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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, Out to Lunch, White Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
14th-May-2008 03:11 pm

Title:    Out to Lunch

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


Pairings: Sam/Gene implied

Word Count:  1482

Summary: Gene goes out every lunchtime, and Rathbone wants to know why.

A/N: This is part of the Survival series, and takes place a few days before Fighting to Survive. Not beta’d.


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




Out to Lunch


Annie let the blind fall and waited till she heard the Cortina roar away before walking into the Guv’s office to pick up the phone.


“DCI Hunt’s office; WPC Cartwright speaking.”


“Hunt, please.”


“I’m sorry Sir, I believe he had a dentist’s appointment.”


“You told me that yesterday, young woman.”


“Yes, um, I’m sorry Sir, that was my mistake. It turned out he actually was in the building when you phoned yesterday; I got the day wrong.”


“Just what I’d expect of someone in Hunt’s department. And a girl, to boot. I thought Hunt at least had more sense than that.”


“Can I take a message for the Guv, Sir? Only, you keep missing him, and he often does leave his desk at lunchtime – for lunch and that. Can I get him to phone you when he comes in?”


“No, you can’t take a message; I wouldn’t trust to you pass it on correctly. I will phone DCI Hunt again this afternoon, and he’d better be available.”


“All right, then, Sir. I’ll tell the Guv you called again at lunchtime but you didn’t want to tell me what it was about. Goodbye Sir.”


Annie put the phone down with relief, duty done for another day. It was all very well talking big to the Superintendent about the Guv being entitled to a lunch break, but he wasn’t, not really. Not when the Super wanted to talk to him. He was supposed to magically know that and be here waiting. She sighed as she automatically tidied up the files, coffee cups and shaving kit strewn about the surface of the desk. She was going to have to think up a new story for tomorrow. The alternative – telling the Guv that Rathbone was after him – didn’t seem like a good plan at the moment.


As far as Annie could see, it was only going home at lunchtimes that was getting the Guv through this difficult period, and if he couldn’t do that, who knew what the outcome might be, for the Guv or for Sam. Heart sinking, Annie walked back to her own desk and picked up her yogurt.


She had just finished her lunch when a commotion in the corridor alerted her to the return of Ray and Chris, arguing amiably.


“And I say it were 2 – 1,” Ray was insisting. “Come on, we’ll ask the Guv, he’ll know.” Catching his eye, Annie shook her head slightly and Ray continued hastily. “Tell you what, you get us some coffee first and I’ll get the files. Tyler’s job really, but as he’s not here ... “ He gave Chris a shove. “Get on with it, yer div, and we’ll catch the Guv in a bit.”


He walked over to Annie and said quietly “Not back yet?” He dragged up the chair from Sam’s polished empty desk and sat down. “What does he do there every day, Annie? How long does it take to make sure the dozy twonk’s not taken all his pills at once?”


Annie winced – there had been a few close calls in the early days – and leaned forward conspiratorially. “Just between you and me, Ray, and I never told you this, OK, but I reckon the Guv has half hour kip when he goes home. I’ve never seen him work so hard, but – last week or so, thereabouts – he always looks better when he comes back from lunch.”


“Yeah, well, sleep’s one thing, but he doesn’t want to go spoiling the twonk, does he. All this attention, make him think he’s special or owt. Guv’s been all over him like a mother hen since the day they found him.”


He hadn’t looked much like a mother hen when he first got the news, Annie remembered. More like a ghost, an ashen-faced, trembling apparition of himself.




He had been perched on the edge of a desk, briefing the team in what had become his usual lack-lustre way when Phyllis came running in with the news:


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


He’d dropped his cup. He gave no indication of noticing the hot coffee soaking into his trouser-leg as his face turned utterly white and he started to shake. He cannoned off the door-frame as he crashed into his office, landing against the door so hard the whole office shook.


Annie had stood open-mouthed in the doorway as the Guv stood by his desk, hands shaking so badly he couldn’t close his fingers around the keys. When she saw the tears falling she quickly passed him some tissues from her bag and took the keys out to Ray. “Guv says bring the car round, will you Ray? He’s just, um, ...”.


Ray looked at her questioningly, but she just stared at him challengingly and he shrugged. “Oh well, every cloud, eh? It’s not often I get to drive the Guv’s car.”


She tried to look stern without giving away how worried she was. “I’ll send him down in a bit. Stick with him, Ray, he’s a bit upset – one of his team and all, you know how he feels responsible. Stay with him till you know exactly what’s happening with Sam.”


Ray walked off, grinning as he displayed the keys to Chris, and Annie hurried back to the Guv’s office, closing the door firmly in Chris’s face. She watched him turn away before speaking urgently to Gene.


“Guv? Guv, listen to me. Ray will take you to the hospital; you can’t drive in this state.”


She could see he was taking long, shaky breaths, trying to calm down. She pretended not to notice the tears as she picked up his coat and handed it to him.


“Look, he’s alive, OK? Hold onto that, Guv, and get yourself down there. I’ll tell them you’re coming.”


He started to fumble his way into the coat, automatically pulling his driving gloves out of the pockets. He couldn’t control his hands enough to get them on, but stood staring at them blankly. She took them gently from him, returning them to his pockets, and ushered him towards the door, talking calmly as they moved through the outer office.


“I’ll phone the hospital later, Guv, OK? Find out what’s happening. No need for you to worry about that, I’ll make sure everyone knows what’s going on, how he is.” The Guv had turned towards her at that, eyes haunted as he stopped walking.


She took his elbow, pulling him towards the lift. “Come on Guv, Ray’ll be waiting for you.” When the lift arrived, he stood unmoving until she pushed him in. It wasn’t until she followed him in and pressed the button for the ground floor that he seemed to gain control of himself and scrubbed at his face again. As the lift descended she could see him pulling himself together, and by the time they walked out of the building he was giving a reasonable impression of his normal self, although it was clear it was taking every ounce of his considerable will-power.


Once in the car he roused himself slightly, telling Ray to get a move on, they didn’t have all day. Ray revved the engine with delight, pulling away with a satisfied smirk and a screech of the wheels worthy of the Guv at his best.


* * *


The news that evening had been surprisingly good, and the hospital had confirmed that Sam would eventually make a full recovery from his injuries. Gene spent hours every day at the hospital until Sam regained consciousness, and on his discharge had insisted on taking Sam to his own house, although she offered to put him up in her spare room.


“Don’t be daft, Cartwright, think about your reputation for once. Not like he’s going to be good for anything for a while yet, is it! You’ll have tongues wagging all round the station without the hanky-panky to make up for it!”


She’d smiled wistfully at the idea and said no more about it. Luckily, everyone else seemed to take it for granted that Sam would stay at the Guv’s house.


“Guv’ll look after him; can’t stop on his own, like, can he, might do himself in,” Chris had remarked knowingly on the first day. The Guv had stilled, and looked at him sharply, then not five minutes later, announced casually that he was “Just off to check Gladys hasn’t fallen down the toilet, skinny little streak of piss that he is.“


That was only the first of several times Sam got confused and swallowed all his tablets at once. Since then Gene had slipped out at least once during every day to go and check on him, and Annie had a new job at lunchtimes, making sure the Superintendent never found out just how personal an interest the Guv was taking in DI Tyler’s desperately slow recovery.

14th-May-2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
I love how you write from Annie's perspective. Also, the way that (even though these stories are posted out of order) you link each of the parts is perfect.

I really like how you've chosen to post them this way because it seems like each time you give out more depth into the situation.

After reading Useless I was expecting something but this line: "That was only the first of several times Sam got confused and swallowed all his tablets at once." was still devastaing.

brilliant job!
21st-May-2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a lovely comment! I wish I could claim credit for "choosing" to post out of order, but I'm just being self-indulgent on this and writing what comes along rather than trying to force it all into some kind of order.

I glad you liked it.
14th-May-2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
I've been trying desperately save commenting on this series until you'd finished because I just *knew* that, if I did comment on each vignette, I'd run out of superlatives long before you finished!

I can't hold out anymore though and have to tell you how wonderful this series is. I don't know how you've managed to convey both the desperation they both feel and their deep love for each other in so few words.

I feel both humbled and elevated by your writing - long may you continue.

21st-May-2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
That's a tremendous comment - thank you! I'm glad the rather complex feelings came over. You picked the right time to comment, because I don't know if there will be any more. I have an RL issue which is taking a lot of thought atm.
14th-May-2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
I'm usually a wussy avoider-of-angst, but I've really been drawn into this little series, and I'm so glad I have. From a simple idea you've managed to weave several heartbreaking little tales, and this one is no different. I like the Annie-perspective and this:

...the Guv stood by his desk, hands shaking so badly he couldn’t close his fingers around the keys. When she saw the tears falling she quickly passed him some tissues...

had me sniffing all over again.

Just one thing. You are going to fix Sam eventually aren't you? *pleading Bambi eyes*
21st-May-2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading! I really felt for Gene here; I could absolutely see the state he was in. He's so strong most of the time, and just occasionally he just can't hold on any more.

I don't know if there will be any more, although I certainly hope so. I think you can consider that Sam is on the right road by the end of Fighting to Survive!
14th-May-2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to comment on this series for awhile and well, this one just broke me so I finally had to. This is my favorite yet, and the image of how Gene looked to Annie when he found out....That killed me. I got all weepy and girly and what not, it was lovely ;) I can't wait to read more.
21st-May-2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very glad the state of Gene came over for you; for me, that was the central image of this chapter. I hope there will be more, but no promises at the moment due to an RL issue and half term next week.
14th-May-2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
I'm reading this with Dak sitting next to me, reading as well, and this is a direct quote:
"I don't want Sam fixed! I like him when he's broken."

Sufficient to say, we both love this fic and had to read it when we saw the update. We both squeed, even!

That was only the first of several times Sam got confused and swallowed all his tablets at once.
I think this line is one both Dak and I fell sort of in love with, in the "it breaks my heart" sort of way.
Dak's wondering if this actually happened, or if it was just Gene's excuse to go over and take care of him. (I personally like the thought of it actually happen, because I'm a bad person. Apparently, Dak is as well).

*in a chorus* More, please? *sad, puppy dog eyes of doom*
25th-May-2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
"I don't want Sam fixed! I like him when he's broken."

Aww, that's not nice! Sorry, but I am doing my best to fix him, because he's a bit whingy for my taste when he's broken. And Gene hasn't had a shag in ages.

Yes, the business with the tablets actually happened, and should be posted fairly soon. I've also written what might be the ending, but it's too fluffy at the moment.
14th-May-2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
Another great installment, I especially like the shift to Annie's pov, it works really well in that it puts some distance between the reader and Gene's grief and keeps the drama from getting too far out of hand - not sure if I'm describing that properly, but needless to say I just really liked seeing these events from an external viewpoint like Annie's, it somehow made the tragedy more real.

Similarly, Annie's routine in the first section works really well, I love how both her and Ray have settled into this routine of protecting Gene, of sheltering Chris, while still trying to keep to a routine, as people do when something life-changing happens around them. Again, it grounds the whole thing in a realistic context, even though it's still poignant and heart-breaking.

Simply outstanding. Thank you :)
25th-May-2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a lovely comment; I'm very happy that you're still enjoying this series. I'm not sure why this came out Annie pov; I just find that my writing tends to turn out better if I simply write what comes rather than trying to make my own decisions! I'm glad you think it's realistic, thank you.
14th-May-2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
This continues to get better and better. Seeing Annie being a secret ally that Gene doesn't even know he has really adds depth to the story. I love how this is affecting the whole team.

Thank you so much.
25th-May-2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you for commenting; I'm very pleased that you're enjoying this. I haven't really done much on the "whole team" aspect, either in this series or in any other stories, so I'm pleased that worked out. Sorry it's taken so long to reply to comments on this one; I do have two more instalments almost done.
14th-May-2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
These work brilliantly as separate segments to fill in the missing chronological pieces of the story. The thing about this series that's really clever, though, is that its actually more like peeling an onion: each layer gives the reader a deeper insight into events and the feelings of the characters, and the whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts. Superb.
25th-May-2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
its actually more like peeling an onion: each layer gives the reader a deeper insight

Thanks, m'dear, that's a great compliment! Unfortunately I can't claim any credit - I just write what comes, and I wouldn't know how to actually plan things. (Also, I find the writing just stops if I try to plan, which is why this series is just bits and pieces).
15th-May-2008 04:20 am (UTC)

Interesting use of Annie here, moving from Rathbone being so dismissive of the girl in Gene's department to the revelation that she's covering for the Guv as her own decision, not even that he's asked her to do so.

And there's something about Annie seeing all of this close up and still being wistful about having Sam at her place and then this: That was only the first of several times Sam got confused and swallowed all his tablets at once that shows even though Annie has seen everything she needs to solve this "puzzle" she's still living in denial.


25th-May-2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
Nah, Annie knows exactly what's going on, but that doesn't stop her fancying Sam. She'll never tell Ray the truth, though. I reckon the lunchtime lying is through her respect and fondness for Gene; she can see neither of them could cope without these lunchtime visits.

Thank you for commenting; I'm glad it's still working for you.
15th-May-2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Annie's doing a great job of covering for Gene and Gene really needs to be with Sam doesn't he especially since Sam is "accidentally" swallowing all his pills at once. Yike. Gene would have had to haul him to hospital to have his stomach pumped. This was another excellent chapter, love. Will there be any more? I really hope so.
25th-May-2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Sorry it's taken me so long to do the comments on this piece; I'm glad you liked it, love, and yes, there will be at least one or two more if I can get them fit to post. Thanks for sticking with it!
15th-May-2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
And this just adds even more layers to the story. Love the Annie perspective and how you show her as intelligent, determined, slightly sneaky and understanding more of what is happening than others give her credit for. Your portrayal of her is spot on and this fills in some of the misisng time in a tremendously satisfying way.
25th-May-2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a lovely comment. I'm not sure I've ever written Annie before so I'm very pleased you think I got her right.
29th-May-2008 08:15 am (UTC)
More than once? Now that's just frightening, for all involved. I love the fact that you gave just the slightest hint that Annie could know about them with Luckily, everyone else seemed to take it for granted that Sam would stay at the Guv’s house.

Rathbone's lines were very menacing, indeed, and very fitting what we saw of him in 1.7. I also loved seeing everything that I've already read from Annie's point of view: everyone has a different take on it, and the sharp contrast between Ray before Gene's meltdown at the hospital, and Ray at the hospital, getting Gene under control, was very in character and well done.

Every single character is just so wonderfully spelled out in this, it's a fantastic, breathtakingly heartwrenching read.
29th-May-2008 10:08 am (UTC)
Oh yes, I think Annie knows. I normally only write Gene and Sam, so I'm very pleased you think the others are OK too. You're the first person to read this series in chronological order rather than posting order, so it's very interesting to see how it comes over for you. Thanks for commenting, you're lovely to take the time. I was thinking about you only yesterday, hoping you were OK. (Haven't been to your journal for ages, so I get out of touch with people).
10th-Feb-2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
I vaguely remembered reading this part before, but I had forgotten which one it was! I love it so much - Gene's trembling on the ragged edge, told from Annie's POV! She is just the best; I love her role in their relationship all through this series, as she is just a rock, and so wise and discreet and honest with them.
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