Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 5360 words.
Notes: Sam/Gene, set 1989. Title from ‘Changes’ by David Bowie. Part thirteen in the Changes Series (link takes you to the previous parts.)
Warning: Prior character death. Sex between an adult and a teenager who is over the age of consent by today's standards, but not by 1989's.
Summary: The night before the beginning of the trial Sam doesn't sleep for longer than twenty minute stretches.
The night before the beginning of the trial Sam doesn't sleep for longer than twenty minute stretches. Gene knows this because he doesn't manage it either, continually waking and checking his clock, realising he's only been out of it the time it takes to polish off his midday meal. He thinks it was a mistake to make so much ride on the trial, to make it the day of reckoning, but he'd suggested that already and saying it again would be pointless.
"If I weren't to decide then, I'd probably put it off," Sam had said. "I'd prevaricate and push it to the back of my mind and before I knew it I'd leave it until it was too late."
"If that's how you feel, why not decide now?"
Sam hadn't answered.
Thinking about it now, listening to Sam's steady, deep breaths and constant fidgeting, Gene reckons that there's more to this trial than Sam is letting on. He has a keen idea of what that might be, but he's wondering whether his suspicions could really be right. Sam's notions of ethics and morality aren't set in stone, yet, but there are tenets he believes in. He's not without conviction.
It's the precise nature of Sam's conviction that Gene's not sure about.
The alarm-clock states it's 5.12 am when Sam sits up and goes to put his clothes on. Gene takes hold of his waist and tugs him back.
"What're you up to?"
"Was gonna go for a walk. I need to clear my head."
"No need for walking," Gene says. "I have an alternative solution." He experimentally drags his fingers down Sam's abdomen and against his crotch. He cups Sam lightly, and smiles to himself as Sam opens his legs, allowing further access.
Sam rolls his head back. "Are you sure you're up for it?"
"Not quite, but that can change."
"I didn't intend for that to be innuendo."
"Innuendo, eh?" Gene flicks down the waistband to Sam's boxers and takes him firmly in hand.
"Oh God, don't say it," Sam begs, with a tremor of a giggle. "No more double entendres and bad puns, please."
Gene kisses Sam's shoulder and strokes his hand up Sam's cock. "Keeping your mind clear, though, isn't it?"
"As only you can manage," Sam admits.
He extricates himself from Gene's grasp and swivels on the spot so that they're face to face. It's difficult for Gene to make out Sam's features in the dull light, but the touch of fingers along his jaw line is unmistakable, so he guesses this isn't a rejection. Sam kisses him, softly, licking over his teeth and into his mouth, settling over Gene's thighs as he does so. He lost his boxers in the move, and Gene works quickly ridding him of his t-shirt, pushing his hands up under the thin material and against the searing heat of Sam's skin. It doesn't take long to get rid of the garment entirely.
Not being able to see Sam properly has Gene at once annoyed and excited. He misses being able to see the flush across his cheeks, the curve of his kiss-softened lips, but his senses are more concentrated on the tactile; Sam's kisses trailing against his neck, the pads of his fingers stuttering over his torso, the insides of his calves against the outside of Gene's legs, gently rocking. He doesn't think he'll ever get used to this, the way they touch one another, how it feels when they're pressed tight. No amount of flowery description could do it justice, and though he's been tempted, once or twice, to mockingly write odes to Sam at the height of sensation, to make a joke of it all, he doesn't think he could ever find words that adequately rival the sheer vitality of it all.
Gene pulls Sam away from his neck and kisses him full on the lips again. Every kiss is slow, deep and relaxed. Sam goes soft against him, resting more of his weight on Gene, flexing into any position he's placed. No resistance at all. Most of the time, Sam kisses Gene as if he always wants to be in control. Here he seems to want to lose himself. Each kiss gets longer between breaths, and Gene has to consciously remind himself to breathe through his nose, because he can't think of anything but Sam's tongue against his own, the wet and the heat and the need for more.
Sam shifts, eventually, climbing off Gene to sprawl by his side. He tugs Gene over shortly after.
"Will you fuck me?"
"That was the idea, yeah."
"Will you hurry?"
Gene shakes his head, nips at Sam's collarbone a couple of times before speaking. "You're always so impatient."
Sam takes hold of Gene's pyjama bottoms and pulls them down his legs, wriggling against him as he does so. "I want you."
"Not all of us are on a hair-trigger or are ready to reload at a moment's notice. Some of us have to make the most of a singular experience."
Sam whispers in Gene's ear. "Mmm, see, you say that, but I've noticed that isn't always the case."
"Fine, then," Gene says, reaching over Sam and into the top drawer of the side-table. "You want me to hurry? I can hurry." He retrieves the lube, placing it carefully on the bed. "Legs spread wide, bossy-boots."
More light is filtering into the room, enough that Gene can see Sam's grin as he does as he's told. But Sam is ever contrary, so he fights back and says, "I'm not the bossy one."
"You are," Gene says, then pouring lube onto his fingers, rethinks and admits, "we're both the bossy one."
He lowers his hand and presses a finger along Sam's crack, not yet pushing into him, but sliding twice to get him good and slick. Sam sighs and arches his hips up, the movement making Gene's finger catch against the rim of his hole. This produces a sound more akin to a grunt from Sam, and Gene can't help but want to hear that again, so he starts to move his finger in circles, teasing, dipping into him. He waits as long as he possibly can, torturing Sam, before he's compelled to pour more lube over his fingers and push up into him. He loosens him slowly, deliberately ignoring every instance where Sam indicates that he's ready for more. Sam periodically clenches around him, makes low, pleading noises, and Gene's achingly hard.
He moves until he can finger and kiss Sam at the same time, enjoying every movement and moan. When he finally lines up and rocks into Sam, it's nothing short of blissful. He thrusts gently until he's all the way in, stays there for a moment, urging himself not to tremor as Sam adjusts his position, canting his hips. The new angle is perfect and Gene can't help but surge in a little faster on his next stroke. There's always something unreal and heady about fucking Sam, confusion as to how he could be so lucky, how he could be the one who gets to watch Sam in such intimate moments. But at the same time, there's the undeniable feeling that this is exactly as everything should be, that they belong to one another.
Sex with Sam always appears to make him sentimental.
Sam clutches into his hair and rolls his lower body up, Gene quickens his pace. They find a rhythm that's just the other side of languid, perfect with the ever-burgeoning sunlight streaming through the window. Gene stares as emotion plays on Sam's face; the occasional wince, the flutter of his eyelashes, the clenching of his jaw, a contented smile. He watches him and tries to ignore how close he is, because he wants this to last.
It won't last, because Sam has taken his own cock in hand and is close to coming himself. He's clenching around Gene and breathing harshly and everything conspires to make Gene's thrusting become ragged and erratic. Sam traces lines down his side with his fingers, holds on above his hip as if for dear life. He mutters to himself, and Gene has to crane close to hear that it's mostly nonsense with the occasional, "yes, fuck" thrown in.
It only takes a few more thrusts before Sam comes, tense and shuddering beneath him, lips falling open, eyes squeezed shut. He pants, hard and choked, and Gene thinks that's what sets him off, has him coming, deep and desperate. It's the sound of Sam forgetting how to think.
The barrister Gene has sought to defend Jackson is a real Rumpole type; Alexander Williams, Xander to his public school chums. He has more belief in the justice system than Gene has ever had, fights exhaustively for his clients, treats Gene like he's a babe newly born, though there can't be more than seven years between them. He has a reputation for being a staunch believer in innocence before proven guilty. Gene can't say he's ever liked him or others of his ilk when they were defending crims he knew deserved to be put away for the charges laid against them, or those who confessed point blank to their horrible misdeeds, or nasty little slugs who may not have been guilty of the particular crime they were up for, but were certainly behind others. But these days he finds he much prefers Williams to the prosecution, Martin Duffie.
In his experience, attending a trial at either Magistrates or Crown Court has always been a stressful and unnecessarily pompous experience. He understands the need for it most days, but there are others, when he knows the waiting times between being arrested and going to trial are expanded year by year, when the ceremony behind it all grates, when he thinks life would be easier if the police had the final say.
He sits in the gallery waiting for proceedings to begin. It's been a good hour since he last saw Sam, and at that point, Sam had been shaking, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down at a furious pace. He's about to stand on the witness stand and Gene's heart goes out to him. It never gets easier, but the first time is always the worst. Usually the best bet is to be straight down the line, displaying no emotion, but this is Sam, and Gene doesn't know if he's capable.
Sam stands, drawing himself to his full height. He looks a lot like a kid playing dress-ups, but when he begins to answer the prosecution's questions, his tones are deep, mature and carefully controlled, and Gene's reminded how wise he can sometimes appear.
"Yourself and PC Derek Thompson were first on the scene?" the prosecution clarifies.
"We were," Sam answers.
"Talk us through the events that occurred."
"It was approximately twenty-five minutes past seven in the evening, towards the end of my shift, and PC Thompson and myself received a message from dispatch alerting us to a situation two streets over, in George Street. We travelled to the site and could hear shouting. I told PC Thompson to stay back as the argument sounded heated and I felt that the appearance of two officers would escalate matters. He said that he would contact back-up. I announced myself and walked into the alley, only to see who we would later identify as William Bryant holding a knife to Jackson Smith's throat."
As Gene had suspected would occur, Sam's words are not the truth, but there is nothing in his demeanour to suggest this. Sam had told Gene at the time that both he and Thompson ran into the alley and that Jackson had already secured the knife off Bryant. Gene can feel his fists clenching against his sides and he rocks forward in his seat, staring at Duffie in order to ascertain his reaction.
Duffie speaks with a forced, clipped tone. "William Bryant had the knife?"
A noise stirs in court. Gene looks over at Bryant to see him being held back by his companions.
"You're quite sure?" Duffie asks; cold, hard.
"What happened next?"
"I told Bryant to put the weapon down, he refused. I must have proved a distraction, because there was a scuffle and Smith attained control of the knife. He was in the process of heading in my direction when Bryant grabbed him from behind, hitting him forcefully in the head. Within a few seconds, Bryant had Smith on the ground. As far as I could tell it was at this time that the injuries occurred."
Duffie stares at Sam long and hard, as if willing him to crack, but Sam has managed to get his shuddering under control, because he looks calm and collected, as if he hasn't just put his life on the line.
Williams' expression remains impassive, but there's energy in his movements as he stands to cross-examine.
"In your opinion Bryant was the aggressor?"
"That's not ---" Gene hears from Bryant's corner, before there's silence again.
"Would you say that Jackson Smith was acting in self-defence?"
"Thank you. No further questions."
Sam steps down and Thompson is called next. He corroborates Sam's story, to the letter, which has Gene immediately suspicious as to what Sam may hold over him. Duffie appears to get angrier and angrier, his patience wearing thin enough he begins to interject and cut Thompson off. This doesn't faze Thompson as much as Gene thought it would, though, because he reiterates his story without a flinch.
The prosecution declines from calling Bryant next, which Gene is quick to realise is a tactical error in judgement, because Williams jumps on the opportunity. Bryant does not help his case by practically frothing at the mouth when Williams calls him to the stand, setting off on a rant before he's been asked any questions.
"Them coppers be lying," he yells, pointing wildly. "It din't go down like that. He had the knife. Slashed me. Went berserk."
"What were you doing in the alley, Mr Bryant?"
"Just hanging out n' shit."
"Can you think of any reason that Jackson Smith may have wanted to attack you?"
"I had money, yeah? He was trying to rob me."
Gene watches as Jackson moves at this proclamation, but Jackson's too smart to start calling out like Bryant had.
"You have been charged with drugs possession on several occasions, is that not so?"
"That's right. This in't the first time I've been framed."
"And Tamara Smith was one of your customers."
"No way, man."
"Do you know Tamara Smith?"
"Yeah, I know her, but ---"
"Is it not true that Jackson Smith was with you in that alley to tell you to stay away from his sister?" Williams' voice rises. "Is it not also true that this is a knife that you bought on the twenty-third of November, 1987." Williams picks up the evidence bag and displays it to the court.
Bryant looks flustered. "It's my knife, but I dropped it. Jackson had it when the cops arrived. And it wasn't just the skinny one, both of them came. When Jackson saw them he went off his nut, screaming about betrayal. I tried to get my knife back and he stabbed me."
"What reason would the police have to lie?" Williams asks.
It's a risky question to pose. It doesn't take an investigative genius to discover that Sam and Jackson are friends, but given Bryant's stumbling rejoinder and Duffie's confusion, Gene's willing to bet they have no idea.
The questioning continues and Bryant digs a deeper hole for himself, allowing his anger to cloud his judgement, and his stupidity to reveal the untoward activities he embarks on. When Jackson finally takes the stand and follows in Sam's lead, the story sounds not only credible, but probable.
The closing speeches are impassioned and full of rhetoric, but Gene's surprised to find that Duffie, for all his bluster, is very much on the back-foot. Williams is charming and eloquent in comparison, and Gene knows that if he were in the jury, he'd believe every assertion he makes. It seems that Sam's plan has gone off without a hitch. Gene doesn't know why that sickens him as much as it does, but it feels all wrong, deep in the pit of his stomach.
Before long, there's a break in the proceedings in order for the jury to deliberate, and Gene is making his way outside, in desperate need of a cigarette. He's surprised to find Sam there already, leaning against the bricks of the building, mostly hidden from sight down the narrow alleyway.
"What are you up to?" he asks.
Sam starts, realises it's Gene, then gestures up. "Getting some air."
"That's not what I meant. I can't believe you. All of this is gonna come back and bite you in the arse."
"I had to do something."
"How did you get Thompson on side?"
Sam shrugs. "I paid him. He gambles too much, needs the money."
Gene examines Sam, feels anger burning hot within him. "You don't have the right to change history, Sam. Jackson didn't need you to weave some elaborate tale to get him off."
"This will help, though."
"Right. And if the prosecution point out how frequently you've visited Jackson while he's been on remand? If they provide evidence of your connection? Haven't you just made the whole situation worse?"
Sam looks altogether too sure of himself, too cocky. "They can't submit any more evidence, it's over with. Plus, it's the word of two cops against Bryant's lowlife idiocy --- who do you think people are gonna believe?"
Gene's throat tightens. "This isn't justice."
There's a scowl, and then, "You used to stitch people up, but you're criticising me for attempting to help get someone off?"
"I'm criticising because there's every chance you've ruined your life. You can't seriously think this won't be discovered. They don't take kindly to corruption nowadays, dearest Samuel, there's no such thing as a blind eye."
"You'd be surprised. And even if this were discovered, the worst that would happen is they'd call it a mistrial. Bryant's proved himself to be a grade A pillock who can't hack the pressure. There's little to no evidence. I've no doubt Jackson will still end up with a reduced sentence."
"And you'd be sacked. You could say goodbye to a stable, lifelong career."
Sam laughs, but it's an unnatural, strangled sound. He glares. "I don't want the career. Isn't that obvious yet?"
Gene looks at Sam. Really looks. He can see in everything from his pose to his expression that this is a last-ditch attempt. There's no doubt in his mind that Sam's weighed up all the flaws and the repercussions. He's not bothered if everything falls through, because that has always been plan B.
"Oh, I get it. You don't wanna give up, that doesn't strike you as fair, but sabotage, that's all well and good, because then it's in fate's hands. Nice."
Sam spreads his hands wide, theatrically, obviously mocking Gene. "Nothing wrong with leaving yourself at the mercy of God."
"Unless you don't believe in him, which, last I checked, applied to the both of us."
"You don't know that. Maybe I've changed my mind. It's allowed."
"Grow up, Sam."
"No, you shut up, you sanctimonious git. What gives you the right to tell me off for living my life the way I choose?"
"Concern for your well-being? Decades of experience?"
"I would have thought you'd want me in a less dangerous profession, if you really cared."
Gene considers this, tries to articulate for himself why he's always pushed Sam to be a cop when he's always been little more than ambivalent. He's isn't deluded enough to say the reasons are completely divorced from his experiences with the other Sam, the man he's not, but that isn't the whole story, he's sure it isn't.
"I see the potential in you. Every time I look at you I see what you could be. Fighting the fight I had to step away from."
"You can't live vicariously through me. That's not how relationships are meant to work."
"I don't, not really, but you're skilled and talented when it comes to detective work, you realise that, don't you?"
"Found you, didn't I?"
"Yeah. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that might be for a reason?"
"Maybe this is the reason."
"I don't think it is."
Sam exhales, exasperated. "But you can't see the future, so you don't know."
Gene leans heavily against the brickwork and tries to quell the knot in his stomach. He takes a few puffs of his cigarette and thinks. The person standing next to him is not the same one who once told him the role of the police was to be whiter than white. He wonders what Sam would say of his own downfall. The lines are suddenly a lot more blurred and his confusion reigns supreme. He's a hypocrite, but he's still disappointed. He thought Sam was better than this, but at the same time, what's nobler than self-sacrifice?
"What happened to your passion for the truth?"
"There's no such thing as one absolute truth, is there? My truth, right now, is the need to do right by Jackson."
Gene rubs his head. "I understand that. But I don't think this was the right way to go about it."
Sam storms back into the building. Gene drops the end of his cigarette onto the ground and crushes it under his shoe. He goes inside and takes his place in the gallery, waiting for what he's positive shall be disaster to unfold. The jury members come back in to deliver their verdict. There's a tense minute where Gene damn near tears a hole in the leg of his trousers, he's pulling on the material so tightly.
When the verdict is announced, Gene thinks his heart explodes. He can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad. He can see Jackson rising up in his chair, grinning. Can hear Bryant's wail of disgust. Williams looks smug and happy with himself. The result is everything Gene wanted, everything he set out to secure. Jackson has been deemed not guilty on charges of grievous bodily harm. And yet. His conscience is a nagging little bastard that continues to echo that the result came about by improper means, and while he knows he's being ridiculous, he can't help but be uneasy.
That night, Gene is the one who can't sleep, playing the scenario over and over in his head, but Sam lies there snoring.
There's distance between them over the next couple of days. Sam notices it, though doesn't press the issue. He's not stupid, he can see one of the problems, even if he can't see them all.
Gene did so much worse back in the day. He took money and enjoyed what he thought at the time were well-deserved perks. He planted evidence, forced confessions, beat up suspects. He knows all of this, he knows it, can remember every moment and doesn't even feel regret. But Sam never supported him, Sam talked him out of it, made him change his ways.
He's not the same. He'll never grow into being the same. Gene thought he was okay with that, had convinced himself he never expected it to happen, but he's worried this reaction proves him false.
What if all this time he's been secretly regarding Sam as a facsimile of his former self, as Annie had accused, as he had initially worried? What if it's all been heavily-contrived fantasy, with him ignorant because he wants to be?
Sam's on shift, one of his last, given his proclamations the night before. Gene sits in his lounge room with a glass of Glenlivet and the only photograph he ever kept of himself and the older, wiser, whiter than white Sam. He stares at the all-too-familiar smile and frowns to himself as he tries to reason through his feelings. He hates introspection, would sooner punch himself in the head than spend any time navel-gazing, but this is something he has to muddle through. He has to understand. Is it really about morality, or simply expectation? Is it because he wants Sam to be something he never could be, someone he never could be, because he thinks Sam might be throwing away a life he's destined for?
Neither his younger self nor Sam appear to have any answers.
He doesn't expect two hands to be placed over his eyes and a low voice asking, "guess who?" close by his ear. He twists in his seat, tries to hide the photo, but he isn't quick enough. There's a chuckle and then an, "uh uh uh," and his hands are suddenly empty. Gene fights again, twists, and this time wrenches free, only to find Sam staring at the photo.
"This is me," Sam says, flat, quiet. "Only old." He stares at Gene. "Why would you create this?"
"I didn't create it. It's a photograph."
"No. No, it's some kind of trickery."
"Explain this to me, Gene. I need to know."
"Nothing I can say will make sense."
"So say something nonsensical, but say something."
Gene gestures to the sofa before Sam. The game is up. It's time to confess. "Fine. Sit down. This'll take a while."
"You're actually going to explain?"
"I'm gonna say something that isn't rational nor logical, but it's the explanation, sure enough."
Sam sits down, more sombre than Gene has ever seen before. Confused, too, and nervous, fingers twitching as he continues to hold the photograph tight.
"It was 1973. I'd been told by my superior that there was a DI who wanted to transfer onto my team and that I was gonna make nice and accept him as one of my own. I wasn't so inclined, but there were some orders I felt compelled to follow. It'd been a hard couple of weeks; two murder cases and an armed blag. I'd pulled an overnighter, so even though I'd been told at seven in the morning he was coming in that day, that he'd got into a minor car accident and may need medical attention, I was asleep when he arrived.
"And the first thing he said to me was, 'what year is it supposed to be?' I can remember clear as crystal, 'cause I'd often think about it in quiet moments. Worry about the sanity of my startling new recruit. But here's the thing --- even though it seemed he'd half a brain, it was the part dedicated to policing, and I wasn't gonna turn my nose up at a brilliant cop. For the most part he got along with the rest of CID and uniform. Was downright sweet on Cartwright."
"Annie?" Sam interjects, head snapping up. Gene nods, but motions for Sam to keep quiet. He has to get it all out or he'll leave now and say nothing. Sam fidgets, but seems to accept the unspoken request.
"Time went on," Gene continues, his chest starting to clench, "we got to know each other better, and I came to realise he wasn't like the others. Not just because he didn't worship the ground I walked on --- most days in the beginning there I'd a fair idea he'd prefer I stay rooted to a single spot where he could keep an eye on me --- but because of his attitudes and understandings of the world. They were so far removed from anything they had any right to be. He didn't treat women like decoration, even when he was attracted to them. Was constantly annoyed by cutting-edge forensic processes, labelling them archaic. Said I drank too much.
"Cartwright --- Annie --- she kept telling me stories that made us both nervous about the state of our DI's mind. See, he thought he was from the future. Thirty-three years, to be exact. Not even a nice, round number. He claimed he didn't know why he'd time travelled, but that he had, and it was his duty to find a way to get back home."
Sam's Adam's apple bobs at this, his eyes searching the photograph again, his brows furrowing.
"As we went on together I told him things I'd never told anyone, because even though he was cracked, around him I always felt safe. And he challenged me, and I taught him, and we saved each other's lives enough times it'd become habit. He'd become a habit, one that I never wanted to shake. It was all new, that was the weirdest part. I'd loved and I'd lusted before, but there hadn't been anyone I thought I could be myself with. The whole me. The shit as well as the shine. It wasn't like he didn't judge me, because he did, harshly --- but that was what I needed.
"And the stupid thing about all of this was that I was angry with him because he hadn't told me about being from the future, only Annie. He'd never said a word about any of it to me, not even after Annie'd said he'd decided to stay, whatever that meant. He didn't trust me with it. So I kept digging, and finding out more, and by the time we'd crossed over the boundaries of friendship and hopped into a relationship that was complex enough neither of us had words to define it, I discovered I believed what he'd never had the courage to tell me. He was a time traveller. He'd always known too much of what was going to happen, he'd always been right about things no one else could be right about."
Gene sighs. He's close to finishing, now. His heart is beating too fast and his throat is sore and he doesn't know what he expects when his narrative is finished. Maniacal laughter, Sam telling him he's officially wrong in the head, anger and resentment because of such an outrageous lie. Anything is possible, far as he's concerned.
"We'd had seven years together that would take a lifetime to sum up by the time he said he knew his death was imminent. He finally told me the truth about who he was and I said I'd always known, even though it wasn't strictly true. He asked me to go and speak to his younger self, because he didn't want to grow up to make the same sacrifices and mistakes twice. By staying with me he'd left a world behind and even though he loved me, that had never sat right. He told me the year and the club to go to and he asked me to convince you never to give up on love, hope and instinct, because he did before he met me and he never wanted to again. He believed you'd been given a second chance for a reason."
Gene purses his lips together and waits for the reaction.
Sam is pale, like all the blood is drained from his body and seeping into the floorboards. He stares through Gene --- looking in his direction, but not seeming to see a thing.
"Time travel's not real," Sam says, slowly, as if measuring each word.
"So it's been said."
"It's science fiction."
"I agree completely."
"Then, why say these things? Is it some kind of elaborate practical joke? I fail to see the punchline."
"It happened, Sam. I don't know why, or how, but it happened."
"I have to go," Sam says, each word slithering from his mouth in a whisper through clenched teeth. "I have to go somewhere else. Now." He stands, shaky on his legs like a newborn foal.
Gene wants to grab his arms and ask him to stay, to wrap him up and say sorry for such incomprehensible truth. He wants to say it will be alright, because life may be strange, but it's wonderful too. He thinks a lie might make matters worse.
Sam leaves and Gene watches him go. This is the end.