Hi! So, my first Ashes fic in a while! The idea for this came to me whilst watching Life On Mars 1.1... Enjoy, please R&R!

For Jamielee and Charlie - huge thank you guys x

Gene Hunt sat in his office, staring into his tumbler of Scotch. It was useless. Everywhere he looked, he could see Alex. Her empty desk. Their table in Luigi's. Even here, his office, his inner sanctum, he could feel her presence. He remembered the way she used to sit on the edge of his desk, leaning over the computer monitor, tormenting him with tantalising flashes of chest and leg and smouldering eyes. He remembered how she had leant on the filing cabinet, eyes full of tears over the Drake case, and how he had wanted only to comfort her, but he couldn't bring himself to reach out and touch her trembling shoulders.

He slammed the tumbler down, pushing thoughts of her out of his mind as best as he could. But then came the worse images. Her lying, bleeding, at his feet in King Douglas Lane. Her in her hospital bed, looking fragile as glass, white as paper.

He shook his head, rubbing his hands over the day's worth of stubble on his chin and scraping back a few stray strands of hair. He couldn't think about that. He had to remain calm. It had been only a week since the shooting, and the memory of it was raw. How the gun had jolted in his hand as he fired, like it was protesting at hurting someone as innocent and pure as Bolly. How he looked up, praying that he had hit his target. How she had stood, clutching at her stomach and he knew in that split second that his world was about to come crashing down...

"Guv?" Chris's voice broke his reverie, and he looked up, startled.

"What?" he snapped, his tone unintentionally harsh.

"It's, um, it's the Jennings case. We've got the gunman's stepsister in, Lexi Davis. She's in Interview Room One, if you want to... talk to her?" Chris finished nervously, clocking the guv's scowl and the look of anger and regret in his eyes. He knew the guv was worried about the inquiry, and so were the whole team. They knew he'd never meant to hurt Drake, but with the threat he had issued to her in front of all of CID... the evidence was stacking up against him, in the commissioner's eyes, Gene should be out already. But the Jennings case had been Fenchurch East's case for months, and so he had deemed that Gene could bring it to a close before his suspension.

"Fine. Whatever. Out." Gene commanded curtly. He wasn't in any mood for talking. Eat, work, sleep. Talking to colleagues was not featured on the list. Nor was pining for Bolly, but that seemed to take up a large proportion of his time at present. He didn't admit it to anyone, not even himself, but he missed her. Through everything that happened, through Chris taking bungs and Operation Rose, she had been there. His constant. His Bolly. He needed her now, on this case.

The Jennings case was a fairly open-and-shut case. Gunman on a jewellery blag. Only problem was, he was alone, he killed the only witness, and he left no clues behind him. The only lead they had had been picked up by Drake – a fingerprint on the cabinet. It had been Drake who pushed for forensics to investigate, and found more leads. It was Drake who got a name: Matthew Jennings. It had become her case, and now every witness, every interview, every sodding case file, reminded him of her.

And now the gunman's sister was sat waiting for him. A sister with a name so similar to Drake's, he wondered how he would keep his composure in the same room as her. But he had to do it. A small part of him told him to solve the case, make Alex proud. That she's get back and tell him he'd done a good job, banged up the right man. Another part of him told him that maybe, just maybe, if he solved the case, she would wake up.

He slammed out of his office, telling himself not to be so ridiculous. Since the shootings, Matthew Jennings himself had disappeared off the face of the planet. All he had to get off of the stepsister was a location. His whereabouts. That wasn't so hard, surely? She'd crack in an instant.

As he shoved the door of Interview Room One open, his heart stopped. Sat facing him was his worst nightmare.

Lexi Davis was, down to every last detail, identical to Alex Drake. A sixteen year old, scared-looking Alex Drake. Loosely permed brown hair, huge hazel eyes and a liberal coat of blue eye makeup, coupled with a pair of dark, tight-blue jeans and a blue blouse, all crowned with a white leather jacket slung over the back of the chair, was adding insult to injury. He laughed, a harsh, humourless noise, as he sat, smirking at her, instantly riled.

"So, Miss Davis. What can you tell us about your lovely step-brother that we don't already know?" He asked patronisingly, and she clenched her jaw, her whole face losing its fear and hardening with a firm resolve.

"I don't talk to people who treat me like a kid." She said stubbornly, and Gene flinched inwardly. Even her voice was like Alex's, upper-class, posh, condescending.

"Listen to me, love. You are a kid. Just a stupid, ignorant little kid whose brother's done a bad, bad thing and all I need from you is a bloody location!" He snapped immediately, responding to stubbornness with threats and anger, the way he always had done with Alex.

"I don't know anything." Lexi sighed, and she looked defeated already. A sick sense of pride was coming over Gene. How quickly he had tamed this seemingly wild, arrogant teenager. But he wanted to have a bit of sport. Every bit of him was spoiling for a fight, and if he couldn't argue with his favourite sparring partner, then this little replica would do very nicely instead. Not that she had done anything to him, but her very presence was provoking him. That look... Alex had looked at him like that. She had it coming.

He stood, drawing himself up to his full height.

"What did you say?" He asked, his tone full of menace.

"I don't know! He doesn't like me, he's older, he doesn't talk to me!" Lexi said, her voice shaking with fear. He should have stopped there, but that tone combined with his filthy mood did not make for an ideal match. He put his face down to hers, very close, very menacing, and repeated his words slowly and clearly.

"What – did – you – SAY?" He said, the volume increasing sharply on the final word as his patience snapped. She had to know something. Had to.

"I don't know, I really don't! Please, DCI Hunt..." She was begging now, pleading, but he shook his head, dismissing her words.

"LIES!" He yelled, and slapped his hands down on the table separating them.

"I don't know anything!" She repeated her earlier words, but this time it was imploring him to stop. "Please... I really don't. Shouldn't there be someone else in here? Where's that nice DI that was in here last time? The kind lady? Her... I want to see her!"

Gene's blood ran cold. How dare this girl, this pathetic excuse for his Bolly, how dare she mention Alex? Incapable of any rational thought, he lashed out, his hand catching her cheek hard, bruising the soft pink skin under his touch. He stood, breathing heavily, staring at this teenager who had done nothing to him but look wrong. She was sobbing, clutching her cheek.

"Detective Inspector Drake is in 'ospital. And unless you start talking, you'll end up there too." He threatened her, and she looked at him through her tear-spiked lashes, genuinely concerned... concerned and scared. But when she met with his eyes, so full of rage and anger that the bright blue irises appeared clouded with emotion, something inside her hardened and she made her biggest mistake yet.

"Well, at least you can't hurt her." She whispered defiantly, and Gene roared with rage. Honest, pure rage, and he lashed out, again and again, until her cheeks were a livid purple and his hands were burning with the force of his slaps. This girl, this Lexi had dared to come here, dolled up like his Alex, and then tell him that she was glad that DI Drake was in hospital, a place where he had put her. He couldn't comprehend it. The sheer bloody nerve...

But then he looked at her. Her eye makeup was running down her cheeks, her bruised, broken cheeks, her mouth was quivering in fear, and her body radiated defeat. What had he done? What had he done? For all his years of policing, all his years of knocking men around interview rooms until they talked, he had never hit a woman. He had never dreamed he would, never thought that he stoop low enough to damage an innocent, gentle woman. And he had.

He stood there breathing heavily, disgust and fear coursing through his veins. If anyone found out about this... he would be for it. He was lost, broken, and he bent down to Lexi desperately. She flinched as he did so, expecting another onslaught.

"I'm sorry." He confessed to her. "I am so, so sorry. Please. Do anything you want. I'm sorry."

She looked up at him in amazement.

"What?" she asked, bewildered.

"Report me. God knows, I've got nothing to live for any more. Take my job too." He said, his voice full of defeat.

"This is about DI Drake, isn't it?" She asked, and he managed to nod his head slowly. "You love her, don't you?" She asked, and he snapped his head up in shock.

"What?" He asked, this time the bewildered one. "What're you talking about?"

It was a poor denial, and they both knew it. "You love her. You're worried about her. I remember when I saw you last time. You didn't see me, but I saw how DI Drake looked at you. I won't report you, because you're living for this, aren't you? The job? This was her case and you're carrying it on for her." Lexi explained, and Gene was shocked. He had just hit a woman, beaten her so badly her cheeks were now a livid purple and green, and here she was telling him that because he was in love, she wouldn't report him.

"But..." He stammered, and she stood.

"I've taken worse from my stepbrother, DCI Hunt. Really." She shrugged on her jacket as she spoke, and wound a soft scarf around her face, covering her cheeks. "He's a violent bastard when he drinks." She walked calmly towards the door of the Interview Room, and he let her. With her hand on the door handle, she turned to face him.

"You could always try over Lewisham way. He's got associates round there."

With that, she was gone.

He had chosen an extraordinary girl to hit, but he vowed then and there never to again.

He didn't know that in two months time, his hand would be making contact with another woman's cheek.

The very woman he had vowed to always protect, the woman he loved, the woman he cared about like no other.

He didn't know that in two months, he would hit Alex Drake.

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