Not much to say about this one really; just that it's set around series 3ish and, as ever, I'd love to know what you think if you have time to leave a review! :)

Once upon a time, Alex Drake thought she knew all about love. Love was moonlit walks along the beach, love was laughter over the washing up, love was flowers on the doorstep in the morning. Love meant two people who were utterly happy, who could shut out the world and never get tired of each other's company, whose hearts and minds and souls ran as one. Because when two hearts beat together, that was when everything fell into place, when everything made sense and you were truly at home.

Now, Alex tries to forget everything she ever learned about love. She tries to forget that she once thought that two heartbeats meant love, and that love meant home. Because if she's wrong, and everything she thought before is true, then she is lost. Utterly, completely, irrevocably lost.

Loving Gene Hunt was never going to be simple. It was never going to be love, not really. He was never going to buy her flowers, he was never going to remember her birthday, and he was never going to hold her close and whisper sweet nothings into her ear. She doesn't even want him to. That's not what she's in this for. It's pure escapism, this affair, if she can call it that. A way to snatch back some of the control she's lost, to make her feel that she can in some way influence this crazy, impossible world she's found herself in. And a way to get back at whatever part of her subconscious has dreamt up this cruel fantasy for her.

At least, that's what she tells herself. If she can pretend she doesn't care, if she can dismiss this world and everything in it as a string of trivial, mundane conveniences, then she can remain detached, and maybe that will be what gets her home. At the very least, it will make the parting more bearable, when it comes. If it comes.

But sometimes, Alex finds herself getting in too deep. Becoming too attached to this world and the people who inhabit it. Figments of her imagination, she reminds herself, but right now, they're all she's got. So if her tears are too bitter, if her kiss is too fierce, if she forgets, for one night, to dream of the life she's left behind, she squeezes her eyes tight shut and tries to picture her daughter's face, her kitchen worktop, the way the sun streams through her curtains.

Sometimes, Alex gets homesick, and it's not Gene Hunt she longs for, it's not this life, it's not even this world. It's her real life, the twenty-first century, her little girl. That's when she thinks about what she used to know about love. Two heartbeats spell love, and love spells home. Well, she's got the heartbeats. Something she didn't have back in real life. Here, she has Gene Hunt. He might not be a romantic hero, but he's there for her when she needs him, he's there to help her and hold her and make her feel real. But what they have isn't love. And although she can physically feel his heartbeat, although she can press her hand to his chest and know that the blood is travelling around his body in tandem with hers, she doesn't feel at home.

This frightens her. Because perhaps it means that there's no way she will ever feel at home in this world. Because, sometimes, a heartbeat doesn't mean a home. Sometimes a heartbeat is a means of escape, sometimes it's a welcome comfort in a confusing world, and sometimes it's a way of sticking two fingers up at fate.

This is why Alex doesn't want to believe that a heartbeat is a home. If it isn't, then she doesn't know where she is, and that's bad enough. But if it is, then home isn't what she thought it was. And that is the most frightening thing of all.

Once upon a time, Shaz Granger thought she knew all about love. Love was arguments loud through too-thin walls; love was stilted displays of affection at awkward family gatherings; love was one person down the pub in the evening and the other at home with the ironing. Love meant two people rubbing along together, putting up with the difficulties and the stress and the pain because it was what made sense. For the sake of the children, for the sake of respectability, because it was the right thing to do. Someone once told Shaz that when two hearts beat together, that was when everything fell into place, when everything made sense and you were truly at home. She didn't believe it. She knew better, because what she knew of love, what she'd seen in her own family, was sighs and tears and fights. And that couldn't be called home, not really.

But then Shaz learned differently. Then she learned that love isn't pain and anguish, that love doesn't have be hard work. She learned that love is effortless laughter in the sunshine; it's silly messages scribbled on paper napkins; it's kisses under a streetlamp, waiting for a taxi home. When Shaz fell in love, she knew it, like she knew her own name. It wasn't a slow-burning, all-consuming flame or a fierce passion that ate away at her insides. It was simpler than that. It was waking up one morning and looking at things differently. Realising that when she laughed, it was with her heart; that when she smiled, it was all for one person; that when she said I love you, she meant it.

Love wasn't difficult, not for Shaz. Love was everything she'd ever dreamed of, everything she'd hoped, wished, prayed for every night while she was growing up, clamping her pillow over her ears to block out the sounds of her parents fighting. When Shaz found what she'd been waiting for, she found her home. And home wasn't a dashing pirate captain, or a fairytale prince, or an outlawed cowboy with room on his horse for a spirited maiden. Home was fish and chips and cheap cinema tickets and kisses that tasted of peppermint, and ever so occasionally it was hard work. Two heartbeats spell love, and love spells home. She knew she was lucky. Love was effortless. Perhaps it was too easy. Maybe that's why it had to end.

And then it was over. Now there's nothing. It's the little things she misses the most: peculiar, insignificant little things which she'd never realised were important until she found herself having to find a way to live without them. The toothbrushes nestled together in the mug on the rim of the sink. The magazines with the corners thumbed down at the pages he knew she'd like. The messages she'd find on the fridge, by the phone, tucked inside the dust jacket of the book she was reading. She'd kept them, whenever she'd remembered. Stuck them in her pocket and then in a shoebox she kept beneath her bed. Some are simple. Morning, sleepyhead. A few ask questions. Pictures later? Most of them are the same. I love you.

She gets the shoebox out sometimes, flicks through its contents. Notes. Old cinema tickets. Photographs. A hundred things she never thought twice about before they stopped coming. Sometimes she needs the reassurance they bring, needs to know that love does exist, that one day she'll find it again. And if on some level, deep down inside, she's not sure she wants to, not sure she wants anything other than what she's already had, she pushes the feelings aside. Two heartbeats spell love, and love spells home. But she still keeps the shoebox, looks at it sometimes, thumbs through the notes and traces the handwriting, tells herself it doesn't mean anything. She doesn't fool herself, not really. Love has slipped through her fingers for now, but she knows that one day it will come back and, despite herself, she suspects that she won't have to look far for it when it does.