Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 2,940 words.
Notes: This is total fluff. Sam/Gene slash set in 1974.
It was the end of their shift staking out Trembath. Gene was complaining about back pain, Sam was starving hungry, and they stumbled along the road together, looking for a pub to get some rest and relaxation. Only, the two pubs they'd passed didn't offer food, and the one take-away joint they'd passed looked decidedly disgusting --- not that that had bothered Gene in the slightest. Eventually, they came upon this small Italian restaurant, tucked away in a side-street. There wasn't a cockroach in sight, which put the place in Sam's favour, so they walked in.
A tall dark haired waiter with Italian features but Salford accent assailed them as they stepped through the door. "Table for two, Sir?"
He could have been speaking to either of them, but Sam answered.
"Yes, thank you," Sam said, frowning slightly as he was guided opposite Gene at a little table with a candle in the centre.
"Here are your menus, I'll be back shortly to take your order."
"It's always I-talian restaurants," Gene said, looking disgruntled as he gazed at the paper in front of him.
"Tucked away into the corners like this. Never Spanish, or Chinese, or, I dunno, Jamaican. Always I-talian."
"Right." Sam scratched the side of his nose. "I'm ordering the minestrone for starters, what're you having?"
Gene raised his eyebrows. "Starters? Just how long d'you think we're gonna be here?"
"I already told you I could eat a horse."
"You? Couldn't even fit in a hoof." Gene looked at the menu again. "Alright, I'll have that too. Then I'm having the spaghetti."
"You and your spaghetti - why not live a little? Go for the Fettuccine Barcarola?" Sam asked, pointing.
"It's all made of the same shit. I don't see how it's any different."
They ordered their meals and a bottle of wine and waited for the food to come, talking about missing Z Cars. For once, they were actually agreeing, although Gene was talking about the first run, and Sam was talking about wanting a DVD boxed set.
Sam stared at Gene over the rim of his glass and reflected how he liked spending time with him out of work, out of the eyesight of their colleagues. Gene was always putting on a show when they were around, but with Sam he was often quieter, more relaxed, more willing to reveal aspects of his personality that contradicted his façade.
"I always wanted a Zephyr," he was saying, enthusiastically, eyes lit by the candle flame.
"Why not buy one?"
"I'd look like a tosser."
"God forbid." Sam took another sip of wine. "Y'know people are always saying you just don't care what other people think. Hell, I've said it. But it's a load of crap, innit? You have a reputation you're determined to uphold and woe betide anyone or anything that damages it."
"Bloody hell, did I order a lecture with my pasta? Must get my eyesight checked out. I meant to go for something sweet and tasty."
"I can be sweet and tasty."
"Only if you shut it."
They stopped talking as the waiter came with their minestrone. It was set down with a flourish and Sam lifted his spoon tentatively.
"There's something that looks like a fly in my soup."
"There's something super in my fly and you don't hear me grumbling."
Sam rolled his eyes, mouthing, "ha ha," then spooned up some minestrone and concluded he was worried about nothing, it tasted good. He picked up his napkin and dabbed at a slow dribble that had escaped.
"Not poisoned, then?" Gene asked, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
"No, it's good - really good. We should do this more often. It'll keep your mind off your wife being away."
Gene stared at Sam for a couple of seconds before nodding, the smallest hint of an arch in his eyebrow.
Sam pushed the newspaper over Gene's desk. "Instead of playing darts tonight, why don't we all go to the flicks?"
Gene looked up at him quizzically, half a curly wurly in his hand and the other in his mouth. "What, all go see a movie, together?"
"Yeah, people do it all the time."
"In other movies, maybe. And even then, only teenagers. I don't know any other division that chooses to spend social gatherings in an Odeon. I very much doubt Litton, for instance, gets his RCS twonks down at the local cinema with packets of popcorn for a bit of R & R."
Sam crossed his arms, drawing himself up to full height. "Well, we could start a tradition."
"Can't tonight anyway. Ray and Chris are off to Leeds for that stupid bloody conference on Saturday - you know, the one you blackmailed them into attending."
Gene took another bite of caramel and chocolate.
"Well, just us, then."
"She's visiting her mum."
Gene leaned further back in his chair. "Oh, I see."
"C'mon, it'll be fun. I'll pay for your ticket." Sam poked at the newspaper, indicating a scrawled circle. "This film is amazing. It's got the guy who plays Michael Corleone in The Godfather."
Gene pushed his lips forward, contemplating Sam's finger and the information it highlighted. "What's it about?"
"He blows the whistle and everyone turns on him."
"You feel like this bloke, do you?"
Sam shook his head vehemently. "No. No, this lot are way worse than you. I mean, you're not really corrupt, Gene. Not anymore."
"So kind of you to say so." Gene pursed his lips together. "Alright, I'll go. But you're paying for my ticket and any of the confectionary I should choose to shove down my gob. And the beer afterwards."
Sam remained hovering by Gene's desk. "Anything else?"
"We meeting there or what?"
"I was hoping you could pick me up around six."
"Right. You're paying for the petrol too."
Later that day, Gene knocked on Sam's door. Sam stopped drying his hair and went to answer it, somewhat surprised Gene was knocking. The reason became apparent when Sam realised Gene was holding a Party Seven.
"What's that for?"
"Thought we'd come back here for the drink," Gene said with a shrug. He set it on the dining table and held his hand out. "Reimbursement, thanks. It cost a pretty penny."
Sam took his wallet out of his back pocket and handed over a couple of tenners.
"Now, I don't want you trying any funny business," Gene said, tongue firmly planted in his cheek. "You have me back home by nine and you watch those hands."
Sam quirked an eyebrow. "You're a right weirdo, you are."
Gene responded in kind. "Oh, I am?"
"Definitely." Sam gestured towards the door. "After you."
"I cannot believe I let you convince me of this. It'll only end in tears, Tyler, and they will be yours."
"There might even be a bit of bloodshed!" Sam said cheerfully, flapping the end of his red and white scarf up and down like a Matador's cape to a bull.
Gene scowled. "You could've gone with Ray. He's one of yours. Don't know how I manage it, two bloody Reds on my team."
"Look, stop your whinging - I am, once again, paying for this for you, least you could do is show some gratitude."
"City's gonna win anyway."
Sam gave a wide smile, walking in perfect time to Gene's strides. "Of course!"
"Don't say it like that."
Gene prodded him. "All condescending-like."
"I wasn't! I was agreeing with you. City will win. You've got Denis Law again. I hear he's on fine form. He'll probably be the only one to score a goal because United've been playing for shit."
"Then why d'you wanna go?"
"'Cause I haven't been to a match in years and sometimes it's not about who wins, it's about the competition."
"That's not what you say when you lose at poker."
"You took a week's worth of rent. It's a slightly different situation."
"I can't help it if you've not got a poker face. Every time you're onto a winner, you get a stupid, goofy smile on your lips, and when you've nothing, you frown. You need to learn to be impassive, blank. You're like that most other times, so I don't see what the problem is."
Sam assumed a softly defensive expression. "Has it ever occurred to you I might be leading a lamb to the slaughter?"
"Sure, but then you kept losing, so I figured you were just thick."
They reached Old Trafford and took their places, sitting next to each other - blue and red. A couple of people stared at them as if they were mad, but Sam didn't care, because he was finally at a football match. For all his complaining, Gene was looking happy to be there. There were hundreds of people all around them, excited, but not riotous. It was bliss.
Sam nudged closer into Gene once or twice, following the play on the field. In the back of his mind, he registered that this was a bit intimate, but Gene didn't say or do anything, so he figured it didn't matter. At some points, he was practically sitting in Gene's lap, but that acquired no comment either.
"No!" Sam exclaimed when Law shot his goal. He'd known it was going to happen, but that didn't stop it from being an extraordinary sight. He bunched his fists and gritted his teeth, both angered by the betrayal and overjoyed that he was actually here to see it occurring before his very eyes.
When the game ended, Gene grabbed hold of his arm. "Seems to me like you need a drink. It's a sad day for a United fan."
Sam narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "That's uncharacteristically kind of you."
"You're paying for it. And for my celebratory whisky n'all."
"There's those words again. Might wanna watch yourself, Tyler. They might come back and bite you on the arse."
"In your dreams."
After The Warren came The Hutch, which Sam supposed was Tosh Preston's idea of a sick joke. Preston's other sick joke was supporting the local drug lords.
They were supposed to be undercover. There was no way they were, since everyone knew that Gene Hunt was the bastard who'd sent Stephen Warren to the clanger - after having been making deals with him for years, no less - but that was their mission. They were undercover in-so-far as they were pretending to just be there for fun instead of on business. Sam wasn't sure how many people they had fooled - he guessed at a total of zero.
The music blared, the lights flashed, and they danced with two, young, beautiful women. There was gyrating, hands in places, and a lot of booze. Sam found he kept glancing across at Gene, trying to determine if everything was okay. It seemed to be, Gene was leering down the front of his dancing partner's top, thrusting his pelvis forward in something resembling rhythm. Sam did his best not to glower, but failed. He hoped Gene had his mind on the job.
Sam signalled for Gene to go to the bar for them to confer.
"She told you anything yet?" Sam asked, waiting for the beer and gin and tonic he'd ordered.
Gene nodded. "She always wanted to be a hairdresser."
"I've got lovely eyelashes."
Sam lowered his voice, leaning in so Gene could still hear. "It might be true, but it's not useful. We know she's close to Preston, d'you think you could up your interrogation technique?"
Gene ignored the commanding note in Sam's tone. "How about you and your bit? Got any answers?"
"She's decidedly tight-lipped."
"Wonder if that's the only thing that's tight?"
Sam huffed out a breath, willing himself not to lose his temper. "Innuendo notwithstanding, I don't think she's our girl. You're the best bet."
They began walking back to the dance floor, but both women had gone, partnered off with other dancers. Sam swore under his breath before turning to Gene. "D'you want a gin and tonic?"
Gene held out his own two drinks as an answer and they stumbled through the throng of moving bodies to a table, attempting to draw up an action plan.
"What do you reckon? Stay here? Find another couple of birds and plump them for what we wanna know?" Gene asked, brusquely.
"Maybe they'll return to us once they see our fancy footwork?"
"I haven't got any," Gene said honestly. "Thrusting and grinding's about the only thing I know how to do to music like this. Other than that it's the Waltz and the Foxtrot, and something tells me that wouldn't wash."
Sam stared incredulously. "You know how to Waltz?"
"I'd love to see that."
"Wish upon a star and who knows what you might get?" Gene finished his beer. "Make a decision, do we stay or do we go?"
"Go," Sam said decisively. He punctuated the word by putting his glass down on the table with a clatter.
"Good. My feet are killing me."
"Jesus, can't take you anywhere."
Having no cash, but having said they should have dinner again, Sam invited Gene to his flat. He spent the day gathering the right ingredients. He wasn't going out of his way to impress Gene - that always led to disaster. He was simply looking for the appropriate items for the appropriate meal.
Gene arrived half an hour early. Usually he'd be half an hour late. He held a bottle of wine in his hand and a small smile on his face. Walking in, he closed the door behind him.
"Glad you think so. It's a really great curry recipe I got off a friend. Not too hot, not too mild."
Gene placed the wine bottle on the table, looking at Sam curiously. "A friend? You have other friends?"
"Did have... in Hyde."
Gene gave a nondescript shrug and walked close to Sam, placing one hand on his shoulder and the other on his waist. Gene leaned forward until Sam could feel his breath over his cheek and he belatedly realised he was about to kiss him.
Sam's eyes widened and he shuffled backwards, hands stretched out. "Gene, what're you doing?"
"You've been dilly dallying, Tyler. If there's one key difference between us it's that I don't dilly dally."
Sam frowned, his chest constricted. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"We've been dating for the past month and we haven't once stuck our tongues down each other's throats. This needs to be rectified."
"Dating? What d'you mean, dating?"
"You know. Going out places and exchanging platitudes, all the while trying to figure out how to either run the hell away or get into each other's pants."
"We have not been dating!"
"Are you a congenital idiot, or did you learn to be this way?" Gene asked, staring at Sam as if he was insane. "Candlelit dinners, going to the flicks, watching the football, a night of dancing at a nightclub, and now this, alone in your flat. I kept hoping you'd cough up for a box of chocolates at some point."
"We're often alone in my flat."
Gene stepped forward. "Exactly."
"You've slept here before now."
Gene stepped closer still. "My point once again."
Sam licked his lower lip, his face clearing. He echoed Gene. "We've been dating for the past month."
"I thought it were sweetly old fashioned how you decided to court me instead of just going straight for my cock and balls. Though, of course, you needn't've bothered."
"I didn't decide anything," Sam said, still looking shell-shocked. "I just --- like spending time with you."
"I didn't have any ulterior motives."
"That's a shame." Gene stroked his thumb down Sam's neck. "You're a fool. I couldn't tell if you were playing or genuinely out of it. It's almost comforting it's the latter. Hate to think you could get one over the Gene Genie."
Sam swallowed, mesmerised by the sensation of Gene's skin against his own. "So all this time..." he said.
"Yeah," Gene confirmed.
"Just waiting," Sam continued.
"You're very patient. More than I would've thought."
"You know how the saying goes."
"Good things come to those who wait?"
"Delayed gratification leads to bursting balls."
Sam laughed, nervous tension draining out of his body. He dragged one of his hands up into Gene's hair. "Maybe we can eat first, yeah?"
"S'pose I could wait another twenty minutes," Gene replied. He contradicted the statement by finally pressing his lips against Sam's, gliding his tongue over Sam's lower lip and teasing in order to be let in. Sam pressed closer, hands winding around Gene's back.
They pulled apart eventually and Sam looked at Gene with an almost dazed expression. He squinted, examining Gene. "You said you'd hoped for chocolates. What would you have done if I'd bought you flowers?"
"Even if they were lovely, red roses?"
"Especially if they were lovely, red roses. You'd already forced me into nearly every romantic cliché in Christendom. The next was a moonlit walk on a beach."
"Might be a bit hard, that."
"Knowing you, you'd get the sand imported and set it up along the sodding canal."
Sam grinned. "Might too." He nodded at the stovetop. "I'm gonna plate up. Like you say, the quicker we eat, the quicker we can go for a stroll."
"I'd prefer to go for a stroke."
Sam turned back to the cook-top and smiled to himself. And Gene had thought he had a poor poker face...