The Gene Genie knows.
He may look like a dumb copper, but that's a clever front for being a damn smart copper. He knows damn near everything that goes on in his department, but he never lets on; it keeps the lads from getting too cautious.
He knows that on DI Tyler's bewildered first day, WPC Cartwright had to talk him down from jumping off the roof of the station. Gene knows, too, what the others at the station think of Tyler: Tyler's cracked, he's too soft, he's not bent enough by half. It's all true, but Tyler is another thing as well: cracked or soft or noble as he is, he's exactly what the station needs. More importantly, he's brilliant, and looks damn stupid for it. DI Tyler is like a gift from God, although Gene allows that if this is true, God's one sick bastard.
So is Sam Tyler, come to that. Sometimes Gene catches him listening desperately to the radio when nothing is on -- shite music, football commentary, even the crackle between stations. Sometimes Gene catches him answering a phone when it's not ringing, holding it as though he's afraid it will vanish and saying, in a soft, tight voice, "I'm here, I can hear you." Sometimes Gene catches him staring with shock at something completely ordinary, or staring unseeingly into space. Gene doesn't mind. Everyone at the station has a dirty little secret. Sam Tyler's is that he acts like a madman. As these things go, it's the least of his worries.
When DI Tyler's madness intersects with work, that's another story. Cartwright can talk him down from all the buildings she likes, but Gene knows it runs deeper than that. Sam Tyler wants in-depth forensic evidence, thorough background checks, police accountability, and all sorts of similar rubbish. Sam Tyler thinks he does things best. Sam Tyler sometimes takes things personally. That sort of thing is more dangerous than his funny hallucinations by far.
Gene Hunt is a damn smart copper, which means he can use his eyes and ears and brain. When they corner Vic Tyler in a hotel room, he knows damn well that the word Sam says is "Dad". And the lads at the station can say what they like about Sam Tyler being crazy, but he's certainly not of a particular sort of twisted brain. Sam Tyler's brain might be mad enough that Gene can't follow it half the time until very suddenly he can, but he knows damn well that Sam Tyler would never sit down and carefully choose to be named after Vic Tyler's little boy. He might think himself to death, or say stupid things about thinking in or out or around the box or whatever the hell it is he says, but unless he's a very good actor, which he damn well isn't, the blank surprised pain in Sam Tyler's face as he looks at Vic is real, and the way he keeps grinning at Vic is real, and the way he treads so tenderly around Vic's wife is real too. Gene offers up his professional opinion on Ruth Tyler's desirability just to see the rise it gets out of Sam, and that cinches it.
"Guv," Annie Cartwright says the next morning, hovering in the doorway of Gene's office with her hand curling nervously against the frame, "I think DI Tyler needs help. He's ill, Guv."
"He's a nutter, you mean," Gene says dismissively.
Cartwright comes in and closes the door behind her, as though privacy really matters. "Guv, you know why Vic Tyler got away."
"Cos our DI Tyler's soft in the head," Gene says, shrugging. "Vic Tyler will make no more trouble here. Far as I'm concerned, it's a closed job. Done deal. Why are you still standing there?"
"Sam really thought Vic Tyler was his father, Guv," Annie says quietly. "When we were in the house, he tried to prove it to me."
"Did he now," Gene says, leaning back in his chair. "All right, what'd he do this time?"
Cartwright laces her hands together. "He told me to open a music box. Told me what it would play. He was right, but-- you'd searched the house with him before, Guv. I don't think it's safe for him to go on like this. He's nearly killed himself, and now he's let Vic Tyler get away --"
"So you don't believe him," Gene interrupts. "Those funny things he says about doing it differently where he comes from. Remembering places from when he was small. Talking about things that happened last week as though they happened thirty years ago."
Annie stares at him. "You don't believe him, Guv?"
Gene snorts. "Course not. All the same, I don't think it's the sort of madness that will interfere with his work often enough to warrant him being sent to the loony bin." Annie looks like she wants to protest, so he picks up a stack of papers he has no intention of reading and waits for her to leave.
Annie Cartwright absolutely has a point. Whatever's going on in Sam Tyler's head, sometimes it interferes with his work. Sometimes it interferes with his work so badly that one moment Ray's sitting in the office pulling faces and mocking Tyler's get me out of here and the next moment Gene finds himself demoting Carling to DC. But Gene can use what's going on in Tyler's head, and more importantly, there are those times, not so rare as Tyler might imagine, that Gene understands.
Sometimes brilliant DI Tyler is very stupid indeed. He'd never think to tell Gene; Gene knows well enough, and Sam knows he knows, but Sam thinks no one believes him. Why he's trying to make Annie believe him is beyond Gene's understanding. The bird's a psychologist, for God's sake; of course she's going to think he's a nutter. Gene's a copper, and he can weigh the fucking evidence and have himself a nice spot of deduction. It's true all the same that Sam might be elaborately mad, but there's something else: Gene Hunt knows, in his gut, that Sam Tyler's not crazy. Displaced, confused, scared, angry, lost, determined-- Gene can think up any number of adjectives, even (especially) the ones the lads bandy about, soft and stupid and by-the-books to a fucking fault, but never once in Gene Hunt's mental vocabulary does the word "crazy" crop up.
That doesn't mean he'll ever tell Sam what he thinks, maybe not even if Sam asks him outright, which he never will. He hasn't the faintest bloody clue how Sam got here, but Sam Tyler is a determined bastard. He doesn't need Gene's help, not with this. If DI Tyler from Hyde wants to go back to being DCI Tyler from who in bleeding hell knows where, that's up to Sam Tyler. Maybe it won't take screaming at the ceiling, the radio, the phone, the telly; maybe it won't take jumping off the roof; maybe it won't take repeated attempts to change small pointless bits of the world. Maybe the stupid wanker just has to tap his shoes together and say There's no place like home. It's not up to Gene.
But the Gene Genie knows: for all the panic and confusion and frustration and pain he sometimes sees in the DI's face, Sam Tyler likes it here.