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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, Breaking Through, White Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
10th-May-2008 03:05 am

Title:    Breaking Through

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:  White Cortina

Warnings: Mention of praying. Don’t worry, there’s no preaching, rejoicing, or choirs of syrupy angels. Might be a bit soppy.

Pairings: Sam/Gene implied

Word Count:  833

Summary: Sam is still in a coma, and Gene knows it’s up to him to bring Sam back. But how?

A/N: This is part of the Survival series, and takes place about three weeks after Watching. Not beta'd, so do let me know if anything looks wrong.


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




Breaking Through


Gene kneels by the bed, feeling foolish.


It doesn’t sit well with the man who is Sheriff, begging the Almighty for help, but he knows he has to do something. He just doesn’t know what; he’s tried everything he knows. He’s talked to Sam, shouted, laughed at him. Told him stories, asked him questions, kissed him, hugged him, smacked him. Cried over him.


So now he kneels by the bed, feeling foolish.


Nothing happens, so after a few moments, and feeling strangely nervous, he lets the words form in his head.


“Look, I don’t know how to do this - do I have to start with ‘Our Father’ or something? I suppose you know though. That I’m talking to you, I mean. Not like I’m going to be talking to anybody else, is it, down on my knees like a choirboy.” He stops for a moment, banishing the visions these words conjure up. “Haven’t really done this before; never been a God-botherer, always thought – well, Sunday school I suppose, didn’t have any choice about that – always thought I could handle everything by myself. Could, too. But not this.”


Gene shifts slightly, trying to get comfortable. Even when Sam is awake, going down on his knees isn’t something he does very often.


“He just lies there. Not a flicker. Been three weeks now and still nothing. Doc says there’s no reason he can’t wake up; they’ve relieved the swelling on his brain and everything.”


“I don’t know what to do.” He reflects for a moment then adds out loud, “Never thought I’d say that.” He waits, half-hoping for a lightning bolt, but nothing happens. Eventually he gets to his feet, somehow feeling better for the admission.


He sits down by the bed again and takes Sam’s cool hand, squeezing it lightly. “Don’t know what to say, Sammy. Told you all about the case. Blathered on about Cartwright’s little thing with the dog on the bus. Even told you about Carling and WPC Watmough; she just won’t take the hint.” He sighs. “I told you what the Doctor said, too, but I’ll tell you again, shall I? In case you weren’t listening the first time?”


He pauses for a moment, trying to find the right words.


“Listen to me, Sam: the Doctor says you can wake up if you want to, OK? I’m onto your game, you malingering git. Doc says there’s nothing wrong with you – well, nothing a lot more time and bed rest won’t put right.” He encircles Sam’s bony wrist with his finger and thumb, lifting it gently. “You’re wasting away, Sammy, disappearing in front of my eyes. Be nothing left of you soon.” He runs his other hand lightly down Sam’s leg, patting his knee briefly.


“I had an idea - don’t laugh, sarky bastard, you’re not the only one with a brain round here. What I reckon is, you’re feeling guilty. Not that you should: you did your job, got the information, found the stuff. Not your fault they came back early. If that’s what happened. For my two-pennorth, you’re feeling guilty about something. Well, you can stop that right now, it’s not helping, OK?”


He glances at the door then picks up Sam’s hand, pressing his lips to the back then sucking each fingertip gently into his mouth in turn. He leans forward so he can hold Sam’s hand against his face.


“Only thing you did wrong, Sam, was you forgot the first rule. My first rule, only one that matters. The one that says whatever you do, wherever you go, at the end of every day you come back to me. You’re mine, Sammy. That’s where you went wrong; you forgot to come back safe. You did your job but now you’ve got to come home. To me.”


No response.


Gene watches the unmoving face for a moment then reluctantly replaces Sam’s thin hand by his side, stroking it gently with a fingertip. He can’t decide whether Sam looks peaceful today or not. Sometimes he twitches and grimaces as if he’s arguing with himself. And sometimes he is so still that Gene can’t believe there’s anything left in there at all.


Today is an in-between day.


With a sigh, Gene stands up to go, looking down on the sleeping man. “Where are you, Sammy? Gone back to Hyde? Is it better there? Anything you think you could come back for?”


“You tell me what you want changing, Sam, and I’ll do it. Give up smoking, eat lettuce, you name it. ’Cos I’m here waiting, Sam, just waiting. Whole life on hold, just for you.” He takes a deep breath and stares at the passive figure. “Just want you back, OK?”


He bows his head for a moment, wiping away hope and fear, then turns away, picking up his car keys. Nothing outside this room means anything any more, but scum don’t catch themselves and Gene is still the Sheriff.

10th-May-2008 05:51 am (UTC)
What a great, heart-breaking scene that was... I'm not quite choked up, but it's a damn close thing *sniff*

So many things in this just really worked; I love Gene's guess, probably quite rightly, that Sam would be blaming himself for what happened, as it really shows how well Gene understands him and certainly casts hope on some of the other scenes you've written in this arc. And Gene asking Sam if he's gone back to Hyde had all the effect of a punch to the gut in terms of what it implies - just what has Sam told him about 'where he comes from' - but it's delivered in such an understated, bittersweet way you could almost miss it. And I just love that in a story :)

Just fabulous, thank you.
14th-May-2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a lovely comment; I'm not too sure what Sam has told Gene about Hyde, but he has worked out for himself that it's probably not the neat little place just down the road.
10th-May-2008 10:05 am (UTC)
Gene is unknowingly doing the right thing by continually talking to Sam and you've painted a bleak picture of Gene's pain and desperation. He so needs his Sam back. This was very moving. I hope there'll be more in this series.
14th-May-2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you for commenting, love.

This was very moving.

That's a big compliment, thank you. I'm not particularly good at deliberately invoking a chosen mood, so I just have to hope that what I have in mind comes over. I'm glad it did for you here. You may have seen by now that I posted another piece today - Out to Lunch. I hope you'll like it.
10th-May-2008 11:48 am (UTC)
Not sappy, but touching and heartfelt and really very believable. I also loved Gene's analysis of Sam as guilt-ridden - spot on, that. This series is one which will stick with me. Thank you.
14th-May-2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you; I'm just writing up bits and pieces as they come to me, so I'm really pleased it's working for people.

I'm really sorry this series has got in the way of doing your beta; it's just that I've been a little scared to let it go while the ideas were flowing. I'll get to your stuff tomorrow!
14th-May-2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
It really is working - marvellous, affecting stuff ♥

no worries - you have to write while the iron is hot :D (did I get my whatsits mixed up there?)
10th-May-2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
I read this part and it made me sad that Sam couldn't recognise any of this in Gene in "Useless". I understand why Sam couldn't, but I also hope that things get better for him as time goes on. Thanks for sharing this and I'm looking forward to the next bit.
14th-May-2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
At some point there may have to be some kind of a showdown where Gene makes Sam understand how Gene feels about him, and that may or may not be a turning point. (Not trying to be mysterious - that's all that I've got at present!) Next bit was posted today - Out to Lunch
10th-May-2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
This is another intriguing chapter and reminded me of a discussion that wa floating around ages ago about the character's religions. What would they believe, would they go to church etc. Anyway I like the way that Gene praying feels like the last resort. He has tried everything he can think of and now is willing to try anything at all. Shows the relationship that the two have in this set of stories and makes me relieved again that I know Sam pulls through otherwise I don't think he would ever get over it. Thought provoking and a great read (in a painful wanting to hug Gene and Sam until it gets better way).
14th-May-2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
makes me relieved again that I know Sam pulls through

It's probably quite weird of me to be posting this stuff after the ending has been posted, but that was only ever intended to be a one-shot and then it expanded somewhat.

I'm glad you're enjoying the series; thank you for commenting.
12th-May-2008 03:19 am (UTC)

Like the way you undercut Gene's attempt at being a God botherer with this: Even when Sam is awake, going down on his knees isn’t something he does very often.

And the end bit is just so Gene when he goes back to his job.

Thank you! ♥
14th-May-2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
Gene is Gene, and talking in his head to someone who may not exist isn't going to alter that.

I'm glad you think the last bit worked; it took a while to make it sound right, and not too schmaltzy, because I think that's how it would be, when he girds himself up to go back to work. The very last sentence of this fic is the reason it ended up present tense; that sentence just wouldn't go any other way, and as soon as I accepted the change in tense, various other bits that I couldn't get right fell into place very quickly.
12th-May-2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
I missed this chapter in the confusion that was my weekend.

“Only thing you did wrong, Sam, was you forgot the first rule. My first rule, only one that matters. The one that says whatever you do, wherever you go, at the end of every day you come back to me. You’re mine, Sammy. That’s where you went wrong; you forgot to come back safe. You did your job but now you’ve got to come home. To me.”

That was beautiful. I can see that being Gene's real prayer.

Another wonderful chapter of a story you didn't think you could take very far. I think you have taken it in amazing directions.

Thank you!
14th-May-2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on Gene's real prayer. This chapter is called Breaking Through because that's quite possibly what Gene has managed to do with his words here, although he doesn't realise it yet. I wanted the contrast of Gene telling Sam he had to "come home" against Sam convincing himself at the end of Body & Soul that he was "going home" to somewhere quite different.

Thank you so much for a lovely comment; if this story is any good you must take some of the credit, for wielding your innocent pokey stick in the first place!
29th-May-2008 08:00 am (UTC)
Absolutely heart breaking. Gene praying, despite his reservations about doing that, the way that he tries everything, begging, promising, fighting... It just feels like everything is being ripped straight out of him, and honestly, I love the fact that you didn't have Sam wake up at the end of this, because it leaves it so bleak and bare that it just fits so well with Gene's emotions. Fantastic!
29th-May-2008 10:25 am (UTC)
I think what I'm enjoying most about writing this series is the sense of freedom; because I started at what might be the end, I and the readers already know where it's going, and so there is no requirement whatsoever to make any particular chapter end at any particular place.

I think I positively prefer being able to just end on exactly the note I choose rather than "tying things up". I had a very clear vision for this one, of the room so silent and still, Gene the only movement. It makes him the centre of his own universe, which - more than any other character I can think of, even The Doctor - he is.
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