Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 6,575 words this section. Approximately 11,500 words overall.
Notes: Sam/Gene slash, with mentions of Sam/Annie. Set after 2.08.
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11.)
'i'll grind his bones to make my bread'
The things they didn’t say were louder than the things they did say. And their actions louder still. Sam expected a great deal of denial. It didn’t come. No, the next time they were alone, Gene had Sam up against another wall, lips and hands and constant movement. When Gene’s mouth left his and started to nip a line down the side of his neck and over his collarbone, Sam bit his lower lip to stifle a moan, because the next time they were alone was in the Lost & Found at the station.
“This is bad,” Sam said, the heat of Gene’s hand through his shirt sending logic into a spin. “I mean, it’s good, it’s really good, but it’s bad.” Sam groaned quietly as Gene raised his head and nibbled on his earlobe. “Fuck, Gene, stop.”
Gene stepped away, holding his hands out and looking shocked at his own actions. He sucked in a breath. It finally appeared to occur to him that they were at their place of work, because he cleared his throat and walked out of the room, leaving Sam to stare at his retreating back.
Sam attempted to get into a working order, but he was reeling from everything that had happened. He kept replaying the thought, over and over – Gene had kissed him back, had kissed him again, had touched and sought and savoured.
He swallowed once or twice, flung his head back and looked at the ceiling, gaining his bearings. One office romance gone to hell and another commenced within a year. Romance. With Gene. Sam gave a wry grin and shook his head. He followed Gene’s earlier path and travelled to CID.
“Daphne, apparently we need your expert opinion down morgue,” Gene commanded upon his arrival. He wasn’t looking at Sam, instead focussing his attention on Chris’s bacon buttie.
“Okay, what with?”
The sarcasm couldn’t have been thicker. “I’ve no idea. What d’you usually find down morgue?”
“Stop playing silly buggers and get down there,” Gene yelled. Sam started to do as he was told, but Gene caught his arm. “On second thoughts, I’ll go with you. See what all the fuss is about.”
Oswald greeted them with a beckoning wave, although he practically ignored Gene. “Detective Inspector, I wanted a quick second opinion.”
“And you asked for me?”
“You know more about forensics than anyone else in CID,” Oswald replied matter-of-factly. Gene sniffed. Oswald indicated to a dish lying by the corpse of a man who appeared to be in his late thirties.
“What do you think this is?”
Sam leaned down and viewed the thin black filament. “It’s fibre of some kind.”
“Ah, yes, but there’s the rub - what kind?”
“Well, it looks synthetic,” Sam said, unsure. He shrugged. He was finding it difficult to concentrate with Gene standing nearby, sensations from their earlier encounter still wrapping around his body as he tried to urge them from his mind. Phrases like ‘male bonding’ twisting within him, mocking and cruel.
“That’s what I was thinking. To me, it looks like a strand of artificial fur. It was found underneath his toenail.”
Sam considered this carefully. Preliminary research into the man’s home life had pointed to his being a lad about town. “You think it could be a clue as to his death?”
“Could be, could be,” Oswald said. “I’ll continue discussions with my colleagues and give you some answers within the week.”
On the walk back, Sam mused that they’d need more than that to secure a conviction. “What we need to do is find other clues, talk to witnesses. Who’s working this case?”
“Geoff and Phil. Who are you, anyway? Hercules Poirot?” Gene butchered the pronunciation, saying the ‘h’ and ending the last name with ‘rot’.
“It’s Hercule Poirot,” Sam corrected, remembering secondary school French, but not mentioning that the great little detective was Belgian. “And no, but we are detectives, Gene, no matter how many times you stress that you’re a sheriff.”
“You say that as if you think I’ve no idea I’m your DCI.”
“Mine, are you?” Sam teased. The next words that left his lips arrived before he could think about them. “Are you coming home with me tonight?”
Gene pierced him with a warning look and they went about separate business, not exactly avoiding each other, but not actively working together either. It was only at the end of the day, with Gene lingering by his desk, fidgeting with the paper in his typewriter, that Sam had his answer.
The ride was as tense as the last time, with streetlights illuminating the inside of the Cortina, but not Sam or Gene’s thoughts. They stumbled down the corridor, Sam acutely aware of his heightened excitement as he struggled to push his key in the lock. Achieving success, he barely had time to get through the door and close it behind them before Gene wrapped his arm around his waist.
This kiss was slow and calculated. Sam had designs on driving Gene to the edge of his limits. His lips gently slid over Gene’s until he deepened the kiss, his five o’clock shadow brushing against Gene’s stubble. The only thought that echoed through his mind was that this was finally them. There was no verbal articulation of the notion.
“There are things you don’t know about me,” Sam said. He lifted his head and stared up at Gene.
“If I don’t know them, I don’t care about them,” Gene replied, clipped and dismissive. He stroked his hand over Sam’s head and urged him forward. Sam momentarily resisted.
“Really? Not at all?”
“If they were important, you’d’ve told me.” Gene nudged forward. “Now, I know you like to torment me, Tyler, but even this is beyond your usual level of prickishness.”
Sam quirked an eyebrow and grinned up at Gene, gnashing his teeth a couple of times. “It could get worse if you don’t stop harassing me.”
Gene didn’t seem to be perturbed. He looked down at Sam through lowered eyelashes and waited. His open shirt fluttered against his skin as Sam let his hands wander. The floor was hard under his knees, but Sam didn’t care about that as much as he did the exploration of parts of Gene he’d never thought he’d get to experience. Parts of Gene he had been thinking about for weeks. He wet his lips and got to know Gene, physically as well as mentally, still avoiding some aspects, but devoting himself to others.
When Sam was satisfied he had a captive audience, he commenced licking the underside of Gene’s cock, placing his hand gently at the base. He sucked the tip into his mouth and Gene surged forward. Gene started groaning deeply, his chest rising and falling as Sam pulled off, swirled his tongue around and brought Gene’s cock back into his warmth. Gene’s fingers clawed his hair, but couldn’t gain purchase. He rocked backwards and forwards, pushing deeper. Sam adjusted position, increasing speed.
Gene came with a low guttural noise. Sam rested his forehead against Gene’s body as he gained his breath. Gene moved eventually, dragging Sam up from his knees and hastily undoing his belt. Sam was painfully hard, halfway to senseless. Gene undid his trousers and they fell to the floor, pooling at his ankles. He divested Sam of his shirt next, flinging it to the corner of the room. Sam expected Gene to attend to his leaking cock, but he didn’t. He teased Sam just as Sam had teased him, licking down his body, tonguing his nipples, stroking and smoothing, but not anywhere that mattered to Sam at that current moment in time. He knelt on the floor and touched everywhere but where Sam wanted it most.
“Stop being such an arsehole,” Sam demanded, as Gene made another maddening swipe of his tongue over Sam’s hip. He shuffled to elicit more contact, but Gene shuffled with him, pulling away. “You are such a fucking-”
Gene grasped hold of his cock and pulled, slightly more forcefully than Sam would have liked. He stood again, one hand at the top of Sam’s forearm as the other slid up and down in more sensitive areas. Sam tipped his head back and rolled his hips into the action. Gene’s hand was slick and tight and hot.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Sam moaned, voice thick and low.
“And you usually so wordy. God, if I’d’ve known the best way to shut you up was to bring you off, I’d’ve tried this technique months ago.”
“Fuck yes.” Sam concentrated, closing his eyes and taking deep gasps of breath between words. “I didn’t think you knew anything about proper procedure, but you appear to be more than equipped to fulfill normal… protocol.”
Gene laughed, tightening his grip and placing his mouth on Sam’s. He silenced Sam and aroused him, until he was pushed off the edge and into oblivion.
Sam found the next few days the other side of bearable. Every time he looked at Gene he saw red, wet lips he wanted to press against and long fingers that felt fantastic against his skin.
He cornered Gene in a cubicle of the men’s toilets. “I don’t much like the thought of a secret life,” he whispered, doing his best not to attack Gene then and there.
“Yeah, well, you’ll have to make do,” Gene replied calmly. “Funnily enough, I’m not planning on making a departmental announcement.”
“Obviously. I don’t much want to get lynched, either.”
“You have a melodramatic soul, Gladys.”
“And you have a melodramatic body.”
Gene gave him the ghost of a sideways grin and Sam couldn’t help but feel the corners of his own mouth twist upwards in reply. He splayed his hand against Gene’s chest and leaned forward, bruising Gene’s lips with a hard, fierce kiss.
'stone so strong will last so long'
Any time they were alone, Sam would do his best to restrain himself and fail miserably. Knowing that he could touch Gene made the inclination stronger. Most nights, instead of going to the Railway Arms, they went to his flat. It wasn’t the world’s best space, the cot made some things hell, but it was all they had and they took it. Frequently. Sam learned all of the ways to drive Gene mad, where to press his fingers to get Gene to shiver, how to make Gene buck against him. And Gene had always had the ability to push his buttons, but now he did it to bring Sam pleasure. Thumping, blistering pleasure.
Work was going okay, life outside of work was going better than okay. Sam let any troubles niggling at his brain dance away into the ether. Happiness was a word in his vocabulary once again.
They still made sure they turned up at the pub on occasion, otherwise they’d raise suspicion, but as they had done so before, they often sat together, discussing cases.
“Why do you do the things you do?” Gene asked one evening, surprising Sam out of a reverie that had involved him thinking about squeezing Gene’s arse and softly biting at the juncture between his neck and shoulder.
“What do you mean?”
“The job. This?”
“The same as you. To make others feel the way I feel.”
“You feel safe? What are you on, Tyler?” Gene asked affectionately. Sam’s lips curved and he shrugged, drawing in a deep breath. Gene let out an exaggerated sigh. Sam knew the look on his face, mock resignation, but there was passion that burned beneath it. “Leaving the pub for the night,” Gene said; a statement, not a question.
“Yes,” Sam intoned readily. He took his jacket off the back of his chair and pulled his arms through its sleeves.
When back in Sam’s flat, Sam grabbed hold of Gene’s kipper tie and pulled him deeper into the room. He wrapped his arms around the trunk of Gene’s body and held him, just held him, no lips, no roving hands. Gene leaned some of his weight into Sam and stayed still, but his cock nudged insistently at Sam’s thigh and he didn’t want to neglect it. He ground his hips and pulled Gene’s head down to kiss him.
Gene didn’t stay the night. He left after a couple of hours. Sam didn’t admit that he might feel a measure of disappointment. He wasn’t holding any illusions as to where they stood, not really. Gene had a wife and Sam had --- Sam had nothing he thought he’d have, when he imagined his future life as a young boy who moved from one side of Manchester to another. But he didn’t mind. He still had everything he needed.
He let that thought console him as he ran after yet another criminal intent on making his job ten times harder than it had to be. His heels clattered against the pavement and he lamented his lack of baton or cricket bat as he rounded on the suspect in an alleyway. The man was easily a foot taller than Sam, and bulky to match – muscles and fat combining to give him the appearance of having been inflated with a bicycle pump.
Sam brandished his badge and shouted for him to get down to the ground, but the assailant pounced on Sam, kicking. It was Sam against the tarmac, his cheek grazing against the rough surface as his stomach received a brutal beating. Gene arrived after a few seconds. He dragged the man off Sam and punched him square in the jaw. The guy went down like a sack of potatoes and Sam got the cuffs out, scrabbling along the ground, keenly feeling his vulnerability.
“I could’ve taken him,” Sam coughed out, spit landing in a slimy globule at his feet.
“You were taking him. Right in the gut, by the looks of it. Do you need a doctor?”
“Fine then, if you wanna act all airy fairy, next time you’re getting the living shit kicked out of you, I’ll let you use your specialised kung fu moves of crawling into a ball and sobbing like a four year old.”
“I was not fucking sobbing like a fucking four year old.”
“Oh, you poor thing. Easy to tell you’re angry when you start punctuating your sentences with seven letter words.”
“Yeah? And what about you?” Sam advanced and shoved Gene’s shoulder. “When you’re angry your pupils dilate and you shout at the top of your lungs like a strangled cat.”
“Good thing I’m not angry then, in’t it?”
They glared at one another until a voice interjected. “You gonna take me down station, or what?” Gene stalked over and put his fist in the suspect’s face again, for good measure.
Sam cracked his head to the side as he opened the door. He looked at Gene and thought this was as good a time as any to ask why he’d assaulted him in front of the whole of CID. They’d been arguing in their typical fashion, Sam insisting upon one point or another, and Gene had sent him crashing down against a desktop, punching with painful precision.
“What was that about today?”
“What do you mean?”
“You practically killed me then and there. My shoulder’s still sore from when you pulled at my arm. I know we have our disagreements, but that went beyond you trying to teach me who’s boss. Is there something going on up there that I don’t know about?”
“Given how you usually regard me, thousands of things, I’d say.”
“Give me something. Anything. An indication of what you’re thinking right now. That’s all I want.”
Gene crossed his arms. “I’ve a feeling you won’t like it.”
“Hasn’t stopped you before. What’s the problem?”
Gene’s response was quick and flat. “You are.”
“In what way?”
“How about the way you stare at me and try to coerce me into your every last bidding? Or that smirk when you know you’re getting your own way? You’re too obvious, Sam. Even Chris picks up on it. If you want to know what I’m thinking, it’s this - I’m thinking we made a mistake.”
Sam frowned in confusion. “A mistake?”
Gene lowered his voice, sounding world-weary. “I must’ve been completely insane to let you get under my skin. Because that’s what you did, Sam. You wheedled and crawled your way inside until I couldn’t think straight anymore. All I saw was you.”
“You did the same thing to me. That doesn’t make it a mistake.”
Gene grasped hold of his arm and shook it violently. “Yes, it does. When we’re supposed to be arresting suspects, we’re concentrating on other things. Concentrating on ourselves. We have a duty to uphold.”
“Oh, duty. Of course. You’re always going on about that. And keeping the streets clean. And being a sheriff. But you rush things through and you don’t listen to reason. You contradict yourself constantly. That’s you; say one thing, mean another, do one thing, want another. We can still do our jobs, Gene, but what about ourselves? What about us?”
“Us? What d’you mean? As a couple? As two star-crossed lovers?”
Sam leaned against the doorframe. “Yeah, if that’s how you wanna put it. I wanna know what you think about us. You never say anything. It’s always a kiss or a slap, but since we’re here now, why not let it out?”
Gene set his jaw. “We’re twisted, Sam. I wake up every morning feeling like the world’s spinning outta control, like I’m gonna be sick, knowing what we do together.”
Sam nodded. He’d suspected as much. He tried to take the anger out of his expression, attempted to regulate the tone of his voice. “This isn’t sick, Gene. It isn’t wrong.”
“’Course it bleeding is. Why d’you think we haven’t invited anyone on double dates?”
“Close-mindedness and bigotry,” Sam replied, waving his hand. “That doesn’t make what we have an illness, or something to be despised.”
“What do you think this is, Sammy-boy? True love?” Gene ground out, voice coarse.
Sam dragged his teeth along his knuckle and nipped at the flesh. Gene wrenched his arm away and loomed in with a penetrating stare.
There was no appropriate response, Sam decided. Nothing he could say. The thought of admitting that he might love Gene made his head pulse – and the thought of categorically denying as such made it pulse harder.
Gene saw Sam’s reluctance and appeared to take it as his answer, because he stepped away and gazed enigmatically out of the window. At least, Sam thought Gene was going for ‘enigmatic’ – it could also have been ‘terrified’, ‘relieved’ or ‘constipated’.
“Are you staying here tonight?” Sam asked at last. He coiled his fingers around the top of the bottle of scotch above his cot.
Gene walked past Sam. The knob wouldn’t immediately turn and he punched the door. Sam slipped underneath his arm and clicked it into place.
“You broke it last time you forced it open,” he said absently. Gene left without another word.
“Boss, why didn’t you come Friday night?” Chris asked, sitting at his desk, chewing and typing one of his many due reports.
“The strip club, for Davo’s birthday, like?”
Sam gave Chris a cursory glance over the paper in his hand. “No one told me about it.”
“You missed out. We picked up. The Guv scored big time. Girl with the biggest tits you’ve ever seen.”
Sam’s head snapped up. “Scored?”
“Yeah, it were a bit embarrassing, but she went to town on him. Dancing and touching and licking and it’s making me randy again thinking about it.”
“Lucky Guv,” Sam said. He ground his teeth and walked out of the office, making a flimsy excuse. He knew where Gene was. “Thought your wife insisted on your presence Friday night?” he said as soon as he saw him standing over a stack of folders.
He punched as hard as he could. Gene doubled over and gasped for breath. Sam blew cold breath over his knuckles to alleviate some of the physical pain.
'all the king's horses and all the king's men'
“The last thing I need is you acting like a jealous harlot,” Gene hissed when Sam finally let him speak, in a new, private venue.
“Then don’t lie to me. You know what you could’ve done? You could’ve said ‘look, Sam, I need to make it apparent to our colleagues that I’m not secretly shagging DI Tyler, so I’m gonna get myself a hooker and have a great time.’ I wouldn’t have complained.”
“I need your permission now, do I? Should I run home and get it from the missus too?”
Sam reeled back, like he’d been hit, but Gene had surprisingly kept his hands off him.
“I am not your bit of skirt.”
“Then stop acting like you are. We’ve been through this.” Gene paced from side to side, belt buckle glinting with the light from the lamp.
“Yeah, you’re right, we have.”
Sam placed his hand on Gene’s shoulder, but he shrugged it off. He turned cold eyes on Sam, pulling one of his hip flasks out of his pocket and unscrewing the lid.
“It had nothing to do with you,” he said, soft tones and sympathy. “Nothing to do with us. It were just a bit of fun.” He took a swig of whatever his flask contained, but didn’t offer it to Sam like he had on other occasions.
Sam narrowed his eyes, lifting and tilting his head to stare at an unspecific spot on the wall. “I see.” He sucked in his cheeks. “Actually, I don’t. I thought this was…” He stopped, dragging a hand over his forehead. “God, how stupid am I?”
“Sam.” Gene’s voice held a note of yearning. He pushed close into Sam’s side and wrapped his arms around his back. Sam didn’t resist. He let Gene’s warmth cocoon him. Gene began to change the movement, turn it into something sexual as well as sensual, traced his fingers lightly over Sam’s skin. Sam arched into the touch.
“I feel like the biggest prick in the world,” Sam said, his voice hollow.
“Well, I’ll do my best, Sammy-boy, but there are no guarantees.”
Sam groaned. “There’s no such time as a bad time for puns with you, is there?”
“Oh, was that a pun?” Gene said, mock innocence. “I thought it were an oxymoron or something.”
“You’ll never know how tempting it is to say ‘you’re an oxymoron’,” Sam teased, but there was no real humour there.
Gene kissed him and Sam kissed back, but any and all passion was fervently directed to the empty pit in his stomach, trying to fill the void. They fucked and this time for Sam it was just fucking, sensation and commotion and a deep vein of bitterness. Sam curled his hand around Gene’s cock and pumped, Gene rutting into him. He grasped his own cock, so Gene wouldn’t have to, pulling in a steady rhythm until the energy in him escalated and his movement became erratic. He came before Gene did, calling out Gene’s name, wishing that he didn’t.
Gene grunted, cock spilling sticky and wet in Sam’s fist. Sam cleaned up and Gene lit a cigarette, the scent of tobacco lifting into the air in smoke curlicues. Sam drew a deep breath, half-hoping for nicotine intake that would set his body on balance again, get rid of the nausea brewing slowly but steadily.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Sam said, going to stand by the door. He held out Gene’s coat, hoping it would be message enough.
“We shouldn’t’ve done it in the first place,” Gene replied. He avoided Sam’s searching gaze as he took the camelhair. Sam flicked on the light overhead, the bulb swaying, left and right. Gene walked out the door.
He stared into the mirror and spoke with Gene’s staccato. “Stop acting like a sissy, Tyler. I never made any promises. And neither did you.” He closed his eyes and saw Gene’s face, calm passivity switching into throes of passion. After a minute, he opened his eyes again and set to work shaving, nicking into his skin accidentally and watching the blood pool in rivulets. He made his way to the station through habit.
The real Gene looked like hell. Sam thought it strange that he found no consolation in the fact. Sam was assigned to work alongside Chris and he didn’t object. He spent the week giving Chris gentle reminders and advice, acting as a mentor when he couldn’t help but think that he needed one himself.
“You okay, boss?”
“I’m fine, Chris.”
“You don’t seem fine. You’re almost as crazy as when you first arrived from Hyde.” Chris jumped at Sam’s sharp reaction. “Sorry, didn’t mean it like that.”
“I understand what you mean. It’s just-”
“Annie and her new bloke?”
“I didn’t know she had one.” Sam sighed. “No, it’s not Annie and her new bloke. Can we drop the subject?”
Chris turned the conversation onto the topic of Ray’s latest conquest, obviously not understanding the concept of leaving well enough alone. He’d been speaking for ten minutes, Sam barely listening, when he said something that arrested Sam’s attention, “So Ray said he’d invite him, ‘cause the Guv’s wife’s out of town, d’you think that’s a good idea?”
“No, I believe the Guv’s already got plans,” Sam lied. He helped Chris finish his report and left the station early.
Hours later, he stood on Gene’s doorstep, swaying with the alcohol he’d imbibed, knocking forcefully. Gene opened the door and then attempted to close it again.
“We need to talk,” Sam said rapidly. He pressed his hand to the door and pushed.
“I’m sick of talking.”
Sam pushed again, his head pounding. “I don’t care. I need to resolve this, Gene.”
“There’s no resolution to be found.”
“There is. Let me in.”
The door opened and Sam entered, casting a quick look around Gene’s house. Gene looked tired, eyes dull in the curtain-filtered light. Sam stood where he was and jittered, feeling very much like a wind-up toy, storing kinetic energy.
“Say what you have to say and get out,” Gene said. He didn’t make any attempt to move near Sam.
“You know what?” Sam said, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “I will say it. What we talked about, all those days ago. I’ll just go ahead and blurt it out, so you’ll’ve scored your final victory.” Sam slowed the words down, pausing for emphasis, arching his body forward. “I love you. There. Satisfied now? You won. I love you and you --- you hate me.”
“I don’t hate you,” Gene said quietly.
The pitch of Sam’s voice increased. “What is it about me that means I don’t deserve love, hey? What is it about Sam Tyler that means he gets to be alone?”
Gene finally sprang into action. He yanked Sam toward him, until there was hardly an inch between their bodies. He held onto Sam, his fingers digging into the flesh, poking harder at the end of every sentence.
“Sam Tyler doesn’t even exist, does he? He’s a figment. You – you’re Sam Williams. You’re fucking cracked in the head, you won’t let anyone know who you really are. You expect to be understood – you expect to be worshipped and wanted. Well, you are wanted, Sam. I wish to high fucking heaven you weren’t, but somehow I find it difficult to get by without you. I don’t get it. I don’t get you.”
Sam choked, bile rising in his throat. He hadn’t anticipated an onslaught. He’d thought Gene would remain silent as ever. He never guessed that Gene gave Sam Williams a second thought.
“I am Sam Tyler,” he said, the words sounding distant and foreign. “Sam Williams was the figment. None of that was real.”
Gene stared at him as if he were an alien. “Nothing is real with you. The first words you ever said to me were, ‘What year is it supposed to be?’, as if it could be any other. You talk about things that haven’t happened and never could happen. Will you ever manage to explain that to me?”
Sam stared at the vomit green carpet, until Gene pushed his chin up and made him look into his eyes. He answered softly. “Probably not.”
Gene kept his hand under Sam’s chin, but caressed it now, his fingers gliding gently. “But you expect me to sacrifice everything – everything I know, for you. For your childish whims. We’ll never buy a house together, Sam. We’ll never walk down the street holding hands. And I wouldn’t fucking want to. But you act like we should. You act like it’s all perfectly normal. Right.”
“It is right,” Sam said. He grabbed Gene’s hand and placed it over his chest, his heart beating erratically. “This is right.”
“I’m sorry,” Gene replied. He dipped his head. “But I can’t believe that.”
Clouds must have parted in the sky, because the room was suddenly flush with an orange glow. It was at such odds with the atmosphere that Sam wanted to laugh. And he did, half-heartedly, bringing his lips to Gene’s wrist, because he needed to taste him one last time.
Work became everything. It was all he had. Night fell and Sam had scotch and case files. Not even a girl from a Test Card to keep him company. Not that he really wished for that again. The new kind of dull, aching normal was still preferable to talking radios. Sam spent increased time in his flat, thinking about things he couldn’t erase from his memory, distracting himself with things that would haunt him for years to come. The vagaries of humanity, spread out in crime scene photographs and witness reports.
Once or twice, Sam slumped in one of his second-hand chairs and waited until the sun rose, the rays peeking out from the edge of his curtains - mocking him.
'how I wonder what you are'
Even cases were constructed to torture Sam. Criminals were getting away with murder – quite literally – left, right and centre. And even though he knew it was immoral to think it, that it made him a degenerate, it wasn’t even exciting anymore, chasing after them, tracking them down. There was no verve to the vim and vigour. Only the stress of expectations and the reality of people getting hurt.
“It was just luck,” Chris said about their latest aborted attempt at justice, sounding despondent.
“Bad luck,” Ray added. He paused for a change of subject. “Is it just me, or is the Guv back to that state where he holes himself up in his office and doesn’t come out for love nor money. D’you think his wife’s left him again?”
Chris pushed his teeth into his lower lip, obviously considering the question.
Annie joined the conversation, setting her cup of tea down. “That would make sense. He doesn’t seem to want to interact anymore.”
“I never knew his wife ever left him,” Sam said, keeping his voice casual. His eyes were trained on the pen in his hand.
“Yeah. She goes up north and visits her sister. But for half the year.”
Sam continued writing with a sweeping action, ignoring the uproar rising in his stomach. He allowed the others the freedom to discuss whatever they wanted as he drifted into his own thoughts and emotions, the pressure mounting within him.
He cornered Gene in the lift. He eased past the doors before they closed and pressed the emergency stop button. The metal walls enhanced the volume of their words, adding a tinny echo to sentences that were probably better left unspoken.
“Am I too much for you?” Sam said; insecurity and fear. “Is that it?”
Gene stared, the longest he had maintained eye contact with Sam since their clandestine meetings had come to an end. “No, that’s not it. If anything, you’re not enough for me, Sam.”
He brought his fist against the emergency stop button, shifting until he was facing away. They may have been nearly as close as they had ever been, according to physical proximity, but they couldn’t have been further apart. Sam curled his hands into tight fists, his fingernails digging into his skin. Gene left him alone in the lift, silence stretching with his departure, and Sam arrived on a storey of the station he had never been before, until he pressed the button for ground floor and exited the building.
Too much. Not enough. It was him again. It was them again. But these emotions hadn’t dissipated. He hadn’t found himself wishing Gene the best of luck in all future endeavours. If he were a greater man, perhaps he could. But he was that petulant kid, wanting a chopper, not a strika. Wanting all the bells, whistles and reflectors. And wanting to ride, day and night. Showing off.
He didn’t even realise it, until it was too late.
To blot it out, to get rid of it, Sam drank. He drank ridiculous amounts that didn’t seem to be sufficient. He didn’t know the threshold for alcohol poisoning, but he did know that he wanted to reach it. Sam clutched onto the back of the chair – the chair that seemed to say, ‘alright then, you’ve had enough’, and gasped in a deep breath before his legs crumpled beneath him. He was out like a light, darkness surrounding him, but he wasn’t dead. The vultures, as real or as unreal as they were, would have to wait another day.
Sometimes, life was all Sam had.
He saw him constantly in his peripheral vision, haunting him, a spectre. He hated and loved it at the same time. Gene spent less time in his office, more time with the rest of CID, beginning to co-ordinate again, if co-ordination was really an apt description of barking nonsensical orders. They weren’t always nonsensical, but that’s how Sam preferred to think of them in his moments of spite.
Gene strode through the office, pointing and directing, the Guv in his domain. “Chris, I want that report on my desk by Monday. Cartwright, you go with Ray to that derelict building where those old gits said they saw something.”
Sam didn’t tell Gene he could change. He thought it. And he could. He knew he could. He wasn’t as cynical as others might be. He believed that people could transform and adjust. He could learn to accept whatever Gene was offering. But not being with him, not talking to him, it was more than he could cope with. No matter how many times he called himself a pansy, complete with Gene Hunt imitation and self-hatred, he knew he wasn’t getting over this. He missed conversations about his own stupidity, Gene’s superiority, the best methods for escaping irate school caretakers. He missed Gene.
Of course, talking to Gene didn’t occupy his thoughts as often as Gene pounding into him did. Or the look on Gene’s face when he came. Or his hand on Sam’s cock, fingertips rubbing in maddening circles. Sam wanked with practiced efficiency, but it was always an intensely solitary affair - he didn’t like to think of Gene in those moments, it always struck him as painfully desperate. Not that he wasn’t.
It was those times when Gene had shown something other than pure carnal lust, those looks and that dependency that cascaded through his thoughts the most. Gene had said Sam got under his skin, and as cruel as it might make him, Sam savoured the notion, because at least that meant he’d affected him on a deeper level than Gene was willing to truthfully admit in a simple four letter word. He’d initially taken everything Gene had said on face value. But Gene was like Sam, he kept some things concealed – not out of malice, but protection.
Gene was a better actor than Sam was. He showed signs of normalcy. Or perhaps he recovered with more speed than Sam could, decided that all this moping lark was pointless. Because he was surely not skipping merrily through fields of green, even metaphorically. Gene was close to as miserable as he was. Sam could see that in the decline in energy, in his inability to come up with witty insults. He spewed less vitriolic rants against harmless groups of citizens and avoided getting involved in office discussions.
Sam mused about it when he should have been musing on the state of affairs regarding houses along three streets being robbed in what he presumed was a carefully assembled pattern. He considered it as he went through statements and wrote out instructions for Chris to meticulously follow. He did so as he sat at his desk now, typing with monotonous routine.
There was a tap on his shoulder. Sam knew instinctively who it was from. He leaned back into the touch, but minutely, not enough to warrant Gene recoiling. Gene didn’t recoil. He crept closer, bending down over Sam. The intimacy was familiar and soothing.
“You need to stop locking yourself away,” Gene said, his mouth by Sam’s ear and his voice low. “You’re going to be at the pub tonight. No excuses.”
This was Gene reaching out. This was Gene putting his stubborn nature to the side and engaging with Sam, despite the risk. The revelation came to Sam with breath-stealing force. He agreed to Gene’s terms, as authoritarian as they were. He agreed and he turned them over in his mind, picking them apart and analysing them. Deconstructing and reconstructing.
Sometimes, life was completely unexpected.
Sam sat by himself in a corner of the Railway Arms, examining his empty glass. He was vaguely cognisant of movement to his side.
Gene brought the other chair out from under the table and sat down. “Want a beer?”
Sam opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He shook his head and choked back his confusion. “I’d love one.”
“Go get it, then. And make mine a scotch.”
Comment would have been inadequate. Banal. Sam stood and ordered the drinks from Nelson. He looked back over his shoulder to find Gene’s eyes raking up and down his figure. When he met Sam’s eyes, he gave what was almost a smile, the corners of his lips lifting and his eyebrows raising. Sam studied him and saw something he hadn’t seen before – an acceptance that made his heart beat faster with latent promise.
Sometimes, life held hope.
‘merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream’
Sam let his lips roam, heat and taste. He clutched onto Gene’s collar and dragged him forward.
Gene started speaking, “This will never be anything-”
Sam interrupted. “I don’t care.” He placed his mouth on Gene’s, stifling Gene’s words.
But Gene pulled away, stared at him, burning and honest. “I wish it could be.”
Sam stared back. “That’s okay.”
Sam captured Gene’s lower lip again, pressing his tongue into the warmth, brushing his hand up into Gene’s hair and clutching. He didn’t think, he just felt. He just wanted to feel. And he forgot about everything. About what he’d always expected from life and love. About what he’d thought he understood.
And it wasn’t happily ever after. There were no childish fantasies fulfilled. But it was enough.