Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 4600 words.
Notes: Sam/Gene slash. AU, set after 2.07. Title from the song 'No Aphrodisiac' by The Whitlams. It seems to be a bit of a tradition that I go away for a while and come back with a fic - so here you go.
The carpet received the whisky, quenching its thirst whilst mocking Gene's. The last bottle. He grizzled loudly, wrapping his arms around himself and staring abstinently at the wall. So everything had gone to hell - lots of people could claim that. He'd lost his job, his wife, his life, and all because some bastard had framed him for murder. There hadn't been enough evidence of the fact - all evidence had pointed to him. Never thought he'd come to rely so much upon evidence, but things had a funny way of screwing you over with every turn. The best idea was not to dwell on it. Rely upon Sam to sort it out. He could, Gene knew he could. He was one of the finest coppers he'd ever met. One of the most annoying as well.
Every morning, Sam sailed into the station, acting king, but beneath that finicky exterior was a little boy lost. Gene could see it, even if Sam didn't want him to. Sam with his too-short hair and too-short sideburns. Too short temper. Too short everything - that's why he wore heels, the wimp. But Gene never condemned him for being a man with demons. It charmed him, really. Sam could be the very worst kind of bastard, but at his core, he was broken. Gene knew what that felt like.
And, because he was broken, Sam had an obsession with fixing things - making things right, making them whole, finding the key and rewinding the toy, rewinding time. Sam could never completely fix him, nor himself, but he made the effort and that was what counted in the long run. Existence may never be the same again, but it could adjust, Gene could adapt - everything could get better. Had to get better than this, a prison cell of a flat, no contact with friends or family, no one but Sam to talk to, and even then only for an hour or two a day. Gene was an island in a sea of boredom - nothing to do, nowhere to see, no good.
Sam set the bags on the floor, indicating to Gene that he wanted him to start packing away newly bought items. Gene ignored him, feet up on the armrest and cup of tea in his hand.
"How've you been, then?"
"Grand. So kind of you to ask."
Sam rolled his eyes, picking up a packet of chocolate digestives. "Anything I could get you?"
Gene set his tea down and swung his legs over so his feet were resting flat on the floor. "Yeah, I've decided I need a strong female figure about the place."
"As opposed to a weak female figure?"
"Prefacing 'female' with 'strong' is unnecessary," Sam replied, sitting on one of the armchairs. He bit into the digestive he was holding and pushed the packet towards Gene in a generous gesture that was met with grabby hands and three biscuits going at once.
"I don't give a rat's arse. This place'd be remarkably improved with a bit of skirt."
"You haven't yet understood the concept of keeping everything under wraps, have you?"
"I'm bloody lonely," Gene stated simply, crumbs flying.
"Not all the time."
Sam shrugged. "Who did you have in mind?"
"I only really have dimensions."
Sam's face betrayed neither smirk nor understanding. "You're sick. Seek medical advice."
Gene dunked his second biscuit in his rapidly cooling tea. "That'd be going against your little rules."
"Little rules designed to keep your little self alive."
"I'm not that little."
"Not everything is about your cock."
"I was referring to my height."
Sam rocked back in his chair, exhaling deeply. Gene watched him, wondering if he should even bother to ask if any headway had been made. It hadn't. Sam would have said so. His eyes would be bright and he'd be energetic. He was quite the opposite; worry lines and worry warts. There was no respite to be had.
There was silence for a long time, both men exhausted and consumed by their own thoughts.
"You've no idea what it's like being the only man in the world," Gene said, voice barely above a whisper.
Sam refocussed. "You're kidding me, right? I know only too well."
Gene met his gaze, feeling even weaker than before. He hastily bit into his third digestive to cover it up.
"I'll stay longer tonight," Sam said.
"Can you grow a pair of breasts and jiggle 'em about a bit?"
The days were the longest. At night he could just about slip off into sleep - rarely dreamless, but often welcome. During the day he had thousands of thoughts fluttering through his mind.
They knew exactly what had happened. They'd pieced that together within two days of Gene going on the lam. Davie Mackay had dragged him back to Haslam's to take the blame for his crime. He'd been convenient. Gene had to admit that it was down to his own stupidity, though part of him still thought Sam had a hand in it, letting him go after a gun, completely bladdered. He hadn't killed Haslam. He'd wanted to. He'd been beaten to the punch. Proving it was another matter entirely.
Gene and Sam both felt that it would be sensible for him to leg it out of the country, but unfortunately, so did the authorities - of which Gene was no longer considered part of the brethren. Sam decided Gene may as well stay in Manchester, since his picture was plastered wall to wall in stations across the land, and he'd been the subject of a television campaign the likes of which he'd never seen before. And here he was, stuck in a self-constructed Bermuda triangle, real and unreal at the same time.
The one time he'd braved going out, he'd very nearly been caught. A bobby had stared at him and started walking his way, but Gene had stepped into a side-alley. He generally thought of himself as someone who got things done, but there was something to be said for thinking it through. The only problem was, he spent every minute 'thinking things through' and it drove him steadily more insane. He itched for movement, for action, but none was to be found.
"In this plan of yours my position is-"
"Stay where you are."
"I don't even get to go out onto the balcony?"
Sam rubbed his hand against his head for the fifth time. "Especially don't go anywhere near the balcony. Or out the door. Or up onto the roof. In short, you remain sitting on this sofa until I get back."
"What'll I do?"
"Watch a film or two. Or twenty."
"The films on telly bore me. They're all artsy rah-rah-rah existential crisis, blah-blah-blah everything's a misery, wah-wah-wah I'm gonna cry now - affairs with unlikable protagonists and not enough sex."
"You just described my life."
Gene dipped his head low. "And mine, minus the crying."
Sam almost smiled. "I cry enough for the both of us."
"Do you really think you can lure Mackay into confession?"
"No, of course not."
"But you're gonna risk it anyway?"
"I have to try. Morgan's a horrible DCI."
Gene raised his eyebrows, surprised by and curious about Sam's vehemence. "You two seemed like fine chums last I saw you in a room together."
Sam shook his head. "You're the only DCI I've ever worked with who's really cared about his team - more than numbers and statistics. You don't just expect us to get a certain quota of collars every week. You don't constantly harp on about professional development. You shout and you punch, but at the end of the day, you know us. And we know you. Never thought I'd say it, but I miss having you as my Guv."
"That was a rousing speech, Tyler."
"I mean it."
"I know you do."
He stood up. He sat down. He played solitaire. He stared at the wall, stared at the clock, stared out the window, making sure the netting was drawn. The seconds turned into minutes, that then turned into hours and morning became afternoon then night. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Every look at the clock or his watch was futile - the hands had hardly ever ticked on.
Reading didn't help. Telly didn't help. They exacerbated the sense of isolation. Gene had never realised he was such a social creature, thinking himself more lone wolf than pack-wolf. Playing darts and poker with the boys was just part of his routine, a way to boost morale. But they were more than that. He missed company, of all kinds. He might as well be in prison, at this rate. Might be lucky and find a type he could buddy up with. Except buddying up was part of the reason prison was a less than desirable option.
He knew things were bad when everything he thought about revolved around Sam. Where was Sam going? How was Sam feeling? What was Sam wearing?
"Get me a prozzie," Gene pleaded.
"All the prostitutes in Manchester, and I'd wager, half in Birmingham, know your face - some of them intimately."
"Someone we could trust. Suki."
Sam paused, lowering his voice and gazing at Gene. "Suki was selling Morgan information as soon as she heard about the conviction."
"Slide down the banister. Beat your meat. Tug the tugboat."
Gene huffed out a breath, glaring at the whisky stain on the carpet. "It's never good enough."
"You're telling me that when people call you a wanker, it's a misnomer?"
"Don't be the smart alec with me."
Sam levelled him with a stare. "Sexual frustration is the very least of your worries."
"Clearly you've never been forced into celibacy."
"The last time I had sex it was against my will."
"That's not what the pictures show," Gene said, curving his hands around suggestively.
"The pictures in your mind, you mean? The negatives were destroyed."
Gene bit his lip. The conversation was veering into a territory he didn't relish exploring. He fiddled with his shirt cuffs and flexed his shoulders. "You gonna make dinner or get take out?"
"I thought we could make pizza."
"Yeah. You need to learn survival tactics. Being able to make your own food's a start."
"You're a right mouthy sod, you are."
Sam grinned, standing and wandering over to the kitchenette. He started placing the ingredients on the table and looked over his shoulder back at Gene.
"Wash your hands. Pizza dough is messy business. And given our previous chat, I dread to think about the muck under your nails."
It was quite possibly the bastard cousin of Stockholm Syndrome. Every day, he looked forward to Sam's visit, often marking time spent into increments that would draw him closer to the happy circumstance. He'd make an effort with the room, his appearance - there wasn't much else for him to do.
It was stupid, but that didn't stop his pulse racing extra quickly during the sound of rattling keys, like he was some kind of excitable puppy and Sam his master. Sam! Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam! Someone he could trust, who trusted him - the only person in the world who believed him. His Sam, who came each day, including the crap ones, always there with something for him, even if that something was an insult.
And when he wasn't with Sam, he was imagining he was. Sometimes he forgot he hadn't had conversations with the actual man and found he needed to repeat vital bits of information or a witty retort. It became part of his ritual.
Thinking about Sam took on new avenues he never thought it would. He began to notice the relaxed softness of Sam's lips when he was tired, his distinct scent after a long day. He kept telling himself it was his sex drive kicking into fifth gear - given half the chance, he'd be able to get it up for a half-eaten weevil - but then Sam would pat him on the leg, or say something completely innocuous yet indecently sexy, and the physical reaction would be too strong to hand-wave.
Sam was sitting, tranquil, arm slung along the back of the sofa. His top two buttons were undone and the arch of his neck was exposed. He breathed deeply, a rhythmic sound that reverberated through his chest. The television was on, some new series Gene couldn't be arsed with - a comedy that wasn't quite bawdy enough for his tastes.
Sam laughed, grin spreading wide across his face. "I haven't seen this episode for years."
"Astonishing, that, considering it's never been on telly before."
"You know what I mean."
Gene rocked forward. "No I don't." He used his peripheral vision to continue staring at Sam in a less direct manner. Sam was now brushing his hand through his hair absentmindedly. Gene contemplated drawing those hands away and putting them to good use. "You're always saying weird things like that."
"I do it just to annoy you."
"I believe you, n'all."
Sam gave a sly smile and Gene steadfastly looked the other way. He felt a hand tantalisingly gliding down his forearm.
"You're tense. Had a bad day?'
"More than usual? Every day is like any other."
Sam shuffled behind the sofa and reached forward, undoing Gene's top buttons and dragging his shirt down. He placed his hands on Gene's shoulders and started pressing at most of the precise spots Gene was feeling stiff.
"Maya used to do this for me after a particularly stressful day," Sam explained, thumbs rubbing concentric circles down Gene's spine. "Taught me her best techniques. Just relax and lemme work my magic."
Gene couldn't relax with Sam's skin touching his, warm and smooth. He pushed away, adjusting his shirt. "I'm dying of thirst. A good scotch'll do me."
Sam stared at him, nonplussed, but Gene could only sense it, his avoidance mechanism kicking into motion.
Different scenarios presented themselves in rapid succession. Sam flat on his back, hastily being undressed. Sam, on his knees, cocky grin and fire in his eyes. Sam against the wall, trousers around his ankles. Gene lay thinking about it, letting his mind roam wherever it wished. Sam in the shower, Sam over the table; a whole range of situations pivoting around inside, downstairs. In every scene, Sam was more than happy with arrangements, vocal and voracious, often instigating events.
It compounded the loneliness in a lot of ways. All other fantasies were superseded by thoughts of Sam, until it was almost like they were the only two people in the world. Occasionally Gene thought that might be true - the news fabricated, the people walking in the street outside mere projections. But he knew it was highly likely he was going stir crazy.
He kept delaying the inevitable. There wasn't anything new to report, Sam had already been there five hours, but Gene wanted him to be there longer.
"Even though there aren't any solid facts to say otherwise, you still don't think it was me," Gene said, articulating the main thrust of his daily mental meanderings.
"I know it wasn't."
"You're too smart, for one. You'd never go that far, for another. As soon as I find Mackay, I will sort this, I promise. It's finding him that's the problem. We will right this - it's just gonna take time." Sam rubbed Gene's shoulder consolingly, fingers light against the cotton of his shirt.
"I've had enough of time already."
"What do you want me to do?"
Gene put a hand on Sam's arm. "Here. Tonight."
Sam went blank, his lips a thin line. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Gene concentrated on the flaring of his nostrils, the flicker of an eyelid.
"I don't think I follow you," Sam said eventually; tight, restrained.
Gene lowered his voice. "Yeah you do."
"Look, I know when you're lonely you start to get confused. You mix up your feelings, make them out to be stronger than they are in reality. What you're experiencing right now is something quite different to what you think it is…"
"What I'm feeling right now is a raging hard-on. Pretty unmistakable if you ask me." Gene let go of Sam's arm and lit a cigarette. "I'm not gonna force myself on you. Tell me this is a one way street and I'll reverse the hell out, act like it never happened."
Sam licked his lower lip, sucking in a breath. "It would complicate things."
"So it's not that you're not interested," Gene stated. He examined Sam closely - the set of his shoulders, tenseness of his posture.
Sam half-glanced his way, gave a partial shrug. He stood, putting his arms through his jacket sleeves. "I should go. It's getting late. I'll see you."
He left immediately, leaving Gene to stare at where he had been sitting.
Twenty-three minutes late. He could have been caught in traffic. Maybe Morgan had him working later than usual. No. Sam wasn't coming.
Gene could have ignored it, of course. He was good at ignoring things. He could have shoved it all down into a recess of his body, left to fester. But he'd thought that if there had been the slimmest chance, he had to give it a shot. After all, Sam was devoting his life to him - that had to count for something. And Gene had witnessed the occasional look, a lingering touch.
It had been wishful thinking and he'd scared Sam off. Not something that would normally bother him, but these weren't normal circumstances. A day without Sam's visitation was three times longer than anyone would think otherwise. Darkened hours extended further than lit ones and Gene went to bed early, staring up at the ceiling and hating everything.
Sam wouldn't abandon him. He'd be back. He was loyal, conscientious. But nothing would ever be the same again and Gene wasn't sure he could cope without Sam's daily contact - even if he was set free. He didn't know when he had started relying upon Sam so much, though he had a keen idea it was before the conviction.
Sam waited, back against the closed door. Gene glared.
"I'm sorry I didn't come yesterday."
"It's fine, Samuel. I received your message loud and clear."
Sam shook his head and took a step forward, hand outstretched. "It's not a one-way street," he said quietly. "I spend most of my day thinking about you and the rest of it with you." He looked up. "But I want you back at the station more than I wanna touch you and they're kind of mutually exclusive."
Gene crossed his arms, leaning against the table and directing his gaze to the carpet. "Right." He took a deep breath. "Any luck?"
"Actually, for once, yeah. Mackay's been connected with a robbery. Half of CID's out looking for him as we speak."
"Is this it?" Gene asked. "The magic moment?"
"I don't know. I hope so."
Gene didn't look at Sam. Sensations he couldn't contain were bubbling below his surface, threatening to burst out.
"What if it's not?" he said, taking a swig of whisky. "I don't think I can take this much more."
"It's been a while, I doubt most people could accurately recall your picture," Sam replied. "We'll see about getting you a flight out of the country. Somewhere sunny. Australia, perhaps? New Zealand?"
"Would you come?"
There was a pause. "I can't."
Gene imagined Sam's reaction to a declaration that he wouldn't go without him; surprise, condemnation. It would be an infantile thing to say, but that didn't stop Gene from thinking it.
"I made us something to eat."
"Survival tactics, Doris."
Sam looked towards the kitchenette and frowned. "That looks suspiciously like baked beans in a pan."
"There's some buttered bread too."
"You're supposed to toast it."
"You can't denounce a man for trying."
Gene wandered over and saw that he'd singed the beans, a black smothering welded to the stainless steel. He poured them out anyway, adding a parsley garnish. Sam smiled when the plate was set in front of him, warmth and amusement radiating.
"Mmmm. Smoked baked beans, my favourite."
"There were special git classes during your training, weren't there? 'How to be a Tosser in Five Easy Steps'."
"Didn't you write the module?"
Gene washed his first mouthful down with scotch and gazed at the wall just behind Sam's head. "How long are you staying tonight, then?"
"Couple of hours at least."
Knowing that Sam wanted him made it worse. Three days and three tense encounters ensued. Gene tried to relax, did his level best to regard Sam as he had once before - adversarial friend and partner. But now it was adversarial friend and partner with remarkably firm arse and oft exposed collarbone that could be licked and nipped.
The monotony stretched on and on. Gene knew that he could be stroking his hand up Sam's inner thigh, eliciting a throaty moan. He could be kissing a trail from his earlobe to his nipple. And the only reason he wasn't was because Sam didn't think it would be wise. It was just one of many occasions where Gene wished Sam would stop thinking and start feeling - surrender himself to the moment. Gene knew he could, he'd done it before, sometimes to detrimental effect.
CID could find Mackay and arrest him, with Sam forcing his hand to confess to Haslam's murder, or they could fail miserably like every other time - either way, at this rate, little could be lost. Gene took action.
Sam did a double take, sunglasses and hat no match for his highly developed detective skills. "Gene, what're you doing?"
"I'm giving myself up."
"Are you completely mad? Wait, stupid question."
Gene sniffed. "Something has to be done."
"Trust you to pick the worst possible day. Mackay's here! Lytts dragged him in late last night."
"Worst? You have to be joking. Let me at him, I'll get a confession soon as you can say crushed knee-cap," Gene said, surging forward.
Sam placed a hand on Gene's chest, holding him back. "I can't do that."
Gene glared. "There's lots of things you can't do."
"You're being irrational. Go back home."
"I don't have a home to go to. I have a cell. It may as well be in a building I like for a couple of days."
"Gene," Sam tugged at Gene's arm, attempting to drag him out the door. "There's something I haven't told you."
"Oh, really? What's that?"
"Morgan has it in for you."
"Already figured that one out. I used to be a copper once, you know."
Sam closed his eyes for a moment and then stared with piercing intensity. "I mean he really has it in for you. Pathological hatred. Even if Mackay confesses, he won't believe it."
Gene pulled his arm free. "Then what's the point? Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
"I was gonna take it all to the Chief Super. But if Morgan catches you here, that puts paid to that idea."
"I'm not going."
"Fine. I'll shove you in a closet. Come here."
"Boss?" Chris' voice sounded from around the corner.
Sam started, waving his hands theatrically. "Hide."
There was nowhere for Gene to go. Chris came into the room and stopped, his usually gormless expression even blanker than normal.
"Guv? But you disappeared. I'd a bet on you being in Turkey. Made sense, you always loved those little pink delight things."
Gene couldn't think of a suitable response. He took a deep breath.
"We're gonna have to arrest you, right, Boss?" Chris directed his question towards Sam, who was sucking in his cheeks and looking like he might be on the verge of a fit.
He set his shoulders and seemed to gain resolve. "No, Chris. I've told you from the beginning - the Guv's innocent. We're gonna prove it."
The unfolding events were surrealistic to Gene, who had spent so much time cooped up he'd lost the ability to easily discriminate between fact and fiction. Sam went against his principles for what must have been the twentieth time since he'd met Gene and faked evidence to present to Mackay. Chris acted as a surprisingly good decoy for Morgan as Gene listened in to the interrogation from a darkened corner of the Lost and Found. The confession was taped, the lead up to it wasn't, and Mackay was terrified when he saw Gene looming, but Sam held them both back from causing any damage.
Sam sent the tape directly to Chief Superintendent Stephens with a letter and managed to convince Gene to go back to his gaol of a flat for one more night.
Sam arrived first thing in the morning, excited and full of energy. Stephens had accepted the evidence and was making moves to have Gene acquitted. Morgan was reportedly furious, condemning Sam for conspiring against him. Chris kept tactfully quiet.
It didn't feel like a victory. It should have, it was one. Gene didn't know if he'd be able to return to the world that had discarded him. He'd be DCI again, but with the full knowledge that no one on his team had trusted him. No one but an outsider who'd only known him for four months. After spending forever wanting to escape, his little beige box seemed like a safe haven.
Sam opened the door and raised an eyebrow. "Hey."
Gene walked in, pressing the door shut behind him. "Place is looking disgusting as ever."
"Thanks. I'm going for the single 70s male look."
"Not enough copies of Jugs."
Sam smiled. "I'll keep that in mind. Want a tea? Coffee? Scotch?"
"Okay." Sam rubbed his hand against his neck, looking near on disconcerted. "Enjoying your new found liberty?"
"Not as much as I thought I would."
"I'm sure it'll feel right after a night drinking at the Railway Arms."
"Hopefully that won't be tonight." Gene set his feet apart, readying himself for an act he wasn't sure he was brave enough to take. "I don't believe in pussy-footing around, so I'm just gonna come out and say it, Sammy-boy," Gene said. He stared intently. "I still want us to be together - just in case you thought that once I'd gained my freedom I'd lose the desire to stick my cock into you."
Sam tilted his head to the side. "Are you sure?'
"How sure do you want me to be?"
"Well, I'm that, then."
Gene strode into Sam's personal space, crowding him, placing a hand gently at the back of his head. "You stood by me," he said, mouth by Sam's ear. "And I don't know what I'd do without you." He cupped Sam's crotch. "But most importantly, you make me randy as hell."
"As you can tell, feeling's mutual," Sam said, moving until his lips were against Gene's.
It was nothing like Gene's fantasies. Sam was hotter, even more forceful, his stubble grazing against Gene's own. He took control and demanded attention. Gene gave him everything he wanted and deepened the kiss. His hands roamed over Sam's body, concentrating just above his hips, pulling him close.
Sam coiled a hand in Gene's hair, Gene leaned into him. They continued kissing, pent-up frustration giving way to fervent movement. Sam pulled away and stared into Gene's eyes.
"Good to have you back, Guv," Sam murmured, low and quiet.
Gene started undoing Sam's shirt buttons. "Good to have you, DI Tyler."