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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, Watching, Blue Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
30th-Apr-2008 03:08 pm

Title:    Watching

Author: DorsetGirl

Fandom: Life on Mars

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters or their universe. BBC/Kudos do. I’m not making any money out of this.

Rating:  Blue? Cortina for angst

Pairings: Sam/Gene implied

Word Count:  1,514

Summary: This is a sequel to Body and Soul, and takes place some time before Fighting to Survive.

A/N: Although this is a sequel to Body and Soul , it was written before that story, so I hope it makes sense. Thanks again to [info]duckyone and  [info]vicfarmer for making me think about writing more. Not beta'd.  





“Guv! Just had the Royal on the phone; sounds like they’ve got DI Tyler!”




Gene couldn’t remember moving from his desk. He couldn’t remember driving here, or walking the long corridors searching for Sam’s room. He couldn’t remember waiting to be allowed in. He was simply here, looking down at last on the broken body, hands clenched in pockets to stop himself reaching out.


It was even worse than he’d expected. He sweated as he looked down on the still figure, so small he barely registered on the tranquil spread of crisp white cotton. Sam embossed his lonely shape on a child’s portion of the bed, and his face was the starkest white Gene had ever seen on someone still living.


There didn’t seem to be enough of Sam to measure for the box.


“How long?” he muttered.


“I’m sorry?”


“I said, how long? How long has he got?”


“Mr Hunt, we need to discuss this outside.”


“No, tell me now. Tell me how long, I’m not leaving him until... Just tell me, OK, how long?”


“Mr Hunt, you must come away, please, come with me now.”




A hand closed round his arm, tight as a vice, and pulled. “Mr Hunt. I must ask you to wait outside now. You’re distressing Mr Tyler.”


He ripped away from the constraining hands; four of them now, inconsequential specks at the edge of his anguish.


He faced them, roared again, “TELL ME! YOU’VE GOT TO TELL... “ He caught the last shreds of sanity, forced himself to calm down, voice cracking. “I’ve got to know, please, tell me, I can’t - how long?” and something in his tone finally got through to wherever doctors keep their compassion, husbanded carefully and meted out only in desperate straits, in the hope that it will last the course.


A voice spoke firmly behind him. “I will discuss this with you outside, Mr Hunt, and then you can come back in, if you keep quiet. Mr Tyler needs to feel safe. We can never be sure how much a coma patient takes in of his surroundings, and you, Mr Hunt, are in danger of undoing all the good we’ve been able to do so far. Please. Come with me now.”


Dazed, glancing over his shoulder at the fragile figure in the bed, Gene moved where the arms guided him. He couldn’t feel the floor for some reason, couldn’t tell if he was putting his feet in the right places.


He felt the air change on his face, some subtle change in the noises around, and he could no longer see Sam behind him.


Abruptly, he found himself seated, a cup of water at his lips.


“Drink it, please. We need you to calm down. You’ve misunderstood, Mr Hunt. Mr Tyler is not going to die. He’s a very lucky...”


Through the roaring in his ears and the black and red clouds behind his eyes, Gene heard the nurse speak calmly. “Here, Mr Hunt. It’s all right, I’ve got you. In the bowl, OK?” He strained forward and brought up his breakfast, his lunch, all the whisky he’d downed while he waited.


Gasping and shuddering at the bitter taste, burning up and chilled to the bone, he put his head down in his hands as the corridor slowly took form around him. The nurse bent down to put a hand on his shoulder.


“Are you OK now? Mr Hunt? Can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can understand what I’m saying. I need to know you’re OK. Mr Hunt?”


Dragging in a lungful of acrid whisky-tainted air, feeling the clammy sweat break out again, he pursed his lips and breathed out slowly, shakily. Gaining some form of control, he opened his eyes and tried to find the words.


“Is he ... ? Did you say he’s ... ?”


“He’s going to live, Mr Hunt, although he’s going to be very weak for a while. Luckily, there’s been no major organ damage; he was found just in time. He’ll live, Mr Hunt; that’s about all we can promise at the moment, but it’s more than we could be sure of when we brought him in.”


Gene managed the smallest of smiles, still breathing deeply, and brushed at his eyes impatiently. “So how long will he be in here then? When can I – when can he go home? And how soon till he can get back to work?”


“Mr Hunt, you don’t seem to understand; this man has very serious injuries! It’s possible he’ll never walk again. He has a chest drain for a punctured lung, he’s got bruised kidneys, two broken ribs, a cracked right femur, compound fractures to the left leg.... He’s been starved for at least a week and has suffered severe beatings on a number of separate occasions. He’s a very sick man.”


“I’m not asking ’cos I want him back at work you daft tart! I want him lying in that bed as long as it takes him to get better; there’s nothing to him. But, I need to know, because the moment he wakes up he’s going to ask. Guaranteed.” That’s after ‘what year is it?’ of course. “And I’m going to be here to tell him, so you’d better tell me, love, OK?”


“Please, Mr Hunt, keep your voice down! It’s going to be a while before he wakes up. He’s been through a terrible experience and we’ll be keeping him under for at least a few days until we can be sure there’s no new infection. Then he’s got weeks here while we make sure all the bones are knitting properly. We’ll let the family know when they can make arrangements for his recovery at home. Which reminds me, there’s no-one here yet; who’s the next of kin, do you know?”


“That’ll be me. Hasn’t got anyone else.”


“Oh. I hadn’t realised he was a relative of yours, DCI Hunt?”


“Well, he’s not. Strictly speaking, that is. Not as such. He’s...”




“He’s my DI. And a bloody good one at that, and I want him back at work in one piece, have you got that?”


“We’re doing our very best for Mr Tyler, you can be sure of that. Now, if I might suggest, you don’t look too well yourself. This has been a bit of a shock for you; you need to get some sleep and perhaps come back in a few days.”


“Not going anywhere. I’ll sleep in there, don’t want those bastards coming back for him. He might be able to identify them. When he wakes up, he’s going to find me right there, waiting.”


“I’m sorry, Mr Hunt, but I can’t allow that. We have to let Mr Tyler have peace and quiet. You can see him tomorrow for a few minutes if you ...”



Moving. Pinpricks, gnats biting at his arms, red clouds. Pulling; shoving. A door. Shouting. Firm hands, a half-nelson confidently applied. Comprehension, slowly dawning.


“Get off me Ray, I’m staying. He needs protection.”


“Guv. Sit down, shut up and listen to me a minute.”


Struggling. More shoving, a chair coming up to meet him. Knees on the cold floor. Face on the chair, banged down hard enough to bruise. Pain enough to clear the mind.


“Look, I don’t know why you’re so bloody keen to stay here with the twonk, but I do know this: hospitals like people who stay quiet and do as they’re told. Them’s the ones who’s allowed to stay, Guv, all right? Nice quiet well-behaved people who don’t upset the patients.”


Sharp, bright blue eyes. “Got it, Guv? Gonna behave yourself if I let go?”


Just nod. Do it. Stay.


“Thanks, Ray.”


He sat on the chair, getting his breath back. Looking at the tubes and bandages and wondering what was going on in there. If you could get plasters for the mind.




“See? He’ll be OK now, he’s not unreasonable, he’s just a bit, you know, doesn’t like people messing with his team. Tell you what, love, he gives you any trouble, you give me a bell straight away, OK? Here’s the number, you just ask for Detective Sergeant Ray Carling, all right? Or, better idea, how about if I buy you a drink tonight? For your trouble, like. And you can tell me how the Guv’s been. If I need to come round and sort him out again for you.”




He sat in the chair and wondered how long it would take for the bones to heal and the fear to fade and the world to start again. If it would be the same.




“I’ll be off now then, Guv. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, OK? I’ll send Cartwright in later, see if you need anything. Dinner, like. Can give you a lift home later if you want, you just tell Cartwright, she can phone me. Guv? I’ll see you later then, OK?”



He sat in the chair and watched Sam breathe.






30th-Apr-2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
Wow, you have managed to make Gene's pain and impotent rage so real that I want to cry for him. I love stories that explore internally, the passion and love he has for Sam but can't let show.

And having Ray be the one to take control of an enraged Guv and be the voice of reason? Brilliant. I like this Ray, and of course he would hit on the nurse.

This just gets better and better and it will be placed securely in my mems where it can be taken out and reread over and over.

Thank you!

ETA: And the last line was breathtaking.

Edited at 2008-04-30 02:34 pm (UTC)
30th-Apr-2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
Gene's pain and impotent rage ... the passion and love he has for Sam

Thank you! Yes, that is exactly what I had in mind here, that he thinks Sam is dying, taking away his whole world, and he is powerless to do anything about that yet he still has to be the DCI.

It had to be Ray, really; he has the physical strength, and the history with Gene that will allow him to treat Gene like this and live!

Thank you so much for a lovely comment - and mems! Thank you.
30th-Apr-2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, that was a really painful read. In a good way, of course. This line in particular just broke my heart, especially knowing that Sam wasn't really all there to begin with:

If you could get plasters for the mind.

But for my part, the real win of this story was Ray, because in just a few short segments you've gathered together so much of his character and made him a sort of realistic core to an unmanageable situation - laying the boots to Gene if need be while still being strangely compassionate, and still finding the time to make a pass at the nurse, lol.

Loved it. Thank you!
30th-Apr-2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
really painful ... In a good way

Well, I never thought I'd be writing what would appear to be h/c, but the inspiration has been a little thin on the ground since Christmas, so I'm just taking anything that strikes at the moment.

So far as I can recall, this is the first time I've given Ray even a single line of dialogue, so I'm glad you thought he was OK. He did have a bit of a difficult job to do here but I was quite pleased at the way he turned out.

Thank you very much for commenting.
30th-Apr-2008 04:14 pm (UTC)

That was just brilliant. You could feel Gene's pain when he thought Sam was dying. He was almost incoherent but still powerful - and I love the way Ray took control, almost a role reversal in that he became the Daddy to Gene's child.

Excellent stuff. Thank you.
30th-Apr-2008 11:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Yes, this fic was all about Gene's pain; I don't tend to do plot, but this piece was a touch uneventful even for me, so I was a little concerned about it.

I actually wrote most of this the day after Fighting to Survive (ie before writing Body & Soul), but I couldn't find a satisfactory ending. Gene had to end up quiet enough to be allowed to stay but without simply caving in, so it was lucky that Ray showed up. (Actually he brought Gene to the hospital, but Gene is too out of it to have registered that).

Thank you for commenting. Might see you Tuesday!
30th-Apr-2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. Painful, realistic but ultimately hopeful. Will there be more to this little series? I'd love to see when Sam wakes up with Gene beside him...

He sat in the chair and wondered how long it would take for the bones to heal and the fear to fade and the world to start again. If it would be the same.
I know that feeling... different cause, but same feeling. *sobs*

I really like how you've made Ray the voice of reason here.
30th-Apr-2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you; I'm glad you liked it. Yes, I'm toying with a few ideas, and Sam waking up with Gene in the room is an obvious one; I'm going to wait for Gene to get round to that one though.

I've scribbled a little Sammy think-piece, which is set around the same time as Fighting to Survive - maybe a week or two earlier. It's still in longhand atm, so I'll see how it looks when I've typed it up. Different style again - I'm just taking what comes on this, because if I start planning it won't work or I'll get fed up with it.

I know that feeling. I'm sorry.

Ray the voice of reason. I'm not too sure of Ray's motivation here, but I think it comes from his great admiration - and possibly hero-worship - of the Guv. He doesn't want him to make an arse of himself, and that's more important than his jealousy and suspicion of Gene wasnting to stay with Tyler.
30th-Apr-2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
You know I read this through fast this morning and thought Gene is really OOC here and I don't much like it when that happens unless it's an obvious crack work. So I went away to think about what my comment might be.

Then I came back and just read it through again at a slower pace. That's when it dawned on me that what seemed OOC wasn't actually being expressed to anyone surrounding Gene, only to us the reader. That we were being exposed to his thoughts and feelings while the hospital people were just being exposed to Gene doing his bull-in-a-china-shop impersonation. That's when it snapped into place for me that this was in fact very much in character for Gene -- his body might betray him by being sick, but he doesn't cave in any other way.

Thank you!

Oh, and I really like Ray here too! :D
30th-Apr-2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
Okaaayyy, so: this comment put me in a bit of a cold sweat earlier because - and I'd never realised this before - I never read back for character.

I do spend entirely too much time reading and reading before I post, checking for continuity, order of events, general flow etc, but I don't think much about whether the guys are in character or not. Which is a pretty serious omission.

So, I think you're saying that the OOC wasn't actually too bad in the end, which is a relief, but I would be very interested to know which bits struck you as being OOC - on first reading, and on second.

I guess it's human nature simply not to comment if we can't find anything positive to say, but genuine concrit is very useful and quite hard to come by. Thank you for being honest!
30th-Apr-2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
Oh. Just oh *sniff*.
I think this is the best of the three pieces in this series so far. I absolutely loved it (in a raw, painful way). I agree totally with Ducky and Drayce that you've captured Gene's internal anguish as opposed to the image of him that others see. And I loved Ray!

I've had to be really strict with myself not to just quote the whole thing, but I loved this line because I could almost feel it myself:

He couldn’t feel the floor for some reason, couldn’t tell if he was putting his feet in the right places. *sniffs again*

I know you said three pieces, but I would also be keen on seeing more of this.
30th-Apr-2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
Gene's internal anguish

In writing this, I wanted to show exactly that, and to concentrate only on that, such that Gene for once simply didn't care whether or not he was projecting his normal DCI persona.

That line about not feeling his feet on the floor came from somewhere pretty deep but I'm not sure where, so I'm glad it worked for you.

I have one more piece so far which I will type up tomorrow and see if it's worth posting, then after that we'll just have to see if anything else comes up. Thanks for commenting!
1st-May-2008 08:37 am (UTC)
Poor Gene! He's just walking around in a raw daze of anguish. You made me really feel for him here. At least Ray had the sense to come to his rescue.

This was excellent and I'm really glad to hear that there'll be more of it. Looking forward to it. :)
2nd-May-2008 06:05 am (UTC)
Thank you, love. "raw daze of anguish" is exactly - those very words - the mood I was going for here, so I am very happy indeed that you got that from it.

And he did need rescuing, didn't he. I don't think I've ever written Ray before, but no-one else could have done what he did here.

The fourth snippet is in editing at the moment; it needs some careful handling to make it readable without completely losing the mood, which I'm finding quite difficult. It's very unlikely to be finished now until after the long weekend and after PG on Tuesday (God, I'm so excited!)
1st-May-2008 10:04 am (UTC)
And again absolutely fascinating reading. The Gene you show here is in so much pain it is painful to read it. Which just emphasises how much ne needs Sam. Really liked this:

But, I need to know, because the moment he wakes up he’s going to ask. Guaranteed.” That’s after ‘what year is it?’ of course. “And I’m going to be here to tell him,

The way you drop in Gene's awareness of what Sam would be thinking works very well.
2nd-May-2008 06:12 am (UTC)
Gene ... is in so much pain

I'm really pleased that worked for you; I love writing Gene and it's lovely when people get what he's going through.

Gene's awareness of what Sam would be thinking

I haven't written the waking up yet; I haven't even decided on the pov, but personally I think what Sam's first question is will depend on whether Gene is there or not. Gene maybe hasn't worked that out.
29th-May-2008 07:58 am (UTC)
The way that Gene has just been shocked senseless in this, the blinding rage, is so perfectly done... And I love the fact that it was Ray that calmed him down: so many times he's painted as being the oaf or the ruffian, but his own violence and edge make him the perfect match for Gene in this situation, and it's nice to see him as the voice of reason, which he certainly isn't beyond...

And the waiting... The idea of one half of the pair just watching the other breathe is one of my favorite things, whether it be post-coital or during a harrowing H/C scenario like this, and the simplicity of it is such a great ending for this fic, taking away the rage and anger from Gene and leaving him with so little, it makes the piece feel so bleak...
29th-May-2008 10:18 am (UTC)
I love writing Gene, but I seldom get as far inside his head as in this one. It had to be Ray, didn't it; Gene was so far gone in anguish that he needed that physical control to be imposed first.

Bleak was definitely the feeling I was going for at the end, so I'm very pleased that's what came over.
27th-Jun-2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
WOW! I loved all the inner turmoil you brilliantly depicted that true to Gene's character

Don't mind me if this is late-i'm catching up before the new chapter. It seems i missed alot

Great work
27th-Jun-2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Hi, and welcome! I'm glad you liked this, and comments are lovely to get at any time. You've got to feel sorry for Gene - he's hurting so much inside but he still has to be in charge.
(Deleted comment)
1st-Nov-2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
It's great to get a comment on such an old piece, and such a lovely comment too! Thank you very much for taking the trouble to give feedback; I really appreciate that. (There is quite a lot more to this series if you're interested, in the masterlist at my journal).
14th-Jul-2010 02:59 am (UTC)
Oh my god, it's great how out of himself he is, just completely on the verge after they tell him Sam will live.
14th-Jul-2010 10:10 am (UTC)
Yes, I think in a situation like this all the feelings that you just haven't allowed yourself to feel would all ambush you at once. Here, he's got two waves of that - first when he actually sees Sam still alive, which he thought would never happen again, and second when he realises that Sam actually will survive.

Thanks for commenting; it's lovely to still get feedback on older stuff!
10th-Aug-2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
I could swear that I read a story that fit between this one and the previous one. Maybe in the Collator's Den? Am I insane? One in which Gene gets the news that they found Sam, and he starts to fall apart back at CID, staggers into his office and Annie has to help him pull it together?
Anyway, I wrote another fic - I think you'll like it. Also, would you be my LJ friend?
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