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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic: The Man Next Door by amproof, white cortina, gen 
5th-Dec-2008 10:09 pm
Title: The Man Next Door
By amproof
Rating: White Cortina
Character: Sam, OFC, no pairing
Words: 571
Summary: Sam's flat must have paper-thin walls, and with him screaming all the time, what must the neighbors think?
Notes: I just found this on my hard drive tonight. Brushed it off and presented now for your (hopeful) pleasure. Also, omg, I wrote a white cortina!



The man next door looks so like her husband that she did a double take the first time she saw him. It's not his appearance so much as the intensely lost look in his eyes, the one that makes it seem like he thinks he's in the wrong place and doesn't know how he got where he is. She lost Graham because of the war. He came back, but changed. He didn't sleep through the night. He woke in cold sweats, screaming sometimes.

The man next door screams, too. She can hear him through the thin walls. She never planned on spending her final years in a shitty complex with a fold down bed. One doesn't, does one?

Graham took his life eleven months after he was discharged. She'd come home to find him in the bath floating in blood. Graham was always meticulous and neat. It made him a good soldier. It made the clean up easy on her. Her sister offered to help, but she wouldn't have it.

The man next door wakes her in the night. The first few times it happened she thought she was having flashbacks, just like after Graham first died. She thinks that if Graham had a full night's sleep, just once, he'd still be alive. Going without sleep does things to people. It turns them into zombies, makes it so they can't handle things, like life.

She knows he is a police officer because she once saw an enormous man knocking down his door and calling him "DI Tyler" as he dragged him out and down the stairs, and the man next door had called the big man 'Guv'.

She knows he is polite because he has carried her groceries up the steps for her many times and even offered to put them away for her. When she tries to give him a shilling, he smiles and refuses. She squeezes his hand and asks if he is getting enough sleep. He says yes, and she wonders if he knows that she knows he is lying. His eyes are red from being open too long. And then there's the screaming, which he must know she hears.

The man next door is the best neighbor she's had in twenty years. He could have been her son, had things been different. She is still angry at Graham, sometimes, that the war ruined their chances of having children. She is angry at him before she is angry at the Germans or the French or the Italians or anyone else who shot at him because Graham enlisted even after she begged him not to.

"I'm going to make you some biscuits if you won't take this shilling," she tells him.

The man next door smiles and says that would be lovely.

She makes the biscuits and adds in a special ingredient just for him. He is grateful as a child when she brings a small container of six to him. He invites her in for tea. They eat together. He has four biscuits. She has two. When he starts yawning, she excuses herself.

She has a nightcap in her flat and listens to a concert on the radio before bed. She sleeps well. The man next door does not scream once. She sees him in the morning. He looks clear-eyed, for once. He thanks her for the cookies. They remind him of his mother's, he says and wonders if she got the recipe from the same magazine.

She says 'perhaps' and promises him more, whenever he wants them.

The End

bratty by raelala
Comments 
6th-Dec-2008 03:35 am (UTC)
Awwww, what a nice neighbor lady! Bless her for taking care of our Sam! *hugs nice neighbor lady* You're right, if 1973 isn't all in Sam's head, real neighbors would surely be reacting to all the ruckus all the time! Very good. :)
8th-Dec-2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Thank you!
6th-Dec-2008 05:09 am (UTC)
I like Sam's neighbor. They should talk more. Over biscuits. Often.
8th-Dec-2008 03:26 am (UTC)
If the biscuits increase, hopefully she'll keep the dosage under control. LOL
6th-Dec-2008 06:51 am (UTC)
Sad in a lovely, understated kind of way. Very good.
8th-Dec-2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Thank you very much. Understated is good. :)
(Deleted comment)
8th-Dec-2008 03:28 am (UTC)
I like to think of her as like the old ladies in Arsenic and Old Lace, except with sleeping drugs instead of poison... LOL
6th-Dec-2008 09:48 am (UTC)
A surrogate son for a lonely old lady, and a surrogate mother for Sammy. That was just gorgeous. Thanks
6th-Dec-2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Ditto what skywise wrote, and also what Culf wrote about all the little details. I really got a sense of that woman, who she is and her "mettle." I love that she's trying to take care of Sam because she never got the chance to take care of her Graham.

Wonderfully written, and very moving. Thank you!
6th-Dec-2008 11:12 am (UTC)
Aww, that was lovely in a kind of sad way. I'm glad sam has someone looking out for him :)
6th-Dec-2008 12:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love that neighbour!
Sam needed those cookies, methinks.

Great story, I liked all the details, like Sam both reminding the woman of her husband and the son she never had. It's sweet and sad at the same time, but I'm glad Sam has someone to take care of him, even if he doesn't know it.
8th-Dec-2008 03:31 am (UTC)
Thank you very much. I wanted Sam to have a mother-figure, too, and I enjoyed creating her, sad and kooky as she is. I think it will be good for both of them. (providing she doesn't accidentally make him OD on whatever is in those cookies.)
6th-Dec-2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
Oh that's really sweet, lovely
8th-Dec-2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
6th-Dec-2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely little character study, all the detail about the woman's life, what motivates her to want to take care of Sam instead of just anonymously being angry with him. Very nice and congrats on the white cortina. :)
6th-Dec-2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
Mmm... Special Biscuits, I suspect...

I so love seeing beloved characters through others' eyes. It adds a layer to Sam that we would never have seen...because Sam would never share something like that with us.

Love it.

Got that recipe? :)
6th-Dec-2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Awww, wow, that's lovely. So sweet - and believable - that the old lady next door would want to look after him, because he does have that sweet, lost look to him, doesn't he.

A little creepy that she gives him the sleeping pills without him knowing, but it does seem to be with the best of intentions, and it does seem to work.

A gorgeous little story, thank you!
6th-Dec-2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
Very nice. I like the idea of seeing how other people relate to Sam in all his apparent madness.
6th-Dec-2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
I really, really love this - I started to write a similar story early last year, called it 'The Man in Flat 1' but I never got beyond the first couple of paragraphs 'cos I couldn't work out where to go with it. Your fic is lovely, and I wish I had thought of it, lol!

I think the whole question of how do other characters see Sam Tyler is a vastly untended area of the whole LoM universe. I've been working, off and on, for a while now on a story that kind of deals with this, but it's not going all that well....mainly 'cos I keep thinking of other story ideas. I'm very good at starting fics and not finishing them which is why i only ever post complete ones...so far I've not completed any of my LoM fics, argh.
But anyway, this is a lovely fic, thanks for sharing.
7th-Dec-2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Awww, this was very sweet and lovely. And Sam needs someone like her to care for him at times, like a surrogate mother of sorts. Thanks for sharing. :)
8th-Dec-2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
Everyone else has said it already, but this really is a lovely concept and beautifully executed. I love the depth of history you built for this woman and the way Sam fills that gap for her of both the lost husband and the son she never had. The sleeping drugs in the biscuits was a brilliant move, both really compassionate but kinda creepy at the same time. Wonderful stuff, thank you!
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