Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 2,080 words.
Notes: Sam/Annie. Title from the song "Free as a Bird" by The Beatles.
Summary: "I love you," she said, and all he could do was stare.
"I love you," she said, and all he could do was stare. Annie's expression turned from anticipation, to anxiety, to anger, and he simply gazed at her, numb. Her pupils were pinpricks as she slapped him across the face, leaving red splotches that rivalled any Jackson Pollack masterpiece. He couldn't feel that either. He heard the slap of skin against skin, knew it should hurt, but was overcome by the anesthetic of shock.
The curls of smoke were a welcome distraction. He watched them as they shimmered and converged, dissipating with the churn of currents in the air, the ebb and flow of inhalation and exhalation. Sam opened and closed his mouth. Just another step closer to death. He should have been concentrating on the case in front of him, an old lady struck down by three youths. But, instead, he was examining the smoke, as if hoping to see a new reality among the curlicues. Something that would make a little more sense than what he'd been offered.
"Uh, Boss, the Guv wants to know if you've 'finished dusting glitter' on his casefile, only he wants the list of contacts inside, see, and he's getting a bit shouty."
'A bit shouty', Sam knew from personal experience, was an understatement of diabolical proportions. Sam eased back in his chair and threw his hands up in surrender. "Take it, Chris, and my soul too."
Chris gave him one of his blank stares then said, "Think I'll just go the folder for now. Might come back later if I'm feeling peckish."
Sam found himself smiling despite his existing temper.
He checked himself and looked across the stretch at Annie's desk, the top leaf in a stack of paperwork fluttering precariously, about to lift off and sail to the ground. The seat was empty and there was a coffee stain where her mug would usually be, a perfect ring with a splash just next to the pen he'd given her for their second date. A sort of, 'congratulations, we made it 48 hours.' No, actually, at the time it had been more, 'I love the way you smile at me and I want to give you something, but I only have £1 and I don't know if chocolates will cause offence.' A pen. Sam stared at it now, directing his inner seething anger to its black outer casing. He didn't know how Annie had taken it with bright eyes and a pink flush creeping across her skin as if it were the best present in the world. But then, he didn't know much at all.
He needed a break, had to get out of the poison atmosphere. Sam stood, stretching his legs, and walked to the doors of CID. In that moment, Annie came through and they nearly collided. She glanced at Sam with cool regard and motioned to let him pass.
Sam wanted to say something, had the phrases lined up on the tip of his tongue, but they never got the chance to tumble off. Annie had already walked away. Sam swivelled to stare at her back as she chatted with Ray. A large and vocal part of him wanted to go over, take her arm and lead her to a corner of the station to talk. But he pushed his fingertips against the glass of the door and pressed.
He couldn't stop thinking about it, about what he'd said. Or rather, what he hadn't said. He'd ruined everything. He wouldn't be surprised if Annie never spoke to him again. She'd disappeared in a whirlwind of confused fury and left him with the remnants.
He kept trying to sort out what had made him choke and the only answer that pounded in his mind was, 'because you're a monumental moron, Sam.' True, perhaps, but not quite illuminative. Except that it was --- it was the entire reason.
What it came down to - what it really came down to, was Sam's inability to believe Annie's words. He couldn't escape from the inner voice that tormented him, stating that it was a miracle she even came close to liking him, let alone loving him.
And now, here he was, and it was self-fulfilling prophecy. There was no hope in hell she'd ever like or love him now. The silence between them was unbearable.
CID was empty save for the two of them and it seemed that as soon as Annie figured this out, she decided to rectify the situation. She gathered her coat and swept from her desk. Sam stood and reached out.
"Annie, please, don't walk away. Stay. Lemme explain. We need to talk about what happened."
Annie's posture snapped to attention and she span on her heel to face Sam, even though she looked at the wall behind his head.
"I don't want you to explain to me, Sam."
Sam was insistent. "I have to. I've wanted to all week."
"Then why didn't you do it at the time?"
"I needed to be able to think about what I was gonna say. I'm not good with words."
Annie raised an eyebrow. "Could've fooled me. All that technical jargon you've been known to pull out when the need arises…"
"In situations like this. I'm not good with words in situations like this. Can't you tell?"
"Well, yeah, but if you know this, why don't you practice?"
Sam half-smiled. "Practice makes personal best?"
"I heard it as perfect, but if you say so."
Annie loosened the set of her shoulders, coming to perch on the edge of Sam's desk. She fiddled with his writing implements, picking one up and examining it. Sam watched in curiosity as her mouth softened and she placed it back down, finally turning to look him in the eye.
"You wanna talk, talk. Don't worry about the words. I'll get someone to translate if you come out really jumbled."
"When you said you loved me, it wasn't because I don't feel the same way that I didn't reply," Sam started, deciding that if he was going to say this, he was going to say it all. "I do. I love you, Annie. I know me saying it here is too little, too late. I know it's romantic movie cliché. I know you probably think I'm a tosser and I completely understand why. But I do. You're the only person who keeps me remotely sane and grounded - you know that, don't you? If I didn't have you, as a friend, as someone I could talk to, I'd be in a padded cell by now, and I think we both know I'm not exaggerating."
Sam paused, heaving in a deep breath. Annie was completely silent and still, her eyes trained on his. "That's partly why I didn't respond," Sam said.
"You're insane?" Annie offered, her voice a touch higher than usual.
"No. Well, yeah, but…" The moment of truth. Sam steeled himself for outrage, mockery and confirmation that he hadn't been completely off his rocker for his neuroses in the first place. "I don't know how you could love me, Annie. I'm not lovable. I'm obsessive and possessive. I take great delight in pissing certain people off. I get my priorities mixed - occasionally to the point of --- well, getting others blown up. I'm grumpy and awkward. I forget about pleasantries and manners and niceties when I want my own way. Oh, and I frequently want my own way," Sam finished, pursing his lips into a tight, thin line to await torture.
Annie's eyes widened slightly and Sam almost thought he saw the glimmer of a smile in them, but the corners of her mouth hadn't moved and from the frame of her body, she wasn't holding back raucous laughter.
"Okay," Annie said. She seemed to be struggling with an internal monologue, biting her lower lip and blinking a couple of times in apparent frustration. Eventually, she placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. "You also see things in black and white, you overanalyse situations that don't need analysing in the first place, and you think you're better than some just because you know procedure. The first time I met you, you kept insisting I wasn't real and you almost jumped off a building to prove it."
Sam nodded and exhaled deeply. Annie kept her hand on his shoulder and he glanced at it. It was warm and comforting, even as her words were sharp shards digging into his insides.
"I know all of this. It doesn't stop me loving you. You're even very sweet when you're going off, half-cocked, positive you know what's best. And you may be possessive, Sam, but you're also protective, and whilst I can well take care of my own, sometimes it's nice to know there's someone there who'll back you up." Annie poked him gently. "I'm not perfect - why would I expect you to be?"
Sam shook his head, putting his hand over hers and entwining their fingers. He brushed their hands against his cheek, kissing Annie's knuckles. "You are perfect."
"No. I'm really not. I can be petty and jealous. I wanna prove myself and I'll get ruthless if I have to. I've been known to be manipulative..." Annie brushed her free fingers through Sam's hair. "Also, I snore."
"Loudly. It's been compared to a freight train."
"Better get some earplugs, then."
Annie smiled. "You fancy yourself quite the charmer, I see."
Sam didn't know how to respond. His stomach stopped churning and he looked at Annie, properly looked, taking in every feature, every flicker of emotion. There was still some reservation, but she was no longer giving him the glare of death.
"Now that we've declared our undying love for one another, wanna go back to my place? I've leftover lasagne."
Sam's steadily encroaching smile widened into a grin. "Who can refuse an offer like that?"
They never got around to the eating portion of the evening. As soon as they were in Annie's flat, Sam wound his arms around and kissed her, roughly, his tongue teasing at her lips. Annie's fingers dug into his shoulder-blades, and she eased him back with artful precision.
Annie undid the buttons of his shirt and traced her fingertips over his torso, lust and hunger in her gaze. She curved her neck as she unbuckled his belt and Sam took the opportunity to kiss a trail up silky skin.
"Are you sure about this?"
"For God's sake, Sam, shut up and stop thinking."
To bring this happy circumstance about, Annie grasped Sam's cock and stroked. He was already half hard and her touch was enough to send his blood rushing at a frantic pace. Sam groaned, low and throaty, working on divesting Annie of her blouse. His fingers glided over her breasts, his thumbs flicking over her nipples. He brought his hand down against the soft curve of her stomach and Annie captured his earlobe in her mouth.
Sam removed all of Annie's clothes with little assistance, lifted her up, and carried her to the bed. He kissed and licked from shoulder, to elbow, to knee, his tongue darting to run rings around sensitive nerves that liked the attention. Annie arched into him, breathing heavily, and Sam stroked up her inner thighs. Annie instinctively opened her legs wider as Sam readied himself and they both moaned as they came together.
Sam was slow at first, letting Annie get used to the feeling, but then he started to move, pulling out and pushing in. Annie was hot and tight and so, so good, clawing at his back and crossing her legs around him as he filled her. Perspiration trickled across her skin, making her glow with the moonlight filtering in through her curtains. Sam picked up speed and thrust with more depth, angling until everything was just right. The sensation was overwhelming. Annie tightened around him, calling out as she climaxed and he started to murmur, telling Annie exactly why he loved her, every detail, completely incomprehensible, until he couldn't even form words. The friction was too much, his heart was thumping rapidly and loudly, and Sam came. He rolled to his side and wrapped his arms around Annie, kissing her forehead, her nose, her lips.
Sam awoke in the middle of the night wondering what the hell the constant, rasping noise was. He opened his eyes blearily and soon remembered what had happened that evening. He looked down at the sleeping woman nestled in the crook of his arm and smiled ruefully. He'd never doubt another word Annie said.