Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 880 words.
Notes: Sam/Gene, set 1989. Title from ‘Changes’ by David Bowie. The conclusion to the Changes Series (link takes you to the previous parts.)
The postcards always make him smile. He puts them up on the fridge next to the photograph Sam gave him at the airport. They've been coming less and less frequently over the past couple of weeks and Gene doesn't know whether to be thankful or miserable.
The latest is the shortest of the messages so far. A simple, "I'm gonna climb this mountain. It looks really wicked. I bet I could get some amazing photos." Gene rolls his eyes to himself and places it message-side up, alongside a picture of Ayers Rock, simply because he knows the juxtaposition would annoy Sam.
"The rock is not a mountain," a voice says from behind him. "Though, granted, you can climb it."
For a second he thinks it's an auditory hallucination. He swivels on the spot and wills himself not to gasp.
If anything, Sam's even more devastating with a tan. Long-limbed and golden, hair turned sun-streaked. He looks slightly older, but somehow even more vital.
"Three months, Tyler. It's been three measly months."
"They weren't measly, they were interminable. Hour after hour," Sam says.
He steps into Gene's space, hands settling on his sides, possessive. Gene's careful not to mirror him, anxious not to appear too overjoyed at his deal-breaking sudden appearance.
"And in those endless hours all I could think about was you," Sam continues, "stuck here, likely just as bored and alone as I felt. It didn't seem right."
Gene narrows his eyes. "For all you knew, I was laughing it up."
"Weren't though, were you?" Sam asks.
"Might have been. They've opened up a senior centre down the road. There are dance classes every Tuesday."
Sam ignores Gene's deflection, becoming more intent. "Come with me, Gene. We'll refund the tickets, choose somewhere quiet and out of the way."
"We've had this discussion."
"I know. I wasn't satisfied with the result."
Gene sighs and Sam keeps talking, taking full advantage of his obviously weakening state. He tugs Gene closer, settling one of his thighs between Gene's.
"There's so much of this world you haven't seen. Don't deny it, because we both know it's true. It doesn't have to be. We can investigate together."
There's something of the siren in Sam, Gene decides. He doesn't know why he hasn't realised it before. And yes, he may go crashing onto the rocks, but it'll be with a song in his heart.
Gene pierces Sam with a look. "You're gonna be the death of me."
Sam's smile is mischievous. "Haven't yet, despite my best efforts."
The smile widens into a fully-fledged grin. "There's nothing to lose and everything to gain, so why not just capitulate to my will? We both know it'll happen eventually anyway."
"I have some self-respect."
"Can't fathom why. Not if you're foolish enough to turn down an offer like this."
Sam rocks his hips forward, slides one hand into Gene's hair, pulls him down for a kiss.
There's an unfaltering logic to his words. Rationality that Gene has fought so hard for a year and a half.
"Mexico," he says. "Why don't we go to Mexico?"
Sam's grin is radiant. "Mexico," he repeats. "Sounds wonderful."
Gene hasn't been on an aeroplane in decades and that knowledge is stirring his guts, but he's not going to inform Sam of this fact. To be truthful, he's unwilling to admit to himself that it might be fear of flying. He attributes it to Jackson house-sitting, Ruth's reaction when they come back, and the fate of the community centre in his absence.
He tries to distract himself with in-depth conversation. It doesn't entirely work.
"Had any thoughts about your future beyond this?" he asks, purposefully avoiding looking out the window.
“I had a lot of time to think, you know, on planes… trains…”
Gene interjects. “Automobiles.”
“Yeah. I kept asking myself, ‘what do I want from life?’ and for a long time, the only answer was you. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I still want to help people. I want to change the world one person at a time." Sam pauses, taps his fingers against his tray. "I was thinking teaching.”
“Teaching? You? Give over,” Gene replies.
“What, no good?”
“You just want week upon week of holidays, that’s why you think it’s a good idea. Imagine it for real; a class full of snotty-nosed tossbags who think they know everything. It’d be like having thirty clones in the room.”
“Not teaching then. Okay. Well, how about counselling? Listening to people’s problems, giving advice. The kind of thing where you’ve gotta be strong and detached but in tune with your emotions.”
Gene considers this. He has to admit, it sounds apt. The kind of stressful Sam would thrive on.
“Don’t think I don’t see what you did there. Telling me one thing so that I can dismiss it, only to tell me the one you really want in prime position where I’d look nothing but curmudgeonly if I shot it down.”
“You know me too well.”
“Don’t I know it. You really want to listen to other people’s aches and pains all the time?”
There's a sparkle in Sam's eyes as he answers. “I’m with you, aren’t I?”