Missing scene from 2.08, and a bit of a continuation from the ending...
Inspired by all of the wonderful shorter fics from the ficathon, and in a desperate attempt to force my brain to write decent fic that wasn't over 50,000 words or more, I've done a songfic. This, plus the rest of my five things responses, should be up within the week, and more installments on
. I just had to write this. Blame The Who.
The days bled into weeks and bled into months, days spent flexing and bending with physical therapists, days spent with MRIs and CAT and PT scans, days filled with doctors and injections and his mother, tutting and fretting as she watched the proceedings. Eventually, they released him from the hospital, and he was able to move back to his flat and resume work, albeit desk work only. His team was temporarily taken over by DCI Elizabeth Stanton, although he wasn’t sure how temporary that was: she’d been in charge of them for a full year now.
Night after night, he could still hear it. He could still hear the screaming and shouting, the gunfire ricocheting off of the boxcar. Their screams woke him every night.
He’d taken up running again, and every evening he would quickly make his way through the city streets, feet pounding on the pavement, arms and legs pumping, and every time he was struck by a daydream, an impossible thought that if he just moved fast enough, he could run through time, rewind the years that stood between him and the past. Between him and the world that he’d come to call home.
Maya had moved on while he was still in hospital, had started dating a doctor whom she had met while visiting him, in the months that he’d been asleep. No one mentioned the word “coma,” he realized: everyone just said that he’d been asleep. But he hadn’t been asleep; he’d been awake, and alive, more alive than he’d ever imagined, and he’d not noticed it. He’d been so wrapped up in thinking that he belonged elsewhere, in wanting to return to what he considered a “normal” life, that he hadn’t realized that he didn’t belong in 2006 anymore. He wasn’t “normal,” anymore, if he’d ever been so. If there really was such a thing as “normal;” he was beginning to suspect that there wasn’t.
Day after day, he watched the proceedings at work, watched people move slowly through the motions of filling out paperwork, of collating statements and checking everything with the team in legal, of making sure that they didn’t tread on anyone’s toes. He still understood the need for procedures, for science and fact, but there was something else: gut instinct. The world that he’d come from, the clean, sterile environment of 2006, was nothing but procedure, and the world that he’d fallen into, the dirty, gritty, so-real he could taste it environment of 1973 was about nothing but gut instinct. The difference was that in 1973, they’d managed to meet him halfway, and he’d felt that he’d given something, that he was both taking and giving, becoming someone whose work could fit between the two worlds.
There was no one willing to meet him halfway in 2006. It was the same as it had been whenever Maya, or DS Sanders, had requested that he listen to gut instinct, if only to assist with what they finding by following the procedures: he was told that it was useless, and that he should just do everything by the book. No one was willing to read both of the books at once, except for him. Sam realized something very important: those who made up the world of instinct and brash action were bound by all of the laws of instinct, and that meant that trust meant something. It meant that they were willing to listen to his piece, to meet him halfway, because they trusted him. In 2006, in the world of rules, trust meant nothing, and it didn’t matter if anyone trusted him, or cared for him, because that didn’t fit in with the rules. Trust meant nothing in the world of rules, because it wasn’t part of the rules. So the people of the world of rules would never meet him halfway.
The days continued to slide by, ghost like, days spent mindlessly filling out the reams of paperwork that had once seemed so important, evenings spent running through the streets of Manchester, and nights spent listening to the gunfire, screams, and cries for help. His old friends had all stopped seeing him; at first, they’d tried to dance around the subject of what had happened to him, tried to make it seem as if nothing had happened. When he didn’t act as he would have before, they just asked him if he was getting proper counseling. The psychologists and psychiatrists that he’d seen had all told him the same things: he’d adjust, it was just his way of dealing with what happened to him. He never felt capable of describing what had happened to him, and the life that he had had while in the coma, for fear that it would result in further inquiries, further tests, and further medications.
The medications, he refused to take. Zoloft, and then Paxil, and he just flushed them all down the toilet, and told the doctors that he didn’t need them. He wasn’t depressed for no reason, and anti-depressants regulated chemicals that were out of place. He didn’t have any chemicals out of place, he had a good reason to be depressed. Sam wondered when they’d stopped giving blood tests to determine if medication was necessary in psychiatric cases, and then he wondered why this world was so concerned with normal. Everyone was telling him to see someone, to talk and to take pills to make him “normal” again. He’d never been normal in 1973, he’d always been the odd one, but they hadn’t made him feel ashamed because of it. They’d insulted and chided and given him hell, but in the end, they’d accepted that he wasn’t like them, and they’d accepted him, even with all of the differences. To Gene Hunt, Sam could have been a cog that didn’t quite turn like the others, that didn’t quite fit into the machinery, but he was still a cog. In 2006, being anything that wasn’t picture perfect and sterile, that didn’t fit in perfectly with the bigger picture, meant that he wasn’t even a cog. He was bit of wood or a wheel or a wrench that someone had tried to replace a cog with, and the rest of the machinery was slowly, numbly, and painlessly crushing him.
By the spring of 2007, the dreams had yet to stop, and no one spoke to him, any more than they had to. He still went through the motions at work, but they were still refusing to let him off of desk duty. The meetings and speeches and memorandums continued to flow by, and he ignored nearly all of them. He’d received a general email requesting that anyone who’d been through trauma speak with a DCI in London, some psychiatric profiler that was collecting stories from other officers. He’d deleted the email almost immediately, but as time went by, he ended up fishing it out of his Outlook’s trashcan and staring at it, just staring at it, for hours on end, filling the spaces of time that the paperwork couldn’t fill, and that he didn’t dare spend with his colleagues, because he knew they wouldn’t be able to stand him, sitting there, out of place and not normal.
Eventually, he pulled out a Dictaphone and spoke his piece, letting the stories flow from him, of Gene and Annie, Ray and Chris, the cases and the way that they worked and the feel and smell of the grimy, smoky station that he’d come to call his home. He slowly slipped the item into an envelope, and handed it to another officer, who just stared at him as he tried to say something that wouldn’t make her uncomfortable, and finally settled on, “It’s good to talk about it,” a comment that caused her to smile. She took the envelope, and Sam wondered if this DCI Alex Drake would call for him to have even further psychiatric evaluation, or if she’d simply dismiss it as “odd” and ignore it for the rest of her life.
Sam didn’t much care. It had felt good to talk about it. And it gave him the strength that he needed, to finally do something he’d been dreading for months. He didn’t want to do it, because he knew that if he couldn’t find anything, then it really was all just a dream, and perhaps he really was going mad. And he didn’t want to do it, because it meant he might really learn what all of the consequences of his leaving them, there in the boxcar, were. Had he really killed them all, with his sudden betrayal? Part of him didn’t want to know, but part of him needed to. The part of him that could feel, needed to.
Sam sat down at his PC terminal, minimized Crimint, Outlook, and all of his other tools, and then pulled up his link to the archives, and started to type…
Sam’s footsteps echoed on the tiled floor as he slowly made his way through the hospital, taking the long way around to avoid anywhere that he himself could have been during his long stay there. He felt his heart beating rapidly in his ears, and then he found the hallway that he was looking for, and slowly, his heart thrumming in his throat, he opened the door to the ward that he’d been searching for, and started to walk past the beds, looking for the patient he’d come to visit. When he finally found him, he was in the bed at the end of the ward, near the large window there, staring out at the rain.
“I’m not taking anymore bloody sedatives; you want to tire me out good and proper, get up here and have a bounce on the old joystick, Sweetheart. And tell that doctor prick that I want moved to a ward without all these batty old codgers on it!” The old man in the bed still had his eyes fixed on the window when Sam approached and pulled at the curtain that separated his bed from the rest of the ward, closing them off. Sam stopped and stood at the foot of the bed, a smile playing on his lips as he did so, and the old man turned and looked at him, his eyes suddenly widening.
Gene’s hair had gone stark white, but he’d kept it all, and his eyes, though surrounded by far more wrinkled flesh than Sam remembered, were still bright and piercing. Sam continued to smile, not knowing what to say, as he moved to the side of the bed, standing in front of the rain-spattered window. “You… You must be his son,” Gene’s voice was older, as well, dry and rasping, but still unmistakably commanding, and even in his confusion it was strong and sure. Sam stood there and looked at Gene for a moment, and Gene shook his head on the pillow. “No. That sorta shite only happens on the telly. You’re… How? Shit, I really am losing it, just like all of these other old farts.”
“You’re not losing it, Gene. I don’t think you’d ever let yourself do that. Although lord knows, you’d let yourself do just about everything else,” Sam said, and Gene continued to stare at him.
“How, then? It’s not possible…” Gene’s voice dropped to a slightly frightened whisper, and Sam sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Does it matter how? I’m here now.” Sam tried to say it as reassuringly as he could, and Gene continued to stare at him.
“Right, then. Bought bloody time you finally dragged your arse back to me. Disappeared off the face of the planet, you did. Go travelling with Jon Pertwee, did you?”
“Something like that.” There was a long silence.
Will you have some tea? At the theatre with me?
“I didn’t mean to leave.” It was the only thing that he could think to say.
“I know you didn’t. Why do you think I’m not beating you harder then De La Hoya could right about now?” The thought of the brittle old man beating the living shit out of anyone seemed almost humorous to Sam, and then he realized that, despite everything, Gene probably could. Even with everything else failing him, his spirit wouldn’t. It could sustain him through anything. Even being betrayed.
We did it all. Didn't we?
“You really would, wouldn’t you?” Sam voiced his thoughts, and Gene nodded at him. “That’s the thing about you – ‘use your gut, not your bonce,’ Hunt. The only man that could do everything wrong, and still teach me something.”
“Who says I ever did anything wrong? Bleedin’ saint, I am.”
“Patron saint of gut instinct.”
Jumped every wall. Instinctively. Unravelled codes. Ingeniously.
“I still say you jumped to too many conclusions, you were sloppy and arrogant, you treated women like toys and men like trash, and through it all, you really were magnificent, and you really did do all that you could, for everyone. You were a damned good copper, because you cared.”
“Say it like that, makes me sound like some bleedin’ heart fairy. Nah, I did it because I loved it. Every last inch of this stinkin’ city, until it because something I didn’t recognize. Until they told me that love just wasn’t enough, or courage, or honor.”
“I read about that. It was my fault.”
“You watered me down enough for all of the ponces that cared more for procedure than bloody passion, and wanted to make police work like librarian’s work, to let me do my job longer. I didn’t last that long, after you left us. No, I understood what police work was all about: we were the bin men, the janitors, cleaning up the mess and shifting it out of the way. That’s not what the world wants, they want bloody papers and policies and they want us to just be the bulldogs for Social Services and packets and passels of bloody solicitors and barristers and politicians, and not only that, a toothless, neutered bulldog! No one neuters Gene Hunt!”
Sam couldn’t help but laugh at this, “No one ever could, could they?”
“Two years from retirement. 1990. And then bang, thank you, Louise. Took Ray with me, started up a securities firm, ‘til the brainless cunt went and had a heart attack on me. And no one wants armed security anymore, do they? CCTV, alarms, locks and lasers and all sorts of bollocks. Forget what it means to be human, want nought but robots. Want to be bloody robots!”
Sam nodded again, unsure of what to say.
Gene laughed and leaned back against the bed, “Listen to the old man, whinging about the new ways. I used to think it all started with you, and your damned ways, but it wasn’t like that. Took me a long time to realize it, and then bam! Just like Charlton Heston and the statue of liberty.”
“At least I didn’t mix it. Get me some booze, and I’d be willing to, though. Analogy and scotch on the rocks, for me and my Sammy. Hold the bloody analogy, and the rocks, for me.”
Wired all the roads. So seamlessly. We made it work.
“We worked well together, didn’t we?” Sam stared out of the window, and watched the rain pour down.
“Cock-a-bloody-hoop. More perfection than a naked Angelina Jolie, my friend. I always went in sure, and then you’d muddy everything up, but in the end, it was always the same conclusion, and there was room for your damned shit, wasn’t there?”
“And for yours. Together. It – it doesn’t work any other way. You can’t just go on instinct, and you can’t just go on fact.”
“I teach you that, or you teach me?”
“Both, I think, Guv.”
“No one’s called me that in a long time, Gladys.”
But one of us failed. That makes it so sad. A great dream derailed.
“Gene – what happened – I mean… I thought it was the only way. I didn’t want to do it, but I thought it wouldn’t matter… I thought…”
“You think too much, that was always your problem. And thank you so much for finally admitting that you’re wrong, now I’ve got to look forward to freezing my dick off every night when I finally get to hell. Would’ve preferred the warm version, you prick.”
“I thought it was the only way to get home. But when I got back, it wasn’t home at all.”
“Told you fitted in more than you cared to admit, you daft nancy.”
One of us – gone. One of us – mad. One of us – me.
“I really did. And you really did listen to me, and I did listen to you, even when we were at each other’s throats.”
“Why didn’t you ever come back, then?”
Sam shook his head, “It’s – it’s complicated, Gene.”
“We looked for you. Looked for you everywhere. Couldn’t find hide nor hair, not in bloody Hyde nor Halifax, nor Liverpool nor Leeds. You were just gone. My own personal ghost, complete with his own library of facts and figures and blood spillage books. Bastard.”
All of us sad. All of us sad.
“You were a great man, Gene. A force to be reckoned with.”
“What you mean, ‘were?’ I still am.”
Sam nodded. “You still are. Power and passion – everything that the law lacks these days.”
“The law was written with power and passion. Don’t you ever bloody forget that.”
“I won’t.” Sam paused, not sure if Gene knew what had happened to the others, and not sure if he should tell him. “I looked everyone up, as soon as I worked up the nerve.”
“That must’ve taken some time. Dig your balls out and finally let them drop? This isn’t the world to do that in, Sam.”
“My balls were perfectly external when I met you, thank you very much.”
“Why else would you have stood up to me like that? I know you, Sammy-boy. We all did. No one ever talked about what you did, no one wanted to believe that we could’ve been wrong. Not even Ray, and didn’t he half hate your prim little guts.”
“Ray… Heart attack in 2001.”
Gene looked out towards the rain. “Skelton was shot working on some undercover operation for MI5, not four years ago. State funeral and all. Surveillance wizard, he turned out to be, good with them damned computers and all. Guess he learned all of that shit from you.”
“And Annie… First female DCI in the Lancashire Constabulary, third in the entire country. Breast cancer at 55.”
“It’s always the ones that don’t smoke or drink enough to kill themselves, that end up dying like they say the smokers and drinkers of the world are going to die. All these science prats, never really know, always acting like they do, but they don’t. It’s different than you were. You always knew, had instinct, and just filtered it out through all your procedures and shit. Probably the only one could ever make me see that shit and all. Might’ve made it through even past retirement, if I’d’ve had my DI with me.”
Sam stared out the window, at the water as it slowly made its way down the glass in thin rivulets. “You could have. You should have. Even when you broke the law, you were at its heart.”
“Oh, and now he gets all Dorothy on me again.”
Lean on my shoulder now. This story is done. It's getting colder now.
“They do mention cirrhosis, though, all those ‘science prats.’” Sam couldn’t look at Gene as he said it, at the strange, yellowy tint to his thin, papery skin. He still looked too much like the old Gene, too much like the living legend, the giant that he remembered. The man that really had epitomized power and passion in the law.
“Well, too old to change my ways, aren’t I? Never could teach an old dog new tricks in this world.”
“Your own tricks served you pretty well.”
“And now you’re makin’ me sound like some damned prozzy.”
A thousand songs. Still smoulder now.
“If I had stayed, would things have been any different?”
“You have to ask? You really are blinder than Stevie Wonder, aren’t you, Tyler? Face it: you needed me. I needed you. And you have to come and haunt me on the one day I’ll ever admit it, you silly little cunt.”
“Just shut up. Rain’s letting up.”
“All those cases, all those nights in the pub, and I just threw it all away. I… I’m so sorry,” Sam felt hot tears move down his face, slowly dripping like the last remnants of the rain on the window.
“As if I couldn’t forgive you, Mabel.”
We play them as one. We're older now.
“The world doesn’t make any sense anymore.”
“You’re bloody telling me? And I thought you were bad about ‘by the book,’ hell, you made due with your gut and your bonce, and it all worked out.”
“If I could change it, if I could go back, I wouldn’t leave you.”
“Everyone always says that. You think I wouldn’t take you back? Just like that? ‘Cause I would. You think I didn’t understand what was happening, from the moment you walked in the door? I thought I could teach you something, first it was just to beat a lesson into you, show you that the old Gene Genie knew his stuff, and then I thought I could make you stay.”
“Not as daft as you always took me for, Tyler.”
Sam was silent, and he felt Gene’s hand move into his. The skin was light and thin, stretched out over bulging knuckles and long, rolling veins, spotted and yellowing and horny with age. And still so strong, so sure, so… Gene. Sam stared out the window. The rain had stopped. He looked back at Gene, at the old man on the bed, and felt the hand in his. It was still, so perfectly still, and Gene was still staring, but not out the window. The old man’s eyes were open and sightless, and staring at Sam.
Sam stayed at the hospital as they came to take Gene away, pulling the sheet over his head and rolling him off of the ward, and then he went, in the damp, misty sunshine, to his mother’s house.
All of us sad.
"I went someplace, Mum. And every day, I woke up in that place, and I told myself, 'I'm alive.' And I was. In some ways, more than I've ever been. You know, a, a barman, a barman once told me, that you know when you're alive, because you can feel. And you know when you're not, because you can't feel anything. I made a promise, Mum, I made a promise to someone who I care about very much."
"Then you've got nothing to worry about, 'cause you always keep your promises."
Sam stared at his mother, not sure of what to say next, and then thought of Gene, and of their visit. He’d made another promise, too, hadn’t he? A silent one, that both men had understood. He turned back to his mother. “Mum… If I had to go away again, would you be all right?”
His mother gave him a confused look, “I don’t understand, darling.” She gripped his hand, and then let go of it, and moved to pour the tea.
Sam took his cup, and stared into it, and then out of the window again. The rain was still absent, still gone, and the sun was shining through the damp glass. “Mum… Would you be all right on your own? I did make a promise to someone, but… Mum, there’s something I have to do.”
His mother stared at him, confusion and concern etched onto her own lined face, “Sam?”
“No matter what happens, Mum, you know that I love you, don’t you? And that everything that I do, it’s for the best. Just… You know that I love you, Mum, and that I’d never do anything to hurt you?”
Ruth smiled and took a drink from her cup, “I know that, Sammy.”
Sam stood on the roof and stared at the strange, modern city that Manchester had become, the city that he thought he knew, going through its robotic motions, with its robotic people. It was a world where passion meant nothing, and where money and legality meant power, not the deep power that he had once known. Not the passion and power that filled Gene Hunt, not the deep-seeded, writhing spirit of the law that he had once known, if only for a moment. He knew that there was still passion here, and that the world could still be a good place, but it couldn’t reach him. He couldn’t feel.
He started to walk, and then jog, and then he was running, and then the wind was gently lifting him, pressing against him, softly carrying him away.
All of us free.
“What are you on about, Tyler? I am the law!” The Cortina roared off along the streets, and Sam grinned, knowing that he was home, and that he was forgiven. And that he really could make a difference.
Before we walk from this stage. Two of us.
There were children playing in the street, not far from the cemetery. DI Tommy Rowland, the son of DCI Annie Rowland nee Cartwright, was there, and DCI’s Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler stood, watching the state funeral of their friends. Chris Skelton and Ray Carling, both of whom had been members of the police force until their end, had died together, serving their nation, and their countrymen, and the world. Sam remembered back, to years long since gone, and to clean, sterile dream world that he couldn’t believe he was currently standing in, once again. This time, Chris had had Ray with him, and Ray had had Chris with him, and he knew, somehow, deep in his bones, he knew that they were both all the more unafraid because of it.
Will you have some tea?
The two of them stood there, on the grass, long after the ceremony had ended, neither one wanting to go to the reception. Eventually, Gene turned, taking Sam by the hand, and leading him back to the pavement. There, he shoved his hands into his pockets, and the two of them slowly made their way down through the city. Sam suddenly realized where they were, and then he looked at his watch, and started to laugh. Gene turned to him and gave him a glare.
“What are you on about, Gladys? Alzheimer’s finally setting in, is it? I’m gonna have to put a dog collar on you with our address on it, aren’t I? Great. You’ll look just like one of those damned kids with their loud music and leather and green hair, the same loud music that YOU claim to like, you great brain donor, same way you always liked all of the shite back when we first met. “
“You’re just upset that Vera took all of the Roger Whittaker albums with her when she ran off with that insurance man in ‘75.”
“Who needs albums now, anyway? Got a CD player, don’t we?”
“Albums sound better; kids these days are realizing it, aren’t they?”
“How the hell should I know what kids are realizing? Be nice if they realize the world isn’t made of freebies and pleasantry and that work can actually do a person some good, wouldn’t it? Little bastards running around like headless chickens, or how about two headed chickens? Like the type that they mutate and raise in the states for those damned fast food shops?”
“They do not raise mutant chickens for KFC.”
“Do not…. How old are we? Why the bloody hell….”
“Oh, shut it, Tricia, before I shut it for you!”
Sam looked at his watch again. Chris and Ray had both lasted longer in this reality than they had in the old one, hadn’t they? Annie, too – she wasn’t supposed to have died at 60, was she? Sam wracked his brain, but he couldn’t remember. He stopped and stared at the street, and then pulled out his mobile phone.
“Who are you ringing on that damned contraption you seem so in love with now?”
“Why the bloody hell are you doing that? Sam?” Gene’s face was suddenly filled with worry, and he was looking down at Sam expectantly.
“Because of that.” Sam pointed towards a nearby street, under a wide overpass. A man stepped out of a jeep, and a car hit him, sending him sprauling on the cement. The car stopped for nearly a minute, but no one got out of it, and then the car took off, as if nothing had happened.
“Bastard! Have you got an ambulance on the way? I’ve got their plate number, let’s get down to the station and tell Leeson to get on it, now!” Gene was starting to move towards the man on the cement, but Sam stopped him, grabbing his arm and pulling him back.
“He’s still alive. Ambulance will be here in just a few seconds, there was one… There it is now. Come on, let’s go tell Leeson about this,” Sam tugged on Gene’s arm, and noticed that Gene was staring at the body of the man that was being pulled up onto a stretcher, and into the back of the ambulance. He stopped and turned to Sam, and then said nothing.
The two of them headed back to the station, together.
Will you have some tea? At the theatre with me?
All comments and criticism are highly appreciated and very much encouraged.