As he gets closer to England, the single-mindedness hasn’t changed but the faint optimism has. With every mile closer, he hears her voice that bit louder. (‘...I have to fight him...I have to get out of here...’) and the feeling of betrayal returns. He thinks of her in his office, telling him things that cannot be true; of the interview room, listening to Chris spilling his guts with tears running down his face (‘...I am so sorry, Guv. I am so sorry...’). He hears that gunshot and sees her fall to the ground, clutching the hole he’s made in her.
It doesn’t change what he has to do. She’s coming back. He knows it, he knows that feeling in his gut. In another time, he might describe it as the feeling you have when you’re seven years old and realise that Christmas is three weeks away; an excitement that is faint, but there, and you know it’ll get stronger. In this time, he doesn’t describe it at all. Sometimes, the job is...a click of the fingers. He’d told Sam that once. Sometimes, you just know. He knows now. She’s coming back.
The wheels of the plane touch English soil and it’s like he never left. Three months of exile and as soon as he’s here, he feels it’s where he belongs. Her heartbeat is in his head, timing every move, beating away for him. His feet walk to its rhythm. He sees her lying in that bed where he left her, begging her to wake up and help him, and she didn’t. But it’s alright. She’ll wake up this time.
Practicalities insist on being dealt with. For a start, he’s expecting airport security to notice the name on his passport, but they don’t. Security really is shit in this country, or maybe they’ve just given up on looking for him. Maybe they know he’s not a threat; maybe they know he’ll come back. Would anyone really expect Gene Hunt to stay away? Even without Alex lying there? Do they know he’d never leave her behind?
His house is clean, tidied, sparkling. His housekeeper must have kept coming in his absence, must have cleaned up the mess any searching coppers would have left behind. He makes a mental note to give her a pay rise. What’s her name, anyway? He never sees her. He stands in his kitchen with a mug of tea, looking out over the garden. Is it time to go? No, not yet. He can change. There’s a day’s work to do, after all. He’s the DCI of Fenchurch East and they’re never going to forget it again. He’s never going to forget it again. So he has a bath, his head full of her, shaves, gets dressed. He has new shirts and new suits, different colours for a man renewed. He dons one in a dream, knowing she’s coming. She’s coming, it won’t be long now. She’ll probably hit him for what he did but that’s alright, he probably deserves it even though she did walk into the path of his bullet, the dozy mare.
The optimism is gone. She’ll come back and then the vultures will pounce. He doesn’t feel he’ll go to jail and if they try and put him there, they’ll be sorely disappointed with the outcome. Because she’ll clear his name, and that will be that. He has no doubt. His Bolly won’t let him down again. Has she let him down before? Something she told him once, in his office...they’d had a row, hadn’t they? She’d slapped him...he forgets. There was something about her daughter. It doesn’t matter. She’ll be back where she belongs, that’s all that counts. D&C can ask all their little questions, they can run another inquiry. He’ll have his team behind him and they’re unbreakable.
He sits in the taxi, looking at London through dark shades, seeing shadows form where there are none. She’s coming. They’re coming. Time is getting short but he’ll make it. He’s Gene Hunt, and nothing starts until he arrives. (‘How were you there?’) She can bloody wait on him, for a change. (‘I’m everywhere.’) He’s been waiting three months for this, he had to wait in sodding Spain for this.
‘Nice day for it, en’ it?’ says the cabbie, and he has to agree, yeah, it’s a nice day for it.
Her heart is beating faster, matching his steps into the hospital; he turns the right way to her ward even though she’s been moved. No one gets in his way and he’s not hiding, no one jumps out at him with a pair of handcuffs. His stride lengthens. It’s almost time.
(‘I was needed and I was there.’)
She looks too small in that bed, too pale, too thin. Her heart hammers in his ears and it’s too loud, too much, he has to drown it out.
‘Wakey wakey, Drakey! Come on, you earned that shot.’
He’s not angry but he knows he sounds it. It’s the easiest way to mask fear that he knows, and this is the moment of truth.
‘Come back t’me Bols, I need ya.’
‘Wake up...(wakey wakey, Drakey)...Alex...’ he threatened her with a slap three months ago, in desperation, and the sound is too loud now, her presence is in the room with him and all she has to do is open her eyes, it’s time, come on Alex, (her heart is so loud), she’s with him but she’s not here and his voice is rising and it’s too loud, her heart
(wakey wakey, Drakey)
and his hand flies out and claps her across the( ‘...wake up!') cheek.
Her eyes open.
For the first time in twenty four hours, his head is quiet. She’s back where she belongs, a piece of the jigsaw slotted neatly back into place, and his mind is his own again.
‘Well, that worked then. ‘Cos, I ‘ad a mate call Bryan Batts. Used to get on the Voddy T’s an’ wind up sparko in his own sick. A little tap t’the boat race always brought him ‘round with a smile, so smile, you’re back.’
She doesn’t smile, but she’s definitely back. She looks like death warmed over, but she’s here.
‘You’re gonna like these. They’re even clean.’ He picks up the clothes he bought her at the airport and chucks them on the bed. ‘Wha’s the matter with you, you dozy mare. You walked straight into the path of my shooter. I don’ fire magic bullets y’know, they don’ go bending in the air.’
She doesn’t look with it at all, but he has to press on. There’s no time to stop and think, no time for them to reminisce about the bad old times. She needs to get up and they need to get back to work, where they belong.
‘They said I tried t’kill you, Bols, but I know you wouldn’ let me down. We’re a team. Bodie an’ Doyle. I’m the one in the SAS, you can be the one with the girl’s hair; now get your knickers on, we’re leavin’.’
And that’s that. He turns and walks out, giving her some privacy. He knows she won’t let him down.
~ ~ ~
He paces the floor outside her room, resisting the urge to spark up a fag. Now that she’s awake, he’s calm, focused, in control. He can think clearly for the first time in three months and what he’s thinking is, he needs to get to the station. Something’s going on, and the Gene Genie needs to get back to work. Later there’ll be drinks and his own bed, and the return to normal (he just knows it, never mind that uneasy feeling that has replaced the anticipation of her return); tomorrow there’ll be the job and that’s that.
(If he ignores that feeling. It’s D&C, it must be. They’re circling like ravens over a dead body, he knows it.)
By some miracle, she doesn’t take long to get ready. She emerges, tottering slightly; he slips his shades on and doesn’t object when she takes his arm.
‘I was in a dream. I was at home, but I...but I wasn’t, I was in ICU. There was a man, it was a young copper, his face was...’
Her hand goes up to her cheek and he cuts in abruptly. There’s no need for any of that nonsense. Gene Hunt doesn’t set any store by dreams.
‘When you’ve finished blabbering, you’re gonna clear my name with D&C.’
‘That’s a gynaecological procedure, isn’t it?’
‘Nothin’ so glamorous; Discipline and Complaints. The Rubberheelers. Turns out, if you shoot a fellow officer they get a little bit annoyed abou’ it.’
He may be understating that a little. But she doesn’t object, doesn’t fight him. And that’s good, because if there’s one thing he wouldn’t be able to take, it’d be Alex not backing him on this one.
But he knew she wouldn’t let him down. They’re back.