Pairings: None, Gen
Word Count: 830 (brief shortie)
Rating: White Cortina
Spoilers: Set 2x08.
Summary: Somehow habits of a few months have overshadowed habits of a lifetime.
Sam sat carefully on the edge of his bed. He didn't have to. The wooden frame wasn't going to shift, tip, and dump its occupant on the floor. He had been having trouble sleeping. The thick memory-foam mattress was strange. There should have been springs poking him in the side and back. Instead he felt like he was laying on nothing. It was disconcerting. The bed was too wide. It was wrong. He grabbed the duvet and a pillow and fell down on the sofa.
It wasn't perfect. But it was better.
Sam looked at his watch. There was no announcement of "Beer o'clock." Sam had half of mind to announce it himself. Anything to break up the routine. Everyone else was draping trench coats over their arms, shutting down their computers, and snapping brief cases shut. All black and blue suits tinged subtly yellow by the fluorescent lights. Polite smiles, "Good night"s, and "Have a good weekend"s were exchanged. a couple of them directed his way. But he couldn't bring himself to say the trivial platitudes. They stuck in his throat. He made curt nods instead in acknowledgement.
Friday night. Sam was alone. No more rowdy late nights down the pub. No date advice to younger officers. In the kitchen he carefully stepped around the spot Jimmy Saunders bled to death after being slashed by a broken loom belt. He had moved the table, too. It seemed disrespectful to the dead.
He picked up his plate of pasta. A dollop of tomato sauce slid off the edge of the porcelain and splattered on tiles. He couldn't wipe it up. It'd be contaminating the crime scene.
Sam shook his head clear. He grabbed a damp cloth and crouched over the small mess. Placing the cloth down, he watched the red seep through. It wasn't Saunder's blood anymore. It was June's. I want you to clean it up! Sam's stomach lurched. Tears prickled at his eyes.
"I'm better than any of this." Sam whispered.
The next day Sam mopped the kitchen. He planned on cleaning the bathroom as well, but he had to stop. The smell was getting to him. Despite the claims of label on the bottle and the television ad, the cleaner's scent was overpowering. Now his flat reeked of chemical lemon. Unnatural.
The air was too bright. Sam spent a long time standing in the living room, trying to work out what was wrong with it. It was the air. It smelled of sterility and looked too bright. He went down to the corner shop. He wasn't expecting to find the exact same brand. He laughed when the clerk passed it to him.
Sam put the cigarette in his mouth and lit the end. He took one breath in to make sure the embers stayed alight. Coughing, he set the cigarrette in the small green ashtray he had the buy that day. He sat back on the couch. He watched the thin line of smoke rise from the glowing end and dissipate into the air. A haze formed above the table. Sam took a deep breath and smiled. Much better.
He started lighting one every night. Left it burning as he puttered around the flat in the way people burned their jasmine incense. He had forgotten that wasn't normal. Maya noticed it right away when invited her to dinner.
"Christ, Sam, what do you think you're doing?" She grabbed the airfreshener out from under the kitchen sink. It was the kind that was suppose to not just cover odors, but eliminate them all together. She was cleaning the air. Sam watched in dismay.
"I don't smoke."
"There's half a dozen butts in this tray!"
"I just...I like the smell."
Maya gave him a look. The same look she gave him when he mentioned she had her father's eye. Sam tried to look guileless. Maya shook her head and turned away from him. That's when she saw the pillow and duvet on the sofa. "How long have you been sleeping out here?"
"Sam, if this is because of me..."
Sam bridled at her egotism. "It's not."
"Then what? What is your problem, Sam?" She was all gentleness and imploring.
Wrong all wrong. She should be angry, irritated at least. She didn't even roll her eyes at him. She shouldn't be understanding. She should be telling him right now to just outright stop his weirdness on pain of grievous bodily harm. But her hand was open and resting lightly on his shoulder. Barely there.
For a brief moment he considered hitting her in the hopes that she'd hit back, stop all the coddling. Knowing that she wouldn't stayed his hand. What would he be fighting against or for? But he had grown used to fighting. No one at the station challenged him. They followed his orders, sought out his guidance. No one told him that he was wrong.
But he was wrong. They were wrong. Everything was wrong.