caressed his back, his thighs, his arse and then finally she took him in hand. As their tongues twisted and duelled, so she stroked his hard length in a matching rhythm, a feeling of triumph and pleasure as he responded by thrusting into her hand. She could feel her own desire pooling between her thighs and knew that there was no reason to wait.
He needed no further encouragement and he rolled her onto her back, settling himself between her thighs as he positioned himself above her. They clasped hands tightly as he rolled his hips and teased her, repeatedly brushing himself against her and then withdrawing until they were both mad with desire. Finally, he could bear it no longer and he entered her in one fluid stroke.
Alex gasped as she adjusted to the feel of him, smiling like the cat that got the cream as she wrapped her legs tightly around his hips. And then he began to move – or at least she thought it was him, but it so easily could her been her. They moved so seamlessly that it was hard to tell who moved, where one body ended and another began. It was too perfect and too long awaited to last long and she bucked and arched underneath him, grasping and clawing as she sought to bring him closer. His hips moved relentlessly, grinding against her, as his hand gripped hers once more. She screamed her release when it came and Gene felt the vibrations ricochet through his own body, tipping him over the edge into an exhausting shuddering climax.
As they slowly drifted off into a happy satiated sleep, Gene knew only two things. One, that it had been by far, the best Christmas Day he had ever had. And two, that he would do anything at all to keep Alex happy for the rest of her life.
There was a definite spring in his step as Gene left Alex's flat on Boxing Day, and strode jauntily along the pavement towards Fenchurch East station. Christmas Day had been the best in living memory, and he had Alex had made love, slept and then made love some more, only emerging to head to Luigi's for Christmas lunch. It was a dubious pleasure that Gene would have quite happily forfeited, but Alex gently insisted and Gene could only give in to her wishes – with the promise of special treats to come as an enticement.
"Morning Skip," Gene said merrily as he passed Viv manning the desk. "Merry Christmas."
Viv did a double take as Gene waltzed by and into CID. "Guv?" He hadn't seen DCI Hunt looking that happy since…well, he couldn't remember having him seem look that happy at all – ever.
Gene made himself a cup of tea and then settled down to wait in his office. If he knew Chris Skelton as well as he thought he did, then he could have a little fun. He looked at the clock on the wall – 9 o'clock and still no sign of Chris. Gene smiled to himself as he contemplated his next move – and the fact that he had won his bet with Alex regarding Chris' timekeeping abilities. He would definitely be extracting a forfeit from her later. He rubbed his hands together to warm them and watched from the open door of his office as he waited for Chris to appear.
It was precisely 9.18 when Chris finally crept into the office, sliding behind his desk and picking up a file as if he had been there forever.
Gene slowly walked out of his office and stood by Chris' desk.
"What time d'yer call this?"
"Sorry Guv. I know I'm a bit late."
Gene looked pointedly at the clock. "Late!" he bellowed, "I'll bloody well say yer late."
"I'm really sorry Guv. Only…it's only once a year and well…think I might have had a few too many yesterday and…
"You know what Skelton? I'm sick and tired of your excuses. You know what I think?"
Chris shook his head and waited for the axe to fall. "No Guv."
"I think," Gene said as he leant on Chris' desk and moved menacingly closer, "I think…that you've suffered enough. Merry Christmas Chris."
"Eh? I really am sorry Guv but…"
"I said you've suffered enough you div. You're no longer on probation and you've learned your lesson – just don't be getting into that sort of mess again otherwise I'll have your balls on a plate for breakfast. Now, what do we 'ave to do to get some heating on around 'ere?"
"I'll get a heater from the Skip shall I?"
"Good lad and then we'll 'ave a chat about how to get your career back on track eh?"
Chris sprinted from the office but soon returned with an electric heater, which was quickly plugged in as Gene passed Chris his flask of whisky to toast the Christmas season. Soon Shaz arrived with a plentiful supply of turkey sandwiches, Ray arrived with cans of beer and not too much later Alex arrived bearing champagne and mince pies. Shaz turned on the radio and as others in the station began to wander into CID to investigate the sounds of jollity, Alex and Gene sat next to each other on the nearest desk and toasted each other in champagne.
"To you Bolly," he said, quickly kissing her on the cheek.
"To us," she said, clinking her glass against his.
"So, you won't be transferring then?"
"Ooh I don't know – what's it worth?"
"You attempting to bribe a senior officer DI Drake?"
"As if! However if you wanted to stop by later with your truncheon and take down my particulars…"
Gene spluttered into his champagne. "Saucy wench. You're on."
He discreetly placed his hand over Alex's and squeezed her fingers as they watched the rest of the team celebrating. Chris and Shaz were smooching to a song on the radio, Ray was berating Viv and casting aspersions on his choice of football team as the rest of CID and uniform munched on mince pies and swapped stories of their own Christmas experiences.
"Penny for them?" Alex enquired.
"Just thinking. Its not a bad life is it?"
"A life worth living?"
He nodded. "Definitely."
He smiled broadly as Alex filled up his glass with champagne and then circulated around the room, chatting to the others as she passed by. He really was the luckiest man on earth. He raised his glass in a silent toast.
"Cheers Cedric." He downed the contents of his glass as Alex returned to his side.
"What are you smiling at?"
"I'm smiling because I've got the most beautiful woman in the world by my side.
Alex threw her head back and laughed. "Oh I really could kiss you Gene Hunt."
"Well, what's stopping yer?"
So to the sounds of Slade on the radio and much to the amusement and cheers of the rest of CID, Gene and Alex kissed and kissed and kissed and…….well, you get the picture.
Merry Christmas Everyone.
A very Merry and Peaceful Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year.