Disclaimer: I don't own A2A. If there was, I'd be tempted to have another series to sort a few issues out. *Post S3E8 fics on turn into start of S4*

A/N: Military campaign continues, this is going to be a two shot with the second part coming tomorrow or the day after. Soon, in any case. :) Hope you enjoy it, please R&R!

Tyler, Drake and Burton.

The brother, the lover and the son.

Chapter 1: The Letter

Night time was when the world felt most true to itself- the stars in the sky were brighter then they had been before, intensified through truth, and the moon seemed dangerously large, almost as if this world was caving in on itself, forcing it closer.

He pulled the key from his pocket, his chest tightening as it did every time, shakily pushing the metal into the lock, I should stop, turn back. . . I need to stop. . . but he soon found himself stepping into her flat, slamming the thin door behind him. The smell of her hairspray and red wine hit his nostrils, the emotional impact like a punch in the stomach. He leant his head back and absorbed his surroundings; it still smelt just like her.

He still imagined her walking into the kitchen, her flimsy nightgown wrapped around her body, her hair in disarray and her face free of make up, chastising him for barging into her flat unannounced just as she was about to go to sleep. He'd gruffly reply, shove some wine into her hands and she'd roll her eyes, not knowing that he'd seen the secretive smile on her face as she went off to get the glasses.

It'd been over six months since she'd left, and every day he'd come back to her flat, barely touching anything as he stalked around the darkened rooms, each day seeing something he hadn't seen before: a necklace he recognised draped over the side of a chair, the print of her lips on the edge of a glass, an empty cassette box of True . . . his heart ached when he thought of the last time he was here, dancing with her. . . holding her close. . .

He unscrewed the cap off the bottle in his hand, taking a swig of the amber liquid and grimacing at the taste, placing it carefully on the coffee table so it didn't touch anything else. It felt like he was in a museum, observing relics of the past, each little thing telling him something, creating this unreachable picture.

He thought he could do this on his own. Letting Sam go had been hard enough, but he'd left Manchester behind to cope with it, fled to London- a big city where he could forget; he'd always liked to believe that Ray and Chris had been the ones to ask to come with him, but really it'd been the other way round.

Back then he'd just about managed, the three of them bringing their Northern edge to the poncy bright lights of the capital, covering up all the pain with bravado and a whole selection of other wanker-worthy qualities. Alex had got him sussed from day one though: "Was that you Gene, trying to be cool?" she'd screeched at him, playing the game by her own rules as she marched off, sunglasses donned and gun in hand. . .

He padded over to her room, gently pushing open the door hopelessly believing that her leaving had just been some horrible nightmare, and her beautiful form was in fact curled up in bed in some god-awful pair of pyjamas.

The room was empty, duvet cover in a pile at side of the bed, just like yesterday, and the day before. . .

He felt his throat constrict, his eyes stinging for a millisecond before he blinked rapidly, creeping over to the wardrobe and opening it up. He felt his heart shudder, some of his spare clothes here from before she arrived, her own clothing right next to his, huddled together as if they were scared of being parted.

He remembered the first couple of days she was here, and she came down in those skin tight jeans and one of those off-the-shoulder tops that she favoured so much; he knew then he was sunk, his whole body magnetised towards her, his soul unbeknownst to him steadily intertwining with her own. By the time they'd both realised their own feelings, it was too late.

His stomach churned as he pulled out her white jacket, running his hands across the smooth leather, noting the slight red stain she hadn't been able to remove from the inside. He saw a blue and black check shirt, and he remembered her wearing it; she'd asked him to "let her in"- her beauty stark, the way her big brown eyes stared up at him, the ever-so-slight hopeful curl of her lips. He felt sick, giving into the urge and clutching her jacket close to his chest, closing his eyes and pressing it to his nose and his mouth as his whole body shuddered with need and loss. Alex. . .

Keats had told him he'd forget Alex, he'd forget everyone he'd ever loved. His voice had taunted him, laughed at him, ". . . and eventually you'll forget her, you'll forget how much you loved her, what you let go. . ."

He'd thrown the tape across CID, utter anger and panic surging through him, the poison dripping in Keats' voice tainting his ears even as it smashed into a thousand pieces, D.I. Burton had looked at him with a lofty confusion, raising his eyebrow before picking up his pen, later giving Gene a more concerned look through the glass of his office.

Gene wouldn't forget them. He wouldn't forget her ever. He hadn't forgotten Sam, hadn't forgotten all Sam had taught him, everything about loyalty, and being your best, and never to accept something if it's not good enough- even when we don't think we're good enough.

He knew he'd never forget Alex either, she had taught him too. He knew he'd never have told her that if she was still here, he'd taken that for granted, but he'd tell her a thousand times over if that meant she'd come back to him. She'd taught him more about himself than anyone. He'd let her in, and he'd always know that. She'd be the first and last. His only one.

It was times like these that he didn't understand how he let her go. He thought he'd always belong in this world, but without her, nothing seemed right anymore, nothing seemed real. He'd come into CID every morning, still expecting to see her rubbing her face from falling asleep at her desk, or stalking in an hour late looking as rough as hell, but still somehow bloody gorgeous. Whatever motive, whatever reason had been behind his existence here was fading fast; he was seeing the cracks in his "reality", the truth about his situation still firmly planted in his mind. A part of him knew that as soon as she'd disappeared into the Railway Arms, his heart had gone in with her.

A sad smile graced his lips as he spotted one of his shirts in a crumpled heap by her bed, a wave of regret washing over him as he picked it up and lay it over her pillow, imagining her wearing it, pottering around the flat as he watched her from their bed. The sleeves would've been too long for her arms and covered her slender hands; she'd look coyly up at him as she sipped on her mug of tea, drinking his own as he curled his other arm around her waist, pulling her to him. Another one of his dreams untouched.

He was about to leave the room, but his whole body froze at what he saw right in the corner of his eye; the edge of a white envelope, tucked amongst a pile of books on her bed side table, his heart clenching . . .oh god is it? I thought she said it was in her desk. . .

He drew it carefully out from between the pages of a novel near the bottom of the pile, a trembling breath escaping his lungs as he saw his own name scrawled in her fierce hand. He'd been lying if he hadn't said he'd already looked for it, he'd gone through every single bloody inch of her desk, he'd looked here too, but obviously not hard enough. But maybe he wasn't meant to find it until now.

He walked back out into the living room, jacket still in hand and placing it over his knees as he sunk gently into the sofa, filling the dent he'd left here half a year ago, his feet on the coffee table and a bottle in his hand. He could still make out the spot where she'd curled near him.

His breath quickened, his heart starting to convulse as he brought an unsteady hand to the corner of the envelope, slowly tearing it open and pulling out the sheet of writing paper, his heart filled with a painful glow as his eyes flicked over her handwriting, the agonising familiarity of it, although the words seemed almost unreal- as if written by some intangible figment of his imagination.

24th November, 1982.


I know you don't like all the emotional stuff- that's not how you do things- so I'll try and keep this relatively short and painless.

Writing your letter is not like writing letters for the other three; I gave them advice, my observations about them. There would be no point in me advising you, because you wouldn't change for anyone, and that's what makes you special.

When I first arrived in your world, I felt so lost. I may have acted like a complete cow sometimes, but it was mainly because I was so fearful. I thought I had to fight you, in some ways just to clear the guilt about leaving my daughter alone, but it turned out to be quite the opposite; you're my constant Gene, the only person here who I've felt truly connected too. Without you, I fear I may not have lasted half as long as I hoped to, and I pray that the rest of my time in this world is spent by your side.

You make people feel safe, which is a rare thing I think, you're a complex human being who people can't help but be drawn too. Sam wrote many things about you, all sorts of things I know I should hate- a masochist, a misogynist and I can't even remember what else- but none of that really means anything. I've told you before and I'll tell you again: you're a good, kind, decent man, Gene, don't tell yourself otherwise; you've lived through some difficult times, but please don't let it change you.

If you're reading this, I assume that means I never got a chance to say good bye to you properly, and for that I shall always be sorry. If I were to tell you one thing Gene, know that I will miss you. I will miss you, and I shall never forget you; I hope you will always remember me fondly.

Yours forever,

Alex xxx

Gene read it over several times, his tired eyes listening to her words on the paper. His heart cried out in loss and loneliness, his face an unreadable mask bar his silver eyes that flickered with remembrance, with utter need.

He did not know how long he'd sat there, the letter like an open moth in his lap, eventually letting his head fall back and tumbling into an uneasy sleep.

A/N: Part 2 to be up within the next couple of days, hope you enjoyed the first chapter. I just remembered Alex's letter from series 2 last night, and just had to get it into a post S3E8 fic. Please review!