Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 7,470 words.
Notes: Thanks to taurenova and t_eyla for beta duties. All remaining errors are mine and mine alone. Written for the lifein1973 ficathon.
Summary/Prompt: Sam/Gene, Alternate Universe, Gene In the Future. He hadn't been a DI for seven years, and now he had to answer to this young little tight-arse who thought he knew everything. And try as he might, when it was in view, Gene couldn't stop looking at that tight arse, which was one of the reasons he didn't want to go first.
The car swerved to a halt with a thunderous bang and three plastic rubbish bins met their fate. Gene gave them a cursory glance as he stepped out of the Ford S-MAX. Stupid bloody name for a car, and stupid bloody looking n'all, but it got the job done. Now, he had to do the same thing. Only, it was difficult, this. Pretending he knew everything when really he knew nowt. Acronyms and procedures and that much paperwork, he thought he'd go blind, and if that had to happen, he'd always really hoped he'd do it in the conventional way.
2006. Jesus. If anyone'd said to him he'd get involved in a crash and wind up 33 years in the future, he'd have them on possession. But here he was. At first he'd thought it was all in his head, that he was having some bizarre dream, possibly fuelled by too much brew, but it'd been five weeks now and he woke up every morning, time seemed to work normally, he could touch, see, smell, taste and hear and there were so many details. His instinct was telling him it was real and his instinct was rarely mistaken.
Still, real as it might be, it was still wrong. He didn't belong here. He missed home. Looking at this monstrosity of a brick building, with bronze lettering proclaiming 'Warren & Crane', gave him a serious urge to kick in heads.
"You alright, Gene?"
Gene swivelled to look at the interrogator, who just so happened to be his boss in this Godforsaken place. DCI Tyler, with a pole so far up his arse, he could probably taste the steel. He was a bit of a prick, a bit of an idiot, but he was also a bit of alright. Lean, wiry, easy on the eyes. And he had his moments. He could be downright friendly when he wanted to be. He also had the benefit of not being all that worried whenever Gene thought he was cracking apart, like, for instance, the first time they met, because he just thought Gene was following the long line of department lackeys who liked to make a mockery of him.
"Brighter than a parakeet's arse."
Tyler gave a disgusted wrinkle of his nose, an expression Gene had got well used to. "You lead the way, Inspector."
God, he hated that. He hadn't been a DI for seven years, and now he had to answer to this young little tight-arse who thought he knew everything. And try as he might, when it was in view, Gene couldn't stop looking at that tight arse, which was one of the reasons he didn't want to go first.
One of the weirder, and in some ways gratifying things about this place was that it seemed like it was alright to fancy the pants off other blokes, or if you were a bird, other birds. There'd been male on male kissing in Doctor Who, for Christ's sakes. Gene couldn't say he'd never considered that the best thing for Delgado and Pertwee was a good snog, but actually seeing it on the screen was another matter.
It may have been oddly gratifying, but it made him more than slightly uncomfortable, especially since he was now within the hallowed walls of a so-called 'gay club'. There was black tiling and rainbow paintwork and these alone were enough to make him think it wasn't really his place, even if he did feel some form of affinity with those who spent time here.
At least forty blokes were lined up against the wall, sitting on makeshift benches and looking glum. Some of them were extravagant, dressed up to the nines, hair coiffed. Others just looked like ordinary men out for a sozzle. One was dressed much the same way as the stab victim lying in a pool of his own blood, twenty feet from the exit.
Forensics were already wandering around with equipment that looked space age and Tyler started conferring with the head pathologist, all downturned mouth and serious eyes.
"Looks like our victim was stabbed," Tyler said to Gene after a couple of minutes.
"So, probably best to subtly steer the questions in that direction, and when I say subtly, I don't mean like last time, when you came out and asked Bethany Warrington if she was letting her cousin give her one from behind."
"Got a result, didn't I?"
"You were on national telly. It caused a minor scandal."
Gene rolled his eyes. Scandals were severely overrated in this day and age of fifteen second fame and anyone-could-be-a-celebrity. "You should be thankful it wasn't a major scandal."
"Just --- use some tact, yeah?"
Gene knew that in some twisted way, Tyler was looking out for him. According to Murphy and Spencer, he'd made enough mistakes since arriving in this hellhole to warrant early retirement, but Tyler kept leaping to his defence. As to why was anyone's guess.
He approached the man Tyler had indicated he should interview first; a tall, well built bloke who looked as out of place amongst the glitter as Gene felt.
The man looked up at him. "Hello."
"I'm DI Gene Hunt, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions."
There was a raise an eyebrow and then, "Jeremy Henry. Be my guest."
He was a South Londoner, baritone, sounded three quarters of the way to despondent. Gene tried to decide why before the questioning began. Was it a friend who'd died? A lover? He didn't seem put out enough for it to be a lover, but Gene had seen stranger things. He might be in shock.
"Do you come to Warren & Crane often?"
"I manage the business for Mr Crane, so yes, I'm here almost every night. Quite a lot of time during the day too."
"Right. Did you know the victim?"
"He was one of the regulars. I think his name was Jimmy."
Gene went through the regular enquiries, checking times and alibis, jotting down notes for future purposes. He moved from Henry onto other potential witnesses, all more or less helpful in various ways. As the day wore on, he realised that they had no solid leads, little evidence, and not much chance of wrapping this up within the day. Fan-bloody-tabulous.
The new bloke was weird. No easy way to put it. He'd started the job being weird and he'd conducted the day's interviews weirdly. Sam was relatively sure that he'd suffered a massive brain haemorrhage due to his accident and was therefore convinced he was playing a part in a terrifying version of The Sweeney meets New Tricks. Except the doctor didn't seem to think so, Gene had been cleared as A-okay. He was impulsive, irrational, he contravened authority, and was constantly going on about the way things "used to be", as if 8 years made that much difference. And Sam had no idea why he found him so Goddamned attractive, but was doing everything in his power not to spend too much time alone with him outside of work.
He told himself he was wildly on the rebound and was trying to find a substitute for Maya now that she'd transferred, because, in some key ways, Gene was very reminiscent of her. Believed in gut feeling, hated paperwork. Of course, in others, he couldn't have been more different, and it was the differences that had Sam awake at night.
Sam had jumped through hoops trying to preserve Gene, not only as a member of his team, but as a member of the force, and he wanted to think it was altruism, but his pumping blood and skipping heart told him it was something else. It was purely sexual, nothing more --- except, despite never wanting to be alone, Sam loved talking to Gene, partly because he seemed to come from another world. Sam sometimes found himself nodding along, agreeing with what he was saying when he lambasted the bureaucracy and red tape. Unfortunately, Gene also appeared to belong to the masculinist movement that made a mockery of both political correctness and common decency just to get a rise out of people, so he also found himself cringing along with many of Gene's views.
He didn't have high hopes for the Warren & Crane case. Crane got away with all kinds of crap all hours of the day and night, even whilst locked up in prison, but even still was unlikely to orchestrate a stabbing. And the gay community, especially in Manchester, was notorious for closing ranks against coppers. Add to that an officer who had once referred to Ant and Dec as "those soggy little bum bandits" and Sam was wondering why he hadn't delegated everything far, far away.
It was because he knew Gene had a solid performance in there somewhere and thinking about Gene and solid in the same sentence sent a flush up the back of his neck.
The investigation had taken them to the house of one of Jimmy Kendall's friends, a real estate agent called Thomas Ellingham, who hadn't been admitted to the club with Jimmy, but had been seen nearby. Sam didn't like the chances that this was their killer, but he might lead them on the right path.
Sam flashed his badge as soon as the door opened. "DCI Sam Tyler, and this is DI Gene Hunt, may we come in? We're enquiring into the death of Jimmy Kendall."
"Jimmy's dead?" Ellingham asked, eyes wide and jaw slack.
"As a doorknob," Gene piped up. Sam shot him what he hoped was a withering glare and followed Ellingham into the house.
Once they were seated, Ellingham turned the interrogation on its head. "I saw Jimmy on Friday. He was fine. What happened?"
"He said hello to Zorro, the Gay Blade," Gene remarked. "I saw that one on the weekend. Not nearly as funny as the title'd suggest."
Sam bit the inside of his cheek to prevent himself from screaming blue bloody murder. "He was stabbed," he supplied. "By persons unknown. I'm hoping you could help us find out who the culprit was. You say you last saw Jimmy on Friday. What were you doing last night?"
"I stayed at home. Didn't fancy it out. Tell the truth, I've been cutting down on the late nights and club hopping."
"You were nowhere in the vicinity of Warren & Crane, then?"
Sam wondered whether he should reveal he knew that was a lie straight away or keep this friendly, waiting for some more information to surface. Before he had a chance to decide, Gene was out of his chair and crashing Ellingham into the wall, one hand on his shoulder, the other yanking his head back.
"Nice try, sweetcheeks, but we've got witnesses that saw you outside the club last night."
Ellingham struggled and began wheezing just as Sam sucked in an intake of breath and hauled Gene away.
Sam dragged Gene outside, his Adam's apple feeling like it was expanding and cutting off his airway. "What hell d'you think you're doing?"
Gene was flippant. "He lied."
"He could report you. In fact, I'll be very surprised if he doesn't. Are you trying to lose your job or are you just terminally thick?"
"I'm sodding sick of this place, that's what I am. In my day, I'd have that runt down in Lost & Found and squealing like the little pork chop he is."
"In my day? Lost & Found? You're making no sense. None at all. I think you need your head examined."
"Yeah? And you need to check if you've still got balls somewhere down there."
Sam felt his anger rise as Gene looked pointedly down at his crotch and he was tempted to fight physical violence with physical violence, until he got his emotions under control and pressed his lips into a tight thin line instead. He wasn't used to such a visceral emotional reaction, but then, he wasn't used to facing up to someone like Gene.
"Back to the station, Hunt. Now. Take a cab. I'm gonna try and smooth things over so that we don't get our arses sued off for assault and heads served on a silver platter for letting you near anyone ever."
"You're blowing this out of proportion. I barely touched him."
Sam clenched and unclenched his fists, the knot in his stomach contracting with the movement. "This is just one in a long line of spectacular failures. I don't know why you wanted to transfer to my division, but I sincerely wish you'd transfer right back. Clearly this isn't the place for you. It's far too civilised."
Sam knew he'd quite possibly gone too far when Gene's eyes narrowed and he squared his shoulders before turning on his heel and walking down the street, but he felt a small spike of vindication. If Ellingham was their killer, he could easily get away with it, having a police brutality incident to refer to.
Gene couldn't face going back to the station like a dog with its tail between its legs, especially considering there'd be incident report forms and endless reams of paperwork to fill out. He went to his flat instead. Horrid little place, despite all the mod cons. He went straight to the kitchen to make a tea. It was bedecked in stainless steel and felt more like a hospital ward than a home. The flat was part of what used to be a textiles warehouse, one he knew well as a textiles warehouse, and was just one of nineteen where he'd have thought seven such residences could happily fit. But he had a widescreen telly with picture quality that was damn near like you could touch the actors right there, and the day he'd discovered DVDs had been the day his eyes had lit up with the first flickers of joy 2006 had rendered in him. All of Gary Cooper's back catalogue. Films with some indecently saucy bird named Kate Winslet. Countless flicks he'd wanted to see and not had time for. Better yet, there were places to rent movies. It was a Godsend when pubs felt like the paler versions of delicatessens and most public places frowned on smoking.
The DVDs also spoke to him. It was one of the things that had him crawled tight under his covers at night, refusing to open his eyes. Every now and then there'd be a scene where out of nowhere another shadowy figure'd pop up. A young child in blue who bore a passing resemblance to his brother Stu as a boy. He spoke occasionally, but never good things, always words that made Gene feel sick, and that usually wasn't possible without thirteen pints of the good stuff and a vindaloo.
He was tempted to forget it all and pop a movie into the player now, because he'd always been a bit of a masochist and if he were lucky, there might not be any bonus features, but he didn't. He added a measure of whisky to his tea and lit up a cig. Least here he could be himself for a few minutes. He undid his top button and stretched his legs out in their jeans. He hadn't given up, not even close. He just needed a few minutes to figure out his next plan of attack. He'd show Tyler what a ponce he was being and then maybe get an ounce of the respect he deserved.
His mind replayed the scene of Tyler only just restraining himself from lashing out. It would've been interesting if the little git had let himself be a man for a moment. Gene didn't allow himself to meander on the thought, because he'd a keen idea of where it would lead; fantasies of Tyler being all man and Gene teaching him some valuable lessons. Shit. Even when he hated the bastard, he wanted him. Didn't seem fair that his life should be twisted around into some bizzaroland and that he'd be stuck with a frustratingly roger ready Guv.
Right, so, he needed evidence that Ellingham was the killer and in order to get that, he'd have to do some more questioning, but if Tyler saw him about town, he'd probably officially suspend him then and there. Whilst Gene wouldn't ordinarily give a tuppeny bit about that, he had no real choice, because police work was the only thing keeping him just this side of sane, even if it was tedious as cat crap and three times as messy to clean up. He'd best get a disguise.
Two hours later he was talking with Clifton Bunton, one of Jimmy's pals who'd been with him on the dancefloor. He'd been useful once before and Gene didn't really suspect him, even though he knew he should keep up a surface-level regard of scepticism just because it was the nature of things that, at least once, it really would be the last person you'd suspect.
He peered at Clifton through his glasses and went to brush his hand through his hair only to remember he'd gone so far as to wear a hat.
"So he had a fight with your mate Tony the night before? How bad was this row?" he asked, wondering why Clifton hadn't said anything about it in the first round of interrogation.
"Not bad so much as loud. The make-up sex was louder."
Clifton leered at Gene, which any other day might garner him a warning glare and a light tap, but today just had Gene taking a step back.
"You don't think that a lover's spat was behind his death, do you? I mean, how do you even know Jimmy was the intended target?"
Gene stopped and stared at Clifton, whose bored expression clearly concealed a genius mind. He didn't tell him that, he simply offered some quick words of thanks and continued on his way. There had been something a different dancing queen had said that he'd thought was interesting at the time, but combined with this comment, his mind was working overtime.
Jeremy Henry was very accommodating. He wanted this investigation done and dusted, so it was unsurprising. He pointed Gene towards the security vault and let him have his merry way. This was the first time Gene could remember being happy that cameras were everywhere. He took the copies of the security footage proffered and settled himself into the task of looking through them. He'd asked the tech-bloke for the night in question and the nights preceding it, just to double check.
And there he was. The dead man's doppelganger. He hadn't known the victim, hadn't seen it happen, didn't seem connected with the case much at all, except he'd been dressed more or roughly the same. Terrence, another of Jimmy's dance partners, had said that earlier in the evening he'd gone to give Jimmy his drink, but had accidentally offered it to this man instead.
He couldn't be positive, but it was possible Jimmy hadn't been the intended victim at all. He went through his notepad and looked at the address for this other one, Steven Menzies, then rang for another cab.
Sam was beginning to think this was a lost cause. Ellingham backed down when Sam apologised and stated that Gene would suffer the consequences of his actions. He admitted that he'd been more surprised than hurt.
Ellingham confessed that he'd gone to Warren & Crane because he was secretly in love with his friend Clifton Bunton and had plans of telling him. He hadn't worked up the courage to go inside. Sam believed him, but went to look at the surveillance tapes just in case.
"Your partner was just here looking."
"I don't have a partner."
Henry gave a perplexed frown. "DI Hunt."
Sam rubbed a hand down his face. "I know who you meant, I'm just pointing out, he's not my partner."
Sam scoured through the security footage and got to the point he wanted. No, Ellingham had never entered the club. Now he was worried. Where might Gene have gone? The thought of him like a loose cannon was shudder-inducing.
"Did DI Hunt give you any indication of where he was going next?"
Sam groaned, thanked Henry for his time and contemplated running away to Mexico. Instead, he climbed into the S-MAX and tried to decide where to go from here. Seven weeks ago he wouldn't have been having this problem. Life had been infinitely, blissfully boring. As he drove away from the gay quarter back to the station, he reminisced about those times. They seemed so long ago.
He'd go back to the station, work for a couple more hours, and then, if he hadn't uncovered any other leads, go home to risotto for one.
Gene was in the car park. Sam didn't know why Gene was there, hunkered behind a newspaper and wearing a truly hideous hat, but he was. Sam also didn't know why he felt a jolt of joy at seeing Gene, but he told himself it was because he now knew his whereabouts. He sauntered over.
"How'd you know it was me?"
Sam quirked an eyebrow and spoke in a deadpan monotone. "... oh goodness, is that you, DI Hunt? Why, I hardly recognised you. Your powers of camouflage surely put you on par with The Jackal."
"Look, before you get all high and mighty, you should know I've something to tell you."
"High and mighty? Not wanting a homophobic maverick running around ruining the case doesn't make me high and mighty, it makes me sane, unlike some."
"Homophobic? What does that mean?" There was no trace of humour in Gene's words, he just sounded annoyed. His annoyance fuelled Sam's.
"Fearful of homosexuality and prone to showing that fear in violent and abusive ways."
"I can hardly be homophobic when I'm ambisextrous, can I?"
"I play for both teams, grease the pole at either end, carnally delight in tits and arse."
Sam stopped. Gene couldn't be serious. He was always making casually sexist, racist and homophobic remarks. Next he'd be saying he was born a woman and came from a long line of Irish descendents.
Gene could obviously tell he wasn't believing him. He spread his hands out wide, as if this charade added to the meaning of his next words. "Look, where I come from, everyone makes a joke of it. It's just what's done. Doesn't mean anything."
"You know, it's funny, I had no idea Hyde was the national centre for bigotry and crudity."
"Well now you know."
Sam scratched his eyebrow, wishing he could be anywhere else. "What did you have to tell me?"
"Jimmy mightn't've been our intended target. There was another bloke there, Steven Menzies, who was the same build and hair colour, wearing the same outfit. I reckon he was the one who was meant to be stabbed and that we've been following the trail of the wrong man."
"Do you have any proof?"
Gene raised a DVD. "Not proof so much as facts to support the idea. Menzies got into a massive punch up four nights ago. If we can identify who with, we might just nail a killer. Only trouble is, Menzies is uncontactable, has been all day. I'm thinking he knows he was the one who was meant to get it and he's gone into hiding. I was thinking, instead of spending forever trying to find him, we could rely upon your fancy gadgets."
Sam couldn't help it, he was grudgingly impressed. "My fancy gadgets? Right. You know, you are so lucky Ellingham didn't want to take any kind of action against you. I'm going to recommend you're given all weekend shifts for the next several months and you're going to have to answer to me about everything, every last little detail, in the cases you take."
"Not fired, then."
"Let's face it, even if I did fire you, you'd probably still hang around, right?"
"I've nowhere else to go."
Gene gave the video to the technically gifted dicks down in the basement, who'd run it through analysis and try to match it with a face using reference points, but he preferred the tried and true method of looking through photos. He'd been given training on how to use the database when he'd first arrived. Tyler had thought he'd been exaggerating when he'd said he'd never used a computer, but he set Gene up with after hours classes and Gene picked it up. It wasn't hard, but it wasn't easy either. Once he'd got the basic details down pat, he was left with the fiddlier stuff, like circumventing the firewall in order to look at sites that might be relevant to cases, but were blocked because the police of 2006 were a bunch of mindless prudes.
Tyler had been shocked at his earlier declaration of sexual freedom, and still didn't believe him. As he clicked through the pictures, Gene thought about ways to make Tyler take stock by his words. It invariably involved someone on their knees and hands in strategic places.
He'd probably made a mistake being so open. It was the first time he'd ever said it out loud, sounded strange to his ears. Whenever he'd been with another bloke, he'd stressed the importance of keeping it quiet, because it was too dangerous not to, especially in his profession. He hadn't had an affair with another man for nine years, and if he hadn't encountered Tyler, he might have thought he'd never have the desire to again. Made life easier, only sleeping with women. No excuses or reasons.
But there was a sense of release with having told the truth, and it's not like Tyler thought he was sick in the head. For that, at any rate.
His computer beeped, informing him he had an email. He'd been known to go days without checking, so he got Danny, one of the basement geeks, to set up a notification, which hadn't taken more than a few clicks, but had ensured he'd been on time for countless meetings. Or purposefully late, however he was feeling that day. It was an email from Danny, funnily enough.
Gene read it, stood and walked over to Tyler's desk. "Guv, they've made a match."
Tyler looked up from his witness statements, surprised. "Brilliant. Let's get down there."
"Peter Lane," Danny said, pointing up at the picture on the large display. "Wanted for assault and resisting arrest, 1997. We've got a last known address."
Tyler flicked through his notepad. "He was at the club. Great work."
Gene patted Danny on the shoulder. "Yeah, thanks, Danny-boy, I owe you one."
"No troubles DCI Tyler and DI Hunt, happy to do my job."
"So are we gonna go, pick him up?"
"No, we'll get uniform to do that. It's late. Why don't we go and get some dinner?"
Gene hoped his expression of shock and amazement didn't make him look like the prick he felt. He followed Tyler out of CID and reflexively opened his hand out for the keys to the S-MAX.
"No. I'm driving. You won't know where to go," Tyler said with a mischievous glint in his eye.
"Where're we going?"
"We're gonna grab some Thai food. I've been watching your eating habits. You eat lots of junk. You need to be heart smart. I wanna show you that food can be delicious and good for you."
Gene's happily cholesterol encrusted heart began to thump mysteriously quickly in his chest. "You've been watching my eating habits?"
"It's part of the job. Ensure my team is fighting fit."
"Then you'd know Sally regularly vomits after lunch, then?"
"Yeah, she's seeing a psychiatrist about it. Bloody eating disorders."
Gene nodded. "In my day, women weren't afraid to have a little meat on their bones. Handles you could grab onto so you could ride for dear life."
"For God's sakes, stop that. In your day. What day? Tuesday? You act like some old fart, but you're not. You're not a dinosaur. I put a moratorium on such phrases as 'in my day', 'we used to', 'back then' and although it doesn't really apply here, the much hated 'where I come from', okay?"
Gene blew air through his nose in a steady stream and wanted to light up, but knew he'd only get another lecture.
This wasn't anything special, this was ensuring that Gene didn't go off half-cocked and go crashing after Peter Lane himself instead of letting uniform handle it. This was giving him an education in healthy eating. This was... a date. No point denying it. It was a complete mistake. He had to be as crazed as Gene.
Sam was dancing with fire. He kept thinking about what Gene had said and he knew it was stupid, but it wasn't like he hadn't had anything but office romances since he joined the force, and maybe this would ease some of the tension between them. Suddenly, all those times Gene had put a hand on his arm came back to haunt him with a quick flash of visual vignettes. It hadn't just been him jumping at the touch, it had been Gene relishing it. He didn't have any concept of personal space because he didn't want one.
He parked and led Gene to the restaurant, asking for a table for two. Gene looked distinctly uncomfortable as he looked down the menu.
"I don't know the language," Gene said.
"Tell me what you like."
"Curries. Meat and three veg. Bacon butties."
"You won't find that latter one, but I can help with the other two. Here, how about this one?" Sam leaned over and pointed to one of the menu items, purposefully brushing his hand against Gene's to elicit a reaction. Gene's eyes settled on his and a wary curiosity played in their depths.
"This is one of my favourite songs," Gene said, "haven't heard it played since I got here."
Sam raised an eyebrow. He didn't think Gene would really be into Christina Aguilera. "Good singer. Not sure about the public image. Doesn't seem right, really, that young girls buy the albums."
"They do? Why? Is it the whistling?"
Sam took a sip of water and wondered how he could respond to that. He couldn't help but think they were at cross purposes with each other. He changed the subject.
"What do you do in your spare time?"
"Watch movies, mostly. Tried telly, but there's nowt good on, just a bunch of boring tossers like you and me doing stupid shit. No point paying a telly license for that. Except there is that show with Dennis Waterman. God, he's looking old."
Sam tried to conceal a snigger, but failed.
"Why's that so funny?"
"No reason, sorry, continue."
"Apart from that, there isn't much spare time to speak of, is there? How about you?"
"Same, mostly. I like to cook, so sometimes I try out new recipes. Go and have dinner with my mum. Read the latest articles on criminal profiling and forensics. I dunno, I used to have lots of friends, but they disappeared over time. Seems like life is work."
"I used to go drinking with the boys down the Railway Arms, going on every night. Play poker. Darts. It wasn't all that exciting, but it was comfortable, especially after my wife left me."
Sam tactfully refrained from asking Gene about his wife, even though his curiosity was piqued. "Oi, I put a moratorium on you using that phrase, remember?"
Their food came and they ate together, talking about their different views on policing. Sam was amazed at how Gene still managed to sound like he belonged in another era, but his passion couldn't be disregarded.
Before they could finish, Sam's mobile rang and he gave an apologetic tilt of his head as he answered it and was told Lane had been brought in.
"We better be going. Maybe we could finish another time?"
The tape recorder was on, the interview well under way, but Sam didn't think they were going anywhere. Lane was refusing to talk, about anything, and unfortunately, since he had a lawyer sitting next to him, certain tricks of the trade weren't working. Sam was frustrated, but he could tell he wasn't nearly as pissed off as Gene, whose body language screamed, 'I could die, or commit murder, or both.'
Yes, Lane had got into a fight with Menzies. No, he hadn't planned to stab him. If he had, he certainly wouldn't have got the wrong man. Did they have any incontrovertible proof?
What they needed was the knife, laden with fingerprints. What they needed was sleep. They could hold Lane overnight and continue the search in the morning, and that's what Sam suggested.
For the first time ever, Gene was excited about waking up in 2006. He showered, shaved, got dressed and made it to the station earlier than usual. Tyler was in the car park, smoothing down his suit jacket, waiting for him. He tried to ignore the lurch of his heart into his throat when Tyler smiled at him. He should smile more often, it completely changed his face.
"You're alright for driving us back to the club, aren't you?" Tyler asked, tossing the keys. Gene caught them and nodded. "I've got uniform there already, doing some more scouring. We're going to go out in concentric circles and see if we can't find the murder weapon. I'm also going to try and get a search warrant so we can inspect Lane's house."
"What about the other line of enquiry? I could be wrong."
"Didn't think you'd ever admit that," Tyler said with another teasing smile that lit up his eyes. "You could be, but I don't think so. Lane's way too confident, too prepared. He's a man with a violent history and as you've said, it was dark, easy enough to mistake one man for the other. Just in case, though, I've got Murphy and Spencer working it from the other angle."
Gene glanced at Tyler. He'd covered every particular. He was possibly being unfair, but he didn't think Tyler was that good as a leader. Didn't seem to have dazzling people skills and certainly didn't engender inspiration in the troops. But he was a top-notch copper. Gene'd have him on his own team in a heartbeat.
"You're going on gut feeling," Gene said, quietly pleased.
"Yeah, it'll make a change from normal. Who knows. We might get a result."
They searched in bins, with plastic gloves and maps to plot what they'd already looked at. They looked in gutters. Behind plants. In air vents. Nothing. The day wore on with one failure after another. It was more than disheartening and Gene was getting the familiar itch of inaction that he always found frustrating with slow cases like these. Only, it was compounded, because he wasn't allowed to change the rules and go do something else.
Tyler couldn't even get a warrant. The judge said he'd little to go on and to come back when he had more, but there was no more without the search. Gene would've gone off and conducted that search himself, but Tyler kept him in his sights the whole time, smart enough to predict it, but not brave enough to condone it.
By the time they had to let Lane go, Gene was a seething ball of fury, only just able to keep a tight rein on his anger. He could tell that Tyler felt much the same, but he didn't say anything to that effect, just did what he had to do, filling out forms and handing out assignments.
"I'm thinking stakeout," Tyler said when Gene punched his table and sent papers flying everywhere. "We'll get an old car and keep watch."
"I reckon Lane's the type to think he's won. He'll be less cautious."
Gene pushed his lips together, contemplating it as a theory. It wasn't ridiculous. It might even work.
They borrowed a beaten up Citroen and parked themselves down Lane's street, two pairs of binoculars, a camera, two packets of crisps, a thermos of coffee and a salad between them.
Tyler had his binoculars up to his eyes, scanning the area.
"See anything, Guv?"
"You really have to stop calling me Guv or DCI Tyler when it's just us together. Call me Sam. I've called you Gene from the beginning, haven't I?"
"Alright. Sam. "
"Good. Unfortunately, I don't see anything."
Gene looked at the rise and fall of Sam's chest as he took a deep breath. "If he were my suspect, I'd've beaten a confession out of him by now."
"Please tell me you mean that figuratively?"
"Not in the conventional sense of the word, no."
There was a sigh, a shake the head, as if the disappointment was too much to bear. "Jesus, Gene. Is this why you transferred?"
Gene looked Tyler --- no, Sam, in the eyes. "Maybe."
To be honest, he hadn't thought much about the why, only the how and what next.
"Do you really think that's how it works?" Sam asked, "you hit a bloke enough times and you'll secure a conviction?"
"No, it doesn't. How do you know he just doesn't want to be smacked anymore? It's so barbarian. You support City, yeah? How'd you feel if the players on the field just whacked each other when they wanted to get a goal? It's not sporting."
"That's a really shit analogy. Police work isn't like football. I'm not saying you hit just anyone, I'm saying you hit the guilty one."
Sam's face had grown a steady shade of pink and he waved his binoculars about like a weapon. "But you don't know he's guilty. Not positively. You could be harming an innocent man. Or woman, let's not forget them, or are they exempt because they're the fairer sex?"
"No, I've hit women too. The right mouthy ones."
Sam set his binoculars down and stared. Gene couldn't help but be amused by his expression. He refused to apologise for doing what had to be done, but before Sam had a fit, he thought he'd better lie.
"I'm pulling your leg."
"Thank God." Sam smoothed a hand over his jaw. "You're a good copper in all kinds of ways, but your views frankly terrify me."
"Yeah, well, you come from another planet."
"We're like the odd couple, but with more sexual tension."
Sam seemed to regret the words as soon as he said them, his mouth closing with a snap and his eyes diverted hurriedly down. He made a big show of fiddling with the camera, before returning his attention out the windscreen.
Gene wouldn't let that lie. "Oh, is that what it is?"
He placed a hand on Sam's far arm, was about to drag him into a kiss, when Sam gave a quick hiss of breath, the camera flying up and one of his hands moving to start the car. "He's off somewhere."
They followed behind Lane's car at a snail's pace until they finally got to the docks. Gene climbed out of the car and crept along the shipping containers until Lane was in his line of sight. Sam wasn't far behind him, wielding the camera. Lane tossed a bag into the water, looked around, and then made his way back, driving off again. A couple of minutes passed and Gene was aware Sam was staring at him wide-eyed.
Gene bumped his shoulder. "C'mon, fetch something to get it out."
"Right. Yeah. First, I've gotta call the station. Let them know what we saw."
"Bloody hell, let me."
Gene flipped his phone out of his pocket and began stabbing at the numbers, but the mobile was tiny and it took him forever just to hit the three digit speed-dial. He stomped his foot and began cursing the thing until a voice appeared on the other end.
Gene rolled his eyes as Sam looked around for something appropriate to extract the evidence. He found an old garbage net and began waving it around in the water. If this worked, they'd have finished with the case and all that would be left was dealing with Lane and a shitload of paperwork.
And for some reason, he was looking forward to it.
It took hours to arrange forensics and a diving team to be there and Sam was worried Lane had seen him and Gene in the Citroen and decided to play games, but finally, when they extracted the bag, it held bloodied clothes and a knife.
He collapsed beside Gene with a hot cup of coffee. He didn't understand why Gene was staring at the nearby television monitor completely rigid, his skin pale and eyes fixed.
Gene's head whipped around suddenly, almost as if he was pulled out of a trance. He took the coffee Sam was offering and took a gigantic gulp.
"Ah, that's the stuff. I'll give you this, coffee's better here. Expensive, but better."
"Glad you've found something you can approve of."
"I approve of lots of things," Gene replied. "I approve of you."
"Too kind. I should hope so, the number of chances I've given you."
"Chances for what?"
Sam smirked, peering at Gene beneath lowered lashes. "All kinds of things."
They hauled Lane in and despite the fact the lawyer was still there, this interview ran a lot more smoothly once they revealed the photographic evidence. Halfway through the interview, forensics came back and revealed the blood as being Jimmy Kendall's, and the fingerprints as being Peter Lane's. It was solid.
"He said he loved me and then he stabbed me in the back, so I thought I'd repay the favour," Lane said, looking more than miserable and less than happy to be telling them.
"But you got the wrong man," Sam said quietly.
"I didn't know that, did I? Not until later."
"You're going away for a long time," Gene declared with a menacing grin, his eyes slightly manic and his shoulders hunched. In that moment, even Sam was scared of him, and wasn't surprised his rough and ready approach got results.
He thought about suggesting anger management classes, but didn't think he was up for the peals of laughter and mockery, so he suggested they go for a celebratory breakfast instead.
They were just outside the café Sam liked to frequent when Gene dragged him into the nearby alley and stared him down.
"Before we celebrate, I really think there's something we've got to clear up," Gene said. Sam's pulse stuttered as Gene inched towards him. He felt the hairs at the back of his neck stand on end as Gene placed a hand on his bicep and the other at his waist. "I don't know how long I'm gonna be here for, but whilst I am, I'd like for us to get along."
"And by along, you mean...?"
"In. Out. Together." Gene ground his hips against Sam's. "You know. Along."
"It would compromise our positions."
"Can't be any more compromised than they already are."
"Office romances rarely go well."
"Who said it had to be romantic?"
Sam found himself grinning. He pushed back insistently and tilted his head, going in for the kiss. He stopped when their lips were half an inch apart. "Surely I'm far too young for you? In your day, witches were burnt at the stake and archery was a new fad."
"Actually, in my day, you'd've been four," Gene said quietly. He brushed Sam's fringe away from his forehead and Sam was slightly disturbed by the earnestness in his tone. "But you're not right now," he said more cheerfully, and closed the gap between them.
Kissing Sam made 2006 bearable. Shagging Sam made 2006 great. He still had to pretend he knew things he didn't, and every time he thought he knew everything there was to know that occurred in the space between 1973 and 2006, something new came up, but at least he had someone now, which was more than he could say for then.
There were acronyms and procedures and that much lecturing, he thought he'd go deaf, but there was also another lithe, firm body beside his, so he thought he'd cope. He closed his eyes and kissed Sam again, revelling in the warmth and softness, just as one hand skated over Sam's abdomen to his hard and bony hip.
He could make this his home, for however long it had to be. And he may not really know if he was bonkers, in a bloody coma, or miraculously in the sodding future, but at the moment, that didn't matter all that much.