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dark Dean

Equal and Opposite (LoM fic)

Posted on 2007.09.18 at 17:50
Current Mood: accomplished
Tags: ,
Hello! Here's the reason I haven't been troubling my flist much recently. I've been writing GEN! And gen with a plot, too. Bit of a departure for me, but it's good to expand one's horizons, or so they say. It's taken me weeks, and I'm inordinately pleased to have it finished at last.

It's set between eps 2.06 and 2.07, so you have to suspend disbelief and assume there was enough time for all this to happen. There's reference to 2.06 and 2.04, and spoilers for the last 2 eps, although they're not the main focus or anything.

Title: Equal and Opposite (incidentally, am I the only one who finds thinking of titles one of the hardest parts of writing a story?)
Words: 8,600
Rating: Brown Cortina in the LoM rating system, for violence and some swearing.
Pairing: Gen. Or as gen as the canon is, anyway.
Spoilers etc: see note above.

(And an apology to Sam, who doesn't deserve what I dished out to him. Never mind, I'll kiss it better later).

The icy wind whipped the fine misty drizzle into rough shards, blasting almost sideways along the exposed towpath, piercing through layers of leather and cotton as if they weren’t there. Sam, trying not to shiver, thought the violence of the weather a fitting tribute to the young woman lying naked, dripping and uncaring on the rough gravel at their feet.

Uniform had been alerted to the presence of a body in the canal a couple of hours ago now, waiting till the arrival of CID before dragging her out with an air of unconcern that became something more respectful and tender as they all realised how young, how utterly vulnerable, she looked. The five of them had stood round her in a sort of stasis until Sam, taking the initiative that no-one else seemed keen to employ, crouched down and gently turned her over so they could see her face. What was left of it.

Annie had gasped despite herself, and Sam had glanced at her sharply, but she quickly brought herself under control, staring grimly at the shattered body as if daring herself not to react. If anything, Chris was looking the more shaken, his chest heaving as he gulped in breaths of tainted frozen air and willed himself not to be sick. Ray had taken one long, appalled look, muttered a string of vicious swear words and taken himself away a few paces to light a cigarette, which he was now dragging on with venomous force.

All pretty much the reactions Sam had come to expect. It was Gene who was behaving out of character. They had all been in situations like this before, sometimes worse, and Sam had come to have deep respect for the easy leadership and strength of character which radiated from the DCI at such moments, even as he berated him for his callousness.

This time, though, was different. Gene had stared as if hypnotised at the victim as she sprawled on the towpath, breathed a single word – “Fuck.” This in itself was enough to get Sam’s senses tingling – Gene, for all his tough macho image, had never to Sam’s knowledge been heard to use the word, and indeed tended to react against it with a touchingly old-fashioned prudishness.

Sam kept a close eye on the Guv, seeing the blood drain from his face to leave him paper-white, watching as his posture crumpled and he leant forward, gripping the railing for support, taking on the appearance and bearing of a man twenty years older. Alarmed, Sam moved across to stand by him, the pair staring down into the chill black depths, heedless of the biting rain.

“Guv?” he said softly. Waited what seemed an eternity for a response, knowing instinctively not to press. At last, at long last, Gene turned his head slowly to meet Sam’s concerned gaze, the brightness extinguished from the blue eyes, replaced by a bewildered defeat.

“Recognise her, Tyler?”

Sam glanced back, not entirely willingly. He had initially felt a sense of familiarity, but nothing he could put his finger on, and in all honesty her own mother might have had trouble identifying her after the ruthless mutilation she had been subjected to.

“I…maybe. I don’t know.”

“You met her, though. Just the once, on that Twilling thing of yours.”

A chill of realisation swept through Sam as things suddenly clicked sharply into place. “Shit, Gene,” he said, in a whisper that echoed ethereally through the murky silence. “What the bloody hell happened?”

“Oh, that’s an easy one.” Some of the colour returned to Gene’s cheeks as he pushed himself upright, forcing himself to look at Suki’s battered form, anger replacing the initial shock in his eyes and voice. “I know exactly who’s done this.” He paused, his gaze a silent, desperate plea. “I could have stopped this, Sam. This is down to me.”

The clear up was conducted with an air of morose gloom. For once, Sam met no resistance as he insisted on a cordon around the scene, followed by a sweep for clues they were all eager to find. The CID and uniformed officers stood around in little huddled clusters, talking in hushed tones as an ambulance took Suki away to the mortuary. Sam delegated Ray to remain at the scene to await and supervise the arrival of the forensic team, reasoning that Ray would relish the chance to let off some steam by bullying any unfortunate member of the public who happened to be nosy enough to want a closer look. The rest of them crammed themselves into the Cortina and headed for the station, too immersed in their own thoughts even to comment on Gene’s stunningly haphazard driving.

As they entered the dusty familiarity of the CID office, Gene immediately and without communication took himself off to his own sanctuary, slamming the door behind him hard enough to make the windows rattle. This course of action was common enough for no eyebrows to be raised, and Sam took it upon himself to appoint tasks to the rest of the squad.

Chris was despatched to the Collator’s room, with instructions to pull up anything relating to Suki or her known associates. Sam saw Annie start as she heard the name for the first time, and was unsurprised when she pulled him to one side as soon as an opportunity presented itself.

“Sam,” she said, voice low, clear eyes round and serious. “Do you know who that is?”

“Yeah.” Sam matched her tone of confidentiality. “The Guv said. Don’t worry about it, Annie. Just leave it with me. Give Chris a hand when he gets back.”

She nodded without further comment, and Sam decided that it was time to face whatever Gene had to dish out. Heading over to the inner office, he rapped twice on the glass door, pushing it open without waiting for an invitation that he felt was unlikely to materialise.

As expected, the DCI was slumped at his desk, sipping pensively at a glass of whisky that, judging from the level of the bottle, wasn’t by any means his first. He didn’t look up as Sam entered, but then again he didn’t start yelling or throwing things, which under the circumstances Sam was prepared to accept as a success.

Sam settled himself in a chair opposite Gene, leaning back in a purely artificial display of calm relaxation. “OK,” he said after a pause. “What can you tell me?”

Gene gave no indication of having even heard his DI’s question, taking out a packet of cigarettes and lighting one before returning to his contemplation of the clear tawny liquid in front of him. Sam tried again.

“Look, Guv. You know the form as well as I do. If you know something about this, that makes you a witness. I need your help here.”

Nothing. Frustrated, Sam decided to go for the jugular.

“Guv – Gene. I’ve got to ask this. Was there something between you and Suki?”

That got a reaction. Gene glared at him, leaning forward to stub his cigarette out savagely, and Sam braced himself for an outburst.

“Was there what? Christ’s sake, Tyler, she was nineteen years old! Do I look like a bleedin’ nonce?”

Sam bit his lip, aware that his usual acerbic response to such a tantalising question would be inappropriate and unhelpful at this juncture. Gene, who under similar circumstances would have been thinking exactly the same thing, finally met his DI’s eyes with a wry glint that settled something within Sam that, until then, he hadn’t realised was shaken. He sighed. “All right, Gladys. Have it your way. I’m warning you, though, it’s a sorry bloody tale.

“I ran across Suki about a year ago. She was a runaway, wouldn’t talk about why but there was no way she was going to be talked into going back. Was working the streets on her own, daft bitch, bloody miracle she survived as long as she did. We ran her in one night and, I dunno, there was something about her. For all her brass neck, she was as innocent as a kiddie.

“I managed to get her settled with a bird I know, good sort, runs a cathouse down near the wharf. Still on the game, but at least she was safe there. Anyway, I kept an eye and she passed me a few good bits and pieces she heard out and about. Did me a favour or two, from time to time. Well, you saw one of them.”

Sam nodded but said nothing, content to let the story run its course.

“After we took Warren out of the picture, the field was open for any scrote who fancied a shot at the top prize. You know Jimmy Raymond?”

Again a nod. The name had cropped up with increasing frequency in interviews with street level criminals, although nothing tangible had come of it so far. He was famous enough that his picture was adorning the CID wall, in a ‘keep in mind’ sort of context, and a small but growing file of rumours and general information was being compiled.

“He’s an out-of-towner, had a bit of an empire up and running in Sheffield. Rolled in when he heard about the vacancy. He’s been getting his finger into all sorts of things – gambling and protection mostly, but he’s been turning his attention to the prozzies lately. Total psycho nutter, by all accounts. There’s some real hard bastards out there are scared to death of him. Makes getting anyone to talk a bit of a struggle.”

He took another gulp of scotch, belatedly realising he was drinking alone. “Grab yourself a glass, Tyler.” Sam helped himself to a generous measure, sat back.

“Go on.”

“Right. This is where it gets messy. A week ago, Suki phoned me, in a right state. Seems one of Raymond’s blokes had visited her for a bit of entertainment. Must have liked what he got, because next thing she knows, Raymond’s moved in on the brothel, taken over the management, and pulled her in to offer her what he was calling a promotion. Special jobs, you know? Well, Suki’s no stranger to getting slapped about, but she’s not up for the real rough stuff, so she turned him down.”

Sam could see now where this was headed. “Except that you don’t turn down the Jimmy Raymonds of this world.”

“Got it in one, Sherlock. He made it clear that she had no choice if she wanted to keep her looks, as he put it. So she said she’d think about it, he told her she’d got twenty-four hours. Soon as she can, she phones me. In bits, crying, the lot. Most unlike her. So I told her to stay away from the place for a bit, and I’d see what I could do. Thought if I put the wind up him a bit…”

“Oh, great plan.” All Sam’s good intentions evaporated. He stood, glaring at Gene, voice oozing sarcasm. “And you didn’t bother to share this with anyone? Did you think of offering her protection? Even check she had anywhere to go? Or were you just off on one of your crusades? The great Gene Hunt, saving the world again?”

Gene was round the desk in an instant, advancing on Sam with fists clenched. Sam flinched despite himself, but held his ground and met the Guv’s fury head-on, shoulders stiffening instinctively as he braced himself for whatever was coming. For long seconds they stared at each other, tension rippling between them. Finally, Gene turned away, pulling one hand distractedly through his hair.

“Bloody hell, Tyler, you really can be a sanctimonious little bastard when you get going, can’t you?” The words were inflammatory, the tone weary. Gene took a few steps away, turned to face Sam with an air of defensiveness that evoked a reluctant pang of sympathy.

“I’m sorry, Guv. Really.”

“Yeah, well. Thing is, you’re spot on.” Sam was a little un-nerved at the almost unheard of phenomenon of the Guv admitting he was wrong, but managed not to react beyond a raised eyebrow. “I told you this was down to me, didn’t I? Now you know.”

He paused, his expression darkening ominously. “I’ll tell you this much, though. He’s not getting away with this, not in my city. Jimmy Bastard Raymond isn’t going to know what hit him.”

“Oh, right.” This was familiar ground. “What did you have in mind?”

“What do you think, Einstein? We bring him in.”

Sam took a deep breath, for a moment seriously contemplating actually going and banging his head against a wall as a more satisfying and productive option. Shoving his hands deep in his pockets, he looked down at the floor, watching the shafts of pale sunlight, sign of a respite from the grimness of the day, swirl the dust in a lazy dance.

“It’s all circumstantial. We’ve got nothing we can touch him on. As things stand, it’s just his word against yours – and Suki’s, but that’s not a lot of use.” He didn’t look up, spoke almost to himself. “If we’re going to do this, it needs to be done properly. Otherwise we’ll have Raymond back on the streets, laughing at us, and there’ll be nothing we can do about it.”

The silence, oppressive and airless, was suddenly shattered by a crash as Gene’s fist hit the filing cabinet. Sam glanced up coolly to find Gene glaring at him, furiously impotent. Waited for him to speak.

“All right, Tyler, we’ll do this your way. For now. But you’d better come up with something bloody good.”

Sam sent Annie to bring out the file on Raymond. He and Gene passed a frustrating couple of hours poring through the sparse information, Sam trying to find a tangible starting point for a thorough investigation, Gene keen to leap into action every time a vague lead showed itself.

In the end, they compromised. Andy Bellow, rumoured to be Raymond’s right-hand man, was under suspicion for a violent assault on a shop owner. The victim had even made a statement naming him, although he had been quick to retract it when he realised the notoriety of his attacker. It was flimsy, but at least it provided an excuse to question someone close to their target.

Sam and Gene went out together to bring Bellow in. They found him at home, in bed with a young-looking girl who gave every impression of enjoying the experience a lot less than he was. As the door crashed open, she fled, pulling the grubby sheet around her like a shroud. Sam managed to hold Gene back long enough for Bellow to shrug on a shirt and some shorts, before the suspect was dragged unceremoniously out of the flat and shoved, hands cuffed painfully behind him, into the back of the Cortina.

On their return to the station, as Gene propelled a loudly protesting Bellow inexorably towards the thick walls of Lost and Found, Annie approached them, brandishing a piece of paper.

“Guv, we found this in the file. Should we check the address, do you think?”

“Not now, Cartwright. Busy.”

“But honestly, Guv…”

“I said later!”

Giving Annie a rueful smile as he passed, Sam made a mental note to check the information at the earliest opportunity. Annie had proved time and again that she had an instinctive nose for these things – when she thought something was significant, it usually turned out to be pretty crucial.

But right now more immediate matters demanded his attention. Gene had got ahead of him, pushing the prisoner through the doors of Lost and Found with a clout that almost sent him sprawling. By the time Sam caught up, Bellow was sitting awkwardly in a chair, leaning forward to accommodate his hands, still cuffed tightly behind him.

Gene and Sam settled themselves on the other side of the bare table, and the two opposing sides stared assessingly at each other for a few quiet, tense moments. Sam broke the silence.

“Interview with suspect Andrew Bellow commenced at…” He checked his watch. Gene cut impatiently into the pause.

“Give over, Tyler. We doing this or not?”

Sam glared. “Proper procedure…”

“Bugger procedure. Clint Eastwood here wasn’t following proper procedure…” he spat the words out as though they were coated with something foul, “…when he did over that grocer, now was he?”

Bellow smirked. “So that’s what this is about.”

“You know what we’re on about, then?”

Bellow’s grin grew more pronounced as he held Gene’s eye steadily. “Sorry, officer. Haven’t got the first clue.”

With a sound more akin to a snarl than anything approaching coherent language, Gene slammed his hands down, pushing himself half to his feet. Sam, reaching out, put a firm, calming hand on the DCI’s forearm. A risky move, as he knew from bitter experience – when riled, Gene was perfectly capable of lashing out at the nearest thing that gave him enough provocation. Which more often than not, it seemed, turned out to be Sam. On this occasion, however, the desired effect was achieved – Gene sank back, folding his arms and letting his chin fall onto his chest in a gesture of apparent indifference.

Sam carried on. “Mr Bellow. We know you were responsible for the recent serious assault on the person and premises of John Robotham, proprietor of a shop on Factory Lane.”

“Right. And you can prove that, can you?”

“We have witnesses and forensic evidence that place you at the scene, yes.” It was times like this that affirmed Sam’s lack of belief in a higher being – if there was a God watching, surely he’d be sending one of his best thunderbolts round about now.

“My arse,” muttered Bellow, but some of the arrogance had dropped from his tone and posture.

“What we’re really keen to know,” Sam ploughed on, “is was this a protection job? Did Jimmy Raymond put you up to it?”

“You what? I don’t know any Jimmy Raymond.”

“Well, now that’s odd.” Sam felt on safer ground now, having actually got a few facts to back him up this time. “Since we’ve been informed by a number of sources that you’re on his payroll, you’ve been seen leaving his house, and your current employment record shows that you’re working at one of the betting shops he has control of.”

Bellow had recovered his poise. He leaned forward towards them, speaking with a mock-earnestness that grated on Sam’s nerves, so God alone knew what it was doing to the DCI, still sitting apparently oblivious to the conversation.

“Oh, of course. Mr Raymond. Slipped my mind for a moment, sorry officers. Yeah, I know him. Top bloke – salt of the earth. Don’t know why you think he’d be involved in some sort of protection stuff, though. He’s a stickler for law and order, is Mr Raymond.”

Just like that, Gene’s already frayed temper snapped completely. His chair crashed backwards as he sprang to his feet, storming round the table to loom menacingly over Bellow.

“You’re lying to us, you little shit,” he growled. “I don’t like bloody liars.”

His fist shot out, connecting with Bellow’s face with enough force to catapult him out of the chair to land with a heavy thud on his shoulder which, twisted by the cuffs, cracked sickeningly. Bellow lay dazed, blood starting to trickle from a gash on his cheekbone.

“Guv…” Sam began, knowing it was useless. Gene didn’t even look at him. Hoisting the prisoner roughly off the floor, he flung him against the unyielding concrete wall, pinning him with an arm across the throat.

“Right,” he said, his voice low and tight with a barely suppressed violence that had Sam holding his breath, not wanting to think where this would inevitably lead. “Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s get down to business. I’ve got a few questions, which I’m now going to ask, and you’re going to give me nice full answers like a good little insect. Are you with me?”

Bellow, eyes squeezed shut against the pain, nodded as far as his restricted position would allow.

“Good lad. Now then. Your boss has been expanding his line of business, hasn’t he? Taking an interest in the tarts. What I hear, he cut up one of the girls good and proper. I want to know all about that. Name of Suki Trotter.”

His arm tightened on Bellow’s throat. “Well? I don’t hear any answers yet.”

Sam, by this point, had his head in his hands, and was watching through his fingers with reluctant fascination. He noticed that Bellow was hanging limply in Gene’s grasp, a bluish tinge colouring his lips and cheeks.

“Guv?” he interrupted gently. “I think he’ll talk now. You’ll have to let him go, though.”

Not prepared to release his victim just yet, Gene nevertheless eased the pressure on Bellow’s neck. His captive gasped for breath, air rasping harshly through his bruised windpipe. It was a full minute before he was able to speak at all.

Sam had to hand it to him, he was certainly no coward. Maybe his own temper had got the better of him. Either that, or he simply hadn’t fully appreciated just what Gene Hunt was capable of. Whatever his reasons, his taunting words came close to getting him killed there and then.

“Suki? Oh yeah, young piece, dark hair. Hot in the sack, likes it rough. Too stupid to know what’s good for her. What’s wrong, Mr Hunt, don’t like sharing?”

Sam was out of his seat before Bellow had finished speaking. Too late, though, to prevent Gene from hauling him by the hair across the room, slamming his face forcefully onto the table. Again. And then again. The splintering of bone echoed off the walls, blood poured and splattered copiously onto the tabletop. Finally, and with supreme effort, Sam managed to drag the yelling, cursing DCI away, pinning him in the far corner of the room, sustaining a bruise or two himself in the process.

“Stop!” he shouted. “Gene, just stop. For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”

All the fight left Gene in a sudden rush, and he slumped, leaning against Sam, staring over his shoulder at the semi-conscious mass sprawled over the interview table.

“Yeah, well. Might as well finish the job,” he said, but there was no heat in the words and Sam relaxed.

“Come on, Guv. We’re not going to get anything out of him in this state. Why not just stick him in a cell for the night, let the doctor look at him. Try again tomorrow.”

Gene pulled back to meet Sam’s eyes, glowering. “Sod that. We’re letting him go, Tyler. Back to his boss, to tell him all about it. Maybe now Raymond’ll get the message.”

“What? This town ain’t big enough for both of us?”

“Yeah,” Gene said softly. “Something like that.”

The day, having begun in horror and descended into frustration and violence, ended the way all such days inevitably must – in an anaesthetically heavy session at the Railway Arms. Gene became more unstable as the evening wore on, at one point gazing deeply into Sam’s semi-focussed eyes and declaring him the finest and most honourable (Sam was fairly sure that was the word he was trying to frame) copper he had ever met.

Sam knew enough to remain unmoved by this emotional tribute, and sure enough, within the hour his DCI was loudly referring to him as a bleeding-heart pouf and a pain in the arse. Sam decided to call it a night around about that point, staggering slightly as he walked the shortish distance to his bolthole.

As a result, the atmosphere in the office the next morning was calm going on comatose. Gene hadn’t made it in yet, and the others were flicking desultorily through papers and trying to look as if they were doing something useful. Ray wasn’t even bothering to make the attempt, lounging in his customary feet-up position with his head back, an occasional snore adding to the general air of somnolence.

Sam, fighting to keep his eyes open as his aching head stubbornly persisted in nodding forward, jumped when the ringing of the phone burst rudely into the peace. Brushing a couple of files off the desk as he scrabbled for the receiver, he cleared his throat.


“Hello? Is that the detectives?” The voice was female, with a heavy local twang, and a depth that put her well over middle age.

“Er, yes. Look, I think the switchboard might have put you through by mistake. Is it the Enquiry Desk you want?”

“No, love. I wanted Detective Inspector Tyler. Is that you?”

Sam woke up a little bit. “Yes. Yes it is. How can I help you?”

“It’s about that girl that were murdered. You know, the one they pulled out o’t canal yesterday? Well, I’m not certain like, but I think I know summat as might ‘elp find who done it.”

“Right.” Sam groped for a pen. “That could be very interesting to us, Mrs…?”

“Walker. Elsie Walker.”

Sam waited patiently, assuming the caller would carry on, but was met only with an expectant silence.

“OK, Mrs Walker,” he prompted after it became clear she wasn’t about to speak. “What can you tell me?”

“Oh, er…” Mrs Walker sounded surprised, flustered. There was another pause. “Look, Inspector, I’m not right good with these contraptions. When I talk to my daughter, I just get these beeps and then she’s gone. She lives in Leeds, you know, went there to study. Mind, that were years ago now, she’s all set up with a smashing chap and…”

“Sorry,” Sam cut in, as patiently as he could manage. “About the girl, Mrs Walker…?”

“Oh aye. Well, Inspector, I know you’re busy, Lord knows it can’t be easy being a bobby in this day and age, but I’d be right grateful if you could pop in for a chat. Face to face, you know? I’ll put t’ kettle on.”

Sam shrugged. Might as well, he reasoned, it wasn’t as if there was anything else going on. And he could do with the fresh air. He waved a hand at Annie, who came over to find out what was going on.

“No problem at all, Mrs Walker. I’ll bring a female officer with me as well, if you like.”

“Oh no.” A hesitation. “Don’t take it amiss, Inspector, but I’d rather it were just you, if it’s all t’ same. I’ve not had owt to do wi’t police before, an I don’t want neighbours getting wrong idea. If it’s just you on your own, I can tell them you’re from t’ church or summat.”

Sam was sure, later when there was nothing he could do about it, that, if it wasn’t for the hangover, this would have set alarm bells ringing. As it was, he let it pass.

“That’s fine, don’t worry. Can I take your address, then?”

Sam jotted the address idly down on the back of the nearest file, earning a mock frown from Annie. “Fine, Mrs Walker. I’ll be round in a bit.”

Replacing the receiver, he lifted his gaze to Annie, who smiled at the exasperated expression on his face.

“What was that all about, then?”

“Nothing much,” Sam answered. “Some old dear thinks she’s got something to say about the Suki Trotter case. She sounds a bit dippy, to be honest. Can’t imagine I’m going to get much beyond a cup of tea and her life story.”

“D’you want me to come along?”

Sam shook his head, wished he hadn’t. “No, you’re all right. I offered but she wasn’t keen. Got all nervy, actually. I think she’s got visions of whole squads of us turning up with sirens blazing.”

He pushed himself to his feet, glanced down once at the address he had written, checking it was straight in his mind. “See you later. Let the Guv know if he ever shows up.”

Annie, mirroring his action unconsciously, looked down at the address, her expression changing to one of mild puzzlement. As Sam was heading out into the corridor, he thought he heard her call his name. Waving an arm in response without looking round, he carried on towards the stairs.

Sam pulled into the street, drawing to a halt right outside Mrs Walker’s house. One thing 1973 had going for it was the parking – in 2006 the cars would be bumper to bumper down a street like this. Now, it was just him and an attractive-looking Triumph, slightly incongruous against the banality of the identical terraces.

The door opened almost at the instant that he knocked, and he was greeted by a plump woman in her sixties, with a face that looked used to smiling. There was little hint of cheerfulness now, though – she glanced up and down the street almost fearfully, and Sam reminded himself that dealings with the police could be a disconcerting experience. He smiled in an attempt at reassurance.

“Mrs Walker? I’m Detective Inspector Tyler. Sam.” He held out his warrant card, but she showed little interest beyond a cursory glance. “Can I come in?”

“Sorry, Inspector, ‘course. Come through.” She led the way into a shadowy hallway, Sam pushing the door closed behind him, following her down the corridor.

“Through ‘ere,” she called, disappearing through a door on the right. Sam went in after her, stopping in surprise and alarm as he registered her, standing stock still, with an expression of such naked despair that he instinctively moved towards her.

“Mrs Walker? What is it?”

She clasped a trembling hand to her chest. “I’m sorry, Inspector,” she said miserably, her voice tailing off, eyes fixed on a point behind him.

Sam went cold. Shit. Oh shit. Started to turn, to try and run, but got nowhere. Something slammed hard against his kidney, dropping him to one knee. Winded but desperate, he tried to scramble back to his feet, but an arm looped round his neck, another hand came round to clamp tightly across his mouth, muffling his frantic yells with damp, sweet-smelling cloth.

Sam fought as savagely as he could, knowing he didn’t stand a chance. His assailant was attacking from above, Sam was still gasping from the blow. And now his head was beginning to swim unsettlingly, his vision blurring. His movements became weak and disjointed as the chloroform, ether, whatever the bloody hell it was began to work its way into his system. He watched, mesmerised, as the pattern of the carpet came swirling up to meet him, sending him spinning over the edge into an empty, enveloping darkness.

There was no gradual awakening, no chance to take stock of his surroundings and allow awareness to seep gently back. Consciousness returned to Sam in a cold soaking rush, and he gasped, choking, blinking water out of his eyes.

He found himself slumped in a corner of a small, sparsely furnished room. It reminded Sam sharply of his own childhood bedroom, but empty, stripped down to fit its purpose. Gazing upwards, he encountered the grinning face of a muscular-looking youth who was swinging an empty bucket from one beefy hand. Instinct prompted Sam to try and push himself to his feet, but his movements were hampered by the fact that his hands were tightly bound behind him. He managed something approaching a sitting position before the youth reached down, grabbed him by his shirt and hauled him without gentleness to his feet, slamming him jarringly against the wall.

This turned out to be a mistake. Sam was still groggy from the drug, his system unready to cope with the sudden shift in position. A vertiginous surge of nausea took over and he retched weakly, uncontrollably, the sparse contents of his stomach spattering all over the scuffed boots of his captor.

Appalled, the youth sprang backwards, releasing Sam who doubled over, trying to get his body back under some sort of tenuous control.

“Bloody hell, Mr Raymond,” he heard, “look what the bastard’s gone and done.”

A chuckle, unsympathetic. “Yeah, well Rob, you should’ve known better, shouldn’t you?”

Mr Raymond. Sam straightened up slowly, forcing a studiedly blank expression to cover a sharp prickle of apprehension. Jimmy Raymond. Sam had known who was behind this, had figured it out at the moment that the terrified old woman had blurted out her apology, but it gave him no satisfaction whatsoever to have it confirmed - to know with a hundred per cent certainty that he was now a prisoner of Manchester’s hardest psycho. And a psycho with a grudge, at that.

Rob slouched off to lean against a wall, apparently sulking, as Raymond approached Sam, stepping delicately round the small watery pool of vomit now seeping through the bare-boarded floor. He moved in close, eye to eye with Sam, their bodies almost but not quite touching.

“Detective Inspector Tyler.” He spoke matter-of-factly, with a clear-eyed smile of apparently genuine pleasure – from his tone, they could have been meeting over drinks, exchanging pleasant platitudes at some soiree. Sam’s sense of foreboding increased.

“Mr Raymond.” Somewhat to his own surprise, Sam’s voice held an icy disapproval, without a trace of the stark fear that was churning away inside him. “This is a big mistake. Massive. Kidnap and assault on a police officer – do you seriously expect to walk away from that?”

Raymond pursed his lips thoughtfully. “You know, Inspector, you’ve got a point there.” His face brightened. “Still, now we’re here – what does murder of a police officer get me?”

Right. Sam opted for a different approach, racking his brains to recall the nuances of his hostage training. He hadn’t really foreseen having to employ it with himself as the hostage, though.

“Look, Mr Raymond. Tell me what you want. I can help you.”

“I’m sure you can.” Still the pleasant, light tone, more disconcerting than anger or open menace. “Thing is, Mr Tyler, I’ve got everything I want right here.” And now the cracks started to open up, the lurking fury gleaming out of the dull brown eyes. “You see, your boss started something. Sent my best man back to me in pieces. Way I see it, that’s an act of war.”

From nowhere, a wicked-looking knife appeared in his hand, glinting evilly in the dim light from the smeared window. He held it lightly against Sam’s neck, searching his gaze, drawing evident satisfaction from the instinctive widening of the pupils, the tiny signs of fear beyond Sam’s control. Sam glared back, refusing to be cowed.

“I’ve been hearing about Gene Hunt.” As he spoke, the blade traced a smooth, gentle path across Sam’s throat, opening the skin, so sharp that there was no pain, just a warm stickiness signalling the damage it had caused. “Thinks he’s some kind of sheriff, by all accounts. Likes to imagine that he’s pulling all the strings, that his word is law.”

He turned away, staring thoughtfully at Rob, still propping up the wall in the far corner. “If he reckons I’m going to slink off and disappear just because he roughs up one of my boys, he’s got another think coming. I’ve met coppers like Hunt before. Pussy cats once they know the score. It’s just a question of pressing the right buttons.”

There was no warning. Raymond’s arm lashed backwards, the full force of his body weight behind it; his elbow slamming brutally into Sam’s unprotected face. A sickening crunch of bone, an uncontrollable cascade of blood surging into Sam’s mouth, over his chin, dripping downwards to pool on the floor. Sam choked as the viscous liquid seeped into the back of his throat. He staggered forward, screwing his eyes shut to ward off the pain and the growing darkness, well aware that if he passed out now, the chances were high that he wouldn’t wake up.

Raymond hauled him back and upwards, slamming him onto the wall, and now the mask had slipped completely. Even through half-closed, streaming eyes, the rage was immense – and, to Sam, instantly recognisable as an undiluted, extreme version of the frustrated fury of a thwarted Gene Hunt. He recalled catching a glimpse of the awesome, daunting power of the man, standing, hammer in hand, glowering at the hapless Ravi – Sam had wondered for a horrifying moment if he had miscalculated, had felt profound relief along with a warm sense of vindication as Gene had stormed away.

Here, though, he was helplessly in the custody of a man with all the potent anger of the DCI, but lacking any of the scruples. A man who expected his own way in all things, who would go to literally any lengths to ensure he got it. Something lurched and twisted deep inside Sam, as he began to come to terms with the reality that he was unlikely to come out of this alive.

Raymond grinned without humour, teeth bared in a primeval and universal display of absolute control. Into the poised, bizarrely intimate silence, a sudden crackle intruded abruptly, a shock to them both.

“870. 870, respond please. Inspector Tyler, where are you?”

Phyllis, a presence from another world, her voice now emanating from the leather jacket lying, Sam realised, crumpled and forlorn in the corner. Sam moved towards the sound without meaning to, instinctively seeking the salvation offered there. Raymond didn’t hold him back this time – instead he allowed Sam slightly past him, then delivered a vicious jabbing chop to the back of his neck, dropping him to his knees.

Raymond gestured to Rob, who had started taking distinctly more interest since the onset of the violence.

“Bring it here.”

Rob detached himself from the wall, extracted the still-crackling RT and ambled across without urgency, passing it over to Raymond, who crouched down, leaning in close to Sam.

“Listen,” he said softly, simply.

Sam forced his head up with difficulty, lifting his eyes to meet Raymond’s, a world of unvoiced messages fizzing between them as they listened, in a strange kind of harmony, to the increasingly frantic squawking from the radio. Then, a pause, reality suspended as the transmission cut off, only to resume a few charged seconds later. This time, a different voice.

“Tyler? I’m warning you, if you’ve gone and done anything daft I’ll shove my boot straight through this radio and right up your backside.”

It was like the sun coming out. The beam of purest pleasure that suffused Raymond’s face was chilling. Clearly this was far more than he would have dared to hope for. Lifting the radio slowly to his mouth, he paused, drinking in the moment, eyes still locked with Sam’s. Pressed the switch.

“Inspector Tyler can’t answer right now, I’m afraid. He’s a bit tied up.”

The silence this announcement inspired from the other end was profound, almost tangible. Sam could practically see the progression of emotions, as if Gene had materialised in the room with him – bewilderment radiating like a huge question mark, fading to be replaced by stunned comprehension, fear, anger, and finally a shifting of gears as Gene’s agile mind played through the options.

“Raymond.” A single word, growled, giving away nothing.

“DCI Hunt, I presume.” Raymond had adopted the light, conversational tone that Sam had come already to associate with imminent violent action. “I got your message…”

Sam seized the opportunity, knowing he wouldn’t have much time. Yelled with as much force as he could muster, which in his present condition was admittedly woeful.

“Elsie Walker…”

He had forgotten Rob. A catastrophic oversight, as it turned out. From above and behind, a booted foot lashed out, connecting heavily with Sam’s shoulder, overbalancing him so that he crashed onto his side. Gene’s voice blared into the room, a note of panic unmistakable even through the crackly connection.

“What the bloody hell was that?”

“This is my answer, Mr Hunt. Listen carefully.”

He must have signalled to Rob, because the boot came at Sam again, smashing into his ribcage, and Sam cried out as he felt something crack in his chest. Again and again the kicks came, each one becoming indistinguishable from the last, the world splintering and dissolving into a fractured blur of pain. In the end, Sam couldn’t have said when, the foot must have connected with his head, or maybe his brain just couldn’t take any more. With the suddenness of a light being switched off, Sam was catapulted into a merciful blackness.

Sam dreamed. Wild, formless dreams at first, endless swirling stretches of shadow and blurred colour. He could see nothing, hear only rumbles and whispers of voices an eternity away. Gradually, imperceptibly, the sounds coalesced into words, laden with despair, devoid of optimism. Goodbye, Sam. Goodbye. Maya’s voice. His mother’s.

The steady mechanical rhythm he had come to associate with shattered hope. Beep. Beep. Beep. And new voices, authoritative but uncertain.

“There’s something else at work here, Mrs Tyler. Something we haven’t identified yet, inconsistent with the injuries from the accident. We’ve done a scan, and there’s a shadow within the brain that might indicate a foreign presence.”

“A tumour? Cancer?” Panic in the so-familiar voice.

“It’s a possibility. We’ll need to operate, take a proper look.”

A fade, total darkness. The beeping, still there, accompanied now by other sounds, the lift and fall of a respirator, soft clinking of metal. Music, gentle in the background. A sudden, searing pain in his head, forcing out of him an agonised, inaudible scream. The pain intensified, and now the soundtrack had changed again – the pounding of fists on wood. Angry yells and terrified feminine shrieks, punctuated harshly by a crack. And another. Gunshots?

Sam shifted uncomfortably on the wooden floor, groaning softly as dreams and reality merged and the pain – chest, face, head – slammed into him. He breathed through it, each intake of air accompanied by a stabbing ache that he hoped fervently wasn’t a sign of anything serious. The shouting grew closer, and there was the sound of footsteps thumping up stairs, coming towards him. Sam forced his eyelids apart, resisting the very real temptation to drift back off and let life sort itself out for a bit.


“You in ‘ere, boss?”

Slam. Slam. Chris and Ray, searching downstairs for him. A tide of relief surged through Sam, leaving him trembling, unable to move. The door crashed open, and Sam’s gaze swung automatically towards the sound, eagerly seeking out his salvation.

The anticipatory half-smile forming on his shattered lips died almost before it was born. He lay, frozen and helpless, watching in horror as Raymond strode powerfully towards him, looming between Sam and the window so that all that Sam could make out was a bulky silhouette. And a gun, filling Sam’s vision, pointing at his forehead.

“You’re fucking dead.”

The simple words, spat with terrible venom, unlocked within Sam a surge of bitter frustration. So close. So bloody close to safety he could have reached out a hand and touched it. And now, after everything he’d been through, to have the happy ending ripped from him with such shattering suddenness.

“Oh, just give us a bloody break.” Even as he spoke, the inappropriateness of what he was saying struck him. As last words went, they were hardly the most edifying he could have hoped for.

It stopped Raymond, though. For a fraction of a second, he paused, finger taut on the trigger, gazing down at Tyler as if trying to make sense of what he had heard. For the briefest of moments, the world stopped. And then a single shot rang out, Sam’s whole body flinching in anticipation of the final tearing agony.

It never came. Instead, the silhouette jerked, tensed and hung motionless above Sam, like a huge, macabre shadow puppet. And suddenly, as if the strings had been cut by some mighty unseen hand, Raymond collapsed in a broken, crumpled heap, landing heavily across Sam’s legs, pinning him to the floor.

It took Sam several stunned seconds to realise that he wasn’t dead. Mind whirling in total confusion, his eyes cast round frantically for the source of the shot, coming to rest on the most soothing sight he could ever remember seeing, framed in the doorway. Redemption, it seemed, came in a camelhair coat, leather gloves, gun dangling casually from one hand, smoke still curling lazily upwards from the muzzle. The Clint Eastwood of Greater Manchester.

Gene stood, face a mask of inscrutability as he took in the shocking sight that met him, the only sign of emotion a tightening around the mouth.

“Typical bloody Gladys,” he drawled. “Even when you’re about to snuff it, you find something to whinge about.”

A sharp breath that may or may not have been a laugh forced its way out of Sam, and he gasped as the pain jabbed his chest. Gene, the cool façade falling away from him, was across the room in an instant, shoving Raymond’s body roughly aside, somehow undoing the rope still binding Sam’s wrists, propping him up with a firm, comforting arm. Sam leaned into the touch, too far gone to do more than bathe in the security, breathing in the scent of stale smoke and aftershave.

“You all right, Sam?” The words were quietly spoken, with a gruff tenderness laced with the residue of real terror, and the enormity of the events of the past few minutes tore through Sam. He began to laugh, softly at first, then great choking hysterical gulps, each one agony, but he couldn’t help himself. And at some point the tears came, the sobs indistinguishable from the laughter, his face buried in the rough warmth of Gene’s coat like a child seeking consolation from a parent. And through it all Gene said nothing, but rocked him, back and forth, letting the hysteria burn itself out.

Finally the storm passed, and Sam, breathing more evenly, pulled back slightly to look at Gene, seeing once more the toughness and authority that were a basic part of the aura of the DCI.

“Come on, Dorothy, pull yourself together. You’ve had worse from me.” There was no sting in the words, and Sam smiled.

“Yeah well, next time you decide to save the world, maybe you could let us in on it first.” Speech was difficult, the words were mumbled and halting, but Gene seemed to get the gist.

“Less of the lip, Tyler. You were the one who decided to go off meeting witnesses without telling anyone where you were going. Do that again and I’ll boot your arse from here to kingdom come. Now then. Pub?”

Sam winced as a previously unnoticed ache in his arm suddenly made its presence sharply felt. “No, you’re all right, Guv. I’d be terrible company anyway.”

Gene nodded solemnly. “Oh. Right. Probably hospital then.”

“Probably,” Sam agreed.

“So, how did you find me then?” Sam asked.

He was lying in the same hospital bed he’d now been inhabiting for the last three days, propped up against a small mountain of pillows which Gene had purloined from various beds around the ward, adjusting to his new status as a mummy. Somewhat to his surprise, Ray had turned up with Chris the day before, in what Sam could only assume was supposed to be a morale-boosting visit. The DS had taken one look at the heavily swaddled Sam, burst out laughing and chortled gleefully, “Ey, you look like one of them zombie things!” Chris, with a scathing glance, had begun to try and initiate Ray into the difference between zombies and mummies, but Ray’s attention was distracted by a pretty-looking nurse, and he’d wandered off in pursuit.

Now, Sam was recovering fast, the worst of the pain masked by a variety of drugs, rather grumpily tolerating the enforced bed rest.

Gene, feet propped up casually on the bed, flicked ash onto the floor, ignoring Sam’s disapproving glare with the ease of long practice.

“Ask Cartwright there. She’s the one who put it together. Not a bad bit of detective work for a bird.”

Annie took this faint praise stoically on the chin, strolling into Sam’s field of vision. She reminded Sam of pictures he’d seen of angels, her smile at once cheerful and sympathetic, a halo of sunlight from the window catching at the edges of her hair, streaking fiery red highlights through the deep brown.

“It was that file on Raymond. You remember I said we’d found an address?”

Sam nodded, mentally kicking himself. He’d meant to follow that up, had known it would be significant, but it had slipped his mind in his post-alcoholic fog.

“Elsie Walker was Raymond’s landlady when he first moved down to Manchester. She’s the auntie of a friend of his, or something. Anyway, something happened and she tried to get him to move out, but he wouldn’t. She rang the police, but by the time we got there she’d changed her mind. The note on the file said she was really on edge, but she refused to go through with the complaint.”

“Does my head in,” Gene interjected, scowling. “You try and give them a hand…”

Something in Sam’s look stopped him, and he changed the subject swiftly, taking up the story.

“So anyway, when I got in…”

“Oh, yeah,” Sam interrupted. “What time was that then?”

“Whatever time I bleedin’ well like, thank you. So Cartwright tells me you’ve gone off, shows me the note you made of the address.”

“Oh, don’t tell me. The same address as the one on file.” Sam briefly closed his eyes in disgust at himself. After the amount of time he’d spent extolling the virtues of communication, his own actions had been unbelievably, stupidly reckless.

Gene smirked. “Oh yeah. So by the time the radio message came through, we already knew something was up. Then we heard you shouting about the lovely Elsie, got treated to you getting a good kicking, and were off round there like the Charge of the Light Brigade.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “You do know that the Charge of the Light Brigade was a total disaster?”

Gene looked blank. Sam sighed. “Never mind.”

His eyes fell closed again. The effect of the drugs was beginning to wear off, and all at once he felt sore and overpoweringly weary. Gene, contrary to popular opinion, was extremely good at taking a hint.

“Right, can’t sit around here all day. Places to do, pints to drink.” Heaving himself out of the chair, he headed for the door. “Coming, DC Cartwright?”

Annie hesitated, glancing questioningly at Sam, who shook his head fractionally.

“Stay. If you like.”

His eyes were drawn to Gene, and he was forcibly reminded of the last time he had seen him like that, framed by a doorway, the answer to a prayer. Their gazes locked, Sam saw something flicker deep within Gene’s eyes, knew that he too, in that moment, was back in the stark little room, watching Raymond fall.

“Thanks.” Barely a whisper, scarcely adequate, but enough.

Gene nodded once in acknowledgement. Pushed the door open, and was gone.

Annie, beaming, settled herself in the recently vacated chair, and the two of them chatted inconsequentially for a while. In truth, it was Annie who did most of the chatting, Sam lying back, contentedly letting the words drift over him, responding occasionally in sleepy monosyllables. The world receded to little more than an unfocussed haze.

And imperceptibly, the sound changed. Sam could see Annie’s mouth moving, but the voice was no longer hers but his mother’s, exhausted and frightened.

“Sam? They’ve found a tumour. It’s good news, Mr Morgan says, he thinks that’s why you haven’t woken up. But they’re going to have to operate to remove it. It’s really dangerous, Sam, but Mr Morgan says there’s no choice.

“You’re going to have to be strong, my brave boy. Be strong for me, Sam…”


tatlovestea at 2007-09-18 21:11 (UTC) (Link)
Now that was a real episode. It was like having a mini TV in my brain. Characterisation was perfect (and I really don't use that lightly), storyline was gripping and the descriptions were incredibly vivid. I could spend about ten minutes gushing about this fic but it would be quite tedious to write down so I'll leave you with my ♥ :)

And yes- the titles are so hard to think up! And you try and be clever and then it sounds really silly so you try and think of what you're actually writing about but then you come up blank so you end up thinking about all these cliches and sayings and try to work those into a title and- argh! Huge confusing mess. >< Never iond, you did a fantastic job!
tatlovestea at 2007-09-18 21:12 (UTC) (Link)
iond?! Mind* I meant...
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-19 10:34 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I was really really hoping it would come out like an ep, and I'm thrilled about the characterisation. And yes, that's it exactly with the title problems. One of these days I'm just going to give up and call everything 'Story About Life on Mars'!
Using words like a trickster
liquorishflame at 2007-09-18 23:05 (UTC) (Link)
Great stuff :) Must have just done your head in getting all the details right, I like it all, especially Sam glossing over the details in his hung-over haze :)
Silly boy :D
Lot of fun, excellent as always :)
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-19 10:37 (UTC) (Link)
Ah well, God is in the detail, you know! I was really gleeful about Sam messing up in this way, because he does tend to get just a mite sanctimonious at times. Nice to see he can get it wrong too!

Thanks :DD
lozenger8 at 2007-09-19 10:36 (UTC) (Link)
I love you to absolute pieces. Absolute fucking pieces. This is so, so, SO what I have wanted for the longest time. And you have written it. And I am dying a little, because it works brilliantly.

The plot, the description, the dialogue, the characterisation - all brilliant.

You have some truly fantastic lines, such as; Gene became more unstable as the evening wore on, at one point gazing deeply into Sam’s semi-focussed eyes and declaring him the finest and most honourable (Sam was fairly sure that was the word he was trying to frame) copper he had ever met.

I want to quote this whole story back at you. (I had Sam's last words and Gene's appearance as redemption poised to cut and paste.) The whole 'pub/hospital' exchange is beautiful. As is Chris with his zombies and mummies.

I do not say this lightly; this may just be my favourite Life on Mars fic ever. To the point that I am relatively incoherent with glee, because, seriously, this is everything I love about Life on Mars and more.

Thank you. ♥
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-19 10:47 (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhhhhh! *gulp* I've never wanted more to be able to mem a comment! I must admit, I'm pretty pleased with this - it's not my usual sort of thing, so I wasn't at all sure how it was going to turn out.

And I was thinking of you when I had Gene saying 'fuck' - your take on this has become my personal canon, and I won't have him use the word except for major dramatic effect.

Thank you so much for your generous comment. I really am a bit overwhelmed! *wanders off happily muttering to self 'favourite Life on mars story ever'* Hee!
duckyone at 2007-09-19 11:00 (UTC) (Link)
Now that was good. I love it when a fic reads like it could actually happen in an episode and I also love it when all the characters sound like they should.

You win all of today's special bonus points and chocolate chip cookies.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-19 13:02 (UTC) (Link)
CookEEEEEEEEEEEEs! *dances* And chocolate chip too!

Thanks - really glad you liked it. :DDD
The Urple Avenger
kaj_22 at 2007-09-19 19:12 (UTC) (Link)
I have tried about 4 times to frame my love for this fic in a coherent manner but the ability is slipping away from me as I return to read bits again and forget what I was going to say. I think it can be summed up thusly: Best LoM Story Ever.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 10:43 (UTC) (Link)
Wow - that's perfectly coherent enough for me! Thank you so much. :D
hambelandjemima at 2007-09-19 21:10 (UTC) (Link)
I love long fics. Especially long fics that show Sam and Gene doing their stuff and putting away the bad guys. This should be an episode, because we all know that there's more to Gene and Suki than they showed us on the telly.

Love it ♥
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 10:49 (UTC) (Link)
I would have loved to see more of Suki (time-wise!) - she was a fab cameo and deserved a backstory. Shame she had to meet such a sticky end to get it, though! (I do have an unfortunate habit of killing off minor characters in horrible ways!)

Thanks for commenting. :)
missscarlett at 2007-09-19 21:46 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful. :-) This is a real Should Be Canon type fic. Everything about it was just so right! I like how you took a minor character like Suki and centered a new, very cool plot around her. And I do have to admit it was refreshing to see Sam being the one to get it wrong...though that didn't stop me feeling sorry for him.

Great story. Such a pleasure to read. :-)
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 10:54 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I was really going for a canon feel with this, trying to write something I would like to see. Which says something about me, I guess - the more I put Sam through, the happier I am! (I felt sorry for him too, just not enough to spare him the experience!)
saintvic at 2007-09-19 22:26 (UTC) (Link)
Oh brilliant you should definately write more Gen if it gets us something like this.

Great mix of the case and the characters. Really enjoyed.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 11:00 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm not best at plot!fics, I can usually figure out ways in and then can't work out how to wrap them up. But now that this one's worked out OK, hopefully there'll be more of this sort of thing. (Not sure about the gen thing though, we all know what they're up to!)
As relevant as Tacitus
tabula_x_rasa at 2007-09-19 23:46 (UTC) (Link)
It really does feel like I've just watched an episode. Astounding work. *applauds*
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 11:02 (UTC) (Link)

Thank you - exactly the reaction I wanted. :DD
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 11:04 (UTC) (Link)
Oops, sorry, wrong icon. Curse this modern technology!
dorsetgirl at 2007-09-20 01:19 (UTC) (Link)
I’ve been putting off commenting for a couple of days, because I wanted to take the time to do it justice. Not sure I can though.

This is just so good. This isn’t fanfic, this is a Life on Mars story, and it’s very true to the original in so many ways. For example, it may be gen, but it’s still very clear how much Sam cares about Gene, and how much Gene trusts Sam. And you’ve got them with “their gazes locked”, and Gene “gazing deeply into Sam’s semi-focussed eyes” which I have to say does a lot for me, as it is so canon.

There’s not a single jarring note in here, it all just flows, and works. And it’s a good story with strong characterisation and tension. Sam had come to have deep respect for the easy leadership and strength of character which radiated from the DCI. That’s a brilliant line, it is so Gene.

Sam saw something flicker deep within Gene’s eyes ... “Thanks.” Barely a whisper, scarcely adequate, but enough. OK, you get an award for that one. It’s natural for people to want to authenticate their fics by using actual quotes from the show, and it can go wrong when crowbars are used – things stick out, looking unnatural. But this just fits. Perfect.

I’m totally with you on Gene’s not using the word “fuck”. I’m convinced a man of his era, at that time, would not use the word at work, thinking it too filthy for decent company. (Even worse - far worse - than Sam using “shag” to Annie). I decided at the outset that Gene would never use the word in my fics, although Sam does. Having just checked back, I find that I have given him the word, twice. (Both times he says it to Sam, in extremely stressful sexual situations.)

There’s only one thing I can think of that you might do differently in a future gen piece, and this is absolutely not a criticism: you’ve used Annie very well here, with the address, but perhaps you could use Chris and Ray a bit more. I know in the show they mainly hang around Sam and Gene, or stand around in the background, but that’s not so easy to show on the page; perhaps you could give them a little scene together where they actually move the plot along a bit or reveal something about a character? It would just maybe round things out that last little bit from absolutely bloody amazing to perfection.

Sorry, I've rambled a bit here, hope you don't mind.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 11:14 (UTC) (Link)
Mind? :D Good Lord, you ramble as much as you like, m'dear!

it may be gen, but it’s still very clear how much Sam cares about Gene
Quite. It's as gen/slash as the canon is, which is to say, gen with a distinct edge. The slash doesn't just spring from nothing! I kept relating it in my mind to the series, thinking 'would they do that?' and every time I could picture it.

But this just fits. I'm glad about that. I knew it was a bit self-indulgent to use the 'thanks' idea, but it was irresistible under the circs!

perhaps you could use Chris and Ray a bit more
Erk. I know you're right about this. It's the next thing I've got to conquer, really - I think I've got Sam and Gene pretty much sorted now, and I'm fairly comfortable using Annie, but I find the idea of writing Chris and Ray quite daunting. I think I'll just have to jump in and do it sometime.

Thank you for your wonderful comment, DG - I'm so pleased you liked this. And This isn’t fanfic, this is a Life on Mars story is about the most delightful compliment it's possible to get. *hugs*
dorsetgirl at 2007-09-20 12:36 (UTC) (Link)
I knew it was a bit self-indulgent to use the 'thanks' idea I know what you mean, and I bet you hesitated over it, but you did it so well, it just brings up the end of 2.02(?) so clearly, that it splashes their faces really vividly in the reader's mind. So, not self-indulgence but an entirely justified and brilliantly executed visual-aid device.

Chris and Ray. Perhaps you have the same problem there as I do? I think I've got their voices OK, although I've only written them once I believe, but I just can't be arsed with them, because Gene and Sam are the only characters that really matter to me.

However, if you're going for canon, rather than simply lots of lovely Gene/Sam, then they have to be there.

And now I must go and reconsider the end of my Sam Williams fic, because Chris and Ray should be there and they're not. Damn. And I've just spent two hours writing something completely different, when I'd promised myself I'd make progress on Sam Williams' story today. He's getting lonely, sitting there in the book week after week. He wants his story told. Ah well, the muse you know. Has to be humoured.
sytaxia at 2007-09-20 17:41 (UTC) (Link)
Just had to chime in on this and second the "fuck" notion: I try to avoid having Gene use it, unless the situation is incredibly tense or emotional, because it really was just too strong of a word back then, even for someone like Gene Hunt, to use as often as he uses all his other vulgarities. I can definitely see him saying it, but not nearly as often as he would if he were alive today. Just my two cents/nod of agreement.
starrylizard at 2007-09-20 02:15 (UTC) (Link)
This is awesome! Poor Sam! I love the Gene/Sam banter and the description you use. Feels just like an episode. Thanks for a great read.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-20 11:23 (UTC) (Link)
Poor Sam indeed! I'd like to think I've got this out of my system now, but I'm pretty sure I'll be bashing the poor love about in future fics too :D Thanks - glad you enjoyed it.
sytaxia at 2007-09-20 17:40 (UTC) (Link)
Loved it - absolutely perfect; the descriptions, the dialogue, the flow of the story: the way that everything fit together so perfectly and then resolved like an actual episode... Just really, really well done. I loved the part at the beginning with Suki, and Gene describing his relationship with her, and knowing that it was his fault: very, very great insight into the character, without going off and showing his own thoughts. I also loved the fact that Sam caught Raymond off guard like that; perfect example of his character's quirks resulting in a sort of dumb luck, just like in the show - and the "charge of the light brigade" remark was fantastic, as well. Great fic!
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-09-22 10:19 (UTC) (Link)
Oh thank you! :DDD I loved Sam's quirky response to Raymond as well - I can barely even take credit for it, it was one of those moments that just happens sometimes, where the character takes over without a great deal of conscious thought, so I have Sam to thank for that one. (You should have seen me giggling over the Light Brigade thing, though - thanks for picking up on that! *glee*)
Strike while the irony is hot
draycevixen at 2007-11-23 00:38 (UTC) (Link)

*snuggles rec list*

So this if fan fiction eh? Reads more like a missing episode. The characterization was spot on and I swear I could hear their voices in my head as the dialogue was so spot on. Thank you!
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-11-23 15:42 (UTC) (Link)

Re: *snuggles rec list*

Thank me? Thank me?? Nine - saying 'This is fantastic' - to me *swoon* Thank you!
Strike while the irony is hot
draycevixen at 2007-11-23 16:21 (UTC) (Link)

Re: *snuggles rec list*

He is rather lovely, isn't he? Well the Vixen is very magnanimous... you can have 10 (I see your icon) and I'll keep Nine... and the Master... and Jack. I *know* how to share.

And thank you again! :D
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2007-11-23 16:49 (UTC) (Link)

Re: *snuggles rec list*

I *know* how to share.

Ha! So I see. *g*

You drive a hard bargain, Ms Vixen. Ok, you keep Nine and (can't believe I'm saying this) Jack, I'll hang on to Ten. Any chance of a timeshare on the Master? I'm worried that Ten might pine without the odd helping of teh timesecks.

Strike while the irony is hot
draycevixen at 2007-11-23 18:55 (UTC) (Link)

Re: *snuggles rec list*

Hmmmmm... I don't want to get a reputation as difficult. You were very obliging on the 9/Jack front so... how about you get the Master on MWF and every other Sunday?

Ummm... have you written any 10/Master bits? Can't believe I just typed "bits"...

Also, have you written any shorter LOM bits? Oops didn't mean that possibly unfortunate double entendre either... Your stories that have been recced are quite long -- I'm stuck in the middle of American Thanksgiving festivities and they tend to get a bit miffed if I disappear off for too long reading really long stories... :D

hmpf at 2008-02-02 01:23 (UTC) (Link)


intelligent I could say has already be said, so let me just add my voice to the chorus that says that this is brilliant. You're an amazing writer.

And I really liked Sam's 'inappropriate' 'last words', because that really is how the mind works in times of extreme stress. Totally random. I was sort of assaulted in an underpass once, and I managed to drive the guy away by *cursing* loudly and aggressively. It wasn't a conscious decision - just a gut reaction, a feeling of "shit, I don't *want* this kind of thing happening in my life now!", which I expressed by foul language. So, yeah... surprising attackers with random utterances *works*! *g*

(And: poor Sam! Everybody seems to be putting him in hospital in fic! Which is kind of ironic, seeing as how that's exactly where he actually *is*, for most of the show. *g*)
anazri at 2008-03-10 02:25 (UTC) (Link)
Hi - I'm new to the fandom, and found this through the recs list. Nothing I've read so far has been so real and true to the canon, in terms of characterisation and mood. So, basically, squee! Awesomeness :D
sholio at 2008-05-12 07:33 (UTC) (Link)
I liked this! Very nicely done, good character voices and very enjoyable h/c. :)

"Then we heard you shouting about the lovely Elsie, got treated to you getting a good kicking, and were off round there like the Charge of the Light Brigade.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “You do know that the Charge of the Light Brigade was a total disaster?”

Gene looked blank. Sam sighed. “Never mind.”

I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2008-05-12 13:02 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. I'm really pleased you liked it. :D

(And thanks for picking up on that little exchange - its one of my fave bits!)
(Deleted comment)
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2010-03-16 10:02 (UTC) (Link)
Excellent! I'm really glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks so much for taking the trouble to tell me so - and a mem too! Thank you! :D
edzel2 at 2010-05-03 15:39 (UTC) (Link)
This is brilliant - don't think I've ever read this one until today, and it's only thanks to this rec post http://community.livejournal.com/lifein1973/1877158.html by Loz8 that I found it.

Wonderful. And if I'm not much mistaken you're about to have a new set of comments in praise of it very shortly! I love rec's!
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2010-05-03 16:17 (UTC) (Link)
Oh thanks! - both for the lovely comment, and for bringing my attention to the rec. (Good old Loz, she makes such a lovely pimp! XD )

I'm really glad you enjoyed the fic. :D
talkingtothesky at 2010-05-03 15:46 (UTC) (Link)
Gene, the cool façade falling away from him, was across the room in an instant,...propping him up with a firm, comforting arm. Sam leaned into the touch,... breathing in the scent of stale smoke and aftershave.

“You all right, Sam?” The words were quietly spoken, with a gruff tenderness laced with the residue of real terror, and the enormity of the events of the past few minutes tore through Sam. ... his face buried in the rough warmth of Gene’s coat like a child seeking consolation from a parent. And through it all Gene said nothing, but rocked him, back and forth, letting the hysteria burn itself out.


This is everything I love about hurt/comfort and Sam/Gene and great writing.

Absolutely perfect fic.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2010-05-04 16:07 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you - what a compliment! :D And thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
sunnyringo at 2010-05-04 02:53 (UTC) (Link)
I also read this fic today because of the rec on lifein1973. It's wonderful. I am not a writer so I always feel shy & awkward about commenting on people's stories. But I loved this and wanted to let you know. :)
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2010-05-04 16:09 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks - I'm so glad you did. You certainy don't have to be a writer to know what you appreciate in a story, so please don't feel shy! Really delighted you enjoyed the fic. :)
oddrid at 2011-05-28 20:37 (UTC) (Link)
This is fantastic, felt like a real episode. Thanks so much!
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2011-05-29 22:23 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you - I'm really pleased you enjoyed it and that it hit the canon note I was going for, and it's just lovely to get feedback so far after the event. :D
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