Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 2150 words.
Notes: Thank you to bakednudel for beta-reading this for me. This is gen and there aren't really any spoilers for the second series.
“Either you tell me what I want to hear, or you say hello to my fist. Again.”
“I can’t tell you what you want,” Eastbrook stammered. “I don’t know what you want.”
“I want the truth,” Gene yelled, his voice low and guttural.
“I’ve told you the truth!”
Sam stared at Gene leaning over Simon Eastbrook and sponged his wet forehead with the sleeve of his shirt.
Gene whirled around and scowled at Sam. “Oh look, Eastbrook. It’s your fairy godfather. Must be your lucky day.”
Sam stepped forward and sat across from Eastbrook, brushing his wet hair away.
“Raining, is it?” Eastbrook asked, a nervous gesture toward the hair plastering Sam’s skin.
“No, I decided to go for a swim,” Sam said with half a smile. He leaned forward in his seat. “There’s something you’re not telling us, Simon. Why not just get it off your chest?”
“This is good cop, bad cop, right? He sets us up, you knock us down?”
Sam shrugged, but his smile widened. “It’d be the other way around, wouldn’t it?”
Eastbrook stared at the table, his expression sullen. “I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“Yeah, well, we’re not just anyone,” Gene interrupted, leaning against a shelving unit and glowering at Sam and Eastbrook.
“Just tell us, Simon. Or I won’t be able to hold Gene back. He’s in love with the sound of his fist against flesh.”
Gene coughed and Sam’s smile became genuine.
“It’s Christina,” Eastbrook said in a small voice.
“I said she wasn’t a good saleswoman, yeah?” Eastbrook picked at the indents of the table. Sam confirmed this and waited patiently. “It was because she had no confidence. No zest. She didn’t want to. She was sad all the time. Had to take medication.”
Sam’s head snapped up and he gazed at Gene in shock before frowning in confusion.
“Hang on. You’re telling me Christina Marsden was depressed?”
“I guess that’s the word for it.”
“Of course.” Sam said, resignation thick in his tone. “You tried to make it look like suicide. But we’re not that stupid. There were no fingerprints on the gun.”
Eastbrook stared blankly. “Gun?”
“The gun which put a bullet through Christina’s brain. See, if it had been suicide, her prints would have been on the handle and the trigger.”
Sam watched as the cogs whirred in Eastbrook’s brain. He was either a startlingly good actor, or thoroughly bewildered. The unsettling gurgle in Sam’s stomach told him it was bewilderment.
“You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
Eastbrook shook his head, his mouth hanging slightly ajar.
Sam asked several more questions, but he knew that Eastbrook couldn’t tell them anything more that would help them catch the culprit. Having no reason to keep Eastbrook locked up, Sam allowed him to walk out of the station a free man. Gene still appeared to be unimpressed by the turn of events, but he didn’t stop Sam’s proceedings.
“If he didn’t kill her, who did?”
“That’s what I was trying to find out last night,” Sam replied. “Where’s the evidence from Christina’s house?”
“What do you want that for?”
“Eastbrook said she was on medication, right? So it would be among her possessions.”
Sam was aware of Gene walking behind him as he turned into CID.
“You know, I didn’t think you were going to turn up today,” Gene said, his voice deceptively casual.
“I had to make sure you weren’t the cause of another death in custody. More’s the pity.”
There was a sound like a twig snapping and Sam turned to see Gene glaring at him.
“Why do you do it, Sam?”
“Try to make me wanna kill you.”
Sam glanced to the side. “I don’t. All I ever try to do is my job. Your wanting to kill me must be a side-effect.” Sam picked up one of the plastic packets and tipped the contents onto the table.
“See, now, that’s a lie. I know it’s a lie and you know it’s a lie.”
Sam pursed his lips together, rifling through the odds and ends of evidence. “And here it is.” He peered at the label, scrunching his eyes up. “Imipramil. Wonder how effective that is?”
“Obviously not effective enough.”
“We’ve already established she didn’t kill herself.”
“Maybe she got a friend to do it?”
Sam shook his head. “She didn’t have any friends.” He continued looking through the collected evidence.
“Maybe she hired someone?”
“Hired someone to kill her? There are less elaborate methods of suicide.”
“The old bloke said it were a shame she’d try to do away with herself,” Chris said, chewing on a sandwich and coming to stand near Sam. He gazed at the various objects from Christina Marsden’s bathroom.
Sam stopped turning over the hairbrush in his hand and faced Chris. “Which old bloke?”
“Him at number forty, the one who called us. Jenson? Jefferson?”
“Jenkins. When did he say that? Did he say that last night?”
Chris took a moment before speaking slowly. “No, he said it that first night we talked to him. You told us to go softly, softly, remember, boss?”
Sam put his palm to his forehead. “Shit.” He stared at Chris. “And you didn’t write this down in your notes, did you?”
“No, why would I? It weren’t relevant.”
“Yes, Chris. Yes, it was. How could he have known it looked like suicide? We didn’t tell him. We didn’t tell you or Ray.”
“He must have been in the house,” Gene said abruptly. “Looks like we’re off, Sammy-boy. Chris, go tell Ray to stop stuffing his face and meet us there.”
Sam spent the whole of the car ride in silence, staring into the rain. Everything looked a thousand times more grey, dulled by dim light and falling water. Sam invented a dozen scenarios in his mind, playing through possible outcomes of the case and trying to decide if he would demote Chris had he the power. He wasn’t entirely sure he wouldn’t demote himself.
“Sometimes, I hate it too,” Sam said quietly as they waited at the traffic lights.
“Hate it. The job.”
“You’d be a sicker man than you already are if you didn’t.”
Sam went to lightly bat Gene’s arm, but Gene went speeding off from the lights and he felt the urgent need to grab hold of the handle and start praying for redemption.
When they knocked on the door to number forty, Sam thought for a second that it would never open and that he and Gene would have to knock on it with force, but eventually it swung wide. Sam brandished his badge.
“I thought you’d be back,” Jenkins said, staring at Sam and Gene with a barely concealed look of sorrow.
“The rotten ones always do,” Gene said, barging his way into the house with a hefty shoulder. He went straight up the stairs. Sam followed him into the house, hovering in the hallway.
“Mr Jenkins,” Sam started, listening to the sounds of Gene stomping around in the rooms above.
“Please, call me Stanley,” Jenkins said, shuffling through into the living room and inviting Sam to follow him.
“Stanley, you must know what this is about?”
Jenkins nodded and sat down on his faded settee. “Yes, I believe I do. See, you said it was murder. I knew I must have done something wrong. Upset the scene. Left footprints.”
“Actually, it was the prints you didn’t leave,” Sam said, crossing his arms against his chest. Jenkins stared up in confusion. Sam quirked his eyebrow. “Christina’s fingerprints should have been on the gun. You wiped them off.”
“So I did.” Jenkins gestured to a seat, telling Sam to sit down. Jenkins’ outstretched hand trembled. “It was the shock, you see. Of seeing her like that. All pale. Blood pooling around her head. She was such a beautiful girl. I… I picked up the gun, to check.”
Sam sat down, his hands clasped together in front of him. “To check what?”
“I don’t know, really. It was a stupid thing to do, wasn’t it?”
“Why had you gone there?” Sam asked, using sympathetic eyes and a soft voice.
“I heard the sound of the gun. I wanted to make sure Christina was alright. She had a bit of a problem, you see. Got upset easily.”
“Doesn’t wash,” Gene said forcefully. “You were outside her house before the shot.” Sam looked up at Gene standing in the doorway. “And what about all of these?”
Gene threw a pile of photographs onto the floor. Sam bent down and picked a few of them up. They were all candid shots of Christina Marsden, obviously taken at various different times given the array of outfits she wore. They were taken at her house, down the marketplace, and where Sam presumed she worked. Sam sighed. He looked toward the doorway again to see Gene’s eyes burning. He thought for a terrible moment that Gene was going to lay into Jenkins, and knew that would surely be the death of him, but Gene stood stock still.
“Stanley Jenkins, I am arresting you for the murder of Christina Marsden. You're not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so. Anything you may say may be taken in evidence.”
“I didn’t murder her,” Jenkins said, his voice cracked and husky. “She killed herself. I was watching her, that’s all. I just liked to watch her.”
Ray and Chris arrived within ten minutes with several uniformed police officers. Gene ordered them to go through the house piece by piece. Sam and Gene took Jenkins to the police station, but he became less coherent and displayed more signs of ill health. Sam grew increasingly concerned that he didn’t have the stamina for their questions. Eventually they called for a doctor and he was taken to hospital.
“Do you think he did it?” Gene asked, standing next to Sam in CID.
“I don’t know. He doesn’t seem strong enough, does he? We can’t prove it and he’s not going to confess. He’ll die before it goes to trial. I don’t understand why he’d do it.”
“He was obsessed with her. You saw all those photos. She didn’t welcome his advances, perhaps?”
“Maybe. But why contact the police at all? Why not let someone else find her body as the smell of almonds got too intense?”
“That’s disgusting,” Gene said, his upper lip curling.
Sam dipped his head. “Thank you.”
“He might have felt bad about it? Or he just wanted to be above suspicion?”
“He already would have been.”
“I don’t claim to understand the whys and wherefores of criminals, Sam. I only claim to lock ‘em up when I find out about them.”
Sam placed his hands on the desk and leaned back, taking a deep breath. “I was so determined to prove that my dazzling techniques would work, I forgot about looking through the evidence. That’s what this place does to me.”
Gene took a cigarette out and lit it, staring at Sam. Sam tipped his head back, closing his eyes.
“Don’t become a sad-sack on me, Sammy-boy. Manchester does a lot of things to a lot of people,” Gene said, puffing on his cigarette and blowing the smoke toward Sam.
Sam rolled his head around and looked back at Gene, a smile in his eyes and tugging at the corners of his lips.
“True. And we do a lot of things to Manchester.”
Gene blew a smoke ring, his eyes betraying underlying humour. “Things get done.”
Sam’s smile became a grin and he raised an eyebrow. “Like drinking, for instance. That gets done.”
“Pub?” Gene asked, already taking his coat off a nearby chair.
Sam nodded. “Pub.”
“This reconstruction guff,” Gene called to Sam as he trailed behind him near the exit to the station.
“D’you think it’d help me figure out where I left my keys?”
“I don’t know. We could always try. Who would you like to play you?”
Gene’s answer was quick and precise. “Gary Cooper.”
“Mmm. No. Not a good fit.” Sam mused. “How about Eli Wallach?”
“You cheeky bastard,” Gene barked. “Who would you be, then? Clint Eastwood?”
“Was he the good one, or the bad one?”
“He was the one with no name.”
“Sounds about right.”
“What’re you talking about, Gladys? You’ve dozens of names.”
Sam smiled to himself, glancing at Gene as he found his keys and opened the Cortina door.
“In the end, I prefer being Sam,” he said, climbing into the car.
Gene started the engine. “Just like I prefer being Guv.”
“Shame you’ll always be Gene to me, then, isn’t it?”
Gene turned to Sam with a mock narrowing of his eyes, the corners crinkling in amusement. Sam shared the look and grabbed hold of the handle above his head as Gene drove into the steadily brewing storm.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4