A random oneshot I wrote about Alex's flat... I wondered what it would be like from Gene's point of view.
For maximum impact on the last part, listen to "Pas De Deux (Intrada)" from the Nutcracker suite whilst reading... it sets the mood beautifully :')
It was, he told himself, just a flat.
Just a combination of bricks and mortar, manifesting themselves into the exact dimensions and styles the architect had planned.
Just walls, empty, unthreatening walls filled with furniture and the odd knick-knack.
Just a place where he could crash out on the sofa, change his shirt and have a hot shower.
Just an empty flat.
So why did going up there fill him with such a sense of foreboding? There was no-one there. Since he'd arrived in London six months previously, he'd befriended the eccentric Italian landlord of the bar downstairs and persuaded him to let them use the flat.
He knew he shouldn't drive home like this.
He knew he was being irrational.
He knew there was no-one there.
Maybe that was the problem. There was no-one there, and all Gene Hunt wanted was a gorgeous woman to wrap her arms around him and hold him tight when he came home late, tired from a hard day at work.
No. It wasn't that. He couldn't help but feel that everything was going to change, and soon. Like someone was going to arrive, and this flat would no longer be his, no longer be part of the Gene Genie's kingdom.
Maybe – his irrational subconscious, fuelled with alcohol and too many Westerns – a usurper was on the way. Someone who would challenge him.
Someone who would – slowly but surely, brick by brick – dismantle his empire, his fresh, new, southern, empire, and bring him to his knees.
Sod it. He thought, fumbling the key in the lock and entering, ignoring the bright décor, the dirty dishes piled in the sink, the shirts stuffed haphazardly into the washing machine and heading straight for the sofa, collapsing on it gratefully. This was his kingdom for now, and he was determined to enjoy it.
As Alex ascended the stairs to her flat, Gene stared after her wistfully. It used to be his flat. Part of his kingdom. And now it was hers. He couldn't help but feel the small nagging doubt that if she had taken over the flat, maybe CID was next, but he dismissed it.
He couldn't see her as a threat.
He couldn't see her usurping him from his position as the sheriff, the Guv, the lawmaker.
He couldn't see her as anything other than his DI. His very attractive, alluring, damn irritating DI.
He couldn't just go upstairs and crash any more. He couldn't even spend the night there when he was too drunk to drive home, instead preferring to sleep at his desk at work, feet on piles of paperwork, jacket slung over the computer monitor.
He wasn't sure why he didn't trust himself to sleep on the sofa. Was it that the thought of her, in the next room, combined with the alcohol he had almost always consumed, made him worry about his self control?
Was it that he didn't want one thing to lead to another?
Was it that he did, but he wasn't sure how things would work out?
Whatever happened, he always felt a pang at the end of the night, as he left her. He felt guilty for leaving her alone up there, intoxicated, deeply asleep, with no-one to protect her.
He felt guilty for getting her drunk.
He felt guilty for not making sure she went to bed.
He felt guilty for not keeping an eye on her and making sure she didn't take any strange men home in her vulnerable state – that Yuppie twat a few months previously only made him all the guiltier about this.
Alex Drake had arrived in his world only four months ago. Dressed as a hooker, he had been both horrified and – he hated to admit – a little excited when he found out who she was really. Since then, she had turned his world upside down, with her psychiatry bollocks and seemingly limitless pool of knowledge.
Showing off all her fancy methods, her intimate knowledge of everything related to policing.
Blinding them with psychiatry and telling him what to do.
Not letting him get on with his job, always interfering, always damn interfering and always right.
He harrumphed quietly and drained his Scotch, standing and pulling on his coat. With a final, longing glance at the stairs, he left the warmth of the restaurant, pulling his collar up against the cold, trying to cast all thoughts of Alex Drake from his mind.
Gene stepped over the threshold warily. He had come to fear the flat, over the past few weeks; fear the emotions it bestirred in him.
Fear of what it represented, all the memories it contained.
Fear of who it represented, and what she meant to him.
He'd avoided the place since it had happened, CID alone full of uncomfortable memories, awkward feelings. His banishment from what had been his entire world had been almost a blessed relief. Escaping every constant reminder of her, every place unlocking fresh torture, fresh pain. And now he had to leave this place before they came for him, but he couldn't leave without saying goodbye to her, in his own way.
He looked around, seeing tiny details of her everywhere. A pair of shoes, slung under the coffee table.
Her grey jacket, thrown casually over the back of the sofa.
A small pot of lip-gloss, rolled under the table, dropped from a pocket in haste. Stooping, he picked it up and unscrewed the lid, inhaling the strawberry smell – both unbearably alien and yet achingly familiar.
"Bolly..." he whispered, his voice breaking the oppressive silence of the abandoned flat. He remembered the last times he had said her name, watching her fall, watching her bleed, desperately trying to call her back to him.
At the hospital, looking at her lying on the bed prone, unconscious... she could almost have been asleep. Begging her to wake up, for his sake, foolishly, desperately.
He needed her to get him out of this mess, tell the inquest the truth about what happened.
He needed her to tell him she forgave him, to try and ease his guilt to a small degree.
He needed to see her smile, hear that laugh again.
He hated to admit it, but he missed her.
He sunk to the floor, crouching beside the coffee table and flicking through the magazines stacked below: "Psychology Weekly."
He smiled. That was so like her. Devoted to her work. That was why it had happened, he thought. She had told him over and over but he wouldn't listen.
She had tried to help him but he had suspended her, told her to keep away.
She had ended up in danger and he'd shot her.
His fist closed over the tiny pot and he shook his head, trying to allay the images of her falling... falling... falling...
"No," he whispered, trailing a hand over the arm of the smooth, patterned sofa, relishing the familiar sensation of the black-and-white fabric on his skin. Memories flooded back, drunken evenings, late night conversations over glasses of wine, tucking her under the blanket as she slept.
He always let her sleep on the sofa, so he'd never entered her bedroom before, only peered in from the doorframe. Once the flat had become hers, he had always felt it was too intensely private, too personal. So now he swung the door open gently, inhaling her scent as the darkened room was revealed, a whole room that managed to perfectly encapsulate everything that was Alex Drake.
The familiar smell of hairspray, shampoo and some unknown fragrance.
The clothes, casually slung around, as though she had dressed hastily. He supposed she had, in retrospect, in a hurry to arrive at King Douglas Lane, in a hurry to help him.
The brightly coloured makeup stacked neatly on the dressing room, the vivid colours that attracted all attention to her eyes, those hazel orbs that managed to either perfectly express everything she couldn't phrase into words or give nothing away of what she was thinking.
The covers pushed back, kicked away from her as she slept, the pillows messily arranged, as though she had tossed and turned a lot in the night.
He sat on the edge of the bed, easing himself onto the creaking mattress gingerly. He stroked the pillows, reaching out to gently straighten them, fingers snagging on a piece of brown silk. Pulling it out, he held up Alex's pyjama top, smiling sadly.
"Wasn't the circumstances I was anticipating, Bolls." He whispered, voice raw with emotion. Folding it, he laid it back under the pillow and turned his attention to the bedside table.
An empty tumbler containing the dried-on dregs of a familiar amber liquid.
A tissue showing signs of reddish-brown lipstick and black mascara, wiped off hurriedly as though she was eager to get into bed and didn't have time to remove it properly.
The red corded phone, covered in a thin layer of dust which he reached out to brush away, feeling the smooth furriness of it on his fingertips.
He wondered how many phone calls she had made from here, how many times she had phoned in late or sick. He sighed heavily. Now she was sick, really sick, and she wasn't going to get better anytime soon.
Standing, he raised the object he had been holding the whole time to his face, inhaling her smell, stroking the soft white leather with his thumbs, running a finger over where her blood had soiled it, some scarlet liquid still staining around the zip, despite his best efforts to remove every last drop.
He hadn't meant to take it from the hospital, not really. It was sat atop the bloodied pile of clothes at the foot of her bed, and he couldn't bear to see it lying there, forlorn, crimson-stained, cool to the touch. His hand had darted out, snatching the garment, secreting it under his jacket, feeling the coldness of it next to his heart. Folding his hands over his chest, he had left the hospital before taking a proper look at it.
The familiar white colour, now slightly yellowing with wear, and the distinctive smell of cigarette smoke, as if to remind Gene that just as he had caused its wearer's downfall, now too his habits were causing its own.
The cuffs, worn down to a kind of pebbled-grey, stained black underneath. He'd smiled at that, because it was so quintessentially Alex. Pure white on the surface – innocent, perfect – but dig deeper and you'd find the blackness within, the darkness, the knowledge that she had to get back somewhere and she'd stop at nothing to do so. The tapes left on his desk had showed him that.
And then – he remembered how his heart had clenched when he looked at it – her blood. Dried, dusty under his fingertips, the claret-coloured stain that managed to make him feel this way. Her bullet wound, swathed in gauze and bandages, was to him "out of sight, out of mind." He could pretend she was asleep, the way she was lying there.
He remembered taking the jacket home, wiping away the crusted liquid, rubbing leather soap over it, working all night until it was – mostly – restored to its former glory. All he had to do was return it to her. But he didn't want to take it to her in hospital. That seemed wrong somehow. He convinced himself that he should bring it back to her flat.
He convinced himself that if he did, she'd have it waiting for her when – it was always "when", never "if" – she came home.
He convinced himself that f he brought it here, it would be the final piece of the puzzle, completing her world, and that if he did, some kind of miraculous connection would cause Bolly's eyes to snap open and she's be OK. That when he went home, the phone would ring and it'd be the hospital, telling him she was on the way home.
If only… he told himself. It was just wishful thinking. She wasn't going to wake up just because he brought her back her jacket.
She wasn't going to wake up just because he was sat here being sentimental, silently pleading with someone, anyone, for her to come back to him.
She wasn't going to wake up just because he wanted her to. He should know that by now – that wanting things doesn't always get you them.
He stood, mumbling under his breath about "damned women" and "sentimental", coughing slightly as he eased open the wardrobe door, dislodging a layer of dust which spiralled down around him, stinging his eyes and filling his vision with the sparkling silver motes for a second. Shaking his head dismissively, he reached into the wardrobe, determined not to be allured by the heady scents and colours, grabbed the first hanger he came to and slid the jacket onto it, stuffing it back into the wardrobe before shoving the door to roughly, overwhelmed by emotion.
He couldn't put his finger on it. It was somewhere between sadness, pain and desperation, and it had not stirred his toughened, world-wearied, heavy heart for a long time. Was it loss? Simple loss, mourning for his Bolly, his DI, his Alex?
Was it fear? Fear that she would never wake up, never clear his name, and he would be branded for life as Gene Hunt, cop-turned-cop-killer?
Or was it something else? Something he had become a stranger to, something that had been lacking from his own marriage even, something that he could never admit to feeling because she was so out of his league, so uptown girl when he was such a downtown man?
He shook his head, turning to leave. He needed to get away from here, and soon. Because the only person who could clear his name, the only person he had ever cared about, was trapped inside herself, and he couldn't risk losing her.
In any way.
He knew he shouldn't go up there. He knew that it'd only upset him. He knew that seeing it all lying there, her clothes abandoned so completely this time, with no hope of their redemption or retrieval, would only make it hurt more than it already did, only make the pain of losing her all the more raw.
He didn't want to see any of it, didn't want to smell that familiar scent or the smell of her shampoo. He didn't want to pull back the covers on the bed, the way he had the first night she had gone, and lie there, mind in shock, emotions raw, inhaling her, trying to breathe her in and store her; terrified of forgetting, yet equally afraid of remembering.
He had refused to let the new DI – his name so distant, yet "Bolly" could be recollected in an instant – stay here, intent of preserving the place, yet he knew that it wasn't fair or practicable to do so.
Yet it was a place so uniquely Alex, a place that she had crafted lovingly over the years to become her niche, her safe haven, her sanctuary from the darkness that threatened to consume her day upon day.
A place she could call her own, where she could retreat to unhindered, where everything she cherished, coveted – loved, even – was stored.
Except the two things she really wanted, and he had managed to deny her both through the power of ignorance and sheer selfishness. Her daughter – her "baby", she had called her – whom he had never quite believed it, attributed her to be another figment of Alex's over-imaginative mind, another "construct", and yet was quite real. She was denied access to her for all those years, when she could have just left him, yet still he chose to keep her here.
And the other thing she loved. Him, it seemed. How blind he had been, how obsessed with her clothes and her makeup and those legs that he had never truly looked into her eyes and seen the twin look of desperate longing he saw every morning when he looked in the mirror. Never realised how she truly felt, never thought about acting on his thoughts of what might have been.
If he didn't want to enter the flat, he wondered, why was he here? Why had he been stood here, shuffling from foot to foot, for a good ten minutes, if he didn't want to be here?
He knew why, he reckoned he could be in and out in a good two minutes – three tops – he just had to know, he just had to be sure… he had to know if she had taken it, seen it, even…
Making up his mind, he unlocked the door and walked straight past the sofa, straight into her bedroom with no hesitation. Hesitating allowed doubts to form, allowed shadows to close his mind. Wrenching the wardrobe open with slightly more force than was strictly necessary, he looked inside, flicking through the familiar patterns and textures, searching for one in particular. As his hands failed to make contact with it, his heart soared momentarily…
And then he saw it. Lying on the pine inside of the cupboard, half-obscured with a red scarf, it lay, the leather shining up at him harshly, cruelly. The air left his lungs like he'd been punched and he gasped, trying to remember how to breathe again. She hadn't found it.
She hadn't seen it, she hadn't taken it.
She didn't know what he'd done, didn't know it had been saved.
She never knew the truth about what she really meant to him, never knew the depths of his feelings for her.
It was more than he could bear, and snatching it up, he ran from the room, the flat, the street, searching desperately for a place, any place that didn't remind him of her.
It said Alexandra Drake on the warrant card shoved in his top pocket.
But to Gene Hunt, she would forever be his DI Bollyknickers, the only woman he had ever given his heart to.
And the only woman who he had never realised had offered him hers.