It didn't make any kind of sense.
Tyler was there, back from the dead. Or would've been, if it wasn't a dream. Couldn't be anything else. Couldn't be Sam Bloody Tyler sitting on his bed (empty now that the missus was gone, empty and lonely and what colour had her eyes been, anyway?), smirking down at him like he'd just lost a long hard fight with going completely nutters. Sudden upset in the final round, and here he is, grinning like a priest with a new crop of altar boys.
"I should've guessed it was you." Long, clever fingers tap out a drumbeat on his chest.
"And 'oo were you expecting? Me sainted auntie? Father Christmas?" Gene shoves the hand off him, because that bloody tapping's pushing at things in his head that he doesn't want pushed at, now or ever, and wasn't Tyler supposed to be dead? Hasn't he mourned enough? "If you're looking for Cartwright, she and her rather spectacular set of tits aren't here, and feeling me up like some sort of poofter won't make 'em appear anytime soon, Sammy-boy."
Tyler laughs, shakes his head. "Oh, Doctor. This may be your best disguise yet. Why this? Why this homophobic, misogynistic, hopelessly closeted alcoholic? It's amusing enough, in a pathetic way, but really..."
There's something wrong with Tyler's voice. His accent's all changed, the patterns of his speech are wrong (he can almost hear the beat Sam was tapping out in the way he shapes his syllables), and that's completely disregarding all the talk about doctors.
"Oh, I've got some doctors for you, Gladys. Let me just give 'em a call right now, and..."
And then Tyler shushes him, and his attention's caught by the watch spinning in front of his face, as Tyler twists the chain between his fingers and smiles in that singularly disturbing way of his. "Oh, look what I found."
The watch catches the light filtering in through the curtains, throws it around the room, and he can't stop looking. Oddly familiar, that watch. Was it his dad's? He's not sure, all of a sudden. Tyler runs a thumbnail around the hinge, letting it open just a crack, and then --
There's light, pouring from that tiny crack and it's not just light it's... him. His heart skips, and for a moment it feels like it's being pulled in two, and his brain's full of things he'd never even dreamt of.
Well, I did work on fixing that... comes the thought, and he's not quite sure it's his.
"Let's try this again, shall we?"
The watch is closed, and Gene Hunt is more or less himself again, except for the cold metal pressing into his cheek, and Tyler's hands (not Tyler, not his Sam, not anymore) cupping his face in some sick parody of tenderness.
Gene says words, but he doesn't comprehend. "It was safe," he says. "Safe here for the both of us, but you couldn't suspect. Couldn't have anything that would remind you of me, including... Well, including myself, if you want to think of it that way. Gene was a convenient mask... Keeping an eye on you without giving you cause to suspect an overabundance of mercy."
This has got to be a dream, because he's got no clue what it is he's going on about. Doesn't even sound like himself.
"Well," not-Sam tells him. "There's been a little change in plan. I think I'll be taking this," and the watch disappears into a sleeve, "and finding my own way out. But don't worry. I've found a friend to keep an eye on you. You might even remember her one of these days."
Tyler hops off the bed, and Gene tries to find an appropriate expression of rage, a snarled curse, something, anything that doesn't come out as Don't leave me alone. But before he can do it, the man wearing his DI's face turns one more time, staring deep into his eyes, and it feels like something's picking through his head, almost.
"I almost forgot: I do love it when you say my name..."
Gene wants to say Sam Tyler, because whatever this thing is that looks like him, it's the only name he knows. What comes out is something completely different.
Not-Sam smiles like a delighted child. "Good boy. Now go back to sleep, Gene. You've had a very, very bad dream. Probably best if you forget it ever happened, hmm?"
Gene should give him a good kicking for that, but there's something about his eyes... Something...
The next morning, when Gene wakes up, it's with the distinct sense that something went horribly wrong.
...But then, that's how it's been every day since Tyler died. He doesn't think it's going to change anytime soon. And if he'd think to look for an old fob watch among his things... Well, he always hated the thing anyway. He won't miss it at all.