Fandom: Life on Mars
Rating: NC-17 for swearing and smut.
Word Count: Approximately 9000 words.
Notes/Summary: Sam/Gene. The title comes from the song by Barenaked Ladies - Lyrics. Working with Gene was dangerous and the danger lurked on every corner.
It had been one of those long days. Not the type you look forward to. The kind that drags on until you’re ready to gnaw your arms off simply for entertainment. He’d only just finished eating lunch but it was surely knocking off time. Sam had been working on notes and reports whilst making enquiries relating to their latest case. Your typical high street robbery, though it wasn’t seeming very typical at the moment.
Usually, Gene would already have a list of low-lifes he thought fit the bill, but it appeared this didn’t conform to the M.O of any he knew. It had to be an outside job and those were always slightly more difficult. It took a lot of patience in extensive waiting, which was why Sam was tackling the report writing. Sam continued to mark notations on the yellow pieces of paper. Nothing in this place was white. All shades of grey, yellow, blue and beige. Sam knew the figure of Gene Hunt loomed, but pretended to ignore it until Gene spoke.
“I’m a genius, I am.”
“Well, you’re certainly a Gene.”
“Nothing.” Sam looked up at Gene from his position at the desk. There was a stack of papers to his right, the top leaf fluttering wildly because of the fan situated nearby. Sam stretched his hand out to hold it down and instead knocked the pile to the floor.
Gene gave a small snort, but didn’t move. “You are a smart little biscuit.”
“What do you want, Gene? Some of us are busy working.” Sam bent down to collect the paper. Luckily, it hadn’t flown in various directions, just collapsed into a manageable heap.
Gene put his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his loafers. “I have uncovered a lead for our case.”
Sam adjusted his position upright once again and shrugged. “So? What do you want me to do about it?”
“Come with me to round up the suspect, of course.”
Gene grabbed hold of Sam’s collar and hoisted him up. A chill ran down Sam’s spine at the touch. He gave Gene a look which said ‘I don’t need your help, thanks,’ but chose not to utter the words. He followed Gene out, putting on his jacket. It gave him a nicely professional appearance. As professional as you could get in 1973.
When they were standing in front of a door covered in fresh green paint, Sam wondered what it was about Gene which made him go to the ends of the earth, or at least as far as the Wainhouse Estate, with little explanation. Perhaps part of him knew that if he constantly questioned everything, they’d never get anything done. Or maybe there was some excitement in not knowing the smallest details, in having some mystery in what would turn up next. There could also be the little matter of having to spend the rest of the day in the station otherwise.
The door was opened by a petite blonde wearing too much make-up and not much else. Sam averted his eyes respectfully, but Gene stared on, grin wide.
“Hello sweetheart, we’re here to ask you some questions.”
“Who are you?”
“We’re police officers,” Sam chimed in, brandishing his badge. “We’re investigating a robbery.”
The woman was overwhelmingly nonchalant. She spoke with a Birmingham accent.
“I expect you better come in then.”
They walked inside. Gene stepped through into the living room, ostensibly having a sixth sense for the layout of the flat. Sam glanced at the decorations on the walls, the photograph frames on the sideboard.
“Just let me get my kit on and I’ll be with you in a min. You want some tea? Coffee?”
“No, we’re fine thanks,” Sam called back instinctively. Gene glared up at him from the sofa. “Sorry, did you want something?” Gene shook his head and cast his eyes around the flat, his elbows resting on his knees as he leaned forward. Sam didn’t think it entirely appropriate to ask what they were doing here.
He sat next to Gene, intensely aware of the proximity of their bodies, the manner in which Gene’s leg rested next to his, radiating warmth. Gene’s faint odour was stale cigarette smoke and something sweet.
“Jelly baby?” Gene offered, holding out a rumpled paper packet. Sam declined.
They were joined by the flat-owner after a short period of time, out of the previous towel covering and into a canary yellow jumpsuit.
“You two are a pretty odd couple to be partners,” the woman said, bringing her hand up to her face to sweep the blonde fringe off her forehead. “Like chocolate and cheese.”
Gene nodded his head. “You’re telling me, love.”
“Apparently, we complement each other,” Sam said with a small quirk of his eyebrow, though he thought it interesting Gene didn’t correct her perception of their collegial relationship.
“Yeah.” Gene turned to Sam, gesturing with both hands. “I like your jacket, Sam, it makes you look very distinguished.”
Sam kept his face straight as he replied. “Thanks Gene, and if I may say so, your eyes are really blue.”
There was the hint of a smile when Gene looked back towards the flat owner. She was clearly confused, if not outright bewildered. It was to be expected, given the circumstances.
“Melanie, we’re here to talk to you about your boyfriend,” Gene stated. “Have you seen him around recently?” Sam raised his eyebrows before immediately thinking surprise probably wasn’t the best emotion to be conveying.
“What do you know of my boyfriend?”
“He’s a bit of a lad, isn’t he? Been arrested twice in Birmingham, I hear.”
“Once. It was only once,” Melanie said, her voice high-pitched and forceful. “He was suspected of another, but they didn’t have any evidence.”
“Once, twice. It’s still an arrest. What was it for?”
“Robbery, but…” she paused in her reply, confusion creasing her brow, “he never did other people’s houses. Only businesses.”
“I never said we were investigating a local robbery,” Sam said, dipping his head.
“So where is he? Any ideas?”
Sam gazed at Gene incredulously. Did he really think she’d just give him up like that? He might be good, but he wasn’t that good.
“Down at the pub, playing snooker. The Elephant and Barrow.”
“Ah. Uh. I think that’s it. Don’t hesitate to call us if you get into any trouble.”
After getting the information they needed, they were off, back to the carpark and the Cortina. When they got close, Sam tapped Gene on the shoulder, allowing his hand to rest slightly longer than it should.
“How’d you know she’d tell you so easily?”
“He beats her, doesn’t he? Reported domestic just last week.”
“Oh.” There wasn’t much more for Sam to say. He’d seen it too many times, encountered scores of women who were too afraid to leave their violent lovers, too loyal to report them, but not at all upset to give them over if the opportunity presented itself.
“I’ve got a question for you,” Gene said as they climbed into the car. “Was that the best you could do? My eyes are really blue?”
“Yeah, but that’s besides the point.”
“What would you have liked me to say?” Sam rolled his eyes.
“How about alluding to my Classical Grecian features?
“You haven’t got any.”
“Something remotely alluring at the very least, Sam.”
“Next time I’ll say your lips are incredibly kissable then. Happy?”
“Wait and see, Sammy-boy, wait and see.”
The Elephant and Barrow was small, dark, and filled with acrid smoke. Sam mused that this was the type of place snooker tables went to die. No-one gave them a second glance. Gene ordered a pint of beer and leaned over the bar. He asked where someone called Tommy was.
“That’s our suspect?” Sam asked out of the corner of his mouth.
“Tommy Lloyd, yeah,” Gene replied quietly, taking a sip of his beer. He casually nodded to an alcove to their right, informed by the bartender. “Tall, reedy bloke who looks like he hasn’t half a brain.”
Sam could see the validity in the statement. Tommy Lloyd was bending over his speaking-mate with a thoroughly gormless expression. He exuded insecurity and looked like he could be quick to violence. He had a cut on the side of his cheek which indicated he’d been in a fight recently.
“How’d you know it was him, then?”
Gene spoke through draughts of beer. “Had a talk with a couple of my mates country-wide-like, talking about the stupid poncey masks and ceremonial card placing. Matched up with Tommy’s arrest from a couple years back. Andy, the one who told me about him, said he thought he’d moved to Manchester. It were just a matter of looking through records. I knew he’d have done something whilst living here. The prattish ones always do.”
Sam leaned back and surreptitiously watched Tommy as Gene drank his beer. He suspected they were waiting for the right moment. Either that or Gene was incredibly thirsty. After some time, Tommy stopped talking to the shorter dark-haired man he was with and wandered over to the bar.
“Hello Tommy,” Gene said, clapping his hand on Tommy’s shoulder. Sam had discovered a long time before that Gene wasn’t well versed in the art of subtlety.
“What d’you want?” Tommy slurred, attempting to shake off Gene’s hand, but Sam could see that Gene was gripping him tight, his fingers digging into Tommy’s flesh.
“I want you down station, Tommy, you thieving scum.”
Gene commenced in dragging Tommy towards the bar door. Sam expected someone, anyone to kick up a fuss, but no person in the room moved or batted an eyelid.
Tommy wasn’t exactly co-operative. He tried to run away twice, but Gene slammed him down onto the bonnet of the Cortina and Sam helped cuff him. Sam tried to read Tommy his rights and was quite proud he was doing it correctly until Gene cut him off by shoving the arrested man into the backseat and pointing for Sam to sit next to him.
At the station, in the Lost & Found, the interview was a very static affair. They didn’t have much leverage on Tommy. The main problem was that they only had one person willing to testify as a witness against him, and that person couldn’t actually be positive it was him since they’d never heard him speak.
Tommy may have been an idiot, but he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut during questioning, even when Gene became his ultra-violent self. As they left the room, Sam said they’d probably only be able to keep him in overnight and then they’d have to release him.
Gene grunted and said that they’d take a break and come back at Tommy in the morning with a new approach. In the meantime, they’d get up to their own devices, since he had a rather large amount of paperwork he actually did have to do or Frank would have his guts for garters. The manner in which he said ‘Frank’ amused Sam greatly. It was so bitter and sarcastic, a great indicator of the amount of respect he held for the Super. Sam wouldn’t admit to himself that he was sorry to see Gene go, and went to do some of his own paperwork.
Having come into the room after visiting Phyllis and Annie to talk about the filing system, Sam frowned at the collection of items on the office floor. He cast his hand down before directing his attention to Gene, who lounged in one of the chairs on the other side of the space. There was no-one else there, all gone home or out for dinner.
“What are these?”
“Stolen goods,” Gene replied, standing up and coming closer to Sam.
“Why are they here?”
“I’m going to use them to do some convincing.”
Sam didn’t like the way that sounded. He poked at the assortment of objects and catalogued their features. There were several cases of cigars and cigarettes, but Sam thought they were older than the lot stolen from McTeague’s. He presumed they were from a private store. There was also a box of jewellery and a couple of radios which were probably considered extremely hi-tech.
“Why don’t I like the way that sounds?”
Gene stretched his legs and leaned back on the desk closest to Sam. He took one of his hipflasks out of his pocket and took a swig of the contents.
“Don’t know, Gladys. You tell me.”
“You’re not fitting Tommy up are you?”
Gene shrugged. “Why not?”
“Because it’s corrupt.”
Sam’s eyes narrowed a fraction and he increased the tension in the set of his jaw. “Oh, come on, Gene. Where’s your conscience? I know you’ve got one.”
Gene poked the tip of his tongue between his teeth and opened his mouth a fraction before speaking.
“I wouldn’t be talking to me about such things as consciences if I were you, Sam.”
“No,” Gene said flatly. “Where was your conscience when you held a gun to my head? How about when you tried to rat us all out to the Super? Joni’s death? June?” Gene advanced and Sam was required to step back or come into uncomfortably close contact. Gene’s voice became louder and higher with every word. “You’re always going on about this conscience of yours but I’ll be damned if you ever use it. Steeped in hypocrisy, you are.”
When he replied, Sam’s voice was considerably lower than normal. His chest constricted. “Is that what you really think of me?”
Gene’s answer was one of bafflement. “How is that any worse than what you think of me, eh? Just a thug, I am, aren’t I? Someone who you can be morally superior towards.”
“That’s not what I was… look, this is wrong – you know it is,” Sam said, gesturing wildly to the odds and ends collected in the pile before them. “We’ve had this discussion before.”
Gene uncrossed his arms and tilted his head to the left, like he was reading Sam. “Sometimes you have to do the wrong things for the right results.”
“No, you don’t, that’s what I’m saying!”
“Of course you do. That first case we worked on together. That medic’s mental health report? How moral do you think it was to chuck it in waste paper basket? I’d say not very moral at all, Sammy-boy. You still threw it away. And why? You whine and you whinge but the sad truth is, you’ve done it. We all have. We all have to.”
“But…” Sam’s will was cracking. He tried to think of what he’d do in 2006, but the only thing he could think of was the suggestion of a deal, and in 1973, deals had a success rate considerably lower than the desired outcome.
“But nothing. Don’t try and appeal to my better nature when you haven’t got a leg to stand on. I see right through you, Sam Tyler.” Gene poked his finger in an accusatory manner. “You’re all words. When you pull your head out of your arse you’re a good copper, but you are not always a good man.”
Sam shook his head. “That isn’t true, Gene.”
“Better than me, are you? Sun shines down on you gladly?”
“I know when to stop.”
“So do I. Has it ever occurred to you that you might have a warped world view?”
“I could ask the same of you.”
Sam’s heart-rate was speeding up, his muscles knotting deep in his stomach. He didn’t want to admit that Gene might be correct. Not on this occasion. He had to keep believing in what was right. He also didn’t want to admit that it would hurt if this was the only thing Gene considered when he thought of him, some childish antagonist at every turn.
Every now and then, things would be clear to Sam. It was like someone stood ahead and guided his way by use of lantern. Sometimes, he thought that lantern holder was Gene. Sam knew he could be a complete bastard, he had the bruises to prove it, but he wasn’t simply a thug. He was more. Gene was a person who showed that the world wasn’t lost. He was strength and bravery. He was respect.
“I’m not morally superior to you, Gene,” Sam said eventually, his voice soft but determined. “It’s precisely because you’re a moral person that I’m trying to convince you not to do something I believe would be a mistake.”
“I’ll take your thoughts into consideration.” Gene’s scorn was instantly recognisable in the manner in which his mouth crept into a smirk and he crossed his arms.
Bitterness was evident in Sam’s response. “Keeping in mind that I’m a hypocritical git with wild ideals and no sense.”
“That’s the long and the short of it, yeah.”
“I better go.”
“I expect you must.”
Sam walked out without a backwards glance. The day had been too long.
Sam supposed he’d drifted into sleep because the first thing he was aware of was a shadow splayed across the wall. He shifted position and saw that the girl from the Test Card was back, clown in tow. He fought an urge to run.
“He’s not your friend, you know.”
Sam didn’t want to encourage her, but he had to know what she was talking about.
“Who’s that, then?”
“The big man who knocks on your door. He’s not your friend. You want him to be.”
“No I don’t.”
“You want him to be more.”
“He makes you feel special, Sam. He makes you feel.”
Sam shut his eyes tight and prayed to no-one in particular. When he opened them again, she was gone. Not strictly gone, she was on the television screen, but she wasn’t with him in three dimensions and that was a relief. He was glad he didn’t have to be up too early in the morning. He perused the case notes in front of him and started scouring through them once more for anything he might have missed. It was a welcome distraction.
The static of the television woke him up. It buzzed with malicious intent, clearly keen to get the day off to a bad start. His head was feeling fuzzy itself. Was it the whiskey or the late night reading? Perhaps it was both, he wasn’t sure. Sam shoved the paper off his legs, stood up, and started removing his shirt. There was a knock at the door. Sam went to answer half-dressed.
Gene stood, face serious, posture commanding. He cast his eyes over Sam’s form before staring behind him into the flat. Sam waited quizzically, but Gene didn’t make any movement from the entrance. He merely stepped to the side and motioned for Sam to come. Was he to go half-naked? He decided he’d put a shirt on before walking after Gene, silence thick and unyielding between them. They sat in the Cortina and Sam expected Gene to rev the motor, but he didn’t.
“Our robbery suspect has confessed to murder,” Gene said, his eyes fixed on Sam’s. Sam placed his palms on the side of his head and rocked forward in his seat. He scrunched his eyes up in confusion.
“Murder? Who of?”
“A man in his thirties, the case Marlowe and Dwight are working on.”
“How did this happen?”
“It appears he’s very suggestive. A word from Chris and he was coughing it all up. Just had to put the notion in his pretty little head and he was saying why and when he did it. Chris thought that accusing him of a harder crime would make him buckle, but he thought wrong.” Gene tapped his hands on the steering wheel.
“But he’s not a murderer, is he?”
“Not in the slightest. It’s a right balls up.”
“I don’t understand why he’d confess to a more serious crime.”
“Because he thinks that if he gets himself banged up, he’ll be safe and set for life. Meals three times a day, a steady supply of hobbies, you know the drill.”
Sam was perplexed and demonstrated as such by squinting at Gene through half-closed eyes.
“As opposed to having freedom.”
“As opposed to having the freedom of death, yeah.” Gene put extra emphasis on the penultimate word, puffing his cheeks and giving a weary sigh. The truth of the situation dawned in Sam’s mind. It all became clear to him and he wondered that it hadn’t occurred to him before.
“The robbery wasn’t a solo job.”
“And if we charge him for it, it’s likely we’ll get evidence to bring down the others. We’ll have to.”
“Exactly,” Gene said, a small amount of misplaced triumph in his tone. “It’s times like these I miss the death penalty.”
“You don’t mean that, do you?”
“Why not? It puts the fear of God into them. Being banged up no longer looks like the soft option, the escape route.”
Sam crossed his arms. “It’s barbaric.”
“Oh, more of the moral highground, I see. Tell me, is it comfortable up there – do we all look like ants?”
Sam didn’t show his displeasure. Gene started the car and started driving.
“What do you want me to do, Gene?”
“Talk to him. Convince him he’s being a prat. Use your wholesome and winning charm.”
Sam laughed derisively. “You really should’ve let me get cleaned up - shaved.”
“We seem to spend half our lives driving from one place to the next.”
“That’s just the way the biscuit’s baked.”
“You don’t really want to go to gaol for a crime you didn’t commit, do you Tommy?” Sam asked for what was realistically the ninth time, but cleverly made to sound like a brand new question by using different words. He eased back in his chair and used his most sympathetic demeanour. “I know that you’re not capable of murder.”
“Am,” Tommy replied, belligerent and caustic.
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes tightly before inhaling as deeply as he could. Gene sat next to him, completely silent. Sam listened to Gene’s breathing for a while, took in the steady rhythm.
“Well that was useless,” Sam said when Tommy was back in his cell and he and Gene were walking to the office. He followed Gene into his inner room and accepted the glass of whiskey offered to him.
“Useless like lard,” Gene agreed, clicking his teeth.
“So what do we do?”
“I’ve already suggested what we do, but it’s not fancy enough for you. If it doesn’t involve hi-tech gadgetry and a confused system for telling someone they’re nicked, you’re not interested.”
Sam smiled at the futile nature of arguing a point that had little bearing on anything. Gene smiled too. Muscles that Sam hadn’t even realised were tense relaxed and he savoured the taste of the whiskey as it swilled around his mouth.
He allowed Gene to pour him another drink and felt a small buzz run through him when their fingers brushed.
“What were you doing having Chris interview him anyway?” Sam asked, stretching one arm out sideways and bringing it back to his side.
“Bit of experience. You know what it’s like. You’re constantly overshadowed by your superiors. Sometimes you need a time to shine.”
Sam laughed. “Chris shone really brightly this time. He was positively iridescent.”
“He’s not a bad kid,” Gene said gruffly.
“I know. He’s a good officer. He’ll be a great one in the near future, if he keeps using his head.”
“Yeah, well. Your definition of using your head and mine are drastically different.”
“You’re telling me.”
“He would have been doing the right thing if Tommy hadn’t been a few screws short of a banana tree.” Gene poured another drink. “At least he would have been doing something.”
“You’re a mite defensive when it comes down to it, aren’t you?”
“You have to be,” Gene replied, shrugging.
Sam considered the conversation so far. The over-arching revelation was not a new one. Gene was protective. He’d even protected him, his least liked colleague. Or was he his least liked colleague? Gene was always showering Sam with attention. He’d listen to Sam’s opinions. Sometimes, very occasionally, he invited Sam’s opinions. And he’d gone round early to Sam’s flat to drag him into the station to interview a suspect they’d had an argument over the night before. Perhaps Gene liked him just as much as he liked Gene. But how much was that, really? The silence continued for at least another three minutes, Sam thinking, Gene drinking.
“Why is that with Ray and Chris, you’re always putting on a front, but with me – ” Sam gave a confused glance to the side and closed his mouth, resting his bottom lip on the rim of his glass.
Gene’s eyes bore into Sam and his voice was quiet and enigmatic. “I don’t know.”
Sam couldn’t take it anymore. His legs pumped as he retreated to the office entrance.
“What - are you completely incapable of finishing a conversation?” Gene squared his shoulders and placed his hands on his hips. He clearly had half a mind to go over and drag Sam back.
“I am this time, yeah,” Sam called, before stepping out of the door. He walked to another part of the station, far away from Gene.
He wasn’t understanding this. He continually felt like he was fighting something – a deeper impulse or instinctive reaction. When he was alone with Gene there was an undeniable magnetism. It usually manifested itself in them coming to blows. Lately, Sam had been pulling his punches, but still craving contact. It terrified him. Working with Gene was dangerous and the danger lurked on every corner.
Several hours had gone by and Sam had successfully spent the rest of the day dodging Gene’s company. He knew that if he just did that long enough, whatever it was that was going on with him would stop. He’d been spending too much time around Gene, that was all.
Darkness enveloped the space. Even the cleaners had gone home for the day. Sam was still at his desk, running through the bare bones of the eyewitness accounts and those from Tommy’s Birmingham job, trying to pinpoint something he could use to his advantage.
There were only two lamps on. One on his desk, the other on Ray’s. Sam was comfortable here, it was better than being in the flat. At least, he thought he was comfortable, until he heard a noise coming from nearby. He got up from his position and stalked over to the doors, his arm raised. He wished he had a cricket bat. There was definitely the sound of footsteps coming down the corridor. Sam poised, ready.
Gene stepped through the doorway and yelled at the sight of Sam. He clutched at his chest and lurched forward to box Sam around the head. Sam ducked and Gene stopped in his attempt to beat him black and blue.
“What in God’s name are you doing lurking in the shadows?” Gene asked. “Damn near gave me a heart-attack. Be a good lad, Sammy-boy, and refrain from trying to kill me, at least for the time being.”
Sam took a deep breath and answered sincerely. “Sorry. I didn’t know anyone else from CID would be in the station.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Working on the robbery case.”
“Yeah. I haven’t come up with anything yet, but I will soon, I know I will.”
“I’m sick of you making everything harder than it has to be,” Gene said in a low tone.
Sam shrugged. “I care about my work.”
“You ever think you care too much?”
“Maybe you don’t care enough.”
Gene hurtled forward, taking Sam with him. He pushed him into the corner of the room. The thumping in Sam’s chest escalated, getting louder and faster until it was the only sound he was conscious of. They stayed there for a minute, maybe more, Sam aware of every touch of skin against skin.
Gene leaned in, but rather than clipping him round the head, like Sam expected, he placed his left hand in the crook of Sam’s neck. Sam waited in steady anticipation for the eventual reign of blows but discovered they weren’t to come. He was assaulted by a kiss instead. Gene’s lips were warm and supple against his own. His tongue teased at Sam’s teeth, who opened his mouth readily. Gene tasted of whiskey, sharp and intoxicating. When he pulled away, there was lust and fear in Gene’s expression, mirroring the depths of Sam’s reactions.
“I never would have expected that,” Sam said before easing towards Gene and eliciting contact once more.
He wanted to prove Gene wrong about everything. He wanted to prove him right. He wanted their bodies entwined, as close as they could get, until he inhabited Gene’s world and Gene inhabited his.
They continued kissing, Sam forgetting they were in the station. He stroked Gene’s neck tentatively, tilting his head to widen access for the kiss. The only thing he knew was that Gene’s hands were gliding down his back. His body was reacting in wildly inappropriate ways. And breathing was no longer mandatory.
Sam extricated his limbs from Gene’s and shook his head. Gene cleared his throat and stepped away, allowing Sam complete freedom of movement.
“I think we should avoid seeing each other out of hours,” Gene said finally, shifting his balance of weight from one foot to the other.
“I agree. That would be wise, yeah,” Sam replied, voice quiet and hollow. He dragged a hand down his face, smoothing his features into something unrecognisable. He didn’t say anything else to Gene, just gathered his wits about him and left.
He’d been staring up at the ceiling for a good hour and a half when she appeared. He didn’t bother moving.
“How right was I?” she asked, tilting her head to one side and brandishing the clown in front of her like a totem.
Sam’s voice was loose and weary. He yawned. “If I say you were very right, will you disappear?”
“I never disappear, Sam. I am always by your side.”
Sam snorted in contempt. “You lucky thing. Oh, the events you must have witnessed.”
“There’s no need to be snippy. I’m only trying to help.”
“The day I need your help is the day I roll over and die.”
“You don’t know how true that is.”
Sam brought his hands up and blocked his ears. He didn’t know how long he stayed like that, but when he pulled his palms away, the evil little figure had gone.
Chris had been pestering Sam a good fifteen minutes before he snapped. He knocked the pile of folders out of Chris’s hands. It was a despicable action. Ray shot him a murderous glare but Sam was beyond caring about Ray’s opinion of him. He had a case to solve and could not handle the constant distractions provided him by the annoying Detective Constable.
When he realised Chris was getting in a muddle, he crouched down and helped him pick up the bits of card and paper. That was when Gene entered the office. He walked with a slight limp. His clothes were crumpled and they hadn’t been changed from the day before. His face was unshaven and his hair unkempt. His body was the prime example of an overnight bender. Sam gazed intently before turning his head to the side.
“I hope you’re all playing nicely in here,” Gene said hoarsely.
“We always play nicely, Guv,” Ray replied for the crowd. Sam wanted to disagree but didn’t have the stamina for another round of hatred.
“I’ve been thinking that Melanie might help further with our enquiries, Guv,” Sam said, uncertain he’d get the response he wished. “Mind if I go interview her again?”
“I’ll come with you,” Gene said, nodding. Sam attempted not to protest or show how shocked he was. After all, usually it wouldn’t be an unreasonable assertion.
The car ride involved no discussion. Sam kept his eyes on the shop fronts along the road. Dazzling colour sped by as crowds of people moved in and out of shopping establishments. When Melanie opened the door, she was immediately suspicious. She only widened the gap a short distance. Gene didn’t say anything. Sam took charge.
“Hi Melanie, we’re here to ask you more questions,” he said, stepping forward to gain access to her flat.
“Better make it quick – I’m off to the pictures in twenty.”
She let Sam and Gene inside. Sam sat on the sofa and gestured for Melanie to sit across from him. Gene lurked in the doorway.
“We’d like to know more about the friends Tommy’s been hanging around recently.”
“I don’t think I ever said anything about Tommy’s mates, did I?”
“Oh? Could you maybe tell us something now?”
“Not easily, no.”
Sam leaned forward and put his hand out reassuringly. “We’ll keep you safe, Melanie. You can trust us.”
Melanie wrapped her arms around her body before reaching into the handbag by her side and searching for a cigarette and lighter. She started smoking before she spoke, balancing her elbow on her crossed legs.
“There is this one guy. He’s a bit creepy – drives an orange van. I think he’s originally from Hull, been here less time than us.”
“Mind if I go use the loo?” Gene interrupted.
Melanie shook her head carelessly. “It’s right down behind you, first on the left.” She turned back to Sam. “Tommy and this mate play darts down Elephant and Barrow, but I don’t know if that’s all they do. He lives over at Rostrevor Estate.”
Gene returned, hovering by the doorway. “Got a name?” he asked.
Melanie looked at him, a tinge of disgust displayed in the curl of her lip. “You look like you’ve been wrestling with a wild boar.”
“He is a wild boar,” Sam interjected, “but he asks a good question.”
“I would have told you if I’d known, wouldn’t I?”
They left the flat at the same time as Melanie and tracked back to the Cortina.
“That was nice,” Gene said, facing away from Sam.
Gene mimicked his voice. “We’ll keep you safe.” He snorted. “You’re one those sensitive blokes aren’t you?”
“I like to think so,” Sam replied, nonplussed.
“Just how sensitive are you?”
“I bruise easily.”
Gene rolled his head around and his lips were pursed when he gave Sam a pointed look. He started the motor and they were off to the Rostrevor Estate.
This estate was markedly different from the other. Everything was grimier, darker. They knocked on several doors, but when they did get a response, no-one knew of anyone bearing their suspect’s description. Of course, the description wasn’t all that descriptive. Sam mused that it was quite possible this was a lost cause. They were at another door. The person who answered was short with dark-brown hair and a truly awful moustache which reminded Sam of Ray.
“We’re looking for a bloke who drives an orange van, know who I might mean?” Gene asked, no preliminary discussion.
“Who wants to know?”
The reaction was less than cheerful. The man swore loudly and closed the door on them.
“Get round back, I’ll try and get through here,” Gene said quickly, before Sam started running along the platform. He made it to the back of the complex and saw a leg sticking out of a window, until it disappeared out of view, presumably pulled back inside. When he reached the spot, Sam could see Gene holding onto the man in the flat as he squirmed violently, so he ran all the way to the front again and helped Gene drag him to the car.
“I haven’t done anything!” the man screamed, the sound reverberating in the Cortina’s interior.
Gene guffawed loudly. “You know, we might have believed that if you’d just kept quiet-like and acted like you’d no idea what we were talking about. We wouldn’t have been any the wiser. Why doesn’t that ever occur to you types?”
This kept him quiet for the rest of the car trip.
Back at the station, Sam fiddled with the tape recorder as he sat in front of their newly arrested suspect, whose name was revealed to be Terrence Stent.
“I want a solicitor.”
“How about a good kicking instead?” Gene asked, coming into the room. He shrugged off his coat and placed it on the back of the chair. Sam noted the broadness of his shoulders and the muscles in his arms before trying to focus his mind on the matter at hand.
“You’ve been a naughty boy, haven’t you, Terrence?”
Terrence didn’t speak. He pursed his thin lips together and brushed a hand over his angled cheekbone.
“Two days ago, at 6 pm in the evening, a man was witnessed holding up McTeague’s, a Tobacconist on Princess Street. He wore a glittery, decorative mask, and left McTeague a pretty little card, looks like this.” Gene shoved the card forward on the table, wrapped in a plastic bag. “But, we do not believe he did the job alone. We know who actually performed the robbery. That was Tommy Lloyd. What I want to know is, did you help Tommy, Terrence? And if so, was it just you two, or were there others?”
“We’ll make sure you get a good deal, Terrence,” Sam said. He examined the set of Terrence’s jaw. He had a gut feeling that he was the solution, that it was this man that Tommy was terrified of.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Terrence said finally. It was the last time he spoke during the interview. Gene gave up halfway through, said he was off to get dinner. Sam continued in his attempt to whittle Terrence down, but he wasn’t having any of it.
Sam sighed and watched depressed as Terrence was locked up in his cell. They weren’t getting anywhere at this rate. He wandered back towards the office, passing Phyllis as he went.
“DI Tyler, we need your help. We’ve got a woman here who says she’ll only speak to you.” Sam was generally wary of people who would only speak to him. He shrugged. Phyllis continued. “Says her name’s Melanie.”
“Melanie? What does she want?”
“Dunno, but she’s in cell number three.”
Sam started walking before backtracking. “Hang on. Why’s she in a cell?”
“Arrested for receiving stolen property. They found a cigarette case in her flat. A small one, mind, but enough to convict her, considering who her boyfriend is.”
“Oh, you wanky piece of shit,” Sam yelled, slamming his palm down on the front desk.
“No need to be like that. I’m just doing my job.”
“Not you, Phyllis. The Guv.”
“Oh. Well. That’s alright then.”
The phone rang and Phyllis answered it. Sam stormed away, intent on sorting out Gene’s mess.
His discussion with Melanie wasn’t pleasant. She blamed him. He tried to explain that he had no part in her being involved, but she didn’t believe him. Sam decided to call it a night. He needed rest and he had to get away from the station. He felt overwhelmingly glad that he didn’t encounter Gene on his way out, because he was sure he’d be inclined to rip his head off.
He didn’t count on coming across Gene hovering in the corridor by his flat.
“What’re you doing here?”
“Phyllis said you might want to talk to me.”
“Well, Phyllis was lying. I don’t want to talk to you. Not now, not ever.”
Gene moved forward, placing his hand on Sam’s wrist, but Sam jerked his arm away and faced in the opposite direction to Gene.
“Come on, Sam.”
Sam’s voice was deep and hollow when he replied. “No come ons about it. When did you do it, eh? When I was telling Melanie we’d help her?”
“I did what had to be done.”
Sam whipped around angrily. He brought his hand up and poked his index finger into Gene’s chest. He almost couldn’t believe that Gene had gone behind his back like that. He thought they’d come to an understanding. But no, ‘the Guv’ had gone and done things his own, underhanded, reprehensible way. Of course. He’d been foolish to think they could ever agree on a matter of principle.
“You’re a bastard.”
“No more than you, Sammy-boy.”
Sam practically screamed. “You are! We had enough to convict them using proper procedure. Tommy’s scared enough of Terrence and the possibility of evidence being found is so high that he’s willing to confess to murder. This leads me to suspect we could find out a lot if we actually looked. But you just cut corners, you don’t bother with actual work.”
Gene was surprisingly calm. He batted Sam’s arm away and stepped forward. “We think that there might be something there to convict them, but what if there’s not? You’re telling me anyone else would think we’d done our jobs?”
“Of course they would, that’s what justice is about.”
“Give over, Sam. There is no justice in this world. If there were such a thing as justice, I wouldn’t be here right now. I’d be at home with the missus, lovingly tucked up with a mug of bovril.”
Sam bent forward slightly, confusion clearly evident in the set of his mouth and the crease of his brow.
“What the hell has that got to do with anything, Gene?”
“Instead I’m here with you, aren’t I?”
“So, you daft prick, whose justice is that? When married men nick off with their inferiors?”
Sam allowed himself a moment to breathe, but Gene slammed him into the wall. Every muscle in Sam’s body was taut, restricted. Gene gently stroked his thumb along Sam’s jaw before punching him roughly in the gut. Sam doubled over and launched himself at the trunk of Gene’s body, fists clenched and aggressive. Gene fought back, slamming Sam against the wall again. He stood there for a minute, expression curiously honest and open. He stepped back and Sam got his keys in the door, Gene’s hand resting on his shoulder.
They made it into the flat before they were all over each other again, but this time they weren’t using their fists. Sam pulled Gene closer, dragging him forward by his tie. He pushed him back into the room. Gene’s lips were wet and open and inviting. Sam closed the space between them and kissed Gene roughly.
Sam was used to kissing women, all soft lines and curves. Gene was also soft and curved, just in slightly different places. Sam let his tongue explore, appreciating Gene’s slow, smooth reciprocation. Gene was more subtle than he’d anticipated. He had one hand cupping Sam’s cheek, the other drawing his head closer. Sam tangled his own hands around the back of Gene’s neck, his thumbs twirling in dark blond hair. The brush of Gene’s stubble against his own was another new experience. He liked it.
Gene pulled at him, drawing him over to the middle of the room. Sam moved freely. They collapsed against the springs of the sofa, Sam in Gene’s lap, his legs by Gene’s hips.
Gene started undoing Sam’s shirt and Sam helped him, shrugging off one sleeve and then the other. His undershirt was an unwelcome distraction. It went the same way, onto the floor in a heap. Gene was mouthing against his neck, warm breath inciting a rippling sensation down the centre of Sam’s back. Sam pulled Gene’s head up and kissed him again, doing away with button after button and tracing a path of kisses around Gene’s collarbone.
“Still feeling more moral than me, are you?” Gene growled. Sam stopped, pulled away. He stared Gene straight in the eye and hoped that Gene could see that he was taking this seriously, perhaps too seriously.
“If you don’t want this-” Sam began.
Gene interjected, his voice cracking slightly. “Of course I want it. That’s precisely the problem, innit?”
Gene roughly pulled Sam closer and moaned against the kiss, deep and strong and compelling. He started undoing Sam’s trousers. Sam didn’t have the will to refuse. He just hoped his little Test Card friend was in another dimension somewhere and not hanging around as she suggested she might be.
Sam knew that he was gone when he didn’t care about anything else but Gene’s skin on his. There was so much skin, wet with perspiration and glistening in the half-light. He was hard. When Gene finally eased his trousers off him, always so constricting, he stretched up and kissed Gene on the forehead. Gene’s fingers lightly brushed over his erection and sent shivers up Sam’s spine. He arched back and then forward.
“Do that again,” Sam said, his voice unrecognisably hoarse. Gene acquiesced and Sam bowed back, a wide grin forming. When he looked at Gene his eyes shone and he licked his lower lip in anticipation. Sam hoisted his body up higher. Gene started licking and teasing around the base of Sam’s cock. Sam shifted position until he was comfortably kneeling on the sofa, straddling one of Gene’s thighs. Gene’s back was arched and his head came forward. He had his hands on Sam’s hips. It was all so very good.
Sam didn’t quite know where he was for a while. Gene sucked his cock and he thrust forward rhythmically, breath coming in short, sharp bursts. He knew that this was more than he had ever wanted and he really didn’t mind it being so. Sam was close to coming so he braced himself with his hands on Gene’s shoulders, long fingers clutching tightly.
Gene stopped, pulled away.
Sam was frantic. “What are you doing?” He looked down to see Gene with his tongue poked forward between his teeth and his eyes on Sam’s.
Gene grinned sadistically. “Just wanted to see how you were.”
“I’m good. I’m great. Please, continue.”
“Are you sure, Sammy-boy?”
“You really are an utter bastard.”
Gene disregarded, or perhaps relished the comment and started licking again. Sam rocked into Gene, his breath catching in his throat. The tension was building, his heart-rate was speeding, and Gene was sucking slowly. He’d lick one part of Sam’s cock and then another, and take it in his mouth with a gliding action which drove Sam insane. Sam moaned on every thrust and loved that this was happening, right here, right now, in this way.
Sam’s body shook uncontrollably when he came. He collapsed onto Gene, who pushed him back and moved him into a comfortable position alongside him on the sofa. Sam was aware of all of this, he just didn’t really mind one way or the other. He needed a few minutes of recovery time and he was somewhat surprised by Gene’s patience.
After a while, he knelt down on the floor between Gene’s legs. Gene parted his legs readily and Sam slid his hands along the inside of his thighs. Gene’s cock was hard and slick. Sam stared at it for a moment, deciding upon a course of action. Gene had one hand fisting the hair at the back of Sam’s head, the other stroking Sam’s collarbone. Sam pressed his lips to the tip of Gene’s cock and slid his tongue along it. Gene’s eyes closed and his long eyelashes fluttered against his cheeks. Sam continued looking up at Gene as often as he could, wanting to catalogue every last reaction as he swirled his tongue in what he hoped was a maddening fashion and sucked until Gene came, hot, bitter and growling deeply.
Sam got up, stretched his legs and arms, and cleaned up some of the mess they’d made. Gene lay out on the sofa, inhaling deeply. Sam crawled onto the sofa and positioned himself between the backboard and Gene, noting how their limbs were entwined. If someone had told him on the first day he arrived in 1973 from 2006 he’d eventually be sexually entangled with his boss, he would have told them they were cracked. As it turned out, so was he.
His body was satiated, but his mind was still working overtime. Gene’s breathing was shallow and regular. Sam stared at the ceiling and attempted to figure out how he’d got to this place. There were so many new things he was learning about himself. He didn’t want to think that he might be losing something too.
“Gene, wake up,” Sam said, and gently rolled Gene to the right. He couldn’t roll him too far or he’d end up on the floor with the clothes. Gene opened one eye and then the other. His disposition showed that he took great umbrage at being woken up.
“What is it?” he asked, moving closer into Sam.
“I want you to convict Tommy and Terrence the right way. Ignore your planted evidence and get Tommy for the crime he actually committed. Leave Melanie out of it.”
“That’s the way it’s going to be, is it?” Gene mocked. “You’ll bribe me with a bit of slap and tickle?”
“If it’s the only way I’m going to get the station to work how I want it to, maybe.”
“Tell you what, I will convict them your so-called ‘right way’ if once in a while you’ll admit my methods are valid.”
“Do you mean when you take backhanders, or when you do dodgy deals?”
“How about; when I catch criminals. After all, it is my job. Once upon a time it was probably yours too.”
Sam’s tone was sharp and annoyed. “I catch criminals, Gene.”
“With a lot of poncing about mixed in for good measure.”
“Fine, if you’re going to be like that.” Sam started pushing upwards, away from the sofa and the warm body next to his. Gene grabbed hold of his wrist and pulled him back down.
“Hey, you started it. If you think so poorly of me, what the hell are we doing here?”
Sam sighed and readjusted his position back into the crook of Gene’s arm. There was deep conviction in his voice when he spoke. “I don’t know. I have a connection with you that I don’t understand.”
“You’re confused,” Gene said, wry humour lacing his words. “What about me? You turn up out of nowhere and tip my world topsy-turvy.”
“That was an accident.”
“You have a lot of accidents, you do. I might be inclined to say you’re accident-prone.”
Sam didn’t entirely get what Gene was driving at. He shifted his body weight lower and started tracing lines on Gene’s chest with his index finger.
“What makes you say that?”
Gene clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “You bruise easily.”
Sam laughed, but he was quite earnest when he spoke. “Things aren’t going to be all that simple from now on, are they?” As if they had ever been simple in the first place.
Gene half-nodded, half-shook his head. “There’s the little matter of you being a royal pain in the arse.”
“I thought you’d like that about me.”
Gene choked back a laugh and Sam kissed him lightly. Gene sounded reflective when he spoke, as if he had spent some time dwelling on the issue.
“Things aren’t just going to be complicated. They’re going to be hell.”
Gene left after another hour. Sam climbed onto the cot, lips curving into a small smile as his eyes closed.
“You look happy.”
“Shock. Horror. I feel happy.”
“Now that you’ve got what you want, are you going to be nicer to me from now on?”
Sam opened his eyes again to see what he knew he would see, the Test Card girl standing nearby, blonde tresses falling by the sides of her face. She gazed down at him, curiosity evident in her deceptively innocent features.
“No,” he replied flatly.
“Why not?” she asked, bottom lip quivering. Sam narrowed his eyes in contempt.
“You’re not real. Now shut up. I need some sleep. I’ve a busy day tomorrow.”
Sam rolled over and allowed himself to drift off.
Sam’s grin was wide when he saw Tommy and Terrence being put away for what he knew were the right reasons instead of the wrong ones. Tommy had admitted that he’d been working for Terrence all along, even in the Birmingham robbery. Terrence had screamed and shouted obscenities when Sam had explained they’d acquired a warrant for his flat. In the flat they’d found the stolen items. They had also found other items of interest too, relating to another robbery from a fortnight before. They hadn’t needed to plant evidence, it had been there all along.
Gene acted like the incident with the planted case of cigarettes in Melanie’s never happened, but just to clear up confusion, stated quite clearly that, as it turned out, they weren’t from McTeague’s. Pretty much everyone else was just happy that the case was solved and didn’t care either way which method had been used. But it was peace of mind for Sam, and he liked to think Gene felt better about it too.
After they visited their successfully convicted criminals, Sam glinted at Gene happily, but Gene didn’t exactly return the smile. He discourteously pushed past Sam and walked into the office. Sam followed suit and sat at his desk, finishing up his report. Gene was extraordinarily adept at keeping their relationship under wraps. Sam suspected this came from years of pretending to be something he was not. Sam found it slightly more difficult to keep his impulses under control. So far he had been purposefully argumentative on at least three separate occasions over the course of two days in order to create a condition where Gene dragging him into his office frequently would be deemed perfectly appropriate.
The week had been a long one, but not devoid of its own share of excitements and delights. Sam knew that the recent developments in his life didn’t make any sense, but he also knew that sometimes things don’t need to. The unexplained would remain that way. So, he figured he’d take life as it came, discover new facets of his personality whilst ferociously defending those qualities he already had. Sam didn’t know what the future held, and for once, he thought that was probably for the best.