Angsty little oneshot idea I had whilst in France... Please enjoy and R&R!
Gene Hunt had one fear, and one fear only. It wasn't concerning him, his own life, health, or physical wellbeing. It didn't concern his own death, the loss of his job, or the loss of his station. He could deal with all that, deal with ill health and unemployment as long as he had her by his side, in any form. Her presence was a constant, a reassuring presence in his times of need and want. He'd pushed her away, he'd snapped and argued with her and even hit her, but he knew that as long as she was alive, his heart would still beat.
What Gene Hunt feared was losing Alex Drake. Through death, through another man, through transfers to another station... a thousand different ways. Each time he'd saved her, as he'd searched for her in desperation, he'd felt his heart constrict, his breathing hitch as he imagined her dead in a myriad of ways. Only last week, as they'd tried desperately to stop Andy Smith from blowing himself and the team to kingdom come with a lit match, his only thought was for Alex. He'd wanted her to leave, so that in the event of anything happening to him, she at least would be able to live. He'd had his time, she was still youthful, radiant, and for someone like her to die would be the event that would drive him to self-destruction.
He'd played it out in his mind, that event, the petrol-soaked front room, the furious ex-soldier, a thousand times over, each time imagining a different ending. There was one that he loathed, one that even now overran his mind, one that he'd spent an evening awake replaying, until he had become so convinced it had actually happened that he'd phoned Alex at four am on some pretence of asking about paperwork.
"Two," Andy mutters, and Alex is cautioning him, whispering his rank – always his rank, never his name – and he won't listen. He takes half a step backwards, reaching for Alex, and she's following him. She's doing what he wants her to do, for once, and things are going well, and then they're at the door. He steps into the hall, and suddenly she's gone from his side and he hears her step, hears the lighter click and then the world explodes in an orange fireball.
When he opens his eyes, his ears are ringing and there's smoke everywhere and where is she? He crawls through the inferno to where she should be and there's a figure lying there, charred fabric clinging to blackened, angry, cracked skin. This can't be her, it can't be. But her eyes flutter, those hazel eyes he loves, and she's whispering to him, her words so faint he has to put his ear by her mouth to hear her. "I'm sorry." She whispers. "I'm sorry."
And then she's gone, and he's screaming, over and over, and he doesn't care about anything anymore because she's dead and he has nothing to live for.
He shook his head, breaking the spell. She wasn't dead. He wasn't dead.
Because that was the other terrible possibility. That she'd left the room, and with his stupid, arrogant pride, he'd taken the fatal step and Andy had flicked the lighter. And she'd be the one who'd find him, barely recognisable, who'd hold his hand and watch him die, and she'd be the one it destroyed.
Could she live without him? He wondered, but he knew already that it was possible. She'd seen life without him, a life with meaning and purpose, and her family, where he wasn't interfering with her every move, wasn't haranguing her or shouting at her or swearing at her. For him, he'd known no different until she'd fainted into his life, impossibly beautiful, impossibly perfect.
He looked out of his office at her now. She was writing, her brow furrowed a little in the middle in concentration. Her hair fell around her heart shaped face, the high curve of her cheekbones highlighted with rose powder, her lips tinted with yet another shade, another harsh chemical she didn't need to use to accentuate her natural beauty. Her eyes were unreadable, cast down over another piece of paperwork, surrounded with dark beauty products, drawing attention to them, making them the only place he could look when he looked at her face. He wondered what she looked like without the makeup, without the products and perfumes and hairspray, what she looked like first thing in the morning, just woken up.
That was when he thought about her most, in the morning. When he woke up alone in his vast double bed, longing to feel the warmth of her hand on his neck, his shoulders, his jaw. Longing to kiss her lips, wondering what they must taste of. Envying every man who had ever kissed her, ever felt her warmth, hating the man who had left her, broken her.
At night, the ache in his chest when she retreated upstairs from the noise and dim lighting of Luigi's was almost more than he could bear. He longed to follow her, get her alone in the flat and kiss her, show her what he felt. He cursed his ineloquence, his inadequacy with words. There was no way to tell her how he felt about her, no way he could ever speak the words without sounding trite and patronising.
How could he tell her that she was the only reason he still breathed, the only reason he still came to work? It wasn't that he loved this job, Christ, far from it. He loathed the stuffy office, he loathed vile, interfering Keats, loathed the corruption he knew was still rife. He woke every morning with hope in his heart at the thought of her. Her perfection. Her smile, that look she gave him through her eyelashes when they connected professionally. The only connection they could ever have, he supposed.
Especially with Keats interfering. He'd seen how the younger man had eyed her up like a piece of meat, watching her chest, her arse, her legs, with apparent gusto, practically salivating as he imagined God knows what. And when Gene closed his eyes he could see it, see them.
Alex, pinned against the wall behind Luigi's, Keats's lips on hers, his hands either side of her shoulders, holding her there. She's relishing the kiss, rolling in it, all dancing tongues and playful little nips. Her eyes are closed, but her hands find Keats's belt, and his hands are sliding lecherously over her thighs, peeling away her skin-tight jeans with ease, and he's moving against her and she's calling his name over and over, clinging to him like a drowning woman clings to flotsam. Her words echo down the alley, loud and filled with lust and passion: "Oh, Jim! Don't stop, please don't stop..." and then they're both falling over the edge, screaming, moaning, biting, and the image is too strong, too raw.
"No." He murmured. He would never let that happen, never in a million years. The day Alex Drake shagged Jimbo Keats in a back alley would be the day he would take his own life, because if that scumbag got to have her, there was no way she'd ever have him.
He looked down at the paper he'd been doodling on half-heartedly, realising that it was covered with her name a hundred times over, and there at the bottom of the page he'd written the words he dreamed of hearing:
Looking at her desk was too raw. Her flat – the one time he had visited since she'd left – had caused a reaction that had frightened him beyond belief – his heart thudding to a stop, his breath slowing, an imaginary, ice-cold knife twisting in his gut as he saw her and smelt her and sensed her. He'd slammed the door shut and locked it, pocketing the key, determined the new DI would never set foot over the threshold.
Work was no longer a joy. Each morning, he woke up alone, walked to work – no car could replace that almighty Quattro, the memories locked within the ruined framework – sat at his desk and drank himself nearly catatonic. He couldn't do this forever. Each day, his previously humble enjoyment of life, centring around the woman he loved – quietly, from afar – was ebbing. Nothing gave him any pleasure any more, and the memories of her began to fade. The exact shade of her eyeshadow. The smell of her. The way she used to smile, a tiny dimple forming in the hollow of her cheek.
He knew the morning he woke up and could no longer remember her eyes that it was time to go. He'd tried to live without her, his whole body aching for her warmth, her touch, her voice, and it had failed. She was lost to him forever, lost to the Railway Arms, and Christ only knew how he was meant to find it again. Surely it would be easier to simply end it? Put him out of his misery, and let her get on with the new life he felt sure she must have? Yes. That would be kindest.
So he found himself, on that dark February night, stood atop the roof at Fenchurch, staring down at the dull grey concrete, covered already with a thin layer of frost. This was how he was going to die. He was ready for this. He could do it. He closed his eyes, and whispered the words.
"I love you, Alex. I ain't livin' without yer a moment longer."
Before he could jump, before he could take the step, there was a hand in his. A warm, soft, familiar hand, and he couldn't bring himself to open his eyes, so sure he was that he was fantasising.
"Don't, guv. Please." Her voice pleaded with him, and he smiled a slow smile. It was all just a dream.
"I 'ave to, Bolly. I can't do this a moment longer. No more. It's too 'ard." He explained, feeling her squeeze his hand.
"Then you'll take me with you." She told him, and he opened his eyes at last, determined not to look at her in case she vanished.
"But yer a dream, Bolly. You can't die, cos yer just a dream. An angel. My angel." He reasoned, and took the step, finally daring to look around at her and seeing her stood there, not vanishing or fading, as he plummeted, feeling her weight beside him as they fell in slow motion.
And then just before they hit the ground, before they could both be snatched from life by the cruel coldness of death, they stopped. Fifteen feet above the ground. Gene could make out the cracks in the pavement beneath his boots, and he looked to Alex in confusion, noticing now the faintest of glows around her.
"An angel." He repeated in awe. "Yer an angel, Bolly."
"No, guv. This is real. I'm really here. You're not dreaming me." Her hand was still in his, hotter than before, and suddenly she was walking – walking, fifteen feet above the pavement – towards him, never letting go, and her lips were on his once more, the kiss they had had before only a fraction of this one, with passion and love and tenderness all at once, her lips soft and warm, her tongue very real against his. His arms went around her automatically, one hand on her neck, the other on her waist, holding her to him as tenderly as though she were made of glass.
All too soon it was over, and she was smiling as she pulled away. "When I let go, you're going to die, Gene." Her voice was calm, and he could feel the panic then, gripping him, numbing him.
"No... Bolly, you're my angel, don't leave me..." he begged, and she smiled at him, the glow becoming stronger the more he panicked.
"But then you'll be with me, Gene. You'll wake up in my arms, and we can be together. But you have to let go." She reassured, her voice soft and gentle.
"But I don't wanna die, Alex." He panicked aloud now, taking deep breaths to try and calm down.
"Not even to be with me?" She whispered, and he closed his eyes, realising what he had to do.
"I'd die fer yer, Bolls. You know I would." He said it quickly, and before he could doubt himself, he was letting go, and he was falling, staring at her suspended in the sky, the night air bright white around her as she watched him die.
He didn't remember hitting the pavement. He saw her smile, and then he opened his eyes in a warm bed, the sheets cool on his bare skin. And there she was. No makeup, no hairspray, just pure Alex. Her eyes were wide and smiling, her face soft in the morning light.
"You made it, Gene." She murmured, and he leant over and kissed her without hesitation.
"I made it." He realised, laughing with sheer joy and exultation.
"I love you." She whispered, and he ran a finger over her perfect cheek.
"I love you too, Alex. I'd die fer yer. A thousand deaths. Yer my everything."