Keep Taking the Tablets
Gene pushed the Cortina hard, throwing it round corners with a disregard for his own safety that owed less to his usual insouciance than to sheer blind terror.
He’d known as soon as Skelton had said it - “might do himself in.” The vision had formed in Gene’s mind as clear as moonlight, and it had taken all the strength and detachment learned in twenty-five years on the job to stop himself running out of the door there and then. He’d managed a whole five minutes before the terrifying certainty had propelled him down to the car.
Arriving outside his own house, he winced as the front wheel grazed the kerb in his hurry. Breathing heavily, he sat gripping the wheel for a moment, telling himself he was being ridiculous. Even Sam, even Sam in his current fragile state, wouldn’t be so stupid.
Apparently he would. Following the smell, and feeling sick himself, Gene found Sam draped awkwardly over the end of the sofa. His face was blank and pale, and if the trail of vomit and the empty tablet container clutched in his hand were clichés, that didn’t make them any less real or frightening. Gene felt his own stomach churn as he realised Sam had opened every one of the packets they’d sent him home with.
Staying calm only by a major effort of will, Gene pulled Sam up and dragged him into the kitchen, cradling him tightly against one shoulder as he filled a glass with cold water. Propping Sam in a chair by the wall he flung the water in his face and watched with relief as his eyelids flickered briefly. Torn between calling the ambulance or getting the stuff out as quickly as possible, he refilled the glass, shook in some salt and held it up to Sam’s lips.
He stared frustratedly at the slack face and closed eyes. “Come on Sammy, drink it down for God’s sake,” he muttered. Making a decision, he forced Sam’s lower jaw down, held his head right back and poured until the water overflowed from the corners of Sam’s sick-smeared mouth. Tapping him smartly under the chin he watched anxiously until at least some of the liquid went down the right way, then ran to the phone.
“Ambulance, love, and make it snappy. Yes, it’s me. Well, it’s my dozy DI. Got sent home with enough pills for his own bloody chemist’s shop, and he’s eaten the lot as far as I can see. No, he’s at my house. Hurry ’em up, love, OK?”
He listened for a moment, glancing towards the kitchen where Sam slumped unmoving. “No, less than an hour, I’d say. Spoke to him on the phone earlier and he was all right then.”
Well, he had been, hadn’t he? If you counted your normally over-confident DI, your formerly assured and attentive lover, crying down the phone at you and begging you to come home because “they” were coming for him, as “all right”.
Which Gene didn’t especially, but he’d crossed his fingers and told Sam to piss off back to bed and grab some sleep so Gene could catch some villains and Sam could get himself strong enough to be of some use instead of sitting about twitching at shadows and crying like a girl.
Returning to the kitchen he managed to get another mouthful of salt water down the still-elegant throat, then gently mopped up as much sick as he could from Sam’s neck and shirt. “I’m sorry, Sammy” he whispered into his ear. “I wanted to get you fighting this, not giving into it. Come on, love, stay with me.” Sam still smelt of hospitals and Gene twitched his nose as the vomit stench mingled with the lingering disinfectant odour, but as he moved up to Sam’s face and delicately tongued away the tear-tracks he could still sense the underlying Sam-ness beneath the blank expression and the crusted shirt.
“Come on, Sammy, I know you’re in there – hold on, OK? Ambulance is on its way; soon have you sorted. You’re going to need pumping out, you stupid bugger. Just hold on though, all right? For me. ’Cos I do need you.” He pressed his lips tightly together and took a sharp breath to calm himself. “Never told you that before,“ he said, very quietly. “Always thought you knew.”
Hearing the siren outside, he quickly pressed kisses to Sam’s mouth and eyelids. “Hang on, Sammy, OK? I’m still here, so don’t you go away.”
He opened the door and gestured the stretcher-bearers through to the kitchen.
When they had gone, loading the slight body into the ambulance with casual efficiency, Gene looked around the empty room, reaction finally setting in, and registered for the first time the glasses Sam had been drinking from. His chest hurt as he almost choked on the next breath - their special wine tumblers, the ones Sam polished carefully every time they used them.
Shit, he really meant it. Anyone else, it wouldn’t signify, but Sam – he analysed everything, and if he’d used their special occasion glasses it was to make Gene think of those special occasions.
Thanks a lot, Sam. Remind me of our anniversary and then fuck off and leave me.
Gene stroked the arm of the sofa where Sam’s head had lain and contemplated a future without him. Even if he pulled through this, an openly suicidal police officer had nothing to look forward to except immediate retirement on “health grounds”. And that really would finish him off.
Gene shook his head emphatically. Over my dead body. Said I’d look after you, and I will. He had accepted the responsibility when he offered himself to Sam, and he wasn’t going to back away now.
Decision made – Sam was confused, that’s all: my fault, too many different bottles, just needs a bit of help getting organised – Gene went out to the car and headed to the hospital to save Sam’s career and reputation and keep both their lives worth living.
Tomorrow they’d try again.
A/N: Please note that as far as I know, making people sick is no longer recommended, and doing it by giving them salt water to drink is an absolute no-no. At the time this fic is set, however, as I recall it was the usual advice, and would therefore be the first thing Gene thought to do.