Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 955 words.
Notes: Sam/Maya. Warning: Character death. Spoilers for 2.08. For space_oddity_75
"Whichever strange place you find yourself in, make that your home," he'd said. Nice words, but little sentiment. He doesn't really know strange places, this bloke, he's just strange in the head.
The father of her child's as good as dead and what does Sam "I can be your friend and protector" Tyler do? He gets off into slagging matches with his boss, no small amount of innuendo and bigotry coming through in both the words and the expressions.
He thinks he's helping, the tosser, but she'd prefer someone actually going out there and doing something.
"Leave him alone," she says, but inside she's thinking, 'or smack him, because I just can't stand his compassion right now.'
She sees Sam waiting by the corner seven years after first meeting him. He looks harrowed, older, very much like he doesn't want to be seen. But Leslie's always been good at observation, and there he is, sticking out like a sore thumb --- leather jacket still on his back, hair longer now, medallion glinting.
He jumps. He whirls around and looks at her, swallowing thickly. "Miss Roy."
"Any reason you're skulking around out here?"
"I wanted to see Maya," he blurts out.
Leslie's maternal instinct comes kicking in. "Sorry?"
"Just one last time."
"You've never seen her before --- have you?"
"No, no, of course not." Sam blinks, he fidgets, dithering on the balls of his feet. "Can I? Not for long. I just want --- to say goodbye."
She doesn't want a man who looks on the edge to get anywhere near her daughter, but she's worried what he might do, so she ushers him to the front garden. "Wait here."
Leslie goes back inside. Maya is dancing around the room, listening to one of Deepak's old albums. One of the rare Asian albums he ever owned. Leslie knows in that moment that she can't do this, can't put her child at risk, no matter how desperate Sam looks, even though he's a copper.
"No," she says bluntly, standing by the front door. "You can't see her."
Sam nods, too quickly. He starts to turn, flinging one hand up into the air as a farewell salute. But Maya comes to investigate, eyes inquisitive as she hangs onto Leslie's legs. Sam stops stock still and stares at her.
"Hi Maya," he says, his voice high.
"Hello. Do I know you?"
"No. No, you don't."
"Maya, what I'm gonna say won't make any sense to you now, but I want you to remember these words: I'm sorry, but I had to go back. And I hope you lead a wonderful life."
Maya looks up at Sam, forehead creased in the sort of frown six year olds get when they're confused. "You're weird."
"If Gene Hunt turns up, don't tell him I was here," Sam pleads, eyes glistening at Leslie. "He wouldn't get it --- and I don't want him to. It's for the best, believe me."
And with that, he leaves.
Leslie reads about him in the newspaper three days later. She's sure she's being paranoid or got her times mixed up or something, but she thinks she saw him after he was supposed to have gone missing.
She hasn't seen Maya for three weeks. She misses the coffee-shop chats and random calls at 5.57pm, asking for recipe advice, such as whether she really needs the saffron, and how much sour cream should she use, anyway? She misses hearing her daughter's laugh and seeing her smile.
She hopes this new bloke's worth it. The last three haven't been. Maya deserves happiness. She needs someone to give her love and warmth after the invariably shitty working week she's had. Someone who's soft and funny, but well-paid. A GP, perhaps? A nurse? Someone who will understand the danger and stress of her job, but have an outside perspective too.
All she really wants is for Maya to be happy, but mostly, she wants to see Maya happy. Is that too much to ask?
When she meets him, Maya's new boyfriend gets her name wrong. He nervously rubs his palms down his thighs, gives the smallest quirk of an anxious smile, and says, "Hello, Layla, lovely to meet you."
"Leslie," Maya says, taking him by the arm. "I told you it was Leslie."
He frowns, making an apologetic face. "Don't know where that came from, must've been thinking about something else, sorry."
"Mum, this is Sam," Maya says, her cheeks bright with the flush of new love.
Leslie extends her hand and remembers why he looks so familiar. She knows how he knows her old nickname. "Hello, Sam."
She doesn't know why Sam's pretending, she doesn't trust that he isn't. She doesn't understand.
She detests him. She hates him for shattering her once logical, world-perfect view. She fears him.
Leslie wraps her arms around Maya and feels her heart break as she listens to her tears.
"I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Maya sniffs. "There was nothing they could do. He was practically dead upon impact. There was nothing I could do."
"Sam would have wanted you to lead a happy life," Leslie says, squeezing her arms tighter around Maya's body.
"Then why'd he do this? Why spend all that time getting better and then just --- he just --- why?"
"I don't know, love. I couldn't tell you." Leslie sucks in a deep breath. "Did he say anything to you... about 'going back', or 'going home'. Something like that?"
Maya nearly shrieks. "What's that got to do with anything?"
Leslie shakes her head. "Nothing. It means nothing."
"I hate him, mum. I really fucking hate him."
"I hate him too."