Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 3,455 words.
Notes: Sam/Gene slash. The final part in the series that comprises We Both Go Down Together, Red Right Ankle, How I Dreamt I Was an Architect, Of Angels and Angles, Billy Liar and The Perfect Crime #2. If you're a fan of Blackadder, you'll recognise a section of this. The title is once more from The Decemberists.
Sam wants to embrace Leonard. He's so great. He's reliable. He's friendly. He doesn't harbour any ill-will towards him. Sam might be inclined to say he's lovely. He offers him the bottle instead and smiles inanely as Leonard takes it, has a swig, then sets it back on the shelf.
"Ready to go?" Leonard asks, perfunctorily.
"Always," Sam replies. He crinkles up his nose and it strikes him that his 'always' comes out as more slur than word.
"You're cut," Leonard observes.
"Like a ribbon."
Leonard doesn't immediately pass judgement. He goes to Sam's kitchenette and scrabbles with the coffee. "He's waiting down there, you know," he says, nodding towards a window.
Sam rolls his eyes and shrugs. "He can wait."
"How long've you been drinking?"
"Long as possible."
"No, I mean, that's just one small scotch bottle. Is your constitution really that weak?"
"I'm not weak." Sam wavers, trying to concentrate on the carpet, but it swirls around maddeningly and makes him visualise himself throwing up. There are carrot chunks. There are always carrot chunks. He hasn't eaten carrot for weeks. "I'm brave," he continues. "I'm a hard man."
Leonard hands him the coffee and Sam shakes it a couple of times. Not a clever idea, he realises, as it sloshes over the rim. Funny, that. "Should be giving me water. Coffee's useless."
"Drink it," Leonard commands and Sam doesn't have the verve to argue, so he doesn't, just does as he's told like a good little boy, because that's what he is --- a little boy playing a big man's game and losing, losing like a fool.
No, he's not a boy, he's a toy, a plaything, to be used and discarded at will. Duracell Bunny! Of course! The batteries can come out, the bunny can be put on the shelf, and it's bright fucking pink. Perfect analogy after all.
Leonard snaps his fingers in front of Sam's face and Sam looks up, dazed. Was he saying something? Doing something? They needed to be somewhere, he knows that. It was to bring down Jamie Mack and Tim Parker. Not supposed to be retribution, but is gearing itself up that way, because the fuckers deserve it and he doesn't --- he doesn't deserve this shit, to be treated like shit, and he isn't going to stand for it any longer.
"Yeah, yeah," Sam says, answering a request Leonard hasn't made.
In the car he doesn't look at Gene, because Gene's a tossbag and can go jump and Sam's better than that. No forlorn gazing. No asking what could've been. And nothing could really have been, could it, because Gene's an ignorant prick with the emotional intelligence of a gnat. But if he were going to look at Gene and say something, it might go along the lines of, 'I'm a man, you're a man, so fucking what?' Or maybe, 'once is an accident, twice is understandable, but three times?' Wanker.
Leonard stops the car and Sam vomits at the side of the road. Gene thunders something about them needing to get a move on, or else. The else isn't broken down into its component parts, but even in his alcohol-muddled haze, Sam can make an educated and experienced guess.
They arrive at Walpole Avenue with much fanfare and banging of drums. At least, that's how it seems to Sam, when the bins fall over and car doors are shoved open and slammed shut. Sam's handed a gun and he ensures that it's got ammunition. He checks that the safety's on. He concentrates on it and edges away from the fug hovering over his senses.
Time to be sensible Sam, dependable Sam. His head pounds. It clatters. It screeches. It does everything but work properly, far as Sam's concerned. Maybe he really is weak. He's acting like an idiot. Actually, he hasn't really done anything yet, nothing that couldn't be cleaned up with sawdust and a bucket. But he could do something seriously stupid.
"I'm not great." Sam closes his eyes for a moment as he leans against the bronze beast behind him.
"We can see that much, Gladys," Gene replies caustically.
"I should stay here," Sam asserts.
"I agree. If they try to make an escape, you nab 'em."
Sam looks up into Gene's eyes. He agrees? Gene stares back, unfazed, obviously irritated, but not as filled with hate as Sam was expecting.
"I'll give a shout if I see them."
"Another good idea. My, my, you're full of them today."
There it is. The ridicule, the scorn. Gene thinks he's a prat. And he is, so there's nothing to come back with. Sam straightens up, sets his shoulders and stands tall. They're going to catch Mack and Parker, and it's going to be a successful day.
Leonard and Gene make their way into the textiles factory, guns poised. Sam keeps a look-out. And there's someone who matches Mack's description, coming out a side door. Sam goes after him, is quiet as can be. Mack's heading towards a car, Sam can't let him go. He aims his gun and suddenly he's being dragged forward, unable to move his arms. Someone's come up behind him - has to be Parker.
"You're one of those coppers, aren't you?" a voice grates. Sam rams his elbow back and kicks, hard. He isn't released.
"Yeah, I am. What you're doing now is gonna see you in gaol for a long time," he replies. It's lame, he's lame, but he can't think straight.
"Nah," Mack says, grinning as he stuffs Sam into the boot of his car, despite Sam's constant thrashing. "We're gonna take you somewhere safe whilst we decide what to do."
Sam's been in the boot of a car before. Fumes from the exhaust work their way into the space and make it difficult to breathe. Mostly, it's tight, and small, and reminds him too much, just far too much, of concrete slabs crumbling around him and a cloak of dust in the air. Sam's breath hitches in his throat and he starts to kick, to really kick, as hard as he can, for freedom.
"Let me out," he screams as soon as the car comes to a stop.
"I think we should keep him in there," one of them says.
"No. We'll bring him in. We don't know if we want him dead yet. We might be able to use him as a bargaining chip."
Fuckers. They think it's going to be easy?
Except, it is. Terrifyingly so. He's weakened from the car fumes, and weak and broken anyway. He's drunk and he feels like shit. Sam's manhandled into the building and he tries to resist, but he can't. They restrain him against the wall, rope looping around rusted metal staples once used for something other than torture. At least, he hopes so.
Hours go by. He knows it's hours. At first, it might just be seconds and minutes that stretch on, but after a while the light changes and it's gone from morning to afternoon to evening. His mind clears, gradually, but determinedly, and swirls with myriad thoughts. All is not lost.
Sam watches as the shadows lengthen, surveying his surroundings, formulating plans. Cellar in an old warehouse, with grimy windows, a door to the main floor and another to the outside. He might be able to get to that one, depending on how long he's left alone, whether he'll be stuck here all night. He thinks he's close to getting his left hand free, the muscles in his forearm straining with the steady pressure he's exerting. His head's still hurting, but this time he has a fair idea that it's got nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with it being knocked about more than is strictly healthy.
He works at his restraints, not giving up, never giving up. "Why is it always me? For once - just once, I'd like it to be Gene. Or Ray. Or bloody Dennis at the front desk. But no, it's always sodding Tyler."
"Talking to yourself?" Mack asks, clattering down the steps.
"Yeah, what of it?"
"First sign of madness."
Sam yawns. It's not entirely fake. He's been up all of the night before, the intoxication's worn off, and Mack is boring with a capital ING. He's not as blasé when Mack advances and calls for Parker to help. In fact, his fear rises, the hackles at the back of his neck with it.
They untie him from the wall, but his feet and hands are quickly bound. Sam struggles but all that earns him is pistol-whip.
"We've decided you've gotta die."
"They will hunt you down like dogs and make you pay for it," Sam spits, another attempt at wrenching his arm free causing him to grunt.
"They can try. We have tickets out of here. Unlike you."
The gun barrel is aimed straight for his head. Figures. So this is death, then. Staring him in the eye. Again. It's like an old friend, almost. Has he not been returning phone calls? Pissed death off so much it decided to come round? Frequently. Maybe he's just lucky.
This is better than suffocation, he has to give it that. He's not being crushed to death. He's also alone. What a contrast to the earlier situation, where he hadn't been especially happy to be meeting his maker - a sadistic bastard, if ever there was one - but at least he'd had a companion, someone who trusted him, whom he trusted back. It doesn't seem fair that this time it will happen and he's got no one.
He wonders if Gene would be upset. Or angry. Or whether he'd be relieved. He'd like to think anger would be the main emotion - how dare they kill one of his own, a member of his team. But maybe, with everything that's gone between them, it wouldn't be that. Sam recalls the elements of tenderness in their late night rendezvous, how Gene's 'I'm gonna fuck you' ended up feeling so much more. It wasn't just Gene using him, was it? He was using Gene back. But, he wanted that connection.
He really is a girl. Instead of wondering whether Gene would miss him when he's dead, he should be ensuring he isn't to die. Sam attempts to lash out again, is poised to headbutt Parker, but gets slapped for his trouble. And then there's an almighty crash.
"Mack, Parker, pudding and pie, blew stuff up and made us cry. Killed a man, or was that two? What's a sheriff ever to do?"
Sam stares at Gene in disbelief. The man's audacious, if not completely insane. He stands - a demi-God - unafraid, blocking off the doorway. Mack faces him, but Parker keeps his eyes trained on Sam. And Sam can't help but let his admiration for Gene cloud over his uneasiness of having a gun in his face, at the same time irrationally annoyed that he has to be rescued.
"You don't quit, do you?" Mack asks. It's rhetorical, but Gene will answer.
"Well, neither do I. Tim?"
Sam can only look on in horror as Parker cocks his gun and everything happens at once in a flurry of sound and movement. There's the crack of gunshot through the air and Gene shouting his name as his body is dragged down to the ground, his head smashing against the concrete. Everything goes black.
When he opens his eyes, Gene's looking down at him, like some kind of angel, a halo of golden light around the top of his head. That thought alone makes Sam want to laugh and he does so, as much from relief as amusement.
"How am I not dead?"
"Lenny," Gene answers.
Sam looks at Leonard and his face splits in two. Leonard's standing with his arms crossed in front of two handcuffed criminals, looking very much like a champion. Sam rubs his newly-freed wrists.
"Dove right out in front of a bullet for you," Gene says, a note of wonderment in the words. "But luckily I got there first, redirected the gun towards the ceiling."
"So, both of you."
"Yeah." Gene steps back and lets him get up.
"How'd you find me?"
Gene rolls his eyes. "You have to know every last little detail, don't you? Well, first of all, my socks are grey and I think Leonard uses old spice." He pauses, steadying Sam with a hand around the top of his arm. "After we'd been to Mack and Parker's residences and deduced there was nothing going, we had a look through that stupid poncy list of yours and went to every bleeding address on there, asking people if they knew where we might go and finally someone twigged on the warehouse. Alright?"
Sam cranes his neck to the side, a dart of pain surging up his spine. "Alright."
"I'd say sorry for it taking so long, but it's your own stupid fault for getting taken in the first place."
"Still off your face?"
"No. Startlingly sober, I'd say."
"There's a scotch with your name on it at my place, then."
Sam frowns. He doesn't know how to navigate the minefield of conflicting emotions, so he chooses not to. He accepts the invitation, although he suspects there isn't really a choice.
It appears Gene and Leonard are not alone. It seems like half of A-division's there, with much congratulatory handshaking. Mack and Parker are to be escorted to the station by Ray and Chris, where the evidence is stacked tall and ready to be used in any accusation they'd want to make.
"The Super said you weren't to interfere in any more cases until you're cleared by a doctor," Ray says solemnly as he pushes Mack into a marked police car with little regard for his head against the top of the door. "Though, personally, I'd not complain."
"Tell the Super I'll do exactly as he asks, when he asks, and that the pole's been warming for him by the oven."
Leonard drops Sam and Gene off at Gene's place, not thinking it strange, but then, he's never questioned what Sam was doing there in the first place. Sam likes that about him.
"You did a good job today, Leonard," Gene says sincerely.
"Thanks, DCI Hunt."
"I guess you lot have your uses after all."
It's the best they'll ever get. Sam knows it. Leonard knows it.
"Thank you," Sam says, shaking Leonard's hand as Gene goes indoors. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. You're a very brave man."
"Just returning the favour, Sam," Leonard says with a smile. "And this has been the most fun I've had… well, ever. Not just fun, though," he adds, when Sam quirks an eyebrow. "You take care of yourself."
He waves goodbye. Sam waves back and follows Gene into the house.
Sam settles onto the sofa, watches Gene's activities, and feels oddly like he might be the gazelle to Gene's lion. He's quick and he can kick, but the opposition has a massive set of paws and steady patience.
"How're you feeling?" Gene asks as he goes for one of his many scotch bottles.
"Like death warmed up."
"Not surprised, you bloody idiot. What were you thinking, eh? There are times and places for overnight benders, Tyler. You're not like me, you can't hold your liquor. Letting yourself be dragged off by morons…"
Sam does his best not to pout. He fails. "I can hold my liquor. It just weighed me down a little, is all."
"Least you've still got all your working parts."
"Most of 'em."
Gene looms near, as he's wont to do, pouring scotch into a glass. He hands it over. "Couple of days ago you said you wanted to talk."
Sam gazes. He doesn't really want to drink, but he has a sip anyway. It helps him respond. "Yeah."
Gene sits across from him. "Now's the time."
"Well, actually, I think the time's been and gone."
"Take the opportunity whilst it's offered, Sam. It'll never come again."
Sam accepts this, adjusting his position until he's sitting with his elbows resting on his knees, placing his glass by his feet.
"In the rubble of Mack's - did you really think you were gonna die?"
"Course I did."
"But you didn't."
"Did that not occur to you? I mean… when you --- when we..?"
"Well, yeah, but I was gagging for it."
Sam feels a sickening twinge. He nods. "And any body would do, like you said. I was there, I'd made a pass…"
"I know you can be thick, but really..." The expression on Gene's face tells Sam everything he needs to know, but Gene continues anyway. "Much as I wish you hadn't, you saw through me straight away. Had to be you, Sam. Could've been down there with Ursula Andress and I'd've kept my trap shut and my hand still."
"I dunno, do I? Doesn't matter how often you prove you're a grade-A tosser, the Gene Genie rises to the occasion whenever you're around."
"So it's just sexual."
"For God's sake-"
Sam juts his chin forward. "You said this was my only time to ask, so I'm gonna ask it all."
Gene frowns, tilting the flask in his hand from right to left as if the sloshing contents dictate his thoughts. "If it were just sexual, why'd it be a bloke when I've been with birds all my life? Even if there've been instances…" he trails off.
"You said you'd never…" Sam falters. "But you knew what you were doing." He shifts uncomfortably, steepling his fingers in a sort of mock-prayer.
"Never touched another man, but there'd been --- I'd wanted to. When I was younger. Told myself it wasn't the way, that I wasn't that way, and I'd always been more interested in skirt anyway, so it were just a passing thing." Gene raises an eyebrow. There's the hint of a smile. "Read a book on it once, really illuminating stuff. You honestly telling me you've not thought about other blokes?"
"No, not really. Not until you. Crazy, right? The man from a more enlightened time not being in touch with his sexuality."
Gene stares, his gaze unnervingly precise. "Wouldn't've thought eight years made much difference." He pauses. "We shouldn't've. It's made life hell. That doctor's not the only one with an attitude that'd see us in a vat of hot oil. It's not just-" Gene stops again. "You know what they're like," he finishes, eyes on the carpet.
Sam agrees, but he knows it's time to confirm something that neither of them has been willing to, now that he knows it's true. The moment in the dark was not sprung from thin air. It was more a culmination of everything they'd danced around for over a month. Glints that were a little left of anger, punches that were more about connection than intention to maim.
"We'd been building up to it for weeks. It was inevitable. What else were we gonna do in the face of death - play word games?"
"Make a sentence with the following words, 'dick, I, stroke, wanna, your'."
The scotch ends up tipped all over the floor and Sam's desperate to tell Gene that this is everything he's ever wanted, in all its fucked up glory. But he doesn't. He waits until he catches his breath and pours out another measure of malt, picking up his glass and downing it in one go.
Gene watches him closely, fingers coiled around his lighter. "That it?"
"Okay. Good. Done. Like ripping off a band aid."
Gene pockets his lighter, leans forward, and presses a hand on Sam's for a brief moment before moving entirely and catching Sam in a quick kiss. Sam catalogues every feature of it, knowing it's the last one.
"Best be getting to bed - there's always new scum to catch in the morning."
Sam stands, stretching his well-worn limbs. "We're not allowed at the station."
"Never stopped me before."
Sam smiles softly. "I'll call a cab."
"Weren't you listening?" Gene wraps his arms around Sam, encasing him in warmth. "I said we'd best be getting to bed."
Sam stares for a long time. Gene is honest in staring back. They share an unspoken dialogue.
"I thought Gene Hunt doesn't do affection?" Sam says eventually, unable to articulate anything else. He's too full of hope and anticipation, and he doesn't want to shatter it.
"There was a time I'd've said Gene Hunt doesn't do it up the bum either, but I guess a man can change."
Sam grins. Subtle as a sledgehammer. He holds onto Gene tightly and they stumble up the stairs, together.