In some ways, it’s a miracle Gene Hunt’s still alive. Eighty years old, and somehow he’s managed to survive through all the booze and the fags and sixty years of being shot at. They kicked him out of the police force when he turned seventy-- because that’s what it really was. Of course, they made a big deal about DCI Hunt’s retirement, threw him a proper farewell, but really, it was them telling Gene he was old and obsolete and he had to go. He’d not taken it gracefully.
Now, at eighty, he’s living in a home. He hates it, but at least he has the dubious honour of being able to say he chose to go there himself. Not like some of the poor bastards there-- gibbering and senile, locked away by relatives who don’t want to have to deal with them anymore. No, the Gene Genie’s still got his wits, and his mind is as sharp as ever. There are a few other ex-coppers there, and Gene’s friendly enough with them, but mostly he keeps to himself. He growls at the nurses (or leers at them), and they know him well enough by now that they smile and call him Inspector Hunt, which he appreciates.
He doesn’t pay any attention to politics-- he never did, no reason he should change his habits now-- so the name Saxon doesn’t mean anything to him. Just a vague notion from overheard conversations and telly broadcasts- some new up-and-comer. Probably a twat. All politicians are these days.
So it is that when he shakes open the morning paper one day, he is utterly unprepared for what he sees. ‘SAXON IS YOUR MAN, ENGLAND!’ blares the headline, and above it, in full colour and hi-res and whatever else, is... Sam. Gene feels his heart stutter in his chest, and for a horrible moment, he thinks he’s going to have to call a nurse, but he shakes himself, scowling, and his heart soon resumes its usual rhythm. He stares again at the picture in the paper. It can’t be Sam; it’s not possible, and yet... it is. Sam, furthermore, looking not a day older than when he first waltzed into Gene’s life. He’s got a pretty blonde bird next to him, and he’s grinning at the camera; a huge, fuckoff smile. It seems to say ‘You know you want me.’
Gene blinks. Needing to look away from the picture, his eyes slide down to the article.
‘HAROLD SAXON,’ it begins, ‘is a man with a vision for Britain. Young, dynamic, progressive, Saxon, age 33, is sweeping the country-- a veritable phenomenon. Coming up on the elections, and unprecedented 95 percent of Britons say that yes, they’re voting for Saxon. When confronted with these staggering figures, however, Mr. Saxon responds with typical modesty. “A phenomenon?” He laughs. “Nonsense. I simply call things the way I see them. Surely the good people of this country deserve that much.”’
Gene scowls and throws the paper down. Whoever this Saxon is, he sounds like a smarmy git. Bit like Sam, then, says a sarcastic voice in the back of his head, and he wishes for a drink.
He groans as he pushes himself out of his chair, cursing as he kneads at the base of his spine with one hand. Fuck aging. He misses the days when he could go turning over tables and kicking in scum without a second thought to it. Now even the short walk over to the closet makes him grimace.
Gene’s hands shake as he takes down the shoebox from the top shelf. He blames a thousand things-- age, ill health, too much booze-- resolutely ignoring the fact that just maybe there’s a little bit of undealt-with grief in there as well. Tucked into a corner of the box, folded into a neat little square, is a yellowed scrap of newspaper. It crinkles when Gene unfolds it, wrinkled and spotted fingers trembling slightly as he smoothes out the creases. ‘COLLEAGUE TRIBUTE TO DI SAM TYLER.’ And there’s Sam, looking distractedly somewhere left of the camera. He sets it down next to the paper, where it looks a bit small and pathetic- faded black and white next to the high gloss colour of Saxon’s grinning mug. Still though, Gene nods, grunting slightly with approval. There are little differences he can see now, with an actual picture to reinforce the ones in his head-- the hair’s cut differently, the eyes somehow, and certainly Sam never grinned like that. Gene latches onto those differences, nods once, jerkily. He hmmphs and tosses the paper in the bin. Sam on his newspaper clipping stares up from the table for some time before Gene bothers to put it away.
The next time Saxon appears on telly-- it’s a debate, or some such-- Gene makes a point to sit down and watch him. It’s almost painful at first. So much about him is familiar- that faint cockiness, the occasional curl to his lip, the way his fingers on the podium in front of him can’t seem to stop moving; the bastard even sounds like Sam, albeit Sam putting on a posh accent. The more Saxon talks, though, the more it becomes glaringly obvious that he is not Sam. But still, every time he looks directly at the camera in that illusion of making eye contact with his audience, Gene can’t help but feel that it’s Sam-- dead twenty eight years-- who’s looking at him from out that telly.