Eventually, it got far too late to drive home. It was too dark to go to the hotel, we'd lost track of time. Gene's mum only had one extra room, but it would have to do. The only issue for Gene, was that it was the room he and his brother had shared. There were painful memories in there, and I could tell he was dreading the moment he had to go in. I got into some pyjamas his mum lent me, and climbed under the covers. It turned out Gene actually had some clothes he kept at his mum's house. It was absurd to think of. His mere name caused criminals to quake in his boots and he kept his cloths at his mother's house. And then, it wasn't. There was a lot that no one else got to see of Gene Hunt. His sensitive side. The caring side. Everyone knew he had a protective side, a scary side. But most of it was a front. He was a softie, really, once you stripped down the layers. A lot of layers, layers that only Alex and I seemed to be able to see past. Perhaps Shaz. But certainly, he had a side beyond the one he kept up at work. Gene walked in then, and lay down opposite. He looked really depressed.
"There's more to life than all of that, Gene," I said. He looked at me.
"What do yeh mean, wimmin?" he asked.
"The moping. The sadness. The mourning. It wasn't your fault," I told him. He raised an eyebrow. He'd told me about Stu, his brother.
"How would yeh know?" he asked. I rolled to look at the roof.
"There's one part of my past I choose not to share. I choose to forget it, because it was the most painful thing I've ever been through. When I was younger, my mum wasn't as bad as she was toward the end. Sure, she wasn't perfect, but people rarely are. She got pregnant when I was ten, and had my little sister. It was when my baby sister was two that she got him. The boyfriend that changed everything. He decided one day it would be 'funny' to hit me. Mum, being the person she is, no backbone, agreed. She helped. It got beyond that though. He started trying to get to Grace. I stood in front, took the hits. But one day, I went to the shops, got home, she was covered in blood," I choked down a sob. "I called an ambulance, and they came and got her. B-but it was too late. She was dead. She was two years old Gene. Just a little girl. And she died. And the worst part was, they got away with it. Told them she must've fallen downstairs. The scrapes? Tree branches. Yeah, they were tree branches. That they'd cut her with."
Gene stared at me, mouth open.
"She was gorgeous, Gene," I continued. "Just beautiful. The most striking red hair and green eyes. She just loved everything, and everyone. Even when she got a hit or punch, she couldn't bring herself to hate mum. Not even the boyfriend. She was my baby sister, and she was only two. Two!" I cried. Gene was at my side in an instant, drawing me closer to him.
"Sh. It's alright love," he told me.
"But it's not though, is it? Grace isn't here. She's gone. And there was nothing I could do about it. That's having blame for a sibling's death. I'm going to have to remember all of my life that my sister is dead because I was too scared to go to the cops. Because I went to the shops that day. A chain of events that led to me causing my sister's death. My fault," I sobbed into his shoulder.
"Yeh've lived through too much for someone yer age, Louise," he said. I nodded.
"An' that's why I'm wantin' yeh to cut off ties wi' yer family. Yer mam specifically. I want t'- adopt yeh. If yeh don' want it, sod it," he said, not meeting my eyes. I felt a smile twitch at the corners of my lips.
"Sure," I said. He went still.
"Really?" he asked, eyes glowing a little with joy, but shaded as though he daren't believe it. I nodded. A smile slowly spread across his face. He hugged me again (this hugging was out of character for both of us).
"Goodnight, Louise," he said, going back to his bed.
"Goodnight, Ge- Dad."