Sam/Gene slash, was going to be NC-17. Gene goes to the future with Sam. I've worked on this damn thing for way too long and it's caused me nothing but horror and pain, so I wipe my hands clean of it and scowl in its general direction. It started off being a prospective ending and then became AU, with elements shifting and combining and giving me hell.
Towards the end there's more and more missing scenes where I started clawing out my hair and muttering gibberish. This is 10,600 words.
“This is madness,” Gene shouted, fixing Sam with a glare. He wound the window of the Cortina down.
“Madness is only a state of mind,” Sam said back, “I need you to close your eyes and do this for me, Gene. Please.”
“And let’s say your little theory is wrong? What then, my dearest Samuel? I’ll have run over my DI. That won’t exactly wash with the public at large.”
Sam snorted. “Come off it. Everyone would cheer.”
“That’s not true.”
“Is, and you know it.”
“Sam.” Gene’s voice was low, focussed.
“Gene. I need this. I don’t belong here.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because, it’s not – because I… just because, Gene. Because, as you said, it’s madness.”
“You ever thought there might be a reason you’re here?”
Sam ran from the Cortina and stood in the street several yards away. He waved to Gene. The look of disgust and terror on Gene’s face warmed him. And there he’d thought Gene would want nothing more than to see him under his tyres. Sam closed his eyes and prayed to a non-specific deity.
He heard the Cortina speed up, the engine revving to a roar, and he expected to be struck down, but there was the loud screech of brakes and Sam opened his eyes to see the Cortina swerve to the side in a skid. He ran to the open window, flinging his hand through it to snap his fingers in front of Gene’s face.
Gene shook his head, pushing it forward with swift dominance. “There has to be another way.”
“Look, there isn’t. Morgan said I had to make an impact with a car.”
“Those were the exact words? “An impact with a car’?”
“Yeah,” Sam said, exasperated.
“Sounds to me more like you’re being told you need to hit something, with you in the car, not get yourself run over.”
Gene opened the Cortina door and climbed out, managing to make what should be a clumsy movement elegant. Sam noted this and pouted, disgruntled.
“Oh, and your way’s better, is it?” Gene asked. He took a cigarette out of his pocket and lifted it to his lips.
“Yes. Yes, it is.”
“It’s how it happened before. I got run over - bam - I was in the time of kipper ties worn as a fashionable accessory and Wizzard on the radio.”
“You make it sound like a death sentence.”
Sam nodded furiously. “In some ways it was.”
“Really, now? I feel so esteemed to be in your high and mighty company.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Gene. Gene, you know I don’t mean you. Or Chris, or Annie. Not even Ray. I have nothing against any of you, I’ll even miss you. I’ll more than miss you,” Sam said, stretching out his hands. He tried to alleviate the tightness of his chest. “But… I’m a man out of time.”
“I’m not sure which part of that statement I find most objectionable. Perhaps your insistence on being a man, when really, you’re just a coward.” Gene blew a smoke ring into Sam’s face and Sam scowled back.
“I hate you when you get like this.”
“Yeah, well, it’s one more reason to go, isn’t it?”
Sam cracked his neck to the side, bringing his hand to rest on the soft hairs at the base of his skull. “I guess so.”
“Tough titties. I’m not running you over.”
“Fine, then. Fine. Gimme the keys. Let me make my impact.”
Gene narrowed his eyes. “If you think I’m gonna let you crash my Cortina, you’ve got another think coming.”
Sam ripped the cigarette from between Gene’s fingers and stomped on it with his Cuban heel. “Gimme the fucking keys.”
Gene barked out a laugh and pushed Sam’s shoulder. Sam went to punch him, but Gene caught his fist and crushed it with an iron grip. “Dream on, Doctor. If anyone’s steering the TARDIS, it’s me.”
Sam frowned, the pain of his hand and his confusion combining. “What?”
“I’m driving. Get in.”
Sam could do nothing but repeat himself. “What?”
“Last chance, Tyler. It’s my way or no way.”
Sam gazed at Gene as he opened the door and got back into the Cortina. He squinted, trying to figure things out.
“You don’t mean this?”
“For crying out loud, either you hurry up or I’m crashing into the wall without you out of bloody spite.”
Sam took a deep breath and walked around the front of the car. He got into the passenger’s seat and glanced at Gene. Gene’s expression gave nothing away. It was calm, impassive – not the face of a man planning on sending a ton of metal into a solid structure.
Gene started the car and Sam wanted to shut his eyes, but he couldn’t. He had to stare ahead, had to see to believe that Gene might just be every bit as mad as he was. The car sped up and Sam whitened, his cheeks more hollow than usual. Colour whirred by them; the dusty red of the brick, the fluttering primary colours of washing hung up to dry in nearby alleyways, the grey of dust bins. Sam half-heartedly concentrated on them, sure that this wouldn’t send him back, but would rather send him into traction.
“Even if this works, you probably won’t be able to come back, Gene,” Sam shouted, holding onto the handle above his head with grim terror.
Gene shrugged and surged the car forward, foot never leaving the accelerator.
“The team? Your wife?”
Gene didn’t say a word. He stared steadfastly forward and Sam drew in a breath as they thundered toward the wall at the end of the street.
“This is suicide…” Sam muttered, beginning to close his eyes and bracing himself for impact.
There was a crunching noise accompanied by a blinding flash of white.
The car ground to a halt and Sam opened his eyes cautiously. He immediately knew they were no longer in the seventies when his eyes settled upon a row of houses with satellite dishes and a brand new Hyundai parked on the opposite side of the road. Sam turned to Gene to see – well, it was definitely Gene, but he looked unlike himself. His hair was shorter, the sideburns gone. He was no longer wearing camelhair, instead sporting a light blue button up shirt, open at the collar. Gene was staring at Sam with no small measure of disbelief and something shockingly akin to distrust. Sam patted his own body down. He had lost his leather. He was wearing a crisp suit, a tie, and as he searched through his pockets he came across his keys, his wallet and his old bank cards.
“Are you alright?” Sam asked, peering at Gene as if peering through a letterbox.
“Just fine, Gladys. I’ve been transported through time, been given a new wardrobe, and apparently I’ve now a dodgy pile of metal instead of the Cortina, but apart from that, I’m skippity-do.”
“Now you know how I felt,” Sam replied with a face-splitting grin.
He wanted to say thank you, but he didn’t know how. It didn’t seem like the right time. Maybe the 1800s would be better. He watched with curiosity as Gene produced his own wallet.
“Gene Hunt,” Gene said, raising an eyebrow and pulling out a drivers license. He pushed it toward Sam. The picture had been taken incorrectly; Gene’s face taking up 7/8ths of the space, with his chin and the side of his face cut off. It made him look like a giant floating head. In Sam’s estimation, it seemed pretty apt.
“Nice,” Sam said absently. He looked around again, hardly believing that this could be real – that this could be it. Home.
“This is it? This is the future? It doesn’t look that different.”
“Just wait ‘til you’ve seen my flatscreen television, then you’ll have seen the future.”
“Sam, if the only reason we’re here is a television, I’m gonna be verging on the murderous,” Gene said. There was a slight tremor in his voice and Sam was momentarily worried enough to turn to face Gene once more. But the vibration must have come from Gene wriggling in his seat, trying to get his hands into his pockets.
“What are you doing?”
“Need a cig. And I don’t think I’ve got one. Looks like you and me have a date with a tobacconist.”
“Most people get their death sticks from supermarkets these days.”
Gene began fiddling with the keys. Sam reached over and halted Gene’s hand by placing his own on his arm.
“If I’m right about where we are, and I’m pretty sure I am, there’s one just round the corner. We can walk.” Sam bit his lower lip. “But first, I need to check something.”
He opened his wallet and found some cash in it – enough for Gene’s desperate urges. Also in the wallet, tucked into the front plastic sleeve, was a photograph he had long since stopped thinking about. The sight of him and Maya smiling together made the breath catch in Sam’s throat. He stared at it, wondering how he could have forgotten that she was so beautiful. If his hopes were anything, she still was so beautiful, safe from the likes of Kramer. Gene watched Sam with a patience he usually only used in interrogation.
“Who’s that, then?” Gene asked after a while, his voice uncharacteristically soft.
“Maya. She was… well, we were… she was my DI. And my girlfriend.”
The line between Gene’s eyebrows deepened and he rocked forward in his seat. Sam recognised it as the tense gesture Gene adopted whenever he felt he was on the brink of something, good or bad.
“You never told me about a girlfriend.”
Gene pressed his lips together and arched an eyebrow. “Are we gonna go or do I have to sit here all day?”
“Sorry. Yeah. Of course.”
They left the Ford Focus, Sam showing Gene how to lock the car with the electronic locking system to a chorus of, “that’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever seen, there’s a key right there,” and walked in the direction of the nearest Tesco.
Sam took in the sight of modern-day Manchester, his heart increasing in speed. He couldn’t remove the grin plastered on his face as technology buzzed around him. Tesco was too bright, too cold, and bustling with people who’d rather ram you to death with a shopping trolley than look at you. It was wonderful. Christmas decorations were up everywhere, looking slightly worse for wear for having been up for months. Sam decided he’d take Gene on a tour, to show him the advancement of society. They walked past displays of cereal, dishwashing detergent and cat food before Sam took Gene to the frozen foods section. Gene wasn’t as impressed as Sam had expected.
It was only when he saw a shelf full of condoms that Gene’s mouth opened and his eyes widened in shock. He was visibly perplexed, his finger loosely pointing and a red blush creeping up his skin.
“I thought this was a supermarket.”
Gene was a stranger in a strange land. Sam knew exactly what Gene was going through. But unlike Gene, his experience had been forced upon him. Gene had chosen this. He had sacrificed his life for Sam. And not for the first time. Only, on this occasion, it looked to be a hell of a lot more permanent. And the thing was, Sam didn’t even know why. He knew that, if held in a hostage situation, he would do the exact same thing as Gene, take a bullet if need be – but that was his duty as a police officer. This was different. Gene swallowed and Sam felt a pang of sympathy work its way up his spine.
Sam steered Gene to the counter, picking up a packet of bakewell tarts on the way. He might as well give Gene something recognisable, something he could hold onto – or gobble down, as was his wont. Sam cracked his knuckles and tried to relax. He had thought he would feel nothing but joy upon arrival, but there was apprehension and anxiety mixed in too. And it wasn’t all Gene, although he did contribute a large amount to the emotion.
Sam looked at the row of cigarettes and didn’t know what to ask for.
“What type do you want?”
“Is that Marlboro?”
Gene raised an eyebrow, giving Sam a quick jab in his side. “Your powers of observation astound and baffle me.”
“You should think about getting a light version. Less nicotine. It’ll help you get off them for good.”
“What are you, my doctor?”
“You called me doctor earlier.”
“If I’d’ve known the size of your ego, I wouldn’t have bothered.”
They came to the front of the queue and Sam ordered Marlboro Ultra Lights and a lighter, thinking that he could at least hope to deceive Gene into thinking he was coping with a healthier choice, even if the reality was that they were just as deadly. Sam looked down and idly contemplated getting a pack of juicy fruit too. In doing so, he saw the stack of newspapers. He picked one up, shoving his money across the top of the counter, staring at the date along the top.
January 5, 2007. Two thousand and fucking seven. There was no simple ‘going back’. No uncomplicated slotting into his old life. It hadn’t occurred to Sam that he might have disappeared in 2006 until he had been told about rifts in the universe and time space continuum and the possibility that he wasn’t, actually, in a coma. Morgan’s words had shifted Sam’s whole concept of reality. The terror of that time and the questioning of his sanity still hit Sam in the base of his stomach, twisting him around in knots.
The sensation he was now undergoing still managed to be ten times worse. He didn’t know what to do, what to say about his sudden re-existence. He’d had amnesia and been dazed and confused in Cardiff? He hadn’t disappeared, what were they talking about, he’d been there but invisible the whole time? Abducted by aliens! There were no easy answers. They all sounded insane, and the simple fact was that they were. The real answer was the least sane of all of them.
“We’ve best be going, Sam, we’re holding up the line,” Gene said in his ear and Sam started, letting Gene guide him out of the supermarket. They stood to the left of the glass doors and Gene waved a hand in front of Sam’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“This isn’t, exactly, the right time,” Sam said, his voice hollow.
“How’d you mean?”
“It’s 2007, not 2006.”
“So – my job? My flat. My… Maya.”
Gene set his jaw and stared in the direction of the car. Sam followed his gaze and nodded, more to himself than anything, commencing the walk down the road. He heard the flick of a lighter beside him and smelt the familiar aroma of tobacco.
“Where do we go from here?” Gene asked, drawing in a deep breath through the filter of his Marlboro.
“Shit. I don’t know. Mars? I don’t know if any of my bank cards will work, but we’ll have to try. If not, I guess it’s to my flat, and, uh… I may need you to do something drastic. Pretend you kidnapped me or something.”
Gene twitched his shoulder and took another puff of his cigarette. “According to you, in most ways I did.”
They reached the car and climbed in. Sitting down, Sam gazed into Gene’s eyes, not knowing what to say. He ended up with a very quiet, “I suppose so,” followed by an intense, “why did you do it, Gene?”
Gene shrugged again, the movement making the cotton of his shirt rustle. “Do what?”
“You know what. You gave it up. You gave it all up. For me.”
“It wasn’t an entirely selfless act, if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m not so noble as all that.”
“I know. So why? Why do it?”
“I couldn’t let you be alone,” Gene said, finishing his cigarette and ditching it out of the window. He gave a half-hearted chuckle. “I couldn’t stand to be alone. Again.”
Sam’s heartbeat raced and he wanted to reach over and hold Gene. It was something he’d never thought he’d feel – the urge to have Gene’s body press against his own, to touch him and know it wasn’t an act of aggression or anger. It scared the shit out of him. He turned in his seat and focussed on the road.
“I think I better drive. I know where the closest bank is.”
Gene swapped seats with Sam silently.
Upon discovering that his primary bank card did, in fact, still miraculously work, Sam extracted quite a lot of cash. He handed a portion of it to Gene, who took it unquestioningly.
“We better find somewhere we can stay. I’m not made of money and we don’t know how long we’ll need rooms, so, Little Chef?”
“They still have those?”
“Yeah, last I checked.”
“Thought they’d go out of business within a year. I was surprised they were still going in my time,” Gene said. He checked himself, shaking his head. “That’s one of those phrases you vow to yourself you’ll never say.”
Sam drove to Chester Road. He felt immeasurably safer in the car being behind the wheel, although when he was cut off by a Jeep not unlike his own, he did miss Gene’s diversionary tactics.
At the front desk of the Little Chef, Sam looked down with a friendly smile. “Hi, we’d like two single rooms please.”
“We’re almost fully booked. We only have a double room left.”
Sam swivelled and shrugged his shoulders to ask. Gene shrugged back.
“Okay, that’ll do.”
There was a commotion at the back, a loud crashing sound and the sound of a man’s voice, yelling. This was followed by more metal clashes and a string of expletives.
The young woman attending them rolled her eyes when she saw Sam’s look of concern. “That’s just Matthew.”
“What’s he yelling about?”
The girl, whose name-badge proclaimed ‘Sarah’, took Sam’s money. “He’s worried about his job.”
“Haven’t you watched the news lately? The Little Chef chain is bankrupt. We might all be going to hell in a hand basket.”
Sam felt Gene’s heavy hand connect with the top of his arm. Gene squeezed and smiled when Sam glared at him.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“I don’t really care. I’ve only got this job to pay my way through uni,” Sarah said. “You’re in number thirty-three.”
She handed over the key and Sam took it. He followed his instincts and found the door to their room without much trouble. The couple across the hallway were arguing loudly, words like “bastard” and “philanderer” floating in the air. Sam opened the door to thirty-three with a cautious creak and glanced at the boring décor. He remembered this from the times between homes, when his Mum would have to scrape together what she could and he’d sleep in the trundle bed that pulled out of the set of drawers. This appeared to be what he’d have to do now. Great.
Sam had a look around, but there wasn’t much to see. Gene appeared to agree, because his eyes didn’t leave Sam as he roamed. He didn’t even seem to be interested in the large television on the cabinet at the front of the room.
“Wasn’t much of a looker, was she,” Gene said casually, sitting on the edge of the double bed. “Lots of war paint on her face. Thought you said women didn’t care about that kind of thing anymore?”
“I never said that. I just said that we treat women as equals.”
Gene clapped his hands together. “Where are those tarts?”
“That’s not treating women as equals, Gene.”
Gene gave Sam a signal that was similar but different to the V for Victory gesture. “The bakewell tarts.”
“Oh. I left them in the car. If you’re hungry, we can go down to the diner.”
“Right, let’s do that. This place is interesting as muck.”
Sam divested himself of his tie and suit jacket and lead the way. The diner was full and Sam and Gene were lucky to secure a table in the back corner. Sam perused the menu, and in lieu of tofu salad, ordered eggs, bacon, baked beans and sauteéd potatoes. Gene asked for the same. They also ordered coffee. It arrived in front of them long before the food did.
“I wish it hadn’t made your hair shorter,” Sam said, gazing at Gene’s locks with a look of deep contemplation. Gene’s face displayed confusion and disgust.
“It’s just hair.”
“Yeah, but it looked good the way it was.”
“It doesn’t look good now?”
Sam expelled a deep breath. “It’s okay.”
“I can’t believe I’m having a conversation with you about what’s on my head. What next? Knitting patterns?”
“We do need new clothes.”
Gene put his palm to his face in an impressive impression of Sam and let out a low groan. He rubbed the hand over his forehead and emerged bleary-eyed.
“What’s this magical ‘it’ you’re talking about, anyway?”
“Wish I knew. I spent so much time thinking I was in a coma, I haven’t been able to look into it properly.”
“I remember. Vividly.”
Sam leaned forward. “I heard things, Gene. I saw things. There were whole days where I was at my wit’s end.”
“Once again, I remember. Vividly,” Gene said. “You tried to kill me twice. A man doesn’t forget.”
“No, I tried to kill you once. I was never gonna shoot you that first time.”
Gene splayed his hand upon the table between them and tilted his head to the side, his voice holding a lingering note of amusement. “Nice to know that now.”
Their food came and they ate. Sam would have grimaced to himself for his failure to fall back on a healthy routine, but he had to admit, the eggs were really good. As they consumed their first meal for the day, Sam filled Gene in on random modern facts, using whatever popped into his head at any given moment.
“The Prime Minister is Tony Blair.”
“I thought you were Tony Blair?”
“Well, yeah, I borrowed his name.”
Sam pushed his lips forward, thinking. “I’m not very political.”
“But if you were?”
“I don’t think he’d be your kind of man.”
“Right. Poncey git.”
Sam nodded absently, lifting a potato to his mouth. “But you’d prefer him to Margaret Thatcher.”
“That’s that woman PM you were talking about.”
Gene downed his coffee, looking very much like he wished it was alcoholic. He paused, his interest level in their conversation obviously waning.
“What are your plans?” he asked after a while, biting into a rasher of bacon.
“Mass Manchester Domination. I was thinking we could start small, maybe attack a few letterboxes, and then ramp it up to include dust bins, and finally, we’d be in control of all major areas of traffic.”
Gene studied Sam, boring holes into him. Sam edged forward in his seat in discomfort.
Sam raised his hands. “I don’t know, Gene. I don’t have any.”
“Alright, first of all, you need to find out what’s happened at the station, your flat, things of that nature. Then you need to sort out a way to explain everything.”
“Thanks. Good to know I’ve got you as my personal manager when the need arises,” Sam said, waving his fork with a laissez-faire attitude. Gene cast his eyes down at his plate and Sam drew in a deep breath. “I didn’t mean that to sound as prickish as it did.”
Gene looked up, his eyes cold and hard. “There wouldn’t have been much point in the struggle if you intend to spend the rest of your life living in dumps like this.”
“Obviously I don’t,” Sam said spitefully. “This is all really confusing, you know.”
Gene laughed. The sound startled the woman sitting near them and she shot daggers in Gene’s direction, but if he noticed, he didn’t care. “You’re telling me.”
“I didn’t ask you to do it, Gene. You forced your way into this. This was supposed to be my journey. Your being here wasn’t part of the plan.”
Gene stood, letting his fork clatter onto his plate. He walked out of the Little Chef with the force and determination he used when charging after criminals. Sam didn’t attempt to stop him. He raised his hand, slamming it against his forehead, before letting his entire head drop down and smash into the table top. It had only been a few hours and they were already driving each other mad. Sam wouldn’t let himself worry about Gene. If he could survive in 1973, Gene could survive in 2007.
After a minute, Sam rose, wondering which direction to head in for the nearest liquor-selling-venue. He marched a path outside, breathing in the scent of everyday pollution. This was where he belonged, it had to be. He was meant to be with super fast broadband and mobile phones. It was just that the months away had clouded his judgement, made him see things differently. And different didn’t always equate with good. Once he got back to what he was used to, once he was in a known space, everything would be alright. He knew it would. But getting back to that – how was he supposed to do that when he didn’t know anything? Gene had been right. What Sam needed to do now was figure out how things stood. He had to find out what had happened in his absence.
After wandering for half an hour, he didn’t find anywhere that was selling alcohol, so he went back to the Little Chef, vaguely wondering why he hadn’t just taken the car. When he went to go into room thirty-three, he saw that the wood of the door frame had been damaged around the lock. The door had been worked open. Sam didn’t need to guess the culprit.
He walked in to the familar sight of Gene smoking. Unfamilar was the fact Gene was sprawled on the bed, his shoes and socks on the floor, his sleeves rolled up.
“If I apologise…” Sam started.
“I’ll think you’re a git who can’t stand by his convictions,” Gene finished.
“You already think that. I wouldn’t want to disabuse you of your opinion,” Sam said with a wry smile. He went to sit next to Gene. “I’m sorry.” He gritted his teeth and tilted his head, unable to find the words he wanted to use.
“It’s okay, Sam. I’m not someone dwells on others saying nasty things to me. I’m not a twelve-year-old girl.”
“You’re not a girl at all.”
“Good that you can see that.”
Sam quirked an eyebrow. “How could I not?” He cast a quick glance over Gene, top two buttons undone, exposed medallion. “You’re all man.”
Gene blew a smoke ring into Sam’s face and lazily narrowed his eyes.
Sam watched him and crossed his arms against his chest, drawing himself in tightly. “You were right.”
Sam convinced Gene to get ready again and drove them around to do some more shopping. Gene was about as impressed with these shops as he had been with the others.
“There’s no sense of ‘em knowing who you are.”
“No. That’s because they don’t.”
They stocked up on alcohol – two bottles of a rather expensive twelve-year-old malt found in an off-license. Gene used one of his Sam-given fifties to buy himself a small hip flask and Sam couldn’t keep the smile off his face. The next item on the agenda was a place to buy clothes. Gene looked at everything with unabashed distaste.
“Look at that tie,” he said pointing at a blue tie not unlike the one Sam had been wearing. “It’s all thin and stringy like Litton’s integrity.”
“Yes,” Sam replied, a cheerful note in his tone.
They bought some regular button-up shirts and t-shirts, several pairs of trousers, and underwear. Sam had pointedly avoided asking Gene whether he preferred boxers or briefs. They bought enough to keep them in clean clothes for at least a week. After that time, they’d have to be innovative. Or do some laundry.
It was passing a second-hand store that Sam saw it. He called out to Gene, who placed the bags by their feet with an unmistakable grumble and followed the line of Sam’s finger. He stopped frowning and grinned.
“Necessary purchase, Tyler. I need more cash.”
Sam handed it over without a word and watched as Gene tried on the camelhair coat. It was larger than his proper one, a deeper mustard colour, but it looked perfect. Gene was reconstructing himself with impressive success. Sam wished he had the same ability.
They returned to the supermarket and acquired some basic items. By the time they had finished, night had long since fallen. Sam felt relief at this, thoughts lurking at the back of his mind keeping him in good spirits. He bought them dinner, then dessert, and they retired to their room to watch television.
“This is positively sadistic,” Gene said in revulsion as they watched an episode of Celebrity Big Brother.
“No kidding. I never thought I’d be forced to watch both Donny Tourette and Jade Goody on screen together. They’re bad enough apart.”
“I'm not waiting hand on foot on some fucking moron and her family," the screen blared, and Sam nodded along. Gene got up and turned the television off at the electrical outlet.
“I’m not watching any more of that shit,” Gene said, by way of explanation.
“Okay, but I showed you how to use the remote. You just click the red button.”
“Fuck the red button.”
Sam stared. It was the first time he’d heard Gene use a word that strong. He usually told Sam off for his poor manners when he said it, which Sam always found unutterably amusing. Sam crawled off the bed and came to stand near Gene. He rested his hands on Gene’s shoulders.
“You’re not alone.” Sam quickly dipped his head to the side and smiled sympathetically.
Gene didn’t smile back. He nodded to the drawers. “You best be making your bed. I’m knackered.”
Sam pulled away, dragging his feet like lead weights. “Yeah.”
In bed, Sam listened to the steady sound of Gene breathing and wondered how he’d ever thought his cot was uncomfortable. Compared to the trundle bed, the cot was the peak of luxury. He shut his eyes, trying to concentrate enough to slip off into sleep. The next day, Sam knew, he’d have more to worry about than a too-thin mattress.
“Are you gonna come with me?” Sam asked, wiping the last bit of shaving cream off his chin. He dropped the towel on the bed and waited for Gene’s reply.
“I think you already know the answer to that.”
Gene was settled with a packet of smoky bacon crisps, his newly-acquired hip flask, and something to do with half-naked women on the television screen. Sam raised an eyebrow, glancing at the screen with half-formed interest.
“So that’s a no, then?”
“You don’t need me for this. I’ll just get in your way,” Gene said. The lighthearted tone with which he said the remark was at odds with the look in his eyes and the quick, artificial smile he gave.
“Okay. I’ll see you later.”
Sam had a brief thought flit through his mind that he should bend down and pat Gene on the knee or something, but he wasn’t entirely sure it wouldn’t garner him a punch and he didn’t even know where the idea came from. He suppressed the notion and left the room. In walking through the lobby he almost collided with a young man carrying a sack of laundry and had to agree with Gene’s assessment that it would be a poor life indeed to live the rest of his days in Little Chefs or similar venues.
The drive to his flat saw Sam tapping on the steering wheel inbetween swearing at other drivers and squinting into the Manchester sun. He beat out a wide variety of songs before the trip was over. Looking at the building sent shockwaves up Sam’s spine. He sucked in a breath and walked over to the chimney. Placing his hand on it gave him a vibrant memory of heat. Despite the sun, the chimney was ice cold.
With his hand resting against firm brick, he realised it had been longer than a week since he’d been goaded by the voices from the ether. It felt strange. A large space from contact to contact had only happened one time before, and he had been desperate to hear someone, anyone, again. At this moment, he didn’t know whether he wanted to hear anyone or not. He wanted direction. He wanted explanation. But if he never heard another disembodied or telephonic voice again, he’d be a happy man. He hadn’t exactly worked out which voices had been real and which had been concocted by his mind. He didn’t want to know.
Sam wondered if he should go inside or stay lurking outside, observing. After ten minutes of restless weaving from one end of the building to the next, he decided he might as well brave it. He pulled the cap lower on his head and brought out his keys. He thought that there was every chance the locks had been changed, or that they hadn’t, and that there could be a new occupant. He imagined walking in on a scene of passionate sofa sex and smiled to himself. Well, at least the flat would have been seeing action in his absentia. If not more action than it ever had with him living there. But, he didn’t actually know if anyone else was there, and he was still dithering on going to find out.
Finally, he surged forward and went down the corridor to his flat. The key slotted into the lock with a smooth glide and he opened the door. As soon as he looked inside he saw that his flatscreen was still up on the wall, as were his Van Gogh prints. His bookshelf held his non-fiction and the odd popular novel he’d picked up to enable himself to join in on water cooler conversation. It mostly looked the same as the day he left, except there was a beer bottle on his coffee table. Sam stepped forward tentatively, picking it up and moving to put it in the sink. There were piles of dishes waiting to be cleaned. Someone had been living here. Sam’s heart skipped a beat. It had to be Maya, if all of his possessions were intact. Sam’s head started to hurt.
He noticed his laptop lying on the counter and picked it up, slotting it into its bag. It would come in useful and he wanted to show Gene something he hadn’t seen before. He breathed in the scent he knew so well, but realised it was mingled with something else. It took a moment for it to register as Old Spice. He thought for a second that it was a false memory, a flashback to times gone past, but after a minute, he had to accept that it was real, lingering in the air. Sam took another cursory glance around his flat. There wasn’t much he could do in the meantime. If Maya was still around, she would be at the police station. He grabbed a few more clothes from his wardrobe, slightly surprised to find them all hanging, just as they had before, and left the flat with them tucked under one arm and the laptop tucked under another.
Getting to the station was second nature to Sam. He had once joked he had a homing device embedded in his brain. At least, he thought it had been a joke at the time. His experiences since suggested it was partly true. The trip was short and Sam couldn’t help but think that he really should have had Gene by his side for this. Gene would be comforted and grounded by a place he knew so well. Sam climbed out of the Ford Focus and stared up at the concrete monstrosity, knowing that everything rushing through his body was a jumble of inconsistency and contradiction. He stared, taking in the sight, aware once again how unreal this all seemed, as if he were in a coma in 1973, dreaming it all up.
A hand clasped his shoulder from behind.
“You shouldn’t be here, Sam,” Maya’s voice said, her tone light. Sam whirled around and gazed at her. The relief that she was indeed alive and well was overshadowed by confusion.
Maya gave Sam a patient smile. “You know you shouldn’t.”
“How are you…” Sam hesitated, his resolve failing. “Why not?” he continued lamely.
“Suspension generally implies staying away from the station.”
“Have you been knocked on the head?”
“I think so.” His mouth hung open as he looked at her. She regarded him with faint amusement. It forced Sam to swallow against his steadily constricting throat. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
Maya gave him a roll of the eyes he knew so well. “Sam, it was just a scratch. Anyway, I’m used to your mad behaviour by now. Hey, have you spoken to Gene about that transfer to Hyde?”
“Yeah, I just thought… well, you said you were considering it and, you know, I think it’s an excellent idea.”
“But then you wouldn’t be my DI,” Sam said, the pulsing in his head increasing in speed and strength.
“Have you been drinking?”
“Are you sure? Because you’re being overwhelmingly idiotic, and even though I’ve started getting used to it, this is even worse than usual.”
Sam pushed his fingers to his eyes, bowing his head. “I’m sorry. It’s sleep deprivation.”
“I’ve told you before that you need to take care of yourself. Didn’t Gene give you that lecture on over-intoxication two weeks ago?”
Sam would have burst out laughing if he hadn’t been so terribly confused.
A young uniformed police officer came up, waving her hand around. “DCI Morris? You’re needed. They’re starting the briefing.”
Maya gestured to the officer. “Be there in a second, PC Wainwright.”
Sam pointed at PC Wainwright’s hastily retreating back. “Did she just call you DCI Morris, and if so, why?”
“I decided I’d take Russell’s surname after all. Didn’t I tell you this last week?”
Sam stilled, his mind working overtime. “No.”
“Now Sam, do you think you could be on your best behaviour? You’re only suspended another fortnight. Just try to keep out of harm’s way. Then you can go to Hyde with Gene and…”
Sam interrupted. “Why would I go to Hyde with Gene?”
“He wants you on his team and he’s about the only person who does,” Maya said matter-of-factly. “Sorry about this, but I really have to go. Take care.”
Sam nodded an assent he didn’t understand and wandered away, back toward the car. He needed to be back at the Little Chef.
It didn’t take as long as Sam expected and before he knew it, he was crashing into the room. Gene was still there watching television, looking at a shell-shocked Sam with no small amount of confusion.
“There was another Sam Tyler here in my place,” Sam said, sitting next to Gene on the edge of the bed. Gene lit a cigarette and took a puff.
“Makes sense,” Gene replied after a while.
“In what way?”
“In the way that there’d been a Sam at Hyde before the transfer. He must have gone somewhere for you to turn up.”
“Okay.” Sam collapsed back onto the mattress, feeling one of the springs dig into his shoulder blade. “Why me? Why not someone else? Why not Ray? Ray deserved this, Ray deserved time travel and identity switching and bizarro land. Not me.”
Gene snorted. “Ray’d turn into apple crumble if anything half as strange happened to him.” He leaned over and poked Sam in the side roughly. “Stop whinging. You survived.”
“That’s because I had you and Annie and – shit - Annie!” Sam shot back up, colliding into Gene’s shoulder. He didn’t apologise, his mind was too engaged, the cogs clicking into place. “What do you think’s happened to her, Gene?”
“She’s probably met up with your counterpart and got what she always wanted,” Gene replied, a dry smirk hovering below the surface of his skin.
Sam rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t like that.”
“Maybe not for you.”
“But it’s not time travel,” Sam said, hauling the conversation back to the previous topic. “If there’s two of us, and we swap between… that isn’t just a change in time. It’s more than that.”
“Maybe it’s that other thing you ranted on about. Parallel parking.” Gene frowned, obviously aware that this was the wrong term.
“Parallel dimensions,” Sam corrected. “It has to be.”
“Alright then, what’s the worry?”
“It’s science fiction.”
“Now it’s science fact.” Gene gave a sudden smile. Sam didn’t understand how he could be so calm. “Anyway, it’s not like time travel is any more realistic.”
“Don’t talk to me about reality,” Sam said. He buried his head in his hands and rolled his shoulders forward. “I don’t believe in it anymore.”
“You are, without a doubt, the most melodramatic bloke I’ve ever met.”
“There’s another Gene.”
“Apparently he lectured the other Sam on the dangers of over-intoxication - unless Maya was taking the piss, but somehow, I think not.”
Gene ground his half-smoked cigarette out in the ashtray. “You saw her.”
“Yeah. I saw her,” Sam’s voice became thick as the stinging behind his eyes increased. “She’s married.” He rocked back again and lay on the bed, letting all air escape from his body. He heard Gene shift slightly, the duvet rustling. “It’s true what they say,” Sam whispered, “you can’t go home again.”
“Dorothy managed it and all she had was a little dog.”
“You’re my Toto?”
A hand came crashing down on Sam’s stomach. Sam allowed himself to smile half-heartedly, but was surprised when the hand didn’t move. He opened his eyes to see Gene staring at him with an intensity no other person could match.
“I wonder what he’s like?” Sam asked, not really talking to Gene, but avoiding whatever it was that was making his heart jump unevenly. “He’s probably the complete opposite to you.” Sam kept babbling as Gene slowly removed his hand. “It has to be a facsimile of you, surely? It couldn’t just be someone with the same name. If there’s two of me, there’s no reason there can’t be two of you.”
Gene stood, putting his camelhair coat on and taking something from the bedside table. “There’s only one Gene Hunt.”
“What are you doing?” Sam asked, rising up onto his elbows.
“Going for a walk. I’ve been in all morning.”
“Can I come?”
Sam pursed his lips, sitting and looking down at the vomit green carpet. He sighed and stood to look out of the window. He was aware of Gene moving nearby.
“I’m not your blagging house-husband, Tyler,” Gene said, placing his hand on Sam’s wrist and squeezing it, as if trying to remind him he was there.
“I wouldn’t want you to be,” Sam replied, with a quirk of his eyebrow. He didn’t shake Gene’s hand off. Feeling his heart once more quicken in pace, he stepped closer into Gene, searching his expression for a sign of recognition. Gene looked away, cutting off contact. He stepped to the side and walked toward the door.
Left by himself, Sam crawled to the headboard of the bed and opened up the second bottle of scotch to help him muddle through his thoughts. He drank it down, the sharpness a soothing salve for his building confusion. Nothing was going the way it was supposed to. His life, the life he had known, the life he had sometimes loved, was gone. It was replaced by a poor excuse for existence. He knew it was grim when the thought echoed through his mind that he’d prefer the Test Card Girl to this. But he had Gene, at least. He had Gene and by his third drink, he finally had to admit to himself, he wanted Gene.
He’d been successfully distracting himself before, saying that it was just Gene’s forceful nature that made him want to be with him, that his heart raced because Gene always infuriated him, that his hormones were confused and that was definitely not a sexual attraction brewing. But he hadn’t been honest with himself. It wasn’t just Gene’s forceful nature and it wasn’t just fury and it really was attraction. It didn’t have anything to do with owing Gene his life. He knew that. It wasn’t knowing how unsettling it was being in another time and having no way of rectifying it. It wasn’t even enjoying Gene’s company. It was everything. It was an inability to see a future without Gene – not thinking that he couldn’t exist in one, just unable to see it, to imagine it.
And Gene, well Gene obviously wanted Sam on some level too, or he’d never have crashed his Cortina into a brick wall, never would have made the jump. He’d said he couldn’t stand to be alone – the implication being he wasn’t alone when he was with Sam. There was no way the attraction was a one-way street, not with Gene’s staring and touching and Sam took another bitter swig of scotch as the realisation came crashing down that he’d ruined the moment. If he hadn’t been acting like the coward Gene had said he was, the connection he was craving would have been found.
There was a loud scream from outside the room. Sam frowned and hazily moved forward, opening the door a fraction and looking out. There was a crowd already forming, several other Little Chef patrons coming to see what the fuss was about. Sam crept into the hallway, joining them in query and observation. His head was spinning when he discovered the answer. Blood pooled on the floor by a body that was extended half in and half out of the linen closet.
“Typical,” Sam said, pressing the bottle in his hand back up to his lips. Gene was at the other end of the hallway, raising his eyebrows at Sam in disbelief.
“Someone call 999,” a woman sobbed, shaking as she stared at the body.
“It’s alright, love, I’m a cop,” Gene said, moving to stand nearby.
“No you’re not,” Sam mouthed at Gene, the action slower than he would have liked. “I still think someone should call 999,” he said to the crowd with a small slur.
Gene glared, but didn’t stop the short mustachioed man who had his mobile phone in hand. Instead he looked at the phone in curiosity and tilted his head at Sam. Sam lazily smiled at Gene, his mind foggy. Gene tensed his jaw and took command of the situation, asking everyone to go back into their rooms whilst they waited for the rest of the police to arrive. They surprisingly acquiesced, several muttering things like “it’s such a tragedy” and “she’s so young!” Gene crouched down and looked at the body.
“It’s that ugly bird from the front desk,” he said to Sam, who had realised he couldn’t quite stand up straight and was leaning against the wall.
“Sarah?” Sam asked, his forehead creasing in concentration. “That’s strange.”
“How much have you had to drink?” Gene returned. Sam lifted the bottle, trying to gauge how little was left. Gene widened his eyes. “Is that the second one?”
Sam nodded dully, starting to feel sick.
They waited thirty minutes for the 2007 police to arrive. Gene wolfed down three bakewell tarts in quick succession. When the police did come they came with the bustling intensity and efficiency Sam had learnt to live without. Sam recognised DC Parker, who glanced at Sam in apprehension. He didn’t speak to Sam, instead directing his attention to Gene.
“DCI Hunt. I know this is out of your jurisdiction, but we’ll do a thorough investigation, no need to worry. We’ll need to ask you and DI Tyler a few questions.”
“I’m a DCI,” Sam said blearily. “This is the place where I’m the one in charge, even if I am suspended. What d’you mean by calling me DI?”
“I’m sorry DI Tyler, but ever since your demotion…”
“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
Sam scowled and kicked the skirting board. DC Parker appeared to be highly uncomfortable. He rocked backwards and forwards in small movements.
“When did you last see the victim?” he asked of Gene.
Gene looked up at the ceiling, puffing out his cheeks. “Must’ve been last night, when we came back from the shops. Around 6 pm.”
“You’re staying here?” Parker asked, writing Gene’s answers down in his notepad.
“Mind if I enquire why?”
Gene fixed Parker with one of his most ominous stares. “Yeah, I do.”
Parker looked back down at his notepad. “Have you heard or seen anything suspicious?”
“DI Tyler, how about you?”
“No. I haven’t heard or seen anything suspicious.”
“Thank you. If we have any more questions, we’ll know where to contact you. You’re not planning on going anywhere, are you?”
Sam shook his head. “No. But aren’t you gonna ask about our whereabouts or if we’ve got an alibi?”
“I’m sure I don’t need to do anything like that.”
Gene joined Sam in interrogation. “It’s your job, in’t it?”
“Well, yes, but…” DC Parker blushed and shook his head. “Where were you between 6 pm and uh…” Parker looked toward the forensic pathologist.
“I estimate time of death as 11 pm. But we’ll need to do more extensive tests to be sure.”
“Between 6 pm and 11 pm?” Parker continued.
“We had dinner and then we came back here to watch the box,” Gene said. He was answering in a defensive manner considering he’d forced Parker into asking in the first place.
“And after that you…?”
“Went to bed.”
“You’re staying in the same room?”
“It was the only one left. I’m on the trundle bed,” Sam said, noting the smirk creeping onto Parker’s face. “And even if I weren’t, it’d be none of your business.”
Gene turned and pushed Sam back down the corridor. “We’ve answered your questions. Now catch a killer.”
From over Gene’s shoulder, Sam saw Parker start consulting once more with the forensic pathologist. He was half-tempted to resist Gene’s driving force, but decided against it. Once they were in the room, Gene closed the door with a loud crash and threw the half-empty pack of bakewell tarts on the bed. Sam paced in front of the television, balling his fists up.
Gene raised his eyebrows. “What’s your problem?”
“He’s ruined my life.”
“The other Sam.”
“Who knows? Maybe you unwittingly returned the favour. I mean, you didn’t quite get the bastard demoted, but you did hold a gun to your DCI’s head, almost push him off a building, get a DS blown up, a few innocent people in hospital and a prozzie in the canal.”
Sam stared at Gene in outrage. “Thanks Gene, very supportive.”
“You don’t need to worry about any of that just yet anyway. We’ve got a murder to solve.”
“You don’t think we’re gonna leave it to those clowns?”
“We’ll compromise the investigation.”
“I don’t care.”
“No, you wouldn’t, would you?” Sam rolled his eyes, the look exaggerated by his inebriation. “You don’t like working on murder cases when it’s your duty, why on earth would you want to do it now?”
Gene narrowed his eyes. “You don’t stop being a copper. Time travel. Parallel lines-”
“Dimensions,” Sam corrected.
“Dimensions. Having a threeway with Esther Rantzen and Fanny Craddock whilst Brian Clough watches from the sidelines. You never stop having a duty to uphold.”
“You used to say that to yourself when taking Warren’s money, did you?”
The look Gene gave was a slap to the face. And then Gene slapped Sam’s face. Hard. He punched him next. Sam laughed. This was what he was used to. The pain he was feeling was deadened by his need to give it back, full force. Sam kicked and punched, his fist connecting with cotton. He grabbed hold of Gene’s hair and lamented the lack of the length once more when it was harder to smash Gene’s head against the wall. All the while, Gene tried to grab him in a headhold and punched him in the stomach twice. Sam’s adrenalin rushed and he knew part of him was happy they were skin on skin.
He was pinning a heavily-breathing Gene to the corner of the room, about to lean in, when there was a knock at the door. Sam disengaged his hand from Gene’s shoulder reluctantly and strode across the room. It was Parker on the other side. He looked from one man dripping with perspiration to the next and took on an expression of calm passivity that didn’t quite disguise the bubbling amusement underneath. Sam crossed his arms and rested his shoulder against the doorframe.
“I wanted to check that you two weren’t planning on beginning your own investigation,” Parker said. “We’ll keep you informed as to what we find out, but we’d prefer if you’d leave the questioning to us.”
“Don’t worry, we don’t have any designs on your glory,” Sam replied with a bitter smirk.
“It’s not about glory, it’s about-”
“It’s about results. About presenting the best foot forward for the public. Yeah, I remember.”
“No, it’s about justice.”
Sam sneered. “Whose justice?”
Parker opened his mouth, but Sam closed the door.
“Getting cynical in your old age,” Gene wheezed, dragging himself away from the wall and going to sit on the bed. Sam gave a wry twist of his mouth and sat next to him. Gene offered him his hip flask, but Sam declined. He was only a quarter way through the effects of the scotch he had already imbibed.
“I guess so.”
“Wanna show them true justice?”
“You know, I think I do.”
Gene gestured in front of them. “If that had kept on, I would’ve had you on the floor.”
Sam smiled to himself and didn’t say what he was thinking.
“So how do we go about this?”
“Pretend we need to borrow a hairdryer? Get the other guests chatting, casual-like.”
“That won’t be obvious at all,” Sam said, sarcasm thick in his tone.
“What do you suggest?”
Sam thought a moment. “Pretend we need to borrow a hairdryer? Get the other guests chatting, casual-like?”
“You’re a genius, you are.”
“No, that’s you.”
Gene stood, brushing his hand through his hair.
“In the meantime, did you want a look at my laptop?”
Gene glanced at Sam’s thighs. “Your lap… top? Is that where you get your lap dance?”
“It’s the name of my computer.”
“Why didn’t you just say that, then?”
Sam rubbed his forehead and perched on the end of the bed, turning his laptop on. Gene leaned against the door, crossing his arms against his chest and watching Sam.
“Gene, you’ll have to come closer if you wanna see anything.”
“I’m not sure I do.”
“You seemed keen before.”
They sat side by side with the headboard behind them, Sam angling the screen so that Gene could see.
Sam laughed somewhat maniacally. “Says here that Gene likes playing polo. Told you he’d be the complete antithesis of you.”
“What makes you think I don’t like playing polo?”
“No, I prefer eating them.”
Sam laughed again, the corners of his eyes crinkling and his teeth shining in the lamplight. Gene laughed too, his chest heaving with a dry wheezing sound.
“D’you want another drink?”
“Depends. What are you offering?”
“The beer we bought earlier.”
Gene indicated his approval and Sam went to the bag they’d kept in the corner of the room. He heard a small clicking noise and turned to see Gene typing on the keyboard with his two index fingers, before his hands assumed the correct formation and he began typing fluently. Sam sucked in a breath and could hardly believe his eyes. Gene was a man of constant surprises.
He came over and placed the two beer bottles on the bedside table before kneeling on the bed and reaching over. He quickly dragged Gene into a kiss, his hands on either side of Gene’s head. Gene didn’t resist, perhaps too shocked to act quickly enough. His mouth opened and Sam took advantage, slipping his tongue into the warmth. In another second, he was propelled backwards and crashed onto the floor, his shoulder colliding with the beer on the way down and smashing the bottle.
He looked up to see the door slam and knew that Gene had gone. He carefully lifted his left hand, dislodging the shards of glass that had come to rest amongst his fingers.
“Well, that was a mistake.”
Sam would sooner not say anything, would prefer to run away from it all, into another time, where none of it existed. But he had to stop running from his troubles. If there was one thing his trip to 1973 had given him - apart from an irascible camel-hair clad partner - it was an understanding that problems were there to be solved.
“We need to sort out what was going on last night, Gene.”
Gene stepped back and away, creating ample space between their bodies.
“I’m not going to force myself on you,” Sam said, rolling his eyes. Gene tipped his head forward and brushed a hand over the lower half of his face, a sign of nerves or a shield, Sam wasn’t sure.
“I don’t…” Gene began, and Sam shrugged. He stepped forward, closing the gap Gene had created, his left arm just barely touching Gene’s.
“You don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. We don’t need to talk. We’ll just go on, acting like nothing happened. We’ll grow in frustration. We’ll fight. And one day we’ll fuck and we won’t say a fucking word about it.”
Gene flinched and punched; a nervous tic of violence that winded Sam and forced him to take a breath with voice in it. Sam readjusted himself to his full height. Gene hadn’t moved. He was standing, stock still, hardly breathing, eyes intense but directed at the carpet.
“How far in denial are you? You don’t want this, Gene? Then what the hell are you doing here? Tell me. I need to know.”
Gene grabbed hold of Sam’s arms and threw him into the wall, pinning him against the wallpaper. “I’m the one in denial? You fucking bastard. It’s you. It’s all been you. I’m not the one who’s been blocking this at every turn. You want this? You’re really sure? Because there’s no going back. You said it. You can’t go home again.”
Sam’s voice was rasped and quiet. “Maybe that’s a good thing?”
“What do you want from me, Sam?”
“I want you to stop lying to yourself. I want you to stop lying to me.” Sam pressed his hand onto Gene’s chest, listening to the steady heartbeat. He was positive he wasn’t going to say it. He said it anyway. “I want you.”
A low sound came from Gene’s throat and he closed the short gap between them, bringing his lips into contact with Sam’s. Sam arched into the kiss, opening his mouth and letting Gene’s tongue slip inside.
Sam ground into Gene, pushing one hand up his back as the other grabbed onto his hair. Gene’s fingers slid along Sam’s shirt buttons, undoing as they went. It was an urgent movement, not at all relaxed. It held promise of actions Sam had tried to stop thinking about. He hadn’t succeeded. Gene had, in removing Sam’s shirt, and that was all that mattered in this moment in time.
“Are you up for that chat now, Sam?” Gene teased, one hand stroking Sam’s side and his chest heaving with each intake of air.
“Maybe tomorrow,” Sam replied, and brought their lips into connection again, sliding his tongue over Gene’s teeth and inside his mouth.
Gene was warm and wet, and God, he felt good - just the right amount of fierce determination in the way he kissed Sam back. Sam allowed his tongue to do whatever it wanted and that included thrusting into Gene, hard and stubborn, much like the rest of his body, pushing and forcing until the friction between them hummed.
Sam peeled off Gene’s clothing with as much finesse as he could manage. He ripped one of the shirt-sleeves and broke the zip on Gene’s trousers. Gene refused to make it easy. He distracted Sam, nipping along his jawline, threading his fingers under Sam’s waistband, nudging against his cock.
“I’ve never done this before,” Gene said in a rough voice. There was an awkwardness about it that was almost sweet. “I’ve thought about it.”
“No need to think. Just feel,” Sam commanded, deciding to wave off questions asking whether Gene believed he was an expert. He kissed and licked and smelt scotch and sweat.
A lot of the time, Gene’s instincts were way off base. Not this time. He stripped Sam’s cock with one hand, kneedled his arse with the other, punished his mouth with his tongue, and brought Sam to the edge. It took years of restraint for Sam to pull away, quiet Gene, get his breath back. This had to last.
“You don’t like it?” Gene asked; frustration, confusion.
Sam pushed back at Gene, maneuvering him onto the double bed. The look in Gene’s eyes caused energy to knife through Sam, cutting him open.
It was a matter of seconds in which Gene flipped them over, bringing his hands down onto Sam’s wrists to pin him down. Sam struggled half-heartedly. Gene kissed his way down Sam’s body, taking a firm bite at the soft curve of Sam’s hip. The sound that escaped Sam’s throat wasn’t a moan, it was guttural and sharp.
“Oh, God. Oh, God.”
“That’s my name, Sammy-boy, don’t wear it out.”
Sam’s body wracked with laughter when he came, warm and wet over Gene’s knuckles.
“I can’t believe you just said that,” Sam groaned, the grin spread across his face wide and relaxed. “Come here.”
“Is that you trying to give me orders again?”
“I only obey those who obey me.”
“Don’t I bloody well know it.”
“I knew that I had to go with you. I don’t know how. I just knew. In my gut.” Gene said, his voice unlike that Sam had ever heard before.
“Your gut works in mysterious ways.”
“Not least after one of your curries.”
“I’m glad,” Sam said, his tone quiet and full of warmth. “I’m glad you came. With me.”
A pause separated them. It was charged with frenetic energy.
“I’m glad I did too, Sammy-boy.”
Sam noted the softness in Gene’s voice. He pulsed with fear. “Would you go back? If you could?” He knew the answer.
“In a heartbeat.”
Sam didn’t say anything. Couldn’t say anything. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep.
“It’s a big decision,” Sam said. He bowed his head. “But there’s nothing for me here. I thought there would be. I thought that it would all slot into place. But I was fooling myself.”
“Sam, we’ve only been here three days. You have the patience of a particularly excitable gnat.”