After much inner debate I've decided to write this story, which is positively AU and set after the events of Series 2. While it may follow a broadly similar structure to Series 3, events can and will be different - as you will see from the first chapter.
That means that every plot twist is up for grabs depending on my whim *evil cackle*. This also means Keats may or may not be evil personified, Alex may not be where she thinks she is and Gene may or may not be Nigel Perkins ;-) There will be snippets of dialogue from series 3 but I hope to keep this to a minimum.
Many thanks to the regular posters on TRA where there has been much fevered and informed debate, thanks especially to grainweevil for her lifesaving transcipts and to the ladies of peachy towers for much intelligent and often smutty discussion - you know who you are.
Disclaimer: Many thanks to BBC/Kudos and Monastic whose characters these undoubtedly are. I'm just going to play with them for a while ;-)
Gene tossed back another drink as he surveyed the uninspiring scene from his seat in 'Edna's Place', the local watering hole he had found on his unexpected exile in Tossa de Mar. It was raining. Again. In fact it wasn't just raining – it was absolutely stotting down and even the locals were saying that they'd never seen anything like it before. Typical, Gene thought. Instead of sizzling like a sausage he was in danger of drowning like a rat. The only sausage he was likely to come across were in the full English breakfast provided by Edna. Not that he was complaining. Edna's breakfasts were legendary and tastier than anything he had ever found in London. So it could be worse. Much worse. He could be rotting in a cell somewhere, locked up for murder.
Gene grimaced as he took another gulp from his pint. No, not murder. Alex was still very much alive - at least from the latest news he had heard on the grapevine. No thanks to him of course. He had re-run the events with Jenette and Alex over and over in his head, each time looking for the answer, for someone to blame. But in his heart of hearts he knew the truth – only one person to blame and that person was Gene Hunt. Regret and remorse ripped through his gut – sometimes he swore he could even feel the bullet himself. Probably that dodgy paella he'd tried.
Course, soon as he had seen which way the wind was blowing he'd taken off. Considering the events involving Fenchurch West and the bungled raid, it had hardly been surprising when Discipline and Complaints and turned up and tried to link Gene's shooting of Alex into the whole corruption malarkey. So like an idiot he had run. First to the Isle of Wight and then, feeling the need for even more distance, he had washed up on the Costa Brava. And he here planned to stay until Alex woke up. If she woke up.
A voice broke into Gene's gloomy meanderings and he suddenly remembered his newly acquired name.
Edna Butterworth smiled as she approached Gene – and not just because he was a paying customer. In the weeks since he had turned up in her café cum pub she'd taken a shining to him for reasons that she couldn't explain. He certainly wasn't particularly sociable – especially once he'd had a few drinks, but there was just something about him...
"Stop gawking Edna and get us a refill," Gene said.
"Oooh! Get you Mr Charm Personified 1983."
Gene just sulked and watched as Edna took his pint and refilled it to the top.
"So, what's getting your goat today Nigel?"
"Stop callin' me that."
He beckoned her closer and she leaned forward – just enough so that he got an eyeful of her generous cleavage. Gene felt the first stirrings of lust but just as quickly batted it away. Not that she wasn't attractive – great legs, a winning smile and big tits went a long way with Gene. But it wasn't the same…because it wasn't the right woman.
He leaned forward to whisper in her ear anyway. "Because me name's not Nigel."
Edna laughed and flirtatiously whispered back, "I know."
"What d'yer mean, you know?"
She rested her hand lightly on his arm. "Let's just say you don't look like a Nigel…what was your surname again?"
Edna laughed again. "Oh that's right 'Nigel Perkins'. Well, 'Nigel', I'm the King of Spain's left bollock if that's your real name. But it doesn't matter here love."
He watched as Edna poured herself a short and sat down opposite.
"I've been here a long time and I've seen all sorts of punters come my way. Most just looking for a good time away from home, some trying to forget and some running away from something…or someone."
"A right regular Marjorie Proops you are."
"Oh I wouldn't say that. People loose their inhibitions when they get out here. A little sunshine and a lot booze and hey presto! They like to talk and I like to listen. All I'm saying is Nigel…"
"Me name's Gene. If you insisting on rabbiting you might as well get the name right."
"Well, all I'm saying Gene is that you're secret's safe enough with me."
He took a long slurp from his pint and grimaced. While it might have been cold it certainly didn't back the punch of his usual pint of bitter. As they talked he became aware of a dull ache in his gut but he ignored it. It had been there since he had shot Alex, although it seemed to be getting worse lately.
He turned his attention to Edna, whose blue eyes were gleaming with interest.
"Go on then Madame Gypsy Rose Lee – what's me problem?"
Edna took a sip of brandy as she scrutinized Gene. "Well," she said finally, "you're not here to enjoy yourself that's for sure."
"You should be a detective," he said sarkily.
She ignored him and breezily carried on. "You don't socialise much, you hardly sunbathe, you play darts and drink, and you don't flirt so you're not looking for a quick shag…"
"Hold up! Who says?"
"I do Gene. A woman knows these things."
"I'm just out of practice is all."
"Flirting or shagging?"
"And I could help with both too…." There was a moments silence between them. "…but you don't want me Gene."
"No love," Edna said sadly as she stood. "You need to get back to her…whoever it is you're running away from."
"That's your diagnosis is it?"
"It is." She moved back behind the sanctity of the bar counter. "And it's no good arguing love. I told you…"
"..a woman knows." Gene completed the sentence for her. He took his glass to the bar and sat down. "So what do I do now?"
"Only you know the answer to that one darlin' – and I think you know the answer already don't you?"
He nodded and finished his pint in one long gulp. He had to go back to London…back to Alex. He winced as the ache in his gut deepened. If nothing else maybe it would cure his aching belly.
"Thanks Edna – for listening."
"My name's not Edna," she sighed, "its Stephanie." Her smile twinkled as she watched him walk out of the door.
Alex dozed fitfully on the sofa.
She mumbled as she dreamed – as she often did these days. Ever since she had woken up from her coma her sleep had been disturbed, filled more often than not, with images of the places and people she had spent so much time with in the past. And one face in particular dogged her days and haunted her nights.
It was only natural, she told herself. He had been the very centre of her world, the one stable element in that whole crazy universe that she could rely on. Even if at the very end he had pushed her away, then she could hardly blame him. How could a man like Gene understand her predicament, or even contemplate the possibility of a time-travelling DI, which is more or less what she had asked him to believe. Impossible.
But still she missed him. Almost unbearably. So she dreamed instead. She dreamed of Gene riding up on his white steed and killing the bad guys without an ounce of effort, whisking her away to a place of safety. And if that white steed was in reality a red Quattro, it hardly seemed to make a difference. Her therapist said she should try to forget him, banish him from her mind. And she tried, she really did. But she couldn't dismiss him completely. Because his image was the only thing keeping her from going completely mad.
'Am I mad, in a coma or back in time?" The words of Sam Tyler came back to haunt her now – because she simply had no idea of the answer.
She had been so sure when she had first 'woken up', she had wanted to believe it so much. She was back with Molly and Evan and that was all that mattered. But little by little the doubts had started to creep in. Strange images reflected in the mirror, something in the corner of her eye that she couldn't quite see and the sheer unreality of taking a bullet to the head with no apparently consequences? The scars had healed remarkably quickly and with seemingly no permanent damage. Now how was that possible?
Alex heard the worried query from her daughter and felt a tentative hand shaking her arm.
With a deep breath she slowly opened her bleary eyes and tried to focus on Molly. "Yes darling. I'm here."
As the anxiety fled from her face, Molly posed another question. "Who's Jean?"
"Gene?" Alex sat up straight and tried to concentrate.
"Yes Jean. You were mumbling something about Jean."
"Oh…probably nothing Mols. Just another dream."
"Well you seem to be dreaming about this "Jean" quite a lot." Molly wiggled her fingers when she said the name.
"Do I?" she said sadly. Alex sat up and ran her fingers through her hair. Time to stop moping and get on with life – if that's what this really was. "Is Evan still coming to take you shopping?"
Molly nodded excitedly. "I need a new pair of trainers and I want to show him the new iPod."
"You shouldn't take advantage – he spoils you."
"I know, I know…you deserve it." Alex smiled but was then overcome with a rush of love and protectiveness. She engulfed her daughter into a huge bear hug before looking into her eyes. "I love you so much…never forget that Molly." Alex kissed her forehead before releasing her.
Molly wriggled in her mothers grasp but returned the hug anyway. "And I love you too mummy. Was that the doorbell?"
Alex sighed as she realised the moment was gone. "Go on then – you better answer it before Evan changes his mind." Her smile faded slightly as Molly left the room. Maybe it would be better if Molly visited her father for a while – just until she sorted her head out. Discovered what was real and what wasn't.
"Hello Titch. How are you feeling?"
Alex fixed a smile on her face before turning to Evan. "It's been years since you called me that – although it's hardly accurate."
Evan kissed her cheek in greeting. "Maybe not but you'll always be 'Titch' to me. You didn't answer my question – how are you feeling?"
He asked her that every day and every day she answered exactly the same.
"I'm fine. Good."
"You should come shopping with us – I could use the moral support."
Alex laughed. "No chance. You're on your own. Besides, Molly would be very disappointed if she didn't get you all to herself."
"As long as you're sure."
"I am. But make she doesn't eat too much. I'm making chicken casserole for dinner. You'll stay to dinner?"
"You know the way to a single man's heart – of course I'll stay. But first…the dreaded shopping."
She smiled and waved as Molly and Evan squabbled good-naturedly, blowing a final kiss as Molly waved from the front seat of the car.
"Bye darling – be good."
And then she was alone.
Gene reluctantly throttled back on the accelerator of his rented Austin Allegro – not that it was going fast enough to warrant throttling back in his opinion but he couldn't be too careful now that he was so close to his target. The last thing he needed was pulling over by the law. He shook his head with a hint of despair. 'I am the bloody law!' How often had he said those words throughout his long career? Too many times to count and yet here he was, sneaking around like the very scum he used to lock away. Well all that was going to change. Just as soon as Alex woke up…
He grimaced as the dull but persistent ache in his chest reminded him of where he needed to be. He couldn't explain it. It didn't feel like a heart attack – besides he was far too young and healthy for that surely? But ever since he had left Spain the ache had become more persistent, moving from his gut until it resolved himself in the middle of his chest like a gaping black hole. And with it came a renewed sense of urgency that he also couldn't explain. But whenever he thought of Alex the pain got worse and somehow he knew that he had to be where she was, he had to find her and wake her and…
No, it was more than that. She needed help and he was the only one who could help her.
"You great big bloody fairy!" he scolded himself.
He just needed Alex to wake up. That's all. No big mystery. Not like he was broken hearted or anything despite the aching void in his chest. He was going to wake her up. End of.
He switched on the radio, determined to drive out all thoughts of why he was running so swiftly towards London.
'What becomes of the broken hearted…'
"Give it bloody rest would ya?" He quickly changed stations.
'Save your love for me, oh save your love…'
"You have got to be kidding me? Is there no decent music on this flaming thing?"
'Oh the shark babe, has such teeth dear…'
"That's better – Bobby Darin. A bit of class." Gene tapped his fingers on the steering wheel approvingly. Proper music this, not that poncy, airy-fairy romantic crap.
'Now on the sidewalk…lies a body just oozing life. And someone sneaking round the corner…could that someone be Mack the Knife?'
Gene snapped off the radio hurriedly. He preferred silence anyway.
Alex put the casserole dish into the oven and slammed the door with an air of satisfaction. She could do this. This was normal everyday stuff and she could do this. It was real. No Shaz, no Ray or Chris and most definitely no Gene Hunt.
Her head jerked at the sound of Gene's voice. She glanced defiantly around the deserted kitchen. "No. Go away."
Vegetables that's what she needed. Carrots and potatoes and…
"Wake up Alex."
She took a sharp knife and began to slice and dice the vegetables. "Why are you still in my head?" She'd have to go back to her therapist of course and… She looked down at her hand. It was bleeding. She'd cut her finger with the knife and she was bleeding. "Bugger." She stared for a moment in something of a daze. But she hadn't felt it had she? She hadn't even realised she'd done it. Out of habit she ran the wound under cold water but still she couldn't feel the pain she knew should be there. "This isn't real," she whispered.
She walked into the living room in a daze and switched on the television with a sense of inevitability. She wasn't shocked when a burst of static was suddenly replaced by Ray's face.
"….just wake up. They stopped the bleeding weeks ago. I wouldn't have come but the shit's hit the fan….and what with the Guv in hiding, I'm on me own. I mean I'm doing my best but they never think my best's good enough. So wake up… help me."
Despite her incipient despair Alex smiled at the familiar face. Ray must be in all kinds of trouble if he was actually asking her for help. Reluctantly she pressed the remote and changed channels. The screen flickered for a moment and after a few second's delay Chris' face appeared.
"….and Shaz sends her love ma'am….boss. She'll be along later…we're not together any more. Not since you were shot like…but that's cool. I suppose. We're all over the place with these disappearances ma'am. And what with the Guv not being 'ere well…Can't you come back?"
Alex shook her head. "No Chris." She flicked channels again, unsurprised to see Shaz's face now staring at her.
"….it's just not fair ma'am. All I do is answer the phone and make bloody tea and biscuits all day...should have been a traffic warden. You made things better ma'am ….why won't you wake up? You could help me to…"
The picture changed abruptly and Alex dropped the remote control in shock as a stranger's face appeared on the screen. He was youngish with dark hair and spectacles and she racked her brain trying to remember his face.
"Alex? Alex Drake? You don't know me, but I know all about you. You're the best Alex. It's just not fair. He did this to you, and I don't want history to repeat itself. I don't want you to end up like…"
The picture changed again and Alex began to flick through the many channels – but each one showed Ray, Chris or Shaz desperately pleading with her.
'Wake up…it's not fair…help me…help me…help me…'
"I'm sorry," Alex said sadly, as she switched channels yet again.
"Come on Drakey…it's not that bad."
Shocked, Alex stared at Gene's image on the tv screen for a moment. "No!" She dropped the remote control.
"Can you hear me, Bolls? Come back to me, I need ya! Wake up. You weren't that shot. Wake up!"
She turned and ran out of the room…running straight into the wall of a prison cell. She could still hear the voices, whispering, just out of reach. Frightened but still intrigued she peered out of the small cell window. She could see a woman lying asleep in a hospital bed.
"Oh my god – it's me."
She quickly glanced around but the room was deserted, although there were signs that there had been recent visitors. The television on the wall was showing a BBC news report.
'Police in Lancashire say that the remains of a body found in a shallow grave on farmland may be that of a police officer. They believe it may have lain undiscovered for many years before being found by a group of travellers two days ago. A post-mortem is being carried out to establish the cause and likely date of death.'
Alex glanced at her own body in the bed and then at the clock on the wall as it clicked over to 9:06. She gasped and jumped out of her skin as the window in the cell door slammed shut, turning only to be confronted by the figure of a uniformed policeman in the cell with her. She stared curiously at the silent figure, whose face appeared to be terribly wounded. She was just about to speak when a familiar voice cut across her thoughts.
The world went black.
She gasped for breath as a deluge of ice-cold water hit her in the face. Still trying to catch her breath, she floundered like a fish out of water and struggled to open her eyes.
"You're awake then?" Gene said.
"But where…" she slurred groggily.
"Welcome to Paradise Inspector. Now get your knickers on. We've got work to do."
. . . . . . . .to be continued