Fandom: Life on Mars
Rating: PG-13 for this section.
Word Count: 1,414 words this section.
Notes: Sam/Gene slash. This is the last section for a while, because I start work again Wednesday. But I am continuing this story.
Warnings: There is extreme violence and darkness in this story.
Summary: It starts out like any ordinary day - as ordinary as it gets in 1973. And then they have a case. A young girl has been murdered. Tensions are high, and there's more than one kind of tension.
There was no covering, plastic or otherwise. Sam squeezed his hands together in mock-prayer, fingers tight together. He tried to think of the girl as an object, a piece of artwork, a thing. He didn't succeed. He saw the puffy cheeks of a child laughing. The small fingers of a child who, at any other time, would be clutching onto the string of a balloon. The industrial staples along a child's mouth. The body was set into a pose, arms stretched out and dress forming a perfect triangle. She was an angel.
Sam leaned against the nearby wall and retched.
He looked back, despite himself. The clothes were completely in tact. Her hair, however, was another matter. Whole sections had been chopped off. Part of her head had been shaved.
"You're positive it's Tina Harper?" Sam asked, hardly able to look at Gene, let alone talk to him.
"No, but she fits the description."
"Her mother and father?"
"No father. Mother's a widow."
Sam's head snapped up. He considered this carefully.
"Can someone get a sheet or something?" Gene yelled suddenly. Chris appeared within the next twenty seconds, brandishing the rug that usually adorned Ray's backseat.
The sun was just starting to rise, casting the sky a dull grey. The streetlight by them was still on. It illuminated Chris' flourish as he placed the rug reverentially on the body. He was keeping it together remarkably well, Sam thought. In command, in control, not throwing up by the side of the road like at other time. Maybe Chris was better at keeping his emotions in check than Sam would have assumed. Maybe he could lock off another part of his mind. It would explain his ability to see the lighter side of things; his enthusiasm and complete lack of embarrassment at most of his mistakes. A common phrase rang through Sam's mind as he focussed on the asphalt, 'ignorance is bliss.'
He became aware of Gene staring at him, eyes trained on his face. He contemplated stepping forward, shouting. "This is me caring." He simply raised his head and stared back.
Gene spoke. "What's your psychological profile saying now?"
"Similar age, similar look, similar positioning of the body. Our killer has a specific kink."
"And you say it's not sexual."
"Look at her," Sam said. "The way she's been put on display for us. If this were a sexual killer, they'd've spread her legs, put her in a sexually suggestive manner."
"I've been reading up," Gene said. Sam couldn't quite contain his shock, mouth opening. Gene glared, but continued. "What if the bastard had a fixation on innocence?"
"Why deface the body, if that was the case?"
"Shits and giggles?"
Sam shook his head. "It doesn't wash, it doesn't gel. Whatever their agenda is, it's hidden from us."
"Why don't we ask 'em?"
"That would require catching them, and in order to catch them, we've gotta know enough about them. It's the Magic Roundabout."
Gene blew air out through his nose in what Sam assumed was silent agreement. Sam surreptitiously stared through his peripheral vision, trying to determine if Gene had forgiven him for their earlier fight, or was ignoring it, or remembered only too well and was planning at any moment to grab him unaware. It was with horror that Sam realised he almost wanted the latter to happen. That his fingers itched to be scratching into Gene's wrists.
And he hoped, he desperately hoped, that this was his skewed reaction to stress and fear.
Ray was regarding him with curiosity, which Sam supposed was better than regarding him with burning hatred - his default setting. Sam was standing in the morgue, his back tight up against the tiles, feet stretched out in front of him.
"What's up your nose?" Ray asked.
Sam bit his cheek, refraining from shouting his head off. I feel sick, he didn't say. I spent part of my night being tormented by the girl from the Test Card, he thought next.
"I'm worried," he said. "That this isn't the last one," he clarified upon Ray's vacant gaze.
Ray did something Sam didn't expect him to do. He grunted in apparent agreement and offered Sam a cigarette. Sam declined, because he'd given up his first year on the force, and didn't much want to return to bad habits he'd find difficult to break. Ray turned away from him, facing Chris instead.
Gene entered the room. "He here yet?"
"No. Probably been caught in traffic."
"It's five-thirty in the sodding morning. There shouldn't be any sodding traffic."
"Yeah, well..." Sam floundered. He couldn't think of anything to say. His mind had begun to shut down with lack of sleep, too much stress, and the simple fact there was no response.
When Oswald arrived, he was clearly annoyed that he had four cops hanging around his place of work. He tutted at the cigarettes, the insistent gazes, the single word "hurry", that hung in the air. Sam had a keen idea that, if he could, Oswald would tell them to go take a flying jump, but Gene was using every ounce of his skill in intimidation. He didn't openly threaten Oswald, which was a nice change from normal, but he did loom and glare obstinately at the smallest twitch and opening of a mouth.
In the end, Oswald had no choice but to conduct the autopsy as they were there. Gene stood at one corner of the room. Ray and Chris leaned along another wall. Sam stayed where he was, deciding he wouldn't go any closer unless called upon to do so.
"Trauma to the back of the head," Oswald said, once he was set up and examining the body. Sam felt like he probably always spoke, that it wasn't at all for their benefit. He could picture the pathologist chatting away to himself, voice echoing off the walls. This assumption was challenged by Oswald looking up at him vaguely. "I can't say for sure, but I would say this is most likely to be the cause of death."
Oswald looked almost sad as he tilted Tina's head from side to side and looked at the staples holding her lips together. Sam wanted to look away, but was glued to the spot.
"Nasty business," Oswald muttered. Gene's shoulder suddenly jerked up and Sam stared as he punched the wall.
"You're gonna break your fingers, you lunatic," he said before he could stop himself. Gene's mouth opened, then his face crumpled, and he stormed out of the room as quickly as he had entered it not forty minutes before. Sam started walking, feet propelling him towards Gene through no conscious action of his own.
He found Gene outside the station, frowning up at the sky, cigarette lit and hipflask in hand. Sam was glad to be outside, despite the fact it was dank and freezing.
"You're taking this badly," he said, and he knew it was banal and useless and stupid, but he couldn't help it.
"Most cases, you've some idea who it is. Blag down the local betting shop, there're solid connections with things every decent copper knows. There's your much prized bloody evidence, for instance. But this. Little girls being taken and killed in the night, by some fucker with a gruesome mind for no discernible reason." He let the sentence hang there, but Sam could hear the unspoken words that followed. I don't know this. I don't know how to stop this. I can't handle this.
Gene threw the butt of his cigarette down and crushed it underneath his loafer.
"So, we find out the reason," Sam said, feigning bravado. "We find the evidence."
Gene did something that Sam figured was half a snort. "Spoken like a true optimist."
"Not optimist. Realist," Sam said, though he knew it was a lie, because reality had a habit of skipping away from him. "Realist with hope in his heart," he amended.
"And a song in there too," Gene returned with a tone verging on sarcasm, and a look tinged with affection.
Sam nearly put his hand on Gene's shoulder. He was tempted. He settled for leaning into him instead, his arm pressing against Gene's as they stood side by side.
"Have you called Tina's mother yet?"
Gene shook his head. "No. Should've, but didn't."
"I will for you, if you like?"
"I'm not a child."
"This is me being supportive. You're always banging on about me being the opposite of supportive, and here I am, doing what you want, yet you're complaining here too."
"I'll call," Gene said, tone clipped. "It's my responsibility."
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16