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Living Loz
grow up and out of it 
14th-Dec-2010 11:21 pm
Triumph
Title: grow up and out of it
Fandom: Life on Mars
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 5120 words.
Notes: Sam/Gene, set 1988/1989. Title from ‘Changes’ by David Bowie. Part nine in the Changes Series (link takes you to the previous parts.)
Warning: Prior character death. There are issues of race in this story.
Summary: As with everything in their relationship, he’s getting used to it to the point he notices when it’s not there.




There are decorations in the shop windows that glisten silver and gold in the illumination cast by the local streetlight. Tinsel rustles around wood and brass with an unfathomable breeze. It’s a sodding Christmas miracle and it makes Gene’s blood boil. It’s the middle of November, for God’s sake. It’s one shop in a row of others that remain obstinately and consolingly barren of all festive cheer, but it still manages to annoy him. The year is getting increasingly shorter because the pricks in retail decide to advertise and push their merchandise on the unsuspecting public earlier than common decency should allow. This is only the beginning, Gene knows and hates it, passionately. Then he sees something in the window, something that arrests his attention and makes him wonder when the shop’s open. Damn it to hell, he’s been suckered in like all the other sorry tosspots.

He wakes up earlier than he usually would the next day and proves it.

He’s at the community centre, painting a base coat on the wall outside as preparation for a mural, when Sam arrives for his weekly boxing session. He’d shrugged when Gene had asked him why he was still bothering, and said it was something he liked to do for himself as opposed to anything else, which had warmed Gene in ways he hadn’t expected. Carlton, apparently, does all in his power to avoid him, but Sam wants to stay alert. The bruises and cuts and swelling have all disappeared, but the determination, that remains. Sam stands watching Gene for a couple of minutes, leaning against a lamppost.

Gene pauses his movements for a second. “Is there a reason you’re gawking?”

“I have nothing else to do and you’re right there.”

Gene won’t accept that as a valid answer. He points with an accusatory finger. “Make yourself useful. Grab a roller and help.”

He’s not generally one to think much about it. Purposely works so hard he won’t have to, but standing alongside Sam, noting that he’s being glanced at periodically, he finds himself wondering what exactly Sam sees in him. He just about understands the hero worship, can see how they get along, but Sam often looks at him, like it’s his favourite past-time. Gene’s never had any illusions about his relative beauty in the grand scheme of things. There was a time he was all muscle, but now he’s far from it. There was a time his skin was smoother, but it was never smooth. He’s not been what anyone would call conventional in anything, but especially not conventionally handsome. He’s won his fair share of hearts, been entangled in several fierce mutual attractions, but he knows he’s not a pretty picture --- he wouldn’t want to be. He can’t help but be confused by Sam’s attentions. Confused and guiltily gratified, because he revels in it, really. As with everything in their relationship, he’s getting used to it to the point he notices when it’s not there.

“You’ve missed a spot,” he says, stabbing towards the paint-free sliver of wall directly before Sam with his roller.

“That was deliberate,” Sam replies, and Gene would almost believe him if he could see any reason for it.

He covers it over with his own roller and meets Sam’s as it sweeps up, at which point they get into a miniature paint war that results in a splash of bright blue over Sam’s nose and paint all down Gene’s arm.

Sam gives him the once over and bursts out laughing.

“You’re a git,” Gene states, emphatically.

“You’re a smurf.”

“A what?”

“You know, little blue guy? Mortal enemy of Gargamel?”

Gene tries to follow, but can’t. He presumes it’s a kids show of some sort and decides to mock accordingly. “You need to go home, Sam.”

Sam quirks an eyebrow. “Why?”

Gene can tell he’s waiting for the punch-line and delivers accordingly. “You’ve clearly forgotten to wear your short pants today. Run along and kit up, can’t be seen as an adult.”

Sam gives a smile that is positively evil and swipes Gene with another roll of blue, this time up his front. Gene lunges to retaliate, but Roger’s voice comes from the open hall door.

“Sam, stop arsing about and get in here for your lesson. I’ve not got all day and you have combinations to practice.”

Sam spins on his heel and waves goodbye, casting his gaze over Gene and giving a smug and gleeful smirk. Gene watches him go, then turns back to his painting. He’s going to have to concentrate on this, or he’ll spend the next hour wondering how he ever let this situation spiral to this point; him humiliated and flustered, smiling quietly to himself. This is something he shouldn’t be allowing himself to have.

*

The next Wednesday, everyone’s working on painting their individual squares for the mural when Trisha comes to tell them Jackson’s been involved in a stabbing. She’s het up and more than halfway hysterical, her usually bouncy demeanour replaced by a skittish sense of urgency and worry. Gene feels like he’s been punched in the gut already, but it gets worse when she says, “and d’you know what? Sam was there. As a cop.” Trisha glares at Gene and it’s obvious she sees this as the ultimate betrayal.

“What do you mean… dressed up-like?” Tyrone asks, which Gene reflects is the sort of thing he would ask, because he’s thick as two short planks.

“As in he’s an actual copper,” Trisha clarifies. “With a helmet and everything. Right, Oink?”

“What does it matter if he is?” Gene asks, using the tone he’s cultivated over decades to sound casual and menacing all at once.

“He’s been spying on us, hasn’t he?”

“No, he’s been having boxing lessons.”

Trisha looks disbelieving. “This were the only place?”

“Yeah, brainiac. It was either here or at the coliseum, he just couldn’t choose,” Gene says scathingly, before remembering he’s talking to teenagers. “It’s a simple case of convenience. No one thought it’d be important to say he gets to wear a smart blue suit and walk around for a bit of cash.”

“Maybe you should’ve,” Trisha shrieks, “’cause when Jackson saw him, he went nuts, and now he’s going away for a long time.”

“How nuts did he go?” Gene asks, heart leaping about his chest like a firecracker.

“I dunno, I just heard they’re all at the hospital. Jackson, Billy Bryant, who he was facing off against, and the cops.”

“Shit, you say this sort of thing first, Patricia. Which hospital?”

Trisha tells him, but only if he agrees to take her and Tyrone, and he’s too wound up to disagree. She spends most of the journey to the hospital coming up with nightmare scenarios, Tyrone occasionally interjects to make them worse, and Gene floors it, because everything they think they know is imprecise, and he’s got a cold, dark pit in his stomach. Doesn’t seem to matter which decade it is, Sam bastard Tyler still makes him worry every day of the week. If he’s not getting kidnapped or nearly shot in the head, he’s having the shit kicked out of him or getting stabbed. Bloody typical.

It takes far too long to get the hospital, and Gene’s regulating his breathing best he can when he finally pulls up outside, not giving a shit whether parking’s allowed or not. He storms into the hospital and thinks about shaking down a few nurses, then finds he doesn’t have to, because Sam’s right there, looking a mixture of relieved and harrowed.

The first thing Sam says is, “should you really be here?”

His next words are muffled because Gene wraps him up in a hug he doesn’t care about anyone seeing. It turns out no one’s interested anyway, because Trisha’s tried to get into A&E. Sam stares at him, shocked and intense, before they’re all distracted by the nurses and doctors pushing a kicking and screaming Trisha towards Sam and the other young Bobby with him.

“Sort this girl out, would you?” a coarse, burly and frankly frightening male nurse begs, before disappearing in the opposite direction. Sam seems to believe this request is directed at him and immediately starts attempting to calm Trisha down.

Gene hasn’t seen Sam in action before. He’s suspected, but hasn’t exactly known whether he’s any good. And he is --- he’s calming and gentle and reassuring. It’s like he grows twenty years older with a click of his fingers. Compared to the other Bobby, who spends his entire time twitching nervously, Sam’s a master. It’s hard to think that he has his own problems and flaws when he’s explaining to Trisha in modulated tones what’s going on with Jackson and giving advice to Tyrone on how best to soothe Trisha further.

Fifteen minutes later, he’s nodded for Gene to join him as he goes and gets tea from the God-awful vending machine in the corner of the room.

“Jackson’s in a lot of trouble,” he says, piercing at the buttons of the machine like they’ve done him a great injustice.

“What happened?”

“Did you know that Jackson has a sister?’

“Tamara, isn’t it? Older.”

“She’s mixed up with some very nasty blokes like Billy Bryant. Drugs, petty theft, you know the drill.” Sam hands Gene two styrofoam cups, sets up two more. “Far as I can make out, Jackson was trying to buy his sister’s freedom, but Bryant wasn’t having any of it. When Thomas and I appeared on the scene, Jackson panicked. And I think what was self-defence became essentially a hostage situation, in which both Jackson and Bryant came out the worse for wear. Medically, they’re neither of them that damaged, but legally? It really doesn’t look good, Gene.”

They stay at the hospital another two hours until both Jackson and Bryant are released. Back up arrives and Sam escorts Jackson, chatting to him like he normally would at the community hall. Jackson looks like a different kid; not the arrogant, brash mouthy youth Gene’s used to, but hollowed out and scared. When Sam lets Trisha give him a hug, he looks like he might even cry. Gene drives Trisha and Tyrone to their homes, then goes back to his.

He isn’t all that surprised when three hours later there’s a knock on his door and Sam’s there looking worn out and in need of succour. He hands Sam a scotch and for once, Sam drinks it, not in small sips, but one great big gulp that obviously stings and makes his eyes water. Gene pours him another measure.

“I made it worse,” Sam says after a while. “I thought seeing a familiar face would reassure Jackson, but he went ballistic.”

“That happens.”

“He wouldn’t listen to reason. Not a thing I said at the time seemed to get through to him. It was like he was incapable of rational thought.”

Gene pats Sam on the thigh. “It’s in his blood, isn’t it?”

Sam frowns. “What d’you mean?”

“Violence, lack of control. Can’t help himself. He can’t be blamed for his actions when he’s just doing what anyone like him would do.”

“Like him? Young?”

“You’ve looked at Jackson recently, yeah?”

Sam’s eyes widen and he looks like he’s got a golf ball stuck in his throat. It would be comical, except that it starts to nag at Gene’s insides and warning lights begin to flash. He thinks he should shut up now, quit whilst he’s ahead, but the stubborn part of him that’s been his best friend and worst enemy since he was a lad won’t let him.

“Are you suggesting that Jackson went off the rails because he’s black?”

“I’m hardly talking about his fashion sense, am I? Though I expect the two intertwine.”

Sam now looks positively apoplectic. “You can’t really believe that.”

“Why not?”

“It’s reductive, and frankly, fucking racist.”

“Everything’s racist these days. If it’s not racist it’s sexist, if it’s not sexist it’s classist, if it’s not classist it’s racist and sexist combined. Can’t say a word without someone getting their knickers in a twist.”

Sam stands, moving towards the door, something like horror etched in his features. “Can you actually hear yourself?”

“You’ve always known I’m the opposite of nice,” Gene says, “why’s this any worse than anything else I’ve ever said?”

“I’ve never thought you were serious before.”

Gene gives a soft snort. “Shows how much you know.”

“Are you truly, honestly, not yanking my leg, Gene?”

There’s nothing Gene hates more than feeling like he’s disappointed or failed Sam just by the simple act of being himself. He wants to lie, wants to say that no, of course, none of this ever entered his mind, that he’s saying all of this to get a rise --- but the truth is more complex than that. Because partly he’s saying this because he refuses to back down, but also because he knows it’s right, in his gut.

It’s not popular opinion any more, you can get spat on and compared to the BNP for daring to allude to it, but humans at their core are base animals who rely upon urges and instincts, and you can’t get closer to that than a culture where there are still tribes making loincloths out of skins and throwing spears --- none of it’s been refined and worn away over centuries of civilisation; the deep, dark depths of humanity are all raw and on the surface. Jackson comes from that background, not entirely, Gene’ll admit that, but like he’s said, it’s still there in his blood. Inescapable. He feels an affinity with that, thinks maybe it’s the way all humans are meant to be, but won’t allow themselves.

He decides to be flippant. That way, Sam can decide for himself how much truth there is in his words. “I’d never do such a thing, your leg’d likely snap in half and brain me, and then where would we be?”

Sam looks like he’s going to throw up. Took it all as gospel, then.

“I thought you’d’ve grown out of bigotry. Thought you would’ve been wiser, smarter. Shame on me.”

The words cut through the air like a garrotte through flesh, and within a second, Sam’s out the door.

Gene stares at his scotch and has absolutely no idea how to react. Confusion slams into him like a lorry. He’s angry, but he doesn’t know who at. Sam for being an overly sensitive dick, or himself for not realising Sam’s too immature to accept there are points of view that differ from his own. He didn’t expect Sam to agree with him necessarily, doesn’t think they could ever see eye to eye on these sorts of issues, they never did before. Actually, just considering that, he wonders why he said it at all. He should have known this would be the reaction, at least on a smaller scale. And he did know, when he thinks further, was counting on it. It was just --- he had been expecting a roll of the eyes and a slight rebuke, not complete and utter abandonment. He swallows his scotch, drinks Sam’s, then goes for the bottle once more.

*

He doesn’t see Sam after that. Every day he thinks, ‘this is the day Sam will turn up to be a considerable pain in my neck’, and every day he’s wrong. He thinks about it constantly and drives himself crazy with what he could and should have done differently. Seems unfair that he should have finally driven Sam away due to overestimating how truthful he could be. He remembers the look in Sam’s eyes. Not wonderment, or affection, or even anger, but disgust, revulsion that he should be so near to a man like Gene.

And he keeps telling himself that Sam’s an idiot, who knows nothing of the world, and hasn’t the ability to see past his own nose --- that he should be glad to be rid of the little shit because he was nothing but trouble and life’s easier now, but none of those words stop him from feeling torn up and reordered into a scramble that makes no sense.

He throws himself into work to stop speculating, reliving, torturing himself, and the first thing he works on is ensuring Jackson gets all of the legal assistance he needs. He organises a fundraiser through the community centre as well as putting his own money towards a solicitor and a barrister. Jackson’s going to need all the help he can get and Gene’s going to give it all his power. He arranges for Jackson’s family and friends to see him and expects he’ll see Sam then, but doesn’t, though Sam has apparently been to see Jackson.

Christmas comes and goes. So does New Year's. Suddenly, it’s 1989 and Gene spends his days working like a dog and his nights avoiding thinking. He goes through his Glenlivet quicker than he had been. Resorts to cheaper brands when the mood strikes. 4.20 am becomes a time he sees regularly. Sees and detests. Usually, he’s had an hour of reminiscing by this point, visualising the colour of Sam’s eyes when he glares, the angle of his cheekbones when he grins. He’s been through memorable conversations and changed their direction to better suit him.

He’s thought about apologising, but always come up against a wall, because he has nothing to apologise for.

It’s how he first felt when Sam died. Every day is spent saying or doing something that reminds him with a painful jab of what he’s missing. He wakes up just when he thinks he’s finally got to sleep. Reaches out to say or do something to thin air. He should never have opened himself up to this kind of pain, but he did, like a prize fool, because he’s weak. Weak and stupid and alone again, naturally. And all because of what? Some words? But it’s not just words, is it, it’s a whole way of looking at the world and Sam is young and thinks he knows everything.

One night, Gene comes to the horrible realisation that he feels like he’s lost yet another piece of himself. That he doesn’t know who he is any more, without Sam in his life.

It’s a bitingly cold mid-January night that’s been warmed to toasted with plenty of scotch that sees Gene deciding to tell Sam exactly how little he knows. He thought, he really had, that Sam would have come back by now, but he hasn’t, so finally Gene has to surrender and go to him.

He knocks on Sam’s door and waits. Knocks harder. Sam opens after another minute. He’s sleep-rumpled and bleary-eyed. It’s past 2.00 am, so this isn’t a shock. He doesn’t look all that annoyed to see Gene, which is.

“Of the two of us,” Gene starts, “I was the one who was making allowances you weren’t prepared to make. I was the one who was being kind. What does that say about you?”

“This isn’t the time for this conversation,” Sam says. “Come back in the morning when you’re sober and I’m awake.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Gene states vigorously, and then sicks up all over Sam’s bare feet. He’s just compos mentis enough to realise it isn’t his finest hour.

*

His head drums the first ten seconds of Copacabana on repeat seventeen times before he can finally find it within him to open his eyes. When he does open his eyes, he wishes he hadn’t. Sam gives him some water and a grease-filled bacon butty, and in that moment, Gene thinks there are no words that truly express what he feels for him.

“I was going to come see you today,” Sam says, matter-of-factly. “You beat me to it.”

“Coming to tell me what a very naughty boy you think I am?” Gene asks, because he’s feeling vulnerable and the best way to counteract that is to seem superior. “And how magnanimous you are to forgive me?”

“Coming to see if we could patch our friendship up,” Sam says, not rising to the bait. “I miss you.”

“If you hadn’t gone flying off the rails, there’d be no missing to be had. I could’ve given you your Christmas present.”

Gene rummages in his pocket and tosses a small rectangle of gift-wrapping over. Sam looks at it for a second, then back at Gene. Gene thinks he might be sick again, attributing it to his failure to take another bite of bacon butty.

“I’d’ve punched you in the head if I’d stayed another second,” Sam says, as if this should be expected, as if it would be fully warranted.

He opens up the wrapping and stares at the polaroid within.

“The real thing’s at my place, whenever you wanna pick it up,” Gene says.

The real thing is a Tyler electric guitar, the musical equivalent of a Bugatti. High-end, hideously expensive, individually custom-built; a joy to look at, with ‘Tyler’ etched into the head-stock.

“Some days, I don’t know how I could possibly like you,” Sam says, his jaw working. “And then you go and do things that remind me.”

“Thought you’d like it.”

“I don’t mean the present, Gene. I mean what you did for Jackson. He’s told me, everything. Jackson’s going to be okay, his potential sentence has been reduced and he has good legal support. That was all you. I don’t understand how you could be such a contradiction. That’s why I had to stop seeing you for a while --- not because I was angry, but because I’m always so confused. How can you be such a bastard one second and a teddy bear the next?”

“I take offence. I am not a teddy bear,” Gene says, only half joking. “Look, Sam, sometimes it’s hard to let go of things you’ve thought you’ve known your whole life. Even if everyone around you tells you you’re wrong. It’s ingrained.”

“So, what? Even though you’re aware you’re a small-minded prick, you’ve no idea how to be any other way?”

“If you wanna be crude about it? Yeah.”

“You mean to tell me you’ve never changed your mind or your opinion given further evidence?”

“Of course I have. But you’re gonna wanna punch me for this --- I’ve not been given enough evidence here that I’m wrong.”

Sam’s brows knit together, his fingers curl into his palms. “Fuck, Gene, can’t you see that it’s exactly your kind of thinking that perpetuates most of society’s ills?”

“I’m one man out of millions. Can’t you see that? Changing my mind won’t change the world.”

Sam concedes this with a flick of his hand. He looks at Gene steadily. No disgust. Plenty of affection. Gene can’t and won’t articulate to himself how much of a relief that expression is. “There’s an allure in being the one to bring reform to a flawed character.”

“That’s dangerous, that is. You should never want to be with a man simply for the potential in changing him.”

Sam’s head dips and he goes so far as to smile. “That’s not the sole reason.” He appears to reconsider his words, head tilting the right. “It’s not really a reason at all.”

Sam takes another look at the polaroid, rubbing his thumb along the edge of the photograph as if he wants to rub the guitar.

“I’m not gonna apologise to you,” he says after a moment. “I don’t think I’m in the wrong.”

“Me either.”

“I thought as much. So it’s a stalemate.”

“If this is a game to you, yeah.”

Sam lets out a deep, shuddering breath. “This isn’t a game to me.” He looks at his watch, gives himself a second opinion via the clock on the wall. “I have a shift in twenty. I’ll come round tomorrow to pick up the guitar and drop off your present, alright?”

Gene is a second from saying it’s more than alright before he stops himself. He says, “if you must,” instead, with a jovial tone that he hopes translates.

Sam places his hand, very carefully, on Gene’s shoulder. He speaks with quiet authority. “In the meantime, take care of yourself.”

Gene ignores his words and concentrates only on their point of contact.

*

A face that Gene hasn’t seen for going on three years comes into Gene’s line of sight the next day, as he’s buying a loaf of bread from the corner shop down the road. He starts embarrassingly when he sees it, then drags its owner into a bear hug. Ray chuckles, then gasps, then says, ‘steady on, Guv, I’ll expire at this rate.’

Ray looks older, which Gene wouldn’t have been surprised about if he’d given it any thought. He’s lost more hair and gained more weight, but he’s not so different he’s unrecognisable. His eyes twinkle bluer, offset by the grey at his temples, and it gives the impression he’s a kinder person now, which Gene might believe if he didn’t know all the things they’d done together.

“I heard you’d moved back,” Ray says. “Kept expecting my house-warming party invitation, but it never came.”

“I’ve been busy,” Gene says, feeling a little guilty, but not disconsolate.

He has been busy and there isn’t a Ray-shaped hole in his life, especially not when he couldn’t easily manage close friendship with both Ray and the alternative version of a man who’s long been dead. There’s no explaining that, he won’t even attempt it. If Sam thinks Gene’s mind is small, well, Ray’s is microscopic.

“Too busy for dinner with me and Doreen?”

“Depends. Would it be Doreen cooking?”

“Naturally.”

“Much too busy, then, sorry Ray. Snowed in, you know how it is.”

Ray punches him playfully on the arm, grins wide. “It’s so good to see you, Guv. Things were never the same when I came back. I even miss London, sometimes.”

“What’s there to miss?” Gene asks, genuinely confused. He hasn’t given London a second thought.

Ray goes wistful. “Bars. Beauties. Bachelorhood.” He gathers himself and turns his attention back to Gene. “Why don’t we grab a couple of beers and go over it again?”

The idea isn’t unappealing. It has to be said, he’s spent too much time over the last few years thinking about the bad times, but there were good. Ray has always been entertaining, even if he hasn’t always been the brightest spark. Gene readily agrees and they spend a pleasant few hours together recollecting, playing a game of one-upmanship with anecdotes. Ray tells Gene about his retirement plans. Gene’s tight-lipped about what he’s been up to.

Eventually, after five beers and many unsightly rounds of sniggering, Gene makes his excuses so he’ll be home in time for Sam.

Sam never turns up.

*

Sam doesn’t appear the next day, the day after that, or the day after that, and eventually Gene loses patience and goes to Sam’s. Sam about slams the door in his face and Gene has to force his way inside the flat.

He’s confused. He thought they’d sorted out their argument. It had appeared to him that they were back to equilibrium, out of their rut. Sam’s obvious anger and avoidance makes no sense to him.

Gene advances on Sam. “Where’ve you been? You were meant to come pick up your guitar. You were meant to be giving me my present. I’ve been waiting and you’ve been nowhere in sight. It’s tiresome.”

Sam’s cold and harsh as he tries to pull his arm away. “Didn’t think you’d miss my presence.”

“Why the hell not?”

“I saw you. With him. You looked occupied.”

“Him? Which him?” Gene asks, thinking this conversation may have gone on a tangent he can’t traverse.

“Your lover.”

“Lover? I don’t have a lover. I haven’t had a lover in years.”

“Oh, please, don’t give me that. You were there; laughing, touching, hugging.”

It dawns on Gene who Sam’s talking about as soon as he gets to ‘hugging’. It dawns on Gene and it takes all of his willpower not to burst out in hysterical tears of mirth.

“That was Ray. We used to work together. You’re jealous? You’re actually jealous?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? I thought we were, you know, and yet, there you were, your arms all over some bastard.”

“He’s an old friend.”

“Oh, is that what you’re calling him? Very touchy-feely old friend. A lot of how’s-your-fathering going on by the looks of things.”

The very thought of that almost brings a shudder down Gene’s spine, but the ludicrousness of it is what gets to him most. That Sam thinks there could ever be a universe where he’d want Ray instead. Maybe there could, but it isn’t this one, not by a long-shot.

“No there wasn’t, there definitely wasn’t any how’s-your-father. Ray would sooner have me lynched than that and I assure you, he’s never aroused in me anything but mild disappointment.”

Sam hesitates in continuing his tirade. “Really?”

Gene can’t contain his exasperation. “Of course really.”

“Right. Good.”

Gene goes to move away, but finds his feet rooted to the spot and his mouth opening and speaking before he can stop it. “Why do you care?”

“Why do I care? Because if I can’t have you, I sure as shit don’t want some balding tosser with a creepy moustache having you, that’s why. Because I can’t handle seeing someone else standing where I want to, by your side. Because I lo---”

Gene interjects, fingernails digging painfully into his palms. “Jesus, Sam. I thought you’d got over all that, I thought I’d knocked it out of you. I’m not anything special, not a myth, not a legend. I’m just me; frequently a dick and not at all repentant. You know this by now.”

Sam stares, eyes wide and wondering, and seems to see something Gene wasn’t intending him to see. “You were going for familiarity breeds contempt?” he asks. “You did a terrible job.” He steps forward, cups the back of Gene’s neck, looks at him with such longing, it twists Gene’s insides. “I know you’re not perfect, but I still think you’re extraordinary. And I… I want ---”

Gene wants to fling Sam’s hand off, wants to tell him to stop being such a div, should really do both those things and more --- but he can’t, he just can’t any more.

He stays still and doesn’t resist as Sam presses a kiss to his lips. It’s every bit as horribly perfect as their first kiss and Gene has no urge, none at all, to push Sam away.



1. never caught a glimpse, 2. time was running wild, 3. the taste was not so sweet, 4. how the others must see the faker, 5. strange fascination, fascinating me, 6. just gonna have to be a different man, 7. i turned myself to face me, 8. the days float through my eyes, 9. grow up and out of it, 10. still don't know what i was waiting for
Comments 
14th-Dec-2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
It is a joy to find a story where Gene is precisely as horrible-and-yet-not as he should be, with Ray on bass to remind us how much worse he could be. I do love it when you tangle with the mess of "What *do* you see in him, Sam?" Even when we all know what the answer *feels* like, it's hard to put into words.
15th-Dec-2010 01:00 am (UTC)
I like to think it's a two-way thing of, 'what does Gene see in Sam?' as well. They are both so flawed. But in complementary ways.

Thank you :D. I spent a long time umming and erring over this, wondering if it was worth the risk. I hope it was, ultimately.
14th-Dec-2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
I'm crying right now, I'm not even sure why. I think it's relief that they are finally connecting and that Gene is finally giving in to what he needs. They (in your series) are so much better when they are together. I love the characterizations, so imperfect, but so connected, so trying to be better in spite of themselves. I love how hotheaded Sam is and how weary, but hopeful Gene is. This series is a joy to read.

Thanks!
15th-Dec-2010 01:01 am (UTC)
Oh, don't cry! I'm sorry.

Thanks so much for the lovely comment. :)
14th-Dec-2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
OH YES \o/ another chapter!
I was so afraid you would just vanish in your christmas holidays without updating, meet someone wonderful, smart and gorgeous on New Years Eve, fall in love like hoof, lose interest in this story 'cause in your head it's all written anyway and so you'll end up NEVER updating it and I'll never know how it ends.

Hmpf,sorry. WIPs unnerve me slightly. I stopped reading them (funnily because of the one you've never finished, "Try a little tenderness"). But with this... anyway thanks a lot. Sorry for this nervous-breakdown-like-comment.
15th-Dec-2010 01:02 am (UTC)
I'm going to not flake on this story. I am still intending on going back to Try a Little Tenderness at some point, and I can't apologise enough for my failure there.

Thank you :)
14th-Dec-2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
I've lost all my words so I'm just going to reply with a ridiculously long list of quotes from this that make my day so much, okay? They all make me want to capslock and draw fluffy pink hearts.

“You’re a smurf.”

His next words are muffled because Gene wraps him up in a hug he doesn’t care about anyone seeing.

It’s like he grows twenty years older with a click of his fingers. Compared to the other Bobby, who spends his entire time twitching nervously, Sam’s a master. It’s hard to think that he has his own problems and flaws when he’s explaining to Trisha in modulated tones what’s going on with Jackson and giving advice to Tyrone on how best to soothe Trisha further.

There’s nothing Gene hates more than feeling like he’s disappointed or failed Sam just by the simple act of being himself.

“I take offence. I am not a teddy bear,”

“That’s dangerous, that is. You should never want to be with a man simply for the potential in changing him.”

It dawns on Gene who Sam’s talking about as soon as he gets to ‘hugging’. It dawns on Gene and it takes all of his willpower not to burst out in hysterical tears of mirth.

“Jesus, Sam. I thought you’d got over all that, I thought I’d knocked it out of you. I’m not anything special, not a myth, not a legend. I’m just me; frequently a dick and not at all repentant.

“You were going for familiarity breeds contempt?” he asks. “You did a terrible job.”

FLUFFY HEARTS, I TELL YOU.
15th-Dec-2010 01:02 am (UTC)
I almost can't believe that this is the chapter that earns fluffy hearts. I do like the fluffy hearts, though.

♥ Thank you!
14th-Dec-2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
My mornings are always made when this updates and I feel sorry for the people watching me on the train as I read this on my phone, grinning and squeeing without abandon.

This really is just such a wonderful example (although I'm sure it's been noted for the upteenth time) of a character study simply because of the discoveries they keep making of each other, and it's mostly these discoveries that push this plot forward. Just really wonderful and I have to throw my two cents in about how much I LOVE Sam's jealousy over old!Ray. I know Gene was trying hard not to laugh but I sure cracked up. And DEAR LORD that ending <3 Lets just say I'm very excited for the next chapter.
15th-Dec-2010 01:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much :D ♥

Ray is always a fall-guy in my fiction. I treat the poor man abominably.
15th-Dec-2010 08:56 am (UTC)
What sweet agony to discover a whole new chapter of "changes" on the f'list just as one is about to depart for the office...

I loved Gene's self-conscious musing about his appearance (dude, you've got animal magnetism, just deal with it). And Bobby!Sam "in action," calming people down as though *ahem* born to the role. THE HUG, which was so tremendously touching and wonderful, Gene acting in such an access of relief that he didn't care who saw or how it looked.

And oh, Gene's racist comments and Sam's reaction to them. You did such an amazing job of this (a spot of 2.02-fic by the back door?). It's certainly plausible that Gene would hold these attitudes unapologetically and with his usual absolute conviction. (Sadly, I've heard exactly this type of rationale many times before; you've got his number spot-on.) And the resolution - Gene's advocacy of Jackson, Sam's qualified forgiveness - is perfect. I'm not sure that Gene would have helped Jackson if it hadn't been for the shock of Sam's rejection, but it's a start, and Sam knows it. And Gene is so damn lovable when he decides to do the right thing ;-)

And lastly - the reunion with Ray, Sam's hilarious misunderstanding (this is how we really know it's Sam v2.0!), and the lovely kiss at the end. I know the happiness probably can't last, but right now? I DON'T CARE ♥ ♥ ♥
15th-Dec-2010 09:29 am (UTC)
Gene and self-conscious musing is very difficult to pull off. Very difficult indeed.

I was very, very worried about writing from this perspective, but, uh... I've heard it more than once. And it was this thing of it makes perfect character sense, it makes perfect plot sense, I cannot and should not chicken out. So I am glad you think it works.

Personally, I think Gene would have helped Jackson, because this is the kid he lets call him Oink. He is that contradiction of someone who says he thinks one thing and acts quite differently. But I shall not protest too much if you prefer to think it's reaction to Sam.

Thanks so much ♥
15th-Dec-2010 09:33 am (UTC)
Personally, I think Gene would have helped Jackson, because this is the kid he lets call him Oink. He is that contradiction of someone who says he thinks one thing and acts quite differently. But I shall not protest too much if you prefer to think it's reaction to Sam.

Ooh yes; I'd forgotten about the "Oink" bit already! And yes, one of the wonderful things about Gene is that he often acts magnificently in contradiction to his own views or inclinations. So, you've convinced me ♥
(Deleted comment)
15th-Dec-2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
I know. I'm sorry. It was always something I've felt needed to be done, but I've been dreading it forever.

♥ Thank you.
(Deleted comment)
15th-Dec-2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
There were a couple of things I really loved about this. Firstly:

It was just --- he had been expecting a roll of the eyes and a slight rebuke, not complete and utter abandonment. He swallows his scotch, drinks Sam’s, then goes for the bottle once more.

Gene expecting Young!Sam to have Old!Sam's reactions. And:

Gene hasn’t seen Sam in action before. He’s suspected, but hasn’t exactly known whether he’s any good. And he is --- he’s calming and gentle and reassuring. It’s like he grows twenty years older with a click of his fingers. Compared to the other Bobby, who spends his entire time twitching nervously, Sam’s a master. It’s hard to think that he has his own problems and flaws when he’s explaining to Trisha in modulated tones what’s going on with Jackson and giving advice to Tyrone on how best to soothe Trisha further.

PC Tyler in action! *squee!* Seriously, I really enjoyed this glimpse of Young!Sam growing professionally.
16th-Dec-2010 04:01 am (UTC)
Thank you :D

There is no doubt in my mind that Sam is a capable copper. Not a one. Whether or not he really wants to be a cop in the long run, though?..
17th-Dec-2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
This continues to be one of the great pleasures in the LoM fanfic universe. The progression is so fascinating as Sam grows up, evolves, figures out who he is... and Gene. Aaaaah!
"I’m not anything special, not a myth, not a legend. I’m just me; frequently a dick and not at all repentant."
This chapter made me think of this piece I heard on public radio a while ago, in which a member of the KKK in small-town southern U.S. had this cooperative relationship with a black woman in town because they both had children in the local school district and had to work together. People are so terribly complicated and not all goodness, and you present that beautifully.
18th-Dec-2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. ♥
17th-Dec-2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
As usual, I utterly adored this. And I'm glad you didn't shy away from Gene with the race issue. Definitely not pleasant to think about in relation to him but a completely justified choice for the character. I personally think its one of a number of ways Gene could be portrayed with regard race (and different to the way I would go but that's why I enjoyed reading it) and kudos to you for not shying away from it.

And EEEE, Sam kissed him and he didn't stop him! *glee* And Gene not getting his own attraction! *more glee*

This was another fab chapter. Brilliant stuff! :D
18th-Dec-2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! :D ♥
23rd-Dec-2010 07:13 am (UTC)
Ack! How did I miss this??!! Horrors!

I looooooove this series. I can't even precisely put my finger on why except perhaps that it feels all new and wonderfully familiar all at the same time. Older Gene and Younger Sam, and not the same Sam Gene once knew makes for so many interesting twists and turns and for them to finally come together again - both a wonderful and worrisome thing!

I can't wait to read the next chapter now! Wheeeee! Here I go!
23rd-Dec-2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! ♥
4th-Jan-2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Really enjoying this AU--I like how careful Gene is with Young!Sam. He's still Gene, though, warts and all. :)
15th-Jan-2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Thanks :D
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