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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, Breaking Glass, White Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
4th-Sep-2008 11:35 am

Title: Breaking Glass
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:  722
Summary: How are you supposed to look after someone who doesn’t want to be looked after?
A/N: Part of the Survival series. Takes place a few hours after Keep Taking the Tablets. This has been in the WIP folder for weeks, but I couldn’t knock it into shape until the kids went back to school. Not beta'd, so do shout if you see any errors.
 
 

Breaking Glass
 
 
Gene sank, exhausted, onto the sofa. He scrubbed a hand over his eyes and slumped back, elbow resting where Sam’s head had been.
 
How were you supposed to look after someone if they didn’t want to be looked after? If they begged for help and brought you running, and then did something like this to spite you? After you’d been planning this day for so long?
 
They’d worked it out. Gene would arrive after breakfast: “Just passing, Gladys, come to check how you’re doing,” and Sam would reply, “Well, as it happens, Gene, they say I can go home today. It’s just a question of getting a lift.” And then Gene would say, “Well, Sammy boy, good job I popped in then, wasn’t it?”
 
How had it gone so wrong that Sam thought death was preferable?
 
Gene shifted restlessly, one foot catching the glasses Sam had dropped on the floor. They chinked gently and he held them up, refractions showing where Stu had chipped them as he stormed out for the last time.
 
He knew if Sam died he’d never use them again. Throw them in the bloody grave, probably, anniversary glasses or not. He tapped the tumblers together in a bitter parody of a toast - up  yours, Sam - and again, harder and harder, clicking and clashing, until he realised he was imagining how the broken glass would feel driving deep in his hands. He stopped abruptly. Bastard.
 
And if he lives, Gene? What then?
 
“We can’t know whether he intended to kill himself, but I can tell you that in his very weak state the exhaustion simply caught up with him before he’d taken enough for any serious harm. He’s a very lucky man, Mr Hunt. Again.”
 
If he lives, are you going to tell your man that in a fit of pique – be honest, Gene – you smashed up your special anniversary glasses, just to prove you’re hurting too? Your mother’s glasses? Can’t force a man to stay alive, Gene. Can’t keep him if he wants to go.
 
 
 
* * *
 
 
 
She speaks with quiet determination.
 
“Promise me, our Gene, you’ll never force a girl.”
 
They stare in silence at the new-cut stone; not much to show for a life of toil. She still has the black eye she got for helping to lay out Granny May while the man of the house waited for his tea.
 
 “I won’t, Mam.”
 
“No. Not like some I could mention.”
 
The split lip she got for answering back is starting to heal. Gene glances across awkwardly but says nothing.
 
 
 
* * *
 
 
 
Perhaps he should have stayed this morning instead of breezing straight out to work, but he’d been anxious to show Sam how much faith he had in him and his recovery.
 
 
 
* * *
 
 
 
“And another thing, son.” She turns from the grave. “Never persuade a girl, neither. Doesn’t work in the end. Might get her into your bed quicker, but she’ll never forget it weren’t really her choice.”
 
He starts to move away; sex isn’t something his Mam has ever talked about, but he’s heard her whimpering afterwards while his father snores. She catches his arm and looks at him fiercely.
 
“Gene. When you meet your special girl, your one and only, don’t you give her a lot of chat. Girls aren’t as stupid as most men think. You tell her what you got to offer, you be respectful, you treat her right. ”
 
Gene shuffles his feet and looks down at the raised turf of the grave. At fifteen, he knows there will have to be girls, but they’ll never be special. He sighs and asks the question anyway.
 
“How will I know, Mam? My special one?”
 
“You’ll know, son.”
 
 
 
* * *
 
 
 
And he had. After all the years, the hopeless, empty waiting, he’d known immediately. Sam had called it a coup de foudre. “Puff of smoke, more like,” Gene retorted. “One minute, all quiet. Then the next – bam. Detective Inspector Nutter turns my life upside down.”
 
And he’d done everything his Mam had said: no chat, no persuading, just months more waiting until he could tell Sam what he was offering and what he wanted. He’d made his commitment honestly before taking Sam to bed.
 
Gene half-smiled. He’d do it again tomorrow.
 
He touched each glass to his lips briefly, and settled down for one last night alone.




Stay
Comments 
4th-Sep-2008 11:52 am (UTC)
This is so lovely. Gene's mother is written as such a strong personality and the way you depcit how important it was to her that Gene grow up to be a better man than his father is both heartbreaking and touching. Brilliant work on this chapter.
5th-Sep-2008 06:14 am (UTC)
Thank you; Gene is - despite the violence - so transparently a good man that I felt this had to come from somewhere very fundamental, ie the values he was brought up with.

Also, she wrote herself, rather like Gene does! *is worried*
4th-Sep-2008 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh I love Gene's mother! It makes sense that he would have had a strong woman in his life, someone to help mold him into a good man. And that she did.

I particularly loved the last bit, how Detective Inspector Nutter showed up and rocked Gene's world, and how he just knew Sam was the one. I love these boys together, love, love, love!!

Another great chapter!!
5th-Sep-2008 06:16 am (UTC)
Even though I didn't spot the slash first time round (in my defence, I'd never come across the concept at that time), I now find it impossible to view their first meeting as anything other than total thunderbolt stuff for both of them.

Thank you for a lovely comment!
4th-Sep-2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
This is so brilliantly done for such a short piece, I love how the tumblers allow Gene to move momentarily away from that sense of betrayal he feels towards Sam and towards these memories of his mother, who is indeed a wonderful personality with her quiet strength and insistence that Gene be the better man. What I found really stirring in those flashbacks though was the recognition in Gene that, even at fifteen years old, knew that his one and only wouldn't be a girl, and what that has to bear upon how long he waited for Sam.

Really moving and lovely, as always. Thank you!
5th-Sep-2008 06:23 am (UTC)
I originally had two separate snippets - Gene coming home from the hospital and wanting to break the glasses, and his mother telling him how to treat "girls". Then he suddenly thought about the glasses being his mother's glasses and from that point it was just the eight weeks before I worked out how to bring the two pieces together! (Well, it was the school holidays).

On the age thing, I gather from the odd interview with gay celebs that they knew for sure by about twelve at the latest. I figure Gene, in a time when these things just weren't talked about, would have taken longer to understand what was going on. It must have been terrifying; in those days it was presumably perfectly possible to grow up not knowing there was any such thing as homosexuality, and therefore you would think you were even more abnormal than society would later say you were.

Thanks for a lovely comment!
4th-Sep-2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
This is just so moving - the flashbacks are the first that I've seen in this series, and they fit in so well with Gene - he's biding his time and trying not to get close to so many people, because he knows what to do when he finds someone he actually wants to latch onto. It's fantastic to see the roots of that here.

The idea of Sam not wanting help is heartbreaking, and very well woven in with the other stories - there's so much confusion in so much of this between both of the characters, and it makes it seem so very real, for both the characters, and any people in any sort of close relationship.

Marvelously worked-through, very human and somber - great chapter!
5th-Sep-2008 06:32 am (UTC)
I see Gene as accepting the need to find a girl and get married - I remember during the Seventies and Eighties what seemed like a constant stream of marriages breaking down because the husband was in fact, and of course always had been, gay. I also see him as being pretty much in demand by the stronger girls, so he wouldn't have had to work too hard at it, or make a choice on any but the most pragmatic grounds.

One thing I still can't decide is why Gene is so relatively calm and pragmatic in this chapter and the one immediately before it (Keep Taking the Tablets). He just is, and so I had to add in the bit about the hospital telling him Sam would be all right, to explain his lack of panic and terror. In these two chapters, Gene wrote his own mood very strongly and so I had to justify it, because I couldn't change it.

I'm really enjoying writing this series; my only fear is that people will get bored with it. I do have the ending planned but not written, but that will probably be posted last, although everything else is being written and posted as I think of it. Thank you for a lovely comment.
4th-Sep-2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Another great chapter, the flashback's of Gene's mum were lovely and never slipped into melodrama, and you show exactly how Gene feels for Sam without making it unrealistic and overly romantic. I'm loving this series!

x
5th-Sep-2008 06:37 am (UTC)
Thank you very much; Gene is such a great character to write. He's so full of nuances that you can do anything with him, really. ooh, yes please. I think the advantage of them having met at a relatively advanced age means they've both seen a lot of life and relationships and can be pretty clear-sighted about each other's strengths and weaknesses, no rose-tinted glasses needed.

I'm so glad you're still enjoying this - thank you!
4th-Sep-2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
*hugs Gene*

Which is something this fic makes me want to do a lot. Oh hell it's not like I really need an excuse.

*hugs Gene some more*

Really like the way you bring in Gene's mum. Showing both how she influenced him annd giving little glimpses of his youth and what they had to survive. And love this line:

Perhaps he should have stayed this morning instead of breezing straight out to work, but he’d been anxious to show Sam how much faith he had in him and his recovery.

Simple and yet heart rendingly effective.
5th-Sep-2008 06:45 am (UTC)
Really like the way you bring in Gene's mum.

Well, she was just there one day, appearing on the page telling him how to be a decent man. I don't remember ever deciding to write Gene's mum, but I felt that - despite the abuse - she must have been a strong character, not a total doormat, for Gene to have turned out the way he did. If she'd been weak, he would not have the respect for her, and other older women, that I think we see in the show.

I'm glad you liked that line - at one stage I had a lot more words going on about how he knew he'd handled Sam wrong and was going to be more open about his love and commitment in future, but the piece originally started very stripped-down, and I felt it needed to get back to that so I took out a lot of stuff. That bit had to stay, but it was quite difficult working out where to put it!

Thank you for taking the trouble to catch up and comment; I really appreciate that.
6th-Sep-2008 03:51 am (UTC)
This is absolutely beautiful. I can picture Gene so vividly - sitting there quietly on the couch while he clinks the glasses together with more and more force, letting his anger almost overcome him.

...but he’d been anxious to show Sam how much faith he had in him and his recovery.
I love this line because it perfectly shows the miscommunication these two had and will continue to have.

As always, I love it!

6th-Sep-2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I'm very happy that you're still enjoying the series. I basically wrote this part eight weeks ago, but it was really difficult to get the cuts to his mother in the graveyard in the right places, so it had to wait for term to start.

...but he’d been anxious to show Sam how much faith he had in him and his recovery.

I originally had a lot of Gene thinking about how he regretted that, the more so as he hadn't really wanted to handle things that way in the first place, and how he would basically go back to his Wine and Candles way of dealing with Sam, ie simply laying himself and his commitment bare for Sam to see and believe in. Some of it I really liked, but it was distracting from the simplicity of the pain and anger he was feeling, and obscuring the idea of where his decency and his incredible forbearance with Sam originated.
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