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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, Useless, Brown Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
8th-May-2008 01:50 pm

Title:    Useless

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:  Brown Cortina for strong language

Warnings: Depressed Sam, not entirely in his right mind.

Pairings: Sam/Gene implied

Word Count: 810

Summary: Sam is still desperately weak after his ordeal, but he’s fighting back the only way he knows.

A/N: This is part of the Survival series, which is being written out of order, because apparently I don’t do planning. Not beta’d. From Sam’s point of view, this follows Body & Soul  (Watching is Gene pov).


Previously posted: Body & Soul / Watching / Useless /  Fighting to Survive







Sam Tyler is a whining, pathetic, useless pile of fucking shit.


He knows this, not because Gene tells him - he doesn’t, he’s careful never to say anything about Sam’s continuing feeble-mindedness. Besides if Gene was saying what he thinks, he’d say Sam was being a pathetic whinging nancy tosser. No, Sam knows what he is from deep inside himself, and because he can see it in Gene’s despair. If Sam was any use as a human being he’d be out of this bed by now, back on the streets with Gene.


But he isn’t any use as a human being. And he’s certainly no use as a police officer, a friend or a lover.


What he can’t live with is that he allowed himself to believe he could go home. The bastard who’d kept him gagged, bound and blindfolded for uncounted days in a dirty dark hole told him to shout for help when he woke up. If Sam had done that, if in fact Sam had displayed any intelligence at all, he wouldn’t be wasting his energies now on coming back from infection and dehydration as well as from beatings, starvation and too many pills.


It’s his own fault, and he doesn’t even have the excuse that he thought it was real. He knows it wasn’t real, knew then that it wasn’t real. Knew that if he gave up and turned to the voices and the visions he would probably die right there as he deserved. Yet he pursued the fantasy. Followed the beguiling primrose path out of the pain and misery into the false light and Gene’s darkness.


And this he can never say.


Because it’s Sam’s stupidity and Sam’s failure putting Gene through these weeks and months of hell. Sam’s fault Gene is running his city without his deputy, and when he comes home exhausted he still has to look after Sam, do things for him. Sam knows he can never make that up to Gene, not if he tries for the rest of his life. He’s just a pathetic useless prick, a complete waste of space.


But he’s still Sam Tyler, and to attempt atonement, and to address the issue of punishment, he must get himself back to work as soon as possible, to take the load off Gene. So he’s got exercise plans from every doctor, every therapist and three of the senior nurses, and he works through them all.


Most days he doesn’t take the painkillers, they slow his mind down and make him lazy, and he hasn’t got time to waste on drifting. He’s planned it all out, how many minutes every routine will take and how often he should be doing each one, and it’s working well now, he’s conquering each cycle of pain and sometimes he doesn’t even break down till the end.


And when his weakened muscles contort and spasm and he has to stop for a while, he reads case notes, feverishly searching statements for something, anything, that was missed the first time round. It’s the only way he can contribute. He may be useless, but he’s a police officer, he’s got a job to do even if he can’t walk down the road yet, can’t even make it to the front door most days.


He finally understands how much of him is defined by what he does, and now he can’t do it, maybe he isn’t who he was any more. Maybe he’s no-one now.


In between case reviews, in the brief rest periods he allows himself when he can’t hold the files any longer, he lies briefly back and burns with impatience for the day he doesn’t have to look at that ceiling any more; the day he can get outside and be strong enough to be some use to Gene. So he starts the next exercise a little earlier than he should and if he does that enough times he can fit in a few more every day.


Gene tells him to sleep more, just relax for God’s sake, but every time he struggles through the day, every time he sees Gene coming home exhausted but magnificent from fighting through another day alone, he knows all over again that he’s just a useless fucking cunt who doesn’t deserve a prize like Gene, and he should go back to his lonely flat, set him free. Gene is saving his city alone and unaided while Sam lies pathetically abed with his reading and exercises.


He doesn’t count the days or the nights; they’re all the same anyway. He wakes each morning and pushes himself harder, and sleeps only when he can’t fight it. He despises himself these days; he is a pathetic whinging nancy tosser, a whining, pathetic, useless pile of fucking shit. And every day he hates himself a little more.


Useless is too good a word for him.

UnhappyMan2 by Ruuger
8th-May-2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
I love the contrast between this and 'Fighting to Survive' Here you can *feel* Sam's self-loathing and his perception of how useless he is and then in 'Fighting to Survive' you see how everything Sam is obssessing over is of completely no importance to Gene. I also love how you ilustrate through Gene's concern for Sam's recovery (and Sam's concern for all the extra work Gene has to do) how strongly each of them feel about eachother. Oh and you've got Sam's frustration down perfect.
8th-May-2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this; I was worried it wouldn't make sense, because Sam really isn't seeing things clearly right now.

It was important to me that their feelings for each other - although not explicitly stated - came through, so I'm glad that worked for you.
8th-May-2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
As someone who has had an occasion to experience it, you have hit the nail on the head on the way the brain works when someone is severely depressed. Scarily so.

I love the contrast of Sam's point of view on how Gene feels, to how Gene actually sees the situation. Sam is coming from a place full of self hatred while Gene is coming from a place of total love. Which when you are depressed is the last thing you can accept.

Thank you for continuing this. I hope there will be at least one more.
8th-May-2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
you have hit the nail on the head on the way the brain works when someone is severely depressed. Scarily so.

That is actually very scary indeed, because most of the self-loathing stuff just came straight out of things I often say to myself. Perhaps I'm depressed!

I love the contrast of Sam's point of view on how Gene feels, to how Gene actually sees the situation.

They're so different in character, background and experience - especially recent experience - that it's almost inevitable they'd see things differently, I suppose. I don't know if they'll ever come to see each other's viewpoint on this; I certainly don't feel inspired to write that part at present, but who knows.

I hope there will be at least one more.

Well, it's largely down to you that this ever got further than Fighting to Survive, so you tell me a couple of scenes you'd like to see (I suppose Sam wakes up and Sam goes home are obvious ones, but feel free to name anything at all you'd like to see in this series), and I'll think on them and see what happens.

I can't make any promises at all, because my writing just doesn't work to order, but I'll do my best for you. Currently I have one more scene nearly complete, where Gene is talking to Sam, trying to find a way through to him in his coma.

I'm very pleased you're still enjoying this!
8th-May-2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
I've really been enjoying the way you're developing this scenario. It's really telling that I've been plenty happy reading them in the order you've written them rather than in chronological sequence, because each one has simply been that strong as a snapshot of each stage of trauma/recovery, and this is no exception.

Even with the heavily skewed perception that we're getting through Sam, so much truth is coming out - how deeply he cares about Gene, the extent of his pride even when his self-worth is in the gutter. It's painful to read, certainly, but still incredibly easy to empathize with Sam's outlook here.

And I'm with Ducky, I would love to keep reading more scenes from this, but in the meantime plenty grateful for what you've done with this so far. Thank you.
12th-May-2008 11:43 am (UTC)
Thank you; I think if I tried to get the whole story sorted out and written up in sequence it would never happen, so I'm glad you think these work even though they're out of order.

Yes, all the way through, Sam's concern is the effect all this is having on Gene, and not feeling worthy of the one person who really matters to him.
9th-May-2008 02:24 am (UTC)
Oh how I want to hug Sam in this! Poor, hurt, depressed, brave, Sam. I love how even feeling useless, he is still working, still moving. And I know that we see in "fighting to survive" that this is not really helping his recovery, but I can't help cheering him on a little, because this sounds a lot like me in grad school. I don't know how many times I would go on hours long rants like that about how much utter crap I was, and I would tell myself to just keep going, cry if I had to, suck if I was going to, but DON'T stop. So, yeah, feeling Sam here. Trying to push through on shear stubborn bloody mindedness.
12th-May-2008 11:46 am (UTC)
Poor Sam, it's really the only way he knows; anything less would feel like laziness or lack of professionalism. It's a good job - for his long term survival - that Gene knows better.

I remember those long nights and months - they seemed interchangeable sometimes - when it was only sheer bloody determination keeping me going. I just don't seem to have the strength for that any longer, sadly, and that may be where this fic came from. Thanks for commenting.
9th-May-2008 03:30 am (UTC)
Poor Sam. This is just him to a "T". He's depressed and hating himself but he won't give up and he struggles to do his exercises every day. He's also a complete workaholic. This was downright painful but it's exactly the way he'd be acting and someone has to shake him out of the rut he's in. Thank God he has Gene and that really motivates him to get better. I look forward to more parts - well at least one more anyway.
12th-May-2008 11:49 am (UTC)
Poor Sam indeed. Without Gene, perhaps he wouldn't feel so guilty and inadequate, but then again he'd only find something else to angst about. So it's a good job he's got Gene to get him through this.

Thanks for commenting, love. I'm glad you think Sam is in character here; I spend a lot more time reading and writing fic than I do watching the show, and I worry sometimes that I'm losing the characters. Perhaps no more after this little series until I've watched the show again.
9th-May-2008 09:14 am (UTC)
This is really powerful. You've managed to express the thoughts/feeling of depression so well I may have to print it out to show a few friends...

Its heartbreaking to see Sam so broken, both physically and mentally, especially to contrast it with Gene's willing Sam on in Fighting to Survive.

I'm with everyone else hoping you will write more, and if you are still taking suggestions, I think it would be interesting to see Sam finally back at work. Or maybe a snippit of what brought on the whole kidnap in the first place... but whatever you come up with, I'm sure to love it!

*add to others in mems*

12th-May-2008 11:55 am (UTC)
This is really powerful. You've managed to express the thoughts/feeling of depression so well I may have to print it out to show a few friends...

That is a major, industrial-strength compliment; thank you so much. I'm a bit gob-smacked by what people have said on this issue, because a lot of this just came from my own thoughts. Which is a bit worrying.

In addition to Breaking Through which has since been posted, I have another one, possibly two, pieces for this, and I don't know if there will be more. I'm not sure about Sam back at work, although I do have some ideas for Gene setting the conditions under which he will allow Sam back to work.

I'm just so pleased people are still enjoying it. (If that's the right word...)
9th-May-2008 11:29 am (UTC)
I continue to love this series. Sam’s struggle rings so true in this.
I’m quite enjoying reading it in non chronological order. Makes me use my brain more. XD

I’d also like to know why Sam was kidnapped and if Gene has caught the kidnappers.
12th-May-2008 11:57 am (UTC)
I'm glad it's working for you; it certainly works better for me this way, because I get to write what I feel like writing - what I have in my head - rather than "the next chapter" which I'm not very good at.

I've never thought about whether Gene has caught the kidnappers - I'll give that some thought when I've written up the other ideas. Thank you.
9th-May-2008 11:40 am (UTC)
This was actually quite difficult for me to read because its so raw and so very real (that's a compliment, by the way :D). Sam may not be entirely in his right mind, but you have certainly got into his head as you've expressed his depression-skewed thought processes in such a believable and convincing way.

More scenes from this storyline would be great, but they work brilliantly as they stand.
12th-May-2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
This was actually quite difficult for me to read

Ah, the twisted world of h/c, where such a statement is a deep, deep compliment... Not that I set out to write h/c, I've never really seen the appeal. This all filled in from behind the ending as it were. I would never have started this story at the beginning and worked through to the end.

you've expressed his depression-skewed thought processes in such a believable and convincing way.

I've been very gratified and not a little surprised at the comments I've had on this piece; I'm glad it's believable. Thank you!
9th-May-2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
This is a excellent addition to this series. I really like how it leads into Fighting to Survive as much as it stands by itself. It lets us see Sam's state of mind and why Gene had to deal with him as he did. The depth of despair that you show feels very realistic both to the situation and the character. This line in particular stood out for me:

He finally understands how much of him is defined by what he does, and now he can’t do it, maybe he isn’t who he was any more. Maybe he’s no-one now.
12th-May-2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
I'm glad this works for you as a believable lead-in to Fighting to Survive; just as well, really, given that Fighting to Survive was written first!

I've always felt that in the show, Sam is defined almost totally by his job - inevitable to an extent, given his situation, but I think we saw that in 2006 as well. I think he would feel he was no-one if he couldn't do his job any more. Thank you for commenting; I really appreciate you and others taking the time to feed back.
9th-May-2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
I'm with Ducky here: You captured the flavor and desperation of depression frighteningly well. That feeling that no matter how much you have accomplished in life or how much you achieve (in this case, Sam in recovery) you are still useless, and worthless, and undeserving of respect or love. Yes, that's it, I'll vouch for that (unfortunately).

As terrible as the events are that you describe, this is a wonderful piece, though, in that you (once again!) have tuned in beautifully to Sam's interior world. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you may be madly in love with Gene (who isn't???) but when it comes to writing, it is in exploring Sam's inner life where you just flat out SHINE.

This line really hit home for me, btw:
He doesn’t count the days or the nights; they’re all the same anyway.

Oh ghod, yes...yes, I remember that feeling, which was not numb because it was so filled with self-loathing. Where every day you HOPE that hating yourself a little more will at least be some kind of accomplishment. *shudders*

Just amazing, and touching, and sad. Wow. Thank you!

you ever get that LJ connectivity issue resolved????
12th-May-2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
Wow, what a complimentary comment - thank you.

You captured the flavor and desperation of depression frighteningly well.

You think it's frightening? How do you think I feel, when this is direct from my own thoughts?! It's been a bit of a shock to have people say it's so realistic!

I'm glad you think it is, though. It just fell onto the paper virtually in one long stream of consciousness, and it took a very firm hand to turn it into something readable, during which I thought it had lost a lot of the feeling, so I'm happy that you think it worked.

Thanks for commenting.

Re LJ: Haven't had time to think about it yet - don't really know where to start. All I know is if I use my kids' Windows accounts (to grab five minutes without waiting for my account to load up) I can't log on to LJ at all, so I can't get into anything that has the adult content warning on it.
12th-May-2008 02:37 am (UTC)

I'm fascinated by the difference between how we talk to, and about, ourselves in our own heads and what our loved ones would actually ever tolerate being said about us, by anyone. You just captured that so well here.

I know these were written out of order, but even if we hadn't already read the section after this, this contrast would still be stark to the piece before with Gene in the hospital. We *know* the strength of what Gene feels and so it is quite shocking to see it through Sam's eyes.

Thank you! ♥

12th-May-2008 12:17 pm (UTC)
We *know* the strength of what Gene feels and so it is quite shocking to see it through Sam's eyes.

Hmm, yes, it was in my mind all the way through that Sam feels so useless, such a burden on Gene, while we know that Gene doesn't feel that way at all - he's just so grateful Sam is alive. I can never see my fics objectively until several weeks after posting, so I hadn't really thought about it, but yes, it is shocking, and I suppose I meant it to be.

Thank you for a lovely comment.
29th-May-2008 08:07 am (UTC)
This has to have been the hardest of them all to read - Sam's anguish and self-loathing here is just so real, just feels so hard and certain, that it wipes away all traces of hope that I'd still had after reading the other chapters. The idea of Sam giving up was even more harrowing that the idea of Sam near death, and the way that he slogs all of Gene's insults at himself, but in a much more hurtful and meaningful way, shows that there's still that connection while still keeping the tone of this so bitter and angry and dangerously self-hating...
29th-May-2008 10:35 am (UTC)
there's still that connection

I'm glad that worked; I wanted to show that although Sam is completely misreading how Gene feels about things at the moment, in general terms he knows his man very well indeed.

This has to have been the hardest of them all to read

I haven't read them back yet; because I'm writing out of order, just as things come to me, I don't want to constrain things by reading it all. It will be interesting to read through later from a more objective viewpoint, but yes, I can see this one is probably quite painful.

Again, thanks for commenting; I really appreciate your taking the time and I always enjoy getting your comments.
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