Loz (lozenger8) wrote,

Try a Little Tenderness (11/?)

Title: Try a Little Tenderness (11/?)
Fandom: Life on Mars
Rating: PG-13 for this section.
Word Count: 1,321 words this section.
Notes: Sam/Gene slash.
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.

Gene very rarely smiled. Sam didn't expect him to now, it was the kind of thing he just didn't do on any regular basis. When he did smile, it always looked either vaguely wrong, vaguely menacing, or strangely enticing - like he might be someone you'd like to spend time with, because he knew how to have a good laugh. He did know how to have a good laugh, though often at other people's expense. Sam had never really thought about it much, until he came to realise that there was something else Gene rarely did.

Gene very rarely ever looked like his world was crashing down. Sam had never seen him look almost like he was on the verge of crumpling into a soggy heap in the middle of a room. He always looked shades of determined, annoyed, or quizzical. Gene shouted, Gene punched, Gene did this, that and the other, but he never acted like life was just too difficult.

It unnerved Sam to see Gene displaying characteristics that showed him as vulnerable. It wasn't like he'd never thought Gene could be that way, because he wasn't a cardboard cut-out and he did have moments of admitted weakness. Sam simply didn't expect Gene to be so open. Even after Harry, he'd pulled himself together with alarming alacrity. Gene's vulnerability always came in his complete inability to say and do things that would dent his 'almighty Guv' façade.

Gene conveyed emotion through shouting. Through physicality. He didn't sit in his office, head resting in his hands, wallowing. He got out there and did stuff. Okay, so Sam was of the opinion that a lot of what Gene did was just plain wrong, but it was better than this. At this moment in time, Gene more closely resembled Sam than himself.

Sam found himself knocking on the door to Gene's office, regarding his own fist with a kind of wonder. He swung the door open and stood by the filing cabinet, skimming his hand over the cool, impersonal metal.

"Susan Harper's here, Guv," Sam announced quietly. "But Oswald isn't finished yet. We're gonna have to stall." Gene raised his head and his face was sweaty, a deep pink; he looked like shit warmed up.



They walked into the canteen. Sam would have preferred somewhere cozier, warmer, but this was all they had. There was no one else there at this early hour and fluorescent light glinted off the linoleum with a smooth sheen. Most tables had chairs stacked tall, but the one with the teapot was set out for three. It was startlingly basic. Disturbingly simple.

Gene was standing tall, comporting himself in the manner Sam had more experience with, using his bulk as a calm sort of reassurance. He guided Susan around the tables by a light hand on her elbow. When they were settled, cups of tea supplied with milk and sugar, a small uncomfortable silence emerged.

"I should warn you," Sam said suddenly. "The sight of... the body, may shock you."

Susan nodded, lips pressed tight. "I understand, Inspector."

Sam mentally cursed himself for what he was going to do next. "In the meantime, could you tell us about your daughter?"

"What would you like to know?"

Everything. Every last little detail.

Sam paid special attention to how he phrased his questions, although so far Susan hadn't shown any indication she was about to start crying. Everyone reacted differently.

"We'll start with the basics. How old is Tina?"

"Eight," Susan said. "Turns nine in September."

"Which school does she attend?"

"Crumpsall Lane Junior School."

"Does she have many friends?"

"No. No, she's always been shy. She has a couple of friends from when she sang in the choir, back when we lived in Hyde. They come 'round occasionally."

Sam cut in quickly. "You used to live in Hyde?"

He looked at Gene, raising his eyebrows, as if to say here's a connection, but part of his brain was also thinking, shit, there it is again.

Gene looked back at him, forehead creased in concentration. He looked like he was teetering on the brink of a revelation.

"How long ago was that?" Gene asked, brusquely.

"About a year and a half." Susan stirred another sugar into her tea. "Is that important?"

"Everything's important," Sam said, before Gene could.

"You really think it's her, don't you?" Susan said, dully. Sam nodded before he could stop himself.

"Can you tell us the names of Tina's friends?"

Susan stared into her tea. "Yeah. I can count them on one hand, so it won't be any bother. There's Bobby Winton. That's a girl, by the way. Parents are Jack and Georgina. Anna. I don't know her last name. I'll have to ask Rebecca that. Mary and Tom Forrester and their son William are friends of the family."

"I'll need to know family friends too."

Susan rattled off an ever expanding group of people and addresses. Sam wrote all of the names down, getting a little confused.

"You don't know a Patricia Roker or a Janet Wickham and their daughers Carolyn and Beth, do you?"

"No, can't say those names ring a bell, sorry."

"Would you be able to tell us the places you frequented in Hyde?"

Chris came before she could. He looked pale, informing them that things were ready. He held a report under one of his arms and handed it to Gene as they walked down the corridor, back to the morgue.

Susan didn't scream or faint upon seeing the body of her dead child. "Yes," she said, "that's her."

There would come a time when Susan would crack, Sam knew. It might be a day away, it might be a month, but she would lose this unnatural composure. She would beat at the walls and sob and dream of vengeance for her child's stolen life.

It didn't make her faultlessly calm appearance any less confronting.

"Can you look at her clothes and personal effects?" Sam asked, pointing to the evidence bags on a bench.

"Sure. Anything to help."

He lifted the bags up for Susan's perusal, asking if anything was missing, but Susan looked confused as soon as she glimpsed the dress.

"She wasn't wearing a dress. She never wears dresses. That's not hers. She'd never wear a colour so bright."

She shook her head at every item. "None of this is hers."

A WPC was asked to sit with Susan. Sam tailed Gene back to CID.

"We never asked Patricia Roker to identify her daughter's clothes," Sam said, walking along beside Gene.

"Better do that as soon as poss, then."

"That's significant, that is. Dressing the girls up. We can work with that."

"Dunno how."

Sam paused, forcing Gene to swivel and stare at him. "We might be able to find out where the killer got the clothes from. I'll call the local shops, ask if any childless people've been buying lots of similar items lately."

Gene pushed his lips forward, thinking about that. "Might work. Can't hurt, can it?"

"What do you think, then? Are they definitely connected?" Sam asked tentatively, noticing with some relief that Gene was beginning to look once more like a bull in an open paddock. All the space he could ask for, yet still the urge to charge.

"One who went to Hyde, the other who went away from there. Can't be a coincidence, can it? You're also gonna have to start pulling in your contacts, Sam. Talk to your old mates in C-Division. Get us something about Hyde."

A good idea in theory. Except he didn't have anything about Hyde but paranoia.

Gene didn't notice Sam's hemming and hawing. "I'll get Cartwright, Chris and Ray on the family friends. Meanwhile, I'm gonna have a little word with some of my informants. Boris lives near where the body was found and he's usually a good eye on him. Never know our luck."

When Gene bounded off, Sam let out a long, drawn-out sigh. Gene had left Oswald's report on his desk, and Sam picked it up, because he couldn't talk to old mates he didn't have, but he could make correlations between their two victims. He could continue working on his profile.

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
Tags: life on mars, rated pg-13, slash, try a little tenderness, writing

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