Your Love Came to Me
It was 2004 when Alex started her compilation of officer’s trauma and its effects for what she hoped would be a book that would be read for years after her own demise. It was her legacy, after her daughter and she made it so that it worked alongside her job profiling for Scotland Yard.
Evan shook his head when she told him about her plans.
“When I said you should take up a hobby, I meant something along the lines of joining a dance group or running club.”
She dismissed his woes by reminding him of her lack of rhythm and that she runs every morning.
“Plus, it’s not a hobby, Evan… spending my free time with my daughter is as much of a hobby as I need or want… this is going to be my second biggest achievement next to raising her.”
It wasn’t until 2006 when Sam Tyler made contact with her that she finally thought she found the perfect protagonist in her non-fictional piece. He was charming on the tapes, soft spoken Mancunian accent and a delicate manner to his approach. It didn’t hurt her writing that his notes were so painfully detailed. She was utterly fascinated by the way he created a whole world in his comatose state. It was so real for him he started to doubt the world he was in.
The phone rang one evening and she was grinning at her ten year old daughter as she danced with the same rhythm-less moves Alex knew she got from her.
“Hello,” she gave a breathless laugh into the phone, in that moment of bliss forgetting her public school upbringing and proper phone etiquette.
“DI Drake?” the voice was one Alex had listened to for hours at this point but never in real time and when she spoke again her breathlessness was for a whole different reason.
“DCI Tyler?” she stuttered, smoothing Molly’s hair as she walked out of the living room and down the hallway to the kitchen, “I… I didn’t expect you to call.” Of course what she actually meant was she never really expected him to call, as far as it stood it was almost as though he didn’t exist.
“You have a nice laugh,” he replied. If it were under different circumstances she might’ve thought he was flirting with her, but she could hear the tone of surprise in his voice. She was very put together at times… she imagined her e-mails coming across as very formal.
“My daughter is a one woman comedy show,” she smiled as she thought of her, “what can I do for you, sir?”
“Sam… Call me Sam,” he sighed, “I think I’m losing.”
Alex had worked with so many people in different states of mental health, and she unfortunately knew the tone of this one more than she cared to. It wasn’t her intention to get that involved, Sam had a therapist back in Manchester – or at least he should have – and her role was merely to attempt to understand what he was feeling. But she had to be careful, a man like Sam Tyler probably wouldn’t even be truly aware of the depths of his feeling and she could end up being the catalyst.
“In what way, Sam?”
“I can hear them calling to me,” he let out a self-deprecating laugh and sighed again, “when I close my eyes, I can see them calling at me to help… they’re going to die and I left them behind.”
“But you didn’t, Sam…” she clutched the phone tighter, “you didn’t leave them behind because they didn’t exist. You do, though.”
The conversation went on for another twenty minutes before a sleepy Molly questioned her mother’s absence and Alex had to leave. The conversation informed her of something she wasn’t really happy about… She had to see Sam in person. For whatever reason he had decided to confide in her, and feel comfortable doing so.
She was never more thankful to Evan being the man he was than when she approached him with her woes.
“It’s as bad as you think it is?”
“I have heard it too many times, Evan… I usually get the tapes long after they’ve either overcome their difficulties or… but this time I’m the only one he talks to about all of this.”
They made the decision to keep Molly in school for the final week before Easter break as Alex would head to Manchester. Molly would then join her for the two weeks and… well; Alex just hoped she’d make some strides with Sam before those two weeks were up. She couldn’t and wouldn’t sacrifice her life for him, but she would help where she could.
“Sam…” Alex smiled at the handsome man in front of her, she shook his hand and held it firmly when she realised he didn’t want to let go, “you okay?”
And with one question he shook his head and pulled her into a hug. It wasn’t unusual, Alex was someone quite forthcoming with her displays of affection but it wasn’t intimate as much as it was desperate and Alex felt her eyes sting. If she had been unable to take leave from work, she had no doubt she’d receive word of his death… some way or another.
When they got talking, they spoke for the first hour about life in 1973. Alex let him talk at her, the affection he felt for everyone in that world. It wasn’t until the minutes ticked into the second hour she began to speak.
“You made DCI a few months before your accident,” she stated, looked down at notes that had nothing to do with the question. It lulled them into thinking she was just relaying information, like she didn’t know every single part of his life.
“I… yes, I was made DCI two months before, what’s that go-”
“And Gene Hunt was the DCI before you, correct?” she tapped her pen on the paper, on the name Gene Hunt circled, as he was so important to his stories.
“Sam… the people in 1973 all exist here in other capacities, you know this, don’t you?” she paused as he nodded, “I want you to tell me about the day you met Gene Hunt.”
“You have my tapes, Alex.”
“No… I want you to tell me when you met Gene Hunt,” she repeated and focussed on the name, the emphasis clearly stating ‘the real Gene Hunt’ without insulting him and being too obvious.
“It was 1999,” he smiled a little, “I went to a pub after work. I was with the regional crimes division for a while as a DC but when I got a promotion I was moving teams. I heard all sorts of stories about DI Hunt back then. Said he was old school but brilliant. He almost threw a dart in my head.”
“Excuse me?” she let out a little laugh.
“Yeah… yeah, he was at the pub, and everyone said that’s what you did the end of the week… every Friday you’d head down the pub,” he shook his head, “seems like second nature now, but see the dart board’s right by the loo… and I walked straight into his path.”
“From what you’ve told me, I imagine he managed to make it your fault?”
“Got it in one. I ducked and he managed to hit 180 so he bought me a drink,” Sam sat comfortably in his chair, colour in his cheeks as he continued, “we spoke for hours, he ripped into me for supporting United and then invited me to the game the next weekend.”
If Alex wasn’t sure about certain other aspects of Sam Tyler’s life, she’d almost think she was hearing the beginnings of a great romance. And maybe it was. Not in the most traditional sense but it was a partnership of the ages, she bet. That was all she did for the second hour of the first day they spent together. The hour moved forward and he spoke of tales of Gene Hunt, his best friend… the real memories of him.
“How is your relationship now?”
Sam started to clam up again, his eyes looking guiltily to the floor, “It… it’s been better. I’ve found it hard to separate the man here to the man I knew there.”
“It must’ve been hard for him, for all intents and purposes he almost lost his best friend last year, and when you returned…”
“He still lost me,” like a moment of clarity, Sam stood quickly in the conference room where they sat, “I need… Alex, thank you… I need to talk to Gene.” And as quick as anything, he was gone.
So was the edge to his voice which caused Alex to drop everything to come to Manchester in the first place. She had a feeling it was all far from over, for Sam. And Alex Drake loved a mystery. She loved the enthusiasm Sam spoke about the world he stayed in for months, like a perverse sort of voyeurism she wanted him to tell her everything.
It was making great notes for her book, but it was also giving her an interesting insight to these people she had grown to know from his notes.