Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: Around 1600.
Notes: This fan fiction has been written as part of the greatestfits challenge, a.k.a 'The Classy Motherf*cker Challenge', which takes lyrics by Canadian rockband the Headstones and
Thinking in Reverse
Bottom lip quivers, rage is so apparent
Don't know whether to kill or cry
Don't know whether to rebuild or to burn it
You don't know how just to say goodbye... [lyrics from "Unsound"]
1974. A new year. A new year and he still wasn’t back home. Was he stuck here forever? It felt like it. Hunt helped him up. He didn’t apologise. He smirked before thumping Sam on the back. His eyes were cold.
“You’re still learning, Sammy-boy, so I won’t hold it against you. You’re just thinking in reverse, is all.”
It ended with a punch to the gut. Sam gasped, unsure of what to do now, whether he should speak or cry or collapse. He collapsed. Before his eyes closed for the last time in 1973 he saw the faint glimmer of Gene Hunt’s shoe.
His head pounded with the rush of blood. He stared at his aggressor. Dark blond hair and fierce light eyes. At that moment, in that time, he hated him. He hated the control he had. And it wasn’t just about a completely different way of approaching things, or being stuck in this God-forsaken time. It was everything. Gene Hunt was everything. He stabbed his fist forward and connected with flesh contained by cotton. Again. And again. His strength came back to him as the adrenaline coursed.
It was too late. He’d said it. The wind around them was a deafening roar. Only a bar or two of The Sweet’s “Blockbuster” from the club below drifted up to act as a soundtrack for a fight Sam didn’t have the strength to commit.
“You better beware… you better take care… You better watch out if you've got
“You think that just because you’re from Hyde you’re so much better than I am. With your fancy gay-boy science, and your fancy psychological take. But you’d be wrong. You’re no more a genius than I am, Sam Tyler. You do the work because you’ve this driving need to help the world in some way. Because you think that by doing policework, somehow, things are a little bit brighter, a little bit safer for everyone else. You do the work and I do the work. You may be from Hyde, but when it comes down to it, you’re just like me.”
“I will never be the same as you. You don’t care about policework, you only care about yourself.”
Chris dragged Steven Jacobs off. He looked pleased and proud, like he’d solved the whole case. It was just Sam and Gene on the roof now. It was cold up here, not wearing the usual leather. He stood with his legs apart, his hands loose at his sides. He was not nearly as relaxed as he appeared.
“You and me need a bit of a chat.”
Sam thought that at some point he’d get used to seeing Hunt beat up a suspect. That one day he’d click and suddenly it would make sense. Yes, going at someone with fist clenched and knee bent was the best method of extracting information. Sam knew he had the darkness in him. He had stuck a man in a freezer, after all.
Somehow, it wasn’t happening. Every time he saw Gene Hunt slap, punch or kick, he winced. There were better ways of getting what they wanted.
“Have you ever thought about, oh, I don’t know, talking to him?”
Jacobs slammed into the gravel and the back of his head was crushed with a well-placed shoe.
“You are going to tell us everything, scum.”
His arms were wrenched up and his wrists placed in hand-cuffs.
Sam could do without running up steps at this moment in time. It’d been a very long day. He hoped it was worth it, because if it wasn’t, he’d lost his favourite piece of clothing for no good reason. He wasn’t even making enough money to keep up his own private hell with its Test Card resident, let alone buy new items for his wardrobe.
Jacobs saw them coming towards him and started to run. He ploughed through the dancing crowd, but so did the officers.
A tall red haired girl tried to curl herself around Sam, but he fended her off. He caught sight of Jacobs making his way to a door tucked at the corner of the club.
“I think he’s going to the roof.”
Chris appeared shortly after they made their way into the party.
“They’ve even got coat checking, by looks of things.”
“Look sharp, boys. We haven’t got the luxury of back-up and I am not letting Jacobs get away with this crime.”
Sam laughed derisively.
“Well, you would have, if you hadn’t eventually decided to listen to me.”
“I’m not letting you blokes in without some form of reward.”
“Shut it, we haven’t any rewards to give out. Let us in or you’re obstructing the course of justice.”
“The course of justice never did run smooth.”
“That’s love, actually. The course of love never did run smooth.”
“Sam, d’you think you could keep your mind on the task at hand? There’s a good lad.”
“I’ll let ya in if you give me your coat. That’d fit my son, that would. I reckon he’d be well chuffed with it for his birthday.”
“You want my coat?”
“Give it over, Tyler. We can’t afford to waste any more time.”
“And your coat, is that camel hair? Very nice. I’m feeling quite chill, I could do with a nice hefty thing for my broad shoulders right now.”
“Give it over, Hunt. We can’t afford to waste any more time.”
They had a place. They had a time. They even had a motive. Things were looking good.
“Now, Sammy-boy, I can work with you if you’ll work with me.”
Sam wasn’t sure he wanted to work with a man who insisted on calling him “Sammy-boy”. For the good of the community and his state of mind, however, it was probably better to attempt a rebuild of a working relationship.
“Want me to go through my list of contacts, see if I can’t get some more information?”
“Good idea. Wait, you’ve got contacts?”
“I’ve got some, yeah.”
“Right. See what you can find out. Meanwhile, I’m going to be interrogating the witnesses.”
“You don’t interrogate witnesses, Gene.”
“Yes I do, and you know it.”
The main street was a bright place for a man who hadn’t had any sleep. Decorations in shop windows, which would soon be taken down, and surprisingly few people, considering. He hadn’t gone 200 yards when he heard Chris calling after him.
“We’ve more information, boss. You were on the money with your interest in that ticket stump. A person who has been identified as Steven Jacobs was seen getting off the bus shortly before the robbery, with a large package under his arms.”
Steven Jacobs was not one of their suspects.
Frustrated, Sam slammed his hand down on his desk. He knew he was right. What they had didn’t make sense when jammed into whatever situation Hunt thought it belonged. He kept making assumptions and trying to omit evidence to confirm them. He wanted to nail anyone who seemed to fit. He was always doing this. Looking at things through blockheaded glasses. There was only one thing Sam wanted to say to Gene Hunt.
“We have to piece the crime together by looking at it in reverse. It’s the only way.”
“Well, how do you mean, boss?”
“I mean, Chris, that we need to look at the last clue we have, then the clue after that. Examine them as we found them, instead of trying to put them into chronological order or discarding them altogether.”
“So you don’t want to do what the Guv told us to do?”
“Good boy. He’s talking a pile of poppycock. What we need to do is nick the bastard. Chris, don’t listen to him, the man’s missing a card from his deck.”
Sam stared at the ticket stump, Gene sitting across from him, and Chris off to get tea.
“I think he must have stolen the gun from Pennington before he went to MacRob Furnishing. Think about the time it was stolen. So far, ballistics match. There’s a bus that’s right there at the time when the robber turned up. We’ve got a disappearance, robbery, convenient bus, stolen gun, it could work. ”
“And what, you’re saying he carried it on the bus? Come on Sam, not even here in Manchester can you get away with carrying a rifle onto public transport. We haven’t got a car at place of scene and there’s no way you could walk or run from Pennington to MacRob in that time. I don’t think it’s the same gun. You’re confusing yourself.”
“Okay, so what’s your version of events?”
“Johnny ‘Jack’ Carlton is the one I can see attempting to pull off a robbery like this. He probably got a ride with a friend, maybe even Terry here on the list. He went into MacRob and demanded that two thousand in cash. Then he hopped off with his friendly driver, never to be seen again. That is, until we bust in on him.”
“And everything we’ve collected at the scene?”
“Useless rubbish. You and Chris better get to work.”
The crime was a confusing one to say the least. A robbery with five suspects. They kept coming across new evidence, like a puzzle. Sam liked to think of it as a jigsaw. They had all the pieces; they just needed to put them into the right places. Gene said he preferred Scrabble – where you picked what you wanted at random, but everything had a logical order.