Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nooooo. I'm just borrowing these two before series 3 begins *puts the toys back where she found them*

A/N: Hello one and all! Just a little one shot I wrote in a successful bid to divert myself from coursework, it's a short S3 E1 scene I've captured/imagined, so I hope it helps in acting as some sort of angsty/fluffy balm before series 3 commences. The title's really only mildly relevant if I'm honest- it's a quote from Gilbert Ryle in his book, The Concept Of Mind, which at one point discusses the misunderstanding of the term 'soul'. I just liked the quote. :)

The Ghost In The Machine

Alex wriggled deeper into the corner of her sofa, clutching her blue blanket firmly under her chin with one hand, the other hand poking the remote tirelessly as the TV blinked through the channels.

"Nothing. Absolutely bloody nothing." she muttered under her breath, turning the television off, her hand leaving the remote and retreating under the blanket.

Her heart thumped excessively hard for a couple of seconds, as the dawning disconnection washed over her; the messages had stopped. The dripping tap that had reverberated throughout this world, a constant, had been turned off for good, and without these signals, the silence was almost unbearably painful. Alex squeezed her eyes tight to stop the tears offering themselves to her eyes, I am not alone. . . I am not alone.

When she'd walked into CID with Gene the previous morning, and it felt like someone had thrown a rock at her chest. The way everyone had looked at her, the way everyone had looked at Gene made her realise how much of an outsider she was, something had shifted- within three months the whole atmosphere of that small room had darkened; Keats blocking the sun with his hand. Yet the one person who she should have wanted to run from was the one person she wanted to keep close, and it panicked her that the further she let him draw away from her, the closer it would be the end of her; she'd simply fade away.

Feeling the anxiety rattle through her veins, like a rabid prisoner shaking the bars of his cell, she realised how messed up she was; this insanity wasn't something she had, but something that had her- by the throat.

She could hear Ray's hollering muffled by the floorboards underneath her, the bellowing and tuneless singing of CID puncturing her thoughts. She wanted to go down there, bathe herself in red wine and conspire at the bar with Gene. But she felt numb, merely crawling past everyone to her flat upstairs, leaving the door a touch open in case he came to find her. Until they'd had their moment, she would remain a satellite of this world- orbiting it, always keeping her distance.


"She disappeared upstairs Mister Hunt, she looked very sad, si?" Luigi whispered, his eyebrows creased in concern when he saw Gene's eyes flicker with veiled worry.

"Thanks Luigi, I might be down in a bit." Gene replied stiffly, returning the older man's gaze as her retreated from the bar and up the stairs before anyone else could notice. His heart pulsed in his ears, scenarios flashing through his head like a reel of film, hoping she wasn't out cold or utterly incapacitated on the floor of the bathroom. Gene knocked once on the door, his fist stopping in midair as the door swung open, the flat silent and shrouded in darkness, bar the dim light leaking through the archway of her living room.

He walked across the flat, expecting the worst, surprised and relieved to find her curled up on the sofa, no empty wine bottle lying on the floor as she looked up at him through her long eyelashes. She didn't say anything, her hands wrapped inside a fleecy blanket, resting under her chin as she kept her eyes on his, something of a child about her.

"Hello." she whispered, the tiny glimmer of a sad smile gracing her lips.

"Hello." he replied, gulping.

Neither of them said anything, simply gazing at each other, relishing the moment to just look into each other's eyes, a simple pleasure that had been stolen away from them for many months. The silence between them was apprehensive, as though the room was full of hydrogen and a third party held a match.

Gene moved suddenly, sitting gently down next to her, his legs not quite touching hers as he bent forward, rubbing his hands slowly backwards and forwards, subconsciously trying to scrub the blood from his hands.

"How are you feeling?" he said softly, forcing himself to look over his shoulder and catch her eye again, wincing as he saw her weeping without wiping her eyes, tears running onto the hem of the blanket.

He saw her force a gulp, nodding her head mutely, "Fine . . . just. . . re-adjusting." she said faintly, another tear racing from the corner of her eye.

Gene didn't know what to say, the iron fist of guilt clenching at his heart as he saw her stare into the darkness, then looking away for fear he may scare her; he'd done this to her- he'd crushed his Bolly, the headstrong coquette replaced by a broken woman. He'd replayed that fateful day over and over his head like an endless echo, his stomach burning in anger as Jeanette's face floated into his head, wanting to rip himself limb from limb at how stupid he'd been, utterly blinded by pride. But not anymore.

"Gene," she whispered, her small voice making him look back at her, squirming slightly under her honest gaze, "I don't want anything from you. . .I don't want your pity or regret. . .it hurts me seeing you like this, blaming yourself."

Gene swallowed nervously, the air in his lungs turning to concrete, "I. . . I just want you back, the way things were . . .I miss you. . ." she pleaded, biting her lip slightly to hold back another wave of tears, "I really miss you." she said, letting out a breathy laugh as she wiped her eyes.

He felt himself nod, his voice cracking slightly as he responded, "I've missed you too Bolls. They're things I did. . . things I said that I would take back if I could-"

"Shhhh," Alex hushed him gently, her finger hovering mere millimetres above his lips as her skin broke out in tiny prickles, feeling the uncertainty radiate from him. Her hand moved to his shoulder, picking absently at loose bobbles on his coat, focussing on her work as his eyes were fixed on her face, watching her unswervingly, the sorrow in her expression not cloaked enough for him not to notice. The pain of his betrayal not evident in her scar, but haunted in her eyes.

He knew with startling clarity that when the bullet had torn her soft skin, it had torn his soul away from his body. He'd fled, leaving a part of himself with her, which had remained dormant by her side as she slept for three painful months. He could steadily sense his feelings coming back to him; she was giving it back to him, his soul returning with all the emotion he'd smothered whilst he had hid- a survival attempt to stop the guilt from consuming him.

"There's no use talking about it now, what's passed has passed Gene." she continued, her hand stilling, resting on the lapel of his coat.

His silver eyes dropped in shame to stare into the palm of his hands, his heart racing at the feel of her hand now playing gently with the collar of his shirt, the pads of her fingers accidently brushing against his neck, "Doesn't mean I don't feel guilty though, the thought of you never. . .never waking up scared me shitless, Alex."

Gene drags his eyes back up to hers, a shadow of a smile on her lips as she searches his face, "I'm here now; that's all that matters."

He stares at her a moment longer, trying to tease out an underlying meaning, but her gaze – making him feel more exposed than he already is- grows too burdensome.

Tearing his eyes away, he mumbles "Unbreakable. Bloody unbreakable."

Alex lets out a wisp of a laugh, and he feels himself swallow again as her hand reaches the side of his face, her fingers starting to comb through his caramel hair, lightly massaging his scalp.

She can feel her heart in her throat, her whole being channeling towards him, the colour rushing to his ears as she runs her hand in his hair, "Gene?" she whispers faintly, as he continues to avoid her gaze.

He knows if he looks at her, he'll burst, all the feelings he'd spent so long hiding about to overflow. But somehow, he doesn't care, an increasing part of him wanting to surrender to her, wanting to show her how scared of all this he truly is; he slowly lifts his eyes, holding in his breath as her dark eyes lock with his, the final thread barring them from each other snapping.

And then he's above her, her lips brushing against his as his hand rakes through her hair, ghosting along her neck and curling round her shoulders to gather her closer. She sighs into his kiss, and a fire of feeling erupts within his chest, something overwhelming, their world flooded with colour again as he feels her hands on his face; feels his arms wrap around her.

A beat in the corner of his eye, and he breaks away from her, both of them breathless as a small moan breaks from her parted lips. Not now. Not like this. He promises himself.

"Gene. . ." she starts.

"Soon, Alex, but you need to rest." he murmurs back, pulling her close as he puts the blue blanket round both of them, his steel heart warming.

She was about to protest, but he kisses her swiftly on the temple and she finds herself snuggling into his shoulder, lulled by the steady rise and fall of his chest. He lightly squeezes her shoulder, and an almost imperceptible smile ghosts across her face, both of their eyes slipping shut as the rumble of CID below them petered out.

A/N: Hope you liked that little one shot, reviews are always appreciated- I may well indulge myself again over the next week or so if I have time (or if I start going insane waiting for series 3), but until then my friends. . .