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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, In The Eye Of The Beholder, White Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
3rd-Aug-2008 11:18 pm

Title:    In The Eye Of The Beholder

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

Pairing: Sam/Gene

Word Count:  1617

Summary:  So long as they leave him alone, Gene doesn’t take much notice of the medical staff as they move around, looking after Sam. But they notice him.

A/N: Part of the Survival series, set after Gene gets Sam back into a private room, but before Sam wakes up. I hope it doesn’t need saying that I do not share the 1973-style opinions expressed by my original characters, but anyone of a disposition to take offence should consider themselves warned. Not beta'd, so do shout if you see any errors.



Previously posted: Not The Dark (by dakfinv) / Body & Soul / Watching / Hope / In The Eye Of The Beholder  / Breaking Through / Still With Us / Not Just a Cry For Help / Keep Taking the Tablets / Useless /  Out to Lunch / Fighting to Survive / Into the Dark / Talk to Me




In The Eye Of The Beholder



Mr Hunt’s in again, shouting, he frightens the life out of me sometimes. You wouldn’t think he’s a policeman, he’s more like my Uncle John as works down the docks. All loud and rough and pushing people about.


He’s all right really, though, Mr Hunt I mean, I think it’s just his way, but he still makes me jump when he starts on for no reason. You can hear him all the way out to main doors when he really gets going.


“Sammy!” he goes. “Sammy, for God’s sake, just wake up!” Then you have to be a bit quick because if you don’t get in there quick and sort him out, apparently he starts hitting things and trying to move poor Mr Tyler. Molly Stevens caught him once, he told her if the daft ponce wasn’t getting better here he’d take him home and he could get better there.


Lucky she’s a strong lass, Molly. Irish. She stood right in front of him - I’d have been too scared - and she really gave him what for. She told him to his face that he’d kill the poor man if he did that, what with the lung and the morphine, and the NGT his only way of getting nourishment. And d’you know, she said he went white, really, really, white, and sat down like she’d punched him in the gut. Sounds daft, but she thought he was going to cry. She didn’t know what to do, I mean he’s such a hard man, you can hardly pat him on the shoulder and say, “There, there, don’t you worry, it’ll be all right.”


Well, it came out all right in the end, Molly got him a cup of tea and explained it all to him while he calmed down a bit. Turns out Mr Tyler is his deputy or something, best he’s ever had, apparently. She said he let something slip though, when he was all upset – him and Mr Tyler, they live together! Well, not like that, I said, surely, that would be, well, if they were queer or something.


And Molly, she just looks at me and says, “Well, what did you think? It’s obvious they are, you’ve only got to look at him. The way he looks at Sam” – she calls him Sam, I was always taught to call the patients by their proper names – “you can see he’s not just being a good boss.”


Well, you can’t argue with that, catch any boss I’ve ever known sitting by my bedside worrying about me. But even so, queer? He doesn’t look the type, all big and strong and sweaty like that.


I mean, I always thought poofs were, well, poofy. Fancy clothes, ever so clean, walk a bit like that. James at the hairdressers where my mum works, he’s queer, and he talks all funny and he wears eye-liner, so you can tell. But Mr Hunt, he looks quite normal. And he’s such a manly man, you know, larger than life and twice as tough, and he makes you feel safe. I reckon you’d never have to worry if you had a man like that. I wouldn’t mind, if I was older.


I’ll be a bit sad when they go, to be honest.


* * *


I’ve just had to reprimand Nurse Stevens again. I don’t care what anyone says, these Irish girls have no sense of propriety. It’s coming from such a backward country; I know it’s not her fault, but if she wants to stay on my ward she’ll have to buck up her ideas a bit.


Only this morning I found her sitting – sitting! - in Mr Tyler’s room, talking to that disgusting man. Had the cheek to tell me it’s good for Mr Tyler to have Mr Hunt there. The nerve of the girl; the man needs peace and quiet, not that dreadful man sitting there talking at him all the time.


He’s queer, you know, Mr Hunt. Oh, yes, I overheard Mr Bloomfield’s Registrar telling Nurse Stevens, although how he would know I’m sure I’ve no idea. Apparently Mr Tyler is his, his, well, I don’t like to think about it. It can’t be right, can it, I mean, two men, it’s just not natural. If God had meant men to do that sort of thing he’d have – well, it’s just disgusting.


If it was up to me I wouldn’t let him in at all. "Family only" at the bedside was the rule  when I was training, but Mr Bloomfield said he wasn’t doing any harm and it might get Mr Tyler off our hands a bit quicker.


Not doing any harm? Stinking out my ward with his cigarettes and his BO? Distracting my nurses with his shouting and banging about? And I don’t think he ever goes home for a wash. He comes shambling in here at the end of visiting hours, upsetting my nurses with his swearing. He spends all night in Mr Tyler’s room – it’s nothing short of perverted, the man’s in a coma for goodness’ sake - and then he comes out and says he’s got to check nobody’s stolen his city overnight, and off he goes.


And half the time he’s back again by lunchtime; you’d think he’d have better things to do – he could go and catch some criminals for a start - but apparently they can get along without him once in a while. I told him so could I, him and his chips, but he didn’t take the hint.


No harm indeed, I don’t know what the world is coming to. I’ll be glad when we can get Mr Tyler out of here so I can get my ward nice and clean again, like it should be.


* * *


I’ll be pleased when he goes, to be honest with you. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no trouble, and he is quite an interesting case, but it’s his boss that’s the problem. I always know, the moment we come into the Ward. There’s a special feeling in the air when he’s here, like electricity. All the way down the Ward, answering the questions, looking the part, I can hear him. All the way back up the Ward, saying my lines, smiling my smile for the customers, I can smell him. And when we finally reach Mr Tyler’s room and arrange ourselves impressively around the bed, I can practically feel him.


Most days he doesn’t look up, doesn’t acknowledge us in any way. He’s used to us, and we’re used to him. Mr Bloomfield used to tell him off for getting in the way, but now he says you might as well get annoyed with a rock. Good looking rock, is all I’ve got to say. Craggy sort of face, just how I like them; sensitive mouth, not that you’d think so to hear him sometimes.


Probably sounds like I think about him quite a bit. Well, I do, as it happens. Of course, when he first came in to see Sam, Mr Tyler, that is, he wasn’t much to look at – bloodshot eyes, greasy hair; crumpled shirt with sweat marks all over it. And the smell! I don’t think he’d changed his clothes for a week. He still had the mark about him though, the man’s a born leader. I wouldn’t have said no, even then.


And now, well, in some ways he’s recovering along with Sam. His eyes are clear and hopeful now, but still tired of course. His hair is clean most of the time; those grabbable gold strands sweep back very sexily, thank you. Even his shirts have been getting less rank day by day and nowadays he’s often got a clean one on when he comes in.


There was even a day when he came in wearing an ironed shirt, a gorgeous green one. That was the day Sister had told him his lovely boy might be waking up. All right, so it wasn’t her fault it didn’t happen but she didn’t have to laugh when she told the whole canteen about it. I saw the look on his face when Mr Bloomfield put him right, and I could have smacked that cow into next week.


I didn’t say anything though; might have given myself away. But if he was mine I’d look after him properly, because I don’t think Sam’s ever going to be strong enough again. Makes you wonder though, what people see in each other.


I mean, you’d never think those two were a pair. At first they were more like an injured sparrow and a hunting beast – hark at me, coming over all poetic, he does rather have that effect on me - but now things are more equal. The broken little creature is gradually getting stronger, and the watching lion – OK, I’ll stop now, but he is magnificent - is getting weaker. Not a lot, but I can see it.


It’s a debilitating business, looking after a loved one, and Mr Sexy-Beast Hunt is putting everything he’s got into it. I spoke to him once, told him he should look after himself more, keep himself strong for when Sam is well enough to be discharged. But he only gave me a funny look and said he’d manage, thank you.


He hasn’t seen me watching him, of course, I’m not entirely stupid. And if he’s heard me fumbling my answers to questions a retarded first-year could do in his sleep, well he hasn’t said so.


But Mr Bloomfield has, so taking it all together, it’ll be a good thing when Sam goes home.


I’ll miss his boss though. Best part of my day.


* * *


UnhappyMan2 by Ruuger
4th-Aug-2008 12:01 am (UTC)
I like this, you've really captured the prejudices that some of the hospital staff would have really well. And Molly with her slight crush on Gene is really lovely.
6th-Aug-2008 10:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! Erm, the last one wasn't Molly. I did wonder whether to actually say who they all were, but decided I'd prefer to give clues and see what people made of it. Ah well!
4th-Aug-2008 12:26 am (UTC)
This was great, I loved all the different perspectives of the hospital staff. I liked the last one best, how can you fault someone for feeling that way about Gene?

Great addition!
6th-Aug-2008 10:50 am (UTC)
Thank you; this was an idea that's been floating around for a while. Before I started writing it I just had the nurse and Sister, but when I put pen to paper the nurse started telling us what Molly had said rather than her own experiences, don't know why. The third one was a late addition and the one I like best myself, so I'm happy you liked him.
4th-Aug-2008 12:40 am (UTC)
I love seeing the Sam/Gene relationship from outside perspective and I think you've captured three wonderfully views here. In a way, I found Molly's the most heartbreaking. I think it's because she's the one that seems to care the most, and so notices the little details about Gene's behavior towards Sam.

in some ways he’s recovering along with Sam
I love that line because it fits in well with what you wrote in the last segment, Talk To Me. Gene was going through an ordeal just as much as Sam was, and will need to recover as well.

This was a wonderful story. Thank you!
6th-Aug-2008 10:54 am (UTC)
Thank you; I'm glad they all came over different (assuming that was your missing word in the first sentence!).

The third person is certainly the one who would like to do more than just look at Gene and talk about him. It's not Molly though, I would never attempt to write an Irish voice!
4th-Aug-2008 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh, I really like what this does for the series, having these outside perspectives really adds a nice texture to the situation and places them in the context of their time, builds quite nicely on some of the indications you've given earlier about Gene's difficulties in not revealing too much about his relationship with Sam while he's visiting at the hospital.

Of course, Molly's POV was easily my favourite because of the sheer empathy of it (not to mention that we share a certain infatuation with a certain DCI...), and I love how she noticed him wearing the ironed green shirt the day they thought Sam would wake up. It's such a short recollection, but even second-hand, the image you paint of Gene's disappointment completely broke my heart.

A great addition to the series, amazing as usual. Thank you!
6th-Aug-2008 10:59 am (UTC)
Thank you; I'm glad you think it worked. I was a little concerned that I might get the internet-offended mob.

I'm very pleased the empathy of the third voice came over. This is a person who notices a lot of what goes on - and cares - without necessarily being noticed themselves very much. From Still With Us I could just imagine how Gene would feel if Sam hadn't woken up as scheduled, and I thought that if it had happened, someone who cared about him would notice it.

It's not Molly though; clearly I need to work a bit harder next time.
6th-Aug-2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
I was a little concerned that I might get the internet-offended mob.

I can't begin to imagine why - you do realize what a wonderful piece of work this series is, don't you? And this really was no exception.

And regarding the third part's speaker - frankly, I wasn't sure at all who was speaking, but once I found that people who had already commented identified her as Molly I sorta went 'ohh, I'm stupid, guess it must be Molly' and jumped on the bandwagon. Not to blame the previous comments, it's still entirely my fault for not trusting my own instincts. It is a tricky thing to write a first person original character and manage to keep the identifications in order at the same time - as readers, we'll want to know, and Molly's empathy in the first section was so strong I think a lot of us wanted to carry it over to this section as well.

But failing that - actually, my first vague impression, and one I think I still stand by on a second read, is that it was a male trainee doctor, one of the ones that's been doing rounds with Bloomfield. But again, it's a pretty ambiguous scene to read as a specific person, which I think is part of why it remains such an engaging part of this story - it does allow the rest of us to imagine our own theories of who is observing in that section.
6th-Aug-2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
Not that it matters much but yes, the third character is Mr Bloomfield's (male) Registrar. As far as I understand the rank, that makes him fully qualified as a doctor but not allowed out on his own much yet. I was sorely tempted to have Sister in section two referring to him as a nice boy, because actually at that time she would have done, but I thought that was too cringe-makingly obvious. *fails*

Actually, what really made me cringe was people thinking that was my idea of an Irish voice!

I honestly have no idea where Molly came from - yeah, yeah, Ireland - because this piece has been in mind for several weeks now as simply two first-person voices, a (positive) nurse and the (very negative) Sister of Sam's ward, and then the nurse started talking about what Molly had told her. I shall probably realise in a month's time what purpose that serves and why my subconscious did it.

Thank you for coming back to me on this, I really appreciate it!
4th-Aug-2008 03:26 am (UTC)
He doesn’t look the type, all big and strong and sweaty like that.

I lol'ed.

This chapter shows off one of the benefits of writing things out of order. We've already read Gene and other's pov about his time waiting in the hospital with Sam, and now, seeing the staff's reactions (through a tinted lens as they are) pulls the whole picture together. You made each person a clear individual. I loved it, even the homophobic one, who probably represented quite a few people.
6th-Aug-2008 11:02 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm enjoying writing this as it comes, without the constraints of "the next chapter". It relieves me of the necessity to plan things, for a start! I'm very pleased that the three (well, four if you count Molly) characters all came over as distinct individuals. I don't have much experience at writing OCs, so I tried to give them each a voice and an accent I could hear in my head. I don't know how other people do it, but I found that sort of worked.
4th-Aug-2008 03:28 am (UTC)
And the line about the nurse tricking him into cleaning up was just so unbelievably cruel...

Poor Gene! Was it Annie cleaning him up a bit on the other occasions? *pictures her tossing aftershave on him as he races out of the station like a Bloomingdale's girl*
6th-Aug-2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Funnily enough, I did originally write it as Sister deliberately tricking him, then I figured that even if she was a homophobic bitch she was still a professional and wouldn't fuck about like that, for the patient's sake if not for Gene's.

Not sure about the cleaning up; I haven't yet decided at what point Annie admits to Gene she knows exactly what kind of relationship he and Sam have. I saw it more that as he climbed out of the pit of blind terror and despair he would start to think a little more about being the man Sam remembers rather than a filthy wreck.
4th-Aug-2008 06:25 am (UTC)
This is adorable! Molly being supportive (and Irish!) and that one bastard not liking how Gene was there. And I so wanna hurt that Sister who laughed at Gene's pain!

But, I have to say, I'm stuck with what Gene's new nick-name should be. Mr. Manly Man, the Manliest Man in Manville, or Mr. Sexy-Beast. XD
6th-Aug-2008 11:09 am (UTC)
I've no idea why Molly is Irish; she just came out that way. I always think of Gene as a sexy beast anyway, which is why my third character called him that.
6th-Aug-2008 12:58 pm (UTC)
I don't care why Molly is Irish, only that she is, which is awesome because I'm very Irish and I'm quite fond of my heritage.

And Gene is kind of a sexy beast. (Still cracking up about that, btw)
4th-Aug-2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
I love it, by view of the third character, it is more easier to read, made me comfortable, although I usually prefer the direct narraitor.
I love their troubled love, and Gene's caring, it touched, and strangely erotic, your Gene showed very actual emotions, just seeing his action, I can feel his sorrow and love, even if he didn't tell about them.
Sorry for asking like this, I really love angst, and I love this fic, and hate it, (Sorry) what a duplicity!
What happened to my delicate sensibility?
I want to just choose one way, love it or forget it, and I can do neither of them, quite bewildered.
6th-Aug-2008 11:12 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading this, when you find it too angsty. I'm glad the more distanced characters made it more bearable for you, and thank you very much for commenting.

I don't mind that you love it and hate it (thank you for being honest). I know this series is quite dark at times - darker than I ever expected to write - but I guarantee a happy ending eventually!
4th-Aug-2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
Oh I do like this. It just adds extra layers to this series and encapsulates a whole range of conflicting opinions as well. It clearly shows how people's opinions were divided at this time and was fascinating.
6th-Aug-2008 11:18 am (UTC)
I'm glad it worked for you; I haven't written a lot of OCs but the nurse and the Sister with their differing opinions were characters that have been hanging around in my mind for a while. And then the third character demanded to have his say as well.

It seemed to me that everyone in the hospital with half a brain would be able to see how Gene really feels about Sam, no matter how much Gene thinks he's hiding it, and some of them would be happy for him and some would not.

Thanks for commenting!
6th-Aug-2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
This was great! As you know, I love different points of view, and I loved this. It added another layer to the story as we know it, and gave greater depth to the events in the hospital. I like the way you chose very contrasting viewpoints, and the second, homophobic one was very well done - and all too believable, sadly. The third one was great, but then I also think of Gene as a Sexy Beast, so I could easily empathise!.

Thanks for these - a great addition to the series, and an unusual approach which paid off well.
8th-Aug-2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I had been sitting on this one for a few weeks because I wasn't sure anyone would be interested in what the staff thought, and then I decided to hell with it, I'm interested! I'm glad you liked it.

I actually had a conversation the other day with someone who thought - after that Registrar refused to doing civil partnerships on religious grounds - that civil partnerships should be conducted by special Registrars ("Pink Registrars"). When I said that didn't exactly meet the spirit of giving gays equal rights he was gobsmacked "What, you're all right with it? You think it's OK?" He wasn't nasty, and I hope that my look of bafflement when I said "Yes, of course" may lead him to a little rethink of his own assumptions.
8th-Aug-2008 08:31 am (UTC)
The different POVs here was great, the way we get to see how others view Sam and Gene from the outside.

I particularly like the middle one, because it's interesting to see them through the eyes of someone as homophobic as the 70s were, though Molly sounds like a really nice girl.
8th-Aug-2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had this feeling that it would be obvious to everyone in the hospital what their relationship really is, and I wanted to have a look at that from a few different directions.

through the eyes of someone as homophobic as the 70s were

While it's definitely true that many structures in society (eg the Army) were supported by the law in being far more homophobic then than they are now, I was never aware of very much in the way of homophobia amongst ordinary people. Also, as I've said to nepthys_uk above, there are plenty of individuals around even today who think it's all wrong.

That's where people like RTD and John Barrowman are doing such a great job, in my opinion, in talking about it in the mainstream, and showing characters just being gay when it's not part of the story. Also, speaking as a parent, they've made it easier for the subject to be discussed casually in the home to counteract the still-negative stereotypes they're getting from the playground. *gets off soapbox*

20th-Aug-2008 11:49 pm (UTC) - Always late to the party... back and catching up!

I really liked the idea behind this and you carried it off really, really well.

I've always loved seeing characters we've come to know really well through the eyes of others, particularly because the people who surround us, that we pay little attention to, often see the truth of things we think we're doing such a good job of hiding.

Thank you! ♥
21st-Aug-2008 12:55 am (UTC) - Re: Always late to the party... back and catching up!
Thank you for this; I'm glad you think it worked OK.

I felt that having a force of nature like Gene around the place would be impossible for anyone to ignore. I also thought that his feelings for Sam would be completely obvious, an open secret - well, we saw it OK, didn't we! I had the idea in mind for ages, with the two contrasting views of the Nurse and the Sister, and then Mr Bloomfield's Registrar decided he had something to say on the matter too.

Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate your taking the trouble to catch up! I can't remember if I commented on your latest cars fic - I don't get much internet access during school holidays - but I loved the image of Sam running about the place with Sammy!Cortina "flying" above his head.
21st-Aug-2008 01:56 am (UTC) - Re: Always late to the party... back and catching up!

I'm glad you added the Registrar, as I felt the gay male voice at the end really balanced the first two out to give a well rounded view.

I'm glad you liked that image. It came to me watching Dads "fly" their kids around while waiting at the airport.
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