Author's Note: This is the sequel to Chasing Rainbows (and also kind of to non-A2A story Strange and Beautiful on my FictionPress account, the last of 3 stories which have followed what Robin and Kim have been doing in the real world while Alex has been back in 1996. The next chapter (which I'm uploading now!) featurs a recap of what's been happening in 2011… including Evan and his beard… so don't worry about missing out on anything if you've not read them) This story will mostly be written in an alternate chapter format (2011/1996) like Whispering Her Name but don't be fooled, despite the situation and the prologue this is actually not going to be as dark as several of my previous fics. Expect surrealism as the story progresses.
The story so far – After discovering she was pregnant, Alex's health faltered and she started getting bleedthroughs from 2011 suggesting she was undergoing make-or-break surgery back in the real world. She began fading in and out as her 1996 body struggled to cope with the extra strain of the pregnancy and when she took a knock during a siege in the station car park it was too much for her and she faded away, waking up in 2011.
Meanwhile, a drunk and depressed Simon made the worst mistake of his life, having a one-night stand with Keats, who used it against him to take him away from Fenchurch East and to use him for his own purposes. But ultimately Simon's footing in Fenchurch East was too strong and the 'transfer' failed, leaving Keats to wonder exactly what was so special about Simon and why he was the Golden Boy. There is some digging to be done…
Oh yeah, and Lindsay snuffed it :(
All the usual disclaimers, don't own A2A, just borrowing, can't promise I'll return it in the condition I found it in though… Dedicated to Morgana and Oceancounty :) Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!
"Almost five months, Simon."
Simon was running out of things to say. On the rare occasions Gene spoke these days it was either something rude or something about Alex and there was only so many times he could give the same replies.
Gene minus Alex was a very different Gene and not one Simon recognised. He'd never expected to see Gene losing his fight. He shook his head and tried to take the bottle away from him but Gene was having none of it and held it tightly.
"Are you going to end up needing your stomach pumped from alcohol poisoning every time the month anniversary comes around?" he asked. He knew that was a little uncalled for but Gene was getting to the point of needing an intervention and he wasn't sure what else to say.
Gene stared at the calendar on his wall. It taunted him. Every day that passed was adding to the Alexless total.
"I'd have been a married man by now," he mumbled as he topped up his glass and finally loosened his grip on the bottle.
Simon exhaled sadly as he took the bottle finally and tried to hide it behind a pot plant without Gene seeing.
"I know," he said quietly.
"I'd have been a father next week."
Simon really didn't know what to say any more. It wasn't as though there was anyone else who he could talk to or ask for advice. It had been months since Kim woke up and with Alex gone too there were only Simon and Gene who 'understood' the world. Of course there were people like Eddie and Vickery who knew this wasn't their life but they had no concept of what the world was about either. Simon often felt as though he didn't have an ally. He wished there was someone he could talk to, to offer some advice about how to help Gene, but he was on his own.
Superintendent Fletcher had been somewhat understanding at first. Aware that this was a possibility, he'd already been prepared for Gene to need time and patience if the worst should ever happen but Gene was fast running out of leeway by now.
He wasn't doing his job. He wasn't doing his job upholding the law and he wasn't doing his job as far as his world was concerned. He had little interest in anything that didn't involve alcohol. He'd even tried taking up smoking again, much to Simon's disgust, but to his own horror he found it reminded him too much of the early days with Alex and had to stop again.
Alex was everywhere he looked. There was nothing in that world that didn't remind him of her. He'd tried to stay hopeful that she would find a way back at first but as the weeks went by it became less likely and more of an impossibility. He knew that even if Alex wanted to take the ultimate step to get back to him she never could because Keats received first pick of suicides, leaving her with no option but to wait until she passed away through some other way. Even then there was no guarantee of where or when she would return.
"Come on, Gene, I'll call you a taxi."
Gene ignored Simon as he threw his coat over his shoulder.
"I'll be in the pub drowning in me own vomit if anyone needs me," he mumbled and left the office without even looking him in the eye.
Simon shook his head and gave a worried sigh. Gene minus Alex was an equation that just didn't work.
Alex lost track of how long she had been lying there, flat on her back, unable to move anything except for her eyes and her eyelids. She tried over and over to move a hand or to turn her head but her body wouldn't respond.
Bloody medication. She thought to herself.
Oh, this was familiar. This was so familiar. But the last time, her soul had been ripped in two – now there was just one Alex, a whole Alex, but not in the place where she wanted to be.
She cursed herself over and over for making so many stupid decisions – she knew how risky things were – she should never have gone to the station, she should never have tried to talk the gunman down, she should have stayed at home and just kept on calling the office to try to contact Gene. Why the hell didn't she do the sensible thing?
Because I'm Alex Drake and I tend to do stupid things," she thought to herself. It was true, she did. She knew when she was taking a risk but she did it anyway.
She closed her eyes tightly as she thought about the life she'd lost. Gene, the baby, Fenchurch East, all the friends that she had made. She thought about everything she was leaving behind. She wouldn't even have her engagement ring with her. She wouldn't even have her scar.
The tattoo…. Oh, the tattoo… she breathed in deeply as she recalled the little circle Kim had adorned her skin with during her brief time in 2011 after her soul had split in two. Oh, thank god she would at least have that. She just hoped nothing ridiculous had happened, like Evan making them give her laser removal surgery while she was unconscious. From his behaviour before, nothing would have surprised her.
Of course, she was in that body again. That younger, scrawny body that she hated so much the last time around. Her time in 2011 had taught her a few things about herself, that was for certain. All the little insecurities that she'd had about her body back in the nineties actually turned out to be things she treasured; the fuller figure even the scars – all telling the story of her life and what she had survived.
Of course, this time she was leaving behind even more. Tears fell from the corners of her eyes as she thought about the new life that had been growing inside of her. Oh god, her baby - the little life that had never been given a chance. Would it have been a boy or a girl? What kind of a father would Gene have been? How would they have adapted to parenthood? She'd never have a chance to find out now.
But of course, she knew she would be seeing her daughter again. Molly –
And here comes the guilt.
How was she ever going to look her in the eye knowing that she had chosen her other life over her only daughter? Oh, it wasn't that easy, of course, not in the slightest – fifteen years in Ggene's world had tipped the scales for Alex. She'd been away from Molly for a very long time. But how could her daughter ever come to understand that? She knew she could never explain to Molly where she had been and what she had been through, but the girl wasn't stupid – she would know something was wrong. How was she ever going to adjust to being Molly's mother again?
This didn't seem right; This didn't feel like the end. Was this how Sam Tyler had felt? For the first time she understood why he took that flying leap – but that wasn't an option for Alex. Not unless she wanted to end up in the basement of Fenchurch West.
All she could do was to lay there and hope and pray for a complication or a bad turn, or even a random gunman to burst into her room and send her back to the place she'd left behind; the place she'd come to call home.
This wasn't right. She was sure of it. This all had to be a mistake.
She belonged with Gene. She'd become real there. She had a place in that world. Maybe there was still a way home. Maybe she was back for a reason and there was just one last thing she needed to do before she could say goodbye to the real world and Molly forever?
But she didn't know what that was yet. And she was tired, so very tired, and her eyes were closing again. This wasn't the time to think about it. It wasn't the time to wonder. It was the time to sleep – and then, as she grew stronger, with every day that passed she would count herself one day closer to going home.
Because that was the only thought that kept her going. And that was the way she would find her way home to Gene.