Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 1100+ words or thereabouts.
Notes: Gene/The Missus. Um. This is an idealised look at Gene's homelife, because I admit, I kind of desperately picture Gene and his wife to be in this loving and committed relationship which stands the test and ravages of time. Because I am a great big sap.
If there was one thing Gene Hunt had learnt through eighteen years of marriage, it was compromise. In day to day dealings he usually expected the compromise to come from others. At home, he knew that it was equal give and take. Clara had expectations and he needed to live up to them. Just as she lived up to his. And no, things weren’t always fantastic, lah di dah and little elves. Sometimes, he was pretty sure, she was going to be the death of him. They never quite had the money they wanted for future security, especially as Gene kept the wodge of cash derived from backhanders tucked under a pile of papers in the filing cabinet at work. They didn’t get to spend enough time just being together. And every now and then she’d have her harpy of a sister down from Newcastle, which slowly but surely would drive Gene insane. But when things were right, and they could be so right, Gene revelled in the warmth that crept up from his belly to his chest and made him feel like a whole man, not just a shell.
There were still surprises and secrets in their relationship. Gene rarely, if ever, told Clara about work. Not because he was protecting her pretty little head, but because he didn’t think she’d entirely appreciate that more often than not he was a different person there. For her part, every year, Gene would find out something new about Clara. Like how she used to play piano and aspired to be songwriter but never found the right words or melody. Or how she’d once been put through the trauma of watching her uncle shoot himself in the head. Little things and big things, you know. Gene didn’t think it was terrible that there were gaps there. He trusted her enough to realise she had her own issues to deal with, if only she’d let him deal with his. And even though they didn’t exactly sort through these things by talking about them like reasonable adults, as the new-age literature was so keen to expound, they had an unspoken understanding that they did rely upon a knowledge of acceptance.
Love didn’t revolve around constantly thinking about her, or obsessing over the smallest details, or having to know where she was every minute of every day. Love revolved around not knowing what he’d do if he got to the point where he couldn’t stand the sight of a face that had aged with him. It was about being fully aware of her flaws, and complaining about them bitterly, but really, in the end, knowing he’d take those flaws if it meant taking her too. It was knowing that she’d put up with him as an irascible old git and he’d put up with her as a screeching old bat and though things wouldn’t be perfect, could never be perfect, they’d make it all work somehow. And he did love her, even if he didn’t say as such in so many words.
In the beginning, they’d had maybe three things in common. A love of films. A love of food. And a love of heated arguments. They were both the type to always want the first and last word, both the type to claim they’d had it, and both the type to resort to trickery and bribery to ensure that this view was held by the other party. Over the years, the taste in films had changed, her favouring the musical genre, him favouring the western, so a flick like Calamity Jane was great all round. The love of food had refined, for her to like something expensive and gourmet and far out of their price range, and him to like a good curry or beans on toast. And the love of arguments was as strong as ever, but had less chance of them ending up shagging like rabid rabbits until five in the morning. Which wasn’t to say that they didn’t have a regular poke and tickle, because they did, sort of slotting into a schedule, every second Tuesday.
Their arguments these days usually entailed domestic issues or philosophical queries, like who forgot to put the milk in the cold-box and whether violence begat violence. And given half the chance - which they weren’t normally given, due to work and various social dos, but the point remains – given half the chance - they could talk for hours. They also managed to entangle each other in their diverging interests on such occasions. Gene found himself appreciative of Roger Whittaker, Clara would go on a visit to see City play. So even though, yeah, he enjoyed the company of other women from time to time, certainly enjoyed looking at them, the person who most helped him make sense of the world was the woman he went home to. When he was lost, searching for something he wasn’t entirely sure of, he knew he could count on Clara to give him some sort of clarity – though it usually came in the form of her putting her hands on his shoulders and telling him he was being a silly sod – without asking what the problem actually was.
Gene would witness scenes of their next door neighbour Thomas looking down on his wife Marion as if she were an acrimonious toddler. There was no respect in any way, shape or form. But with Clara, Gene wasn’t even sure that was possible. She wouldn’t let it happen. Most likely, if that did occur, he’d be the toddler, and she’d be the dignified one. Staying together, but despising each other, the married couples he saw as failures always appeared to him to be characterised by a lack of trust, understanding and yes, compromise. Sometimes, it was knowing what you could and couldn't have of another person that counted. Sometimes, trust was about keeping something back, not telling every last detail, because there were some things a person should never know about another. And always there was a little bit of sacrifice involved. Sacrifice of self, of ambition, of power. But it had to happen both ways. It couldn’t just be one person sacrificing it all for the good of the many.
If there was one thing Gene Hunt hoped he’d never learn through eighteen years of marriage, it was the deep and unrelenting hatred he’d noticed cracking through the joints of those other couples they knew. But he was pretty sure that this wasn’t going to happen, because despite all this time, he managed to find new things to love about Clara and, surprisingly, she seemed to feel the same about him.