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Fans of Life On Mars
Fic, An Unhappy Man (4b/8), White Cortina, by DorsetGirl 
5th-Feb-2008 08:45 pm


THURSDAY EVENING

 

Cleaning the fridge later that night, ready for moving out on Monday, Williams realised that everything he’d added to his notes this afternoon had been concerned with procedure and office communication. Remembering that he’d planned to think about how Sam Tyler would be with women, he wondered where to start.

 

He knew the change would have to be deeper and more dramatic than just a new smile, but Sam Williams did not understand women; sometimes he feared he never would.

 

“I’m always nice,” he’d protested to Pete after a particularly sharp rebuff from a young woman he’d got talking to at the library. “I always treat them like they’re intelligent reasoning beings. Some of the ones I meet at work actually are, so I’m not being patronising or anything.” Enjoying the conversation in the library, he had very daringly suggested dinner and had been resigned but nonetheless disappointed when she’d given him a cool smile and remarked that she didn’t  think so, thank you very much.

 

“But they always seem to want more than that,” he went on, aggrieved. “It’s as if you’re supposed to acknowledge that they’re female but ignore it at the same time. I don’t know how to do that. Does everyone have that problem, or is it just me?”

 

Pete had laughed. “No good asking me, mate, you know I don’t have a way with women! But my sister - Julie, the one that’s getting married - she says women like a man that’s ‘confident but friendly’.” He looked at Williams speculatively. “And she thinks you’re gorgeous. She actually said that, the cheeky cow.”

 

Moving the neat row of condiment jars to clean under them, he thought about that one. Confident but friendly. Sam Tyler was going to have to believe in the sexy smile, and approach women with direct, cheerful confidence. Williams was not sure if he was looking forward to it. Whether he was or not, he thought, Sam Tyler definitely was going to be as charming as he knew how with women.

 

He still wasn’t sure if he could manage that, but with the kind of response he’d got from Susan and the girl in Records, he wondered if the confidence might develop on a sort of feedback loop. Not that he would become involved with anyone from the station of course - he had very strong views on mixing work and private life -  and he couldn’t have a serious relationship with anyone, as he would need to be telling her lies about almost everything, starting with his name and date of birth.

 

But something, someone, just so he didn’t have to go home alone to an empty flat every night. He’d had enough of being on his own all the time; he had begun to fear he always would be, and it was not something he felt he could look forward to. Not and stay sane, anyway.

 

Closing the fridge door on half a pint of milk and Friday’s dinner ingredients he looked up at the clock – 9:15, not too late to try ringing Pete.

 

The foreign student hadn’t learnt much English since yesterday, but the words he did know were used effectively enough. “I not know this Pete. I not see this Pete. He not come to door. In Novi Sad is not this nuisance to phone every night.” There hadn’t been much he could say to that. Sitting down to watch the end of the News, he did his best not to calculate the days since he had last spoken to Pete, nor the hours until he would meet his temporary new DCI.

 

 

THURSDAY NIGHT

 

* * *

 

Williams lies in his bed, half-smiling in his sleep.

 

The sun is shining fiercely above. He hasn’t seen the sun for so long, and that’s not the only thing that is good about today. He’s going home at last.

 

The nurse sits down on the end of his bed. He knows they’re not really allowed to do that, but it’s the friendly one today. She’s nice; she gives him sweets sometimes. She’s not really allowed to do that either.

 

She has a big bright smile on her face. “I’ve got good news for you, Sam. The doctors have decided they’ve done everything they can for you, and now it’s time for you to get on with your life. It’s been lovely having you here, but I’m really pleased for you that you’ve made so much progress. You’re going to the Home tomorrow. Everything is ready for you there.”

 

She stands up gracefully and moves towards him as if to hug him, but something makes her stop. She looks at him compassionately and says merely, “You need to pack your bag, Sam. You’ve got a big day tomorrow.“

 

* * *

 

The sky is so bright after weeks indoors that he closes his eyes to protect them. He’s twelve years old, and going home at last.

 

When he wakes up he sees trees flashing past the window; there’s a strange crunching noise under the wheels.

 

The car draws up by a row of trees and a rather dilapidated building. Sammy gets out of the car and looks around, confused. The woman – he still does not understand who she is – gets out too.

 

“Where are we? Why are we here? Where’s Mum?”

 

“This is where you’re going to live now, Sam. There are very kind people here to look after you. You’ll make lots of friends; look, they’ve come out to meet you. We know you’ll be very happy here, when you get used to it.”

 

Williams goes rigid in his bed; he mutters loudly, “No, no, no!”

 

“NO! I want to go home. I want to see Mum!“

 

“But Sam - you know that’s not possible. We’ve explained all this to you. Your Mum isn’t there any more: she died, Sam, you know that. You’re only twelve years old; you have to live here.“

 

“I want to go home! I want to go to my house!”

 

“Sam, it’s not your house any more; someone else lives there now. You can’t live by yourself, Sam, you have to live here, where people can look after you. Now then, let’s go in and meet some people, shall we?”

 

And then he’s running, screaming, begging, kicking. “Let me go home! Please! I want to go home!”

 

“No, Sam!”

 

“Stop him!”

 

“Grab the little...”

 

Begging, sobbing, whispering. “I want to go home.”

 

A man who looks a bit like Daddy walks up to him. “It’s OK, Sam, you’re quite safe. You need to come with me, Sam. Come on now.”

 

Williams smiles through the tears, and turns over in his bed.

 

 

 

 

 

... continued in Part 5

 
John_neck
Comments 
5th-Feb-2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
Hey - well I have just done lots and lots of reading and caught up. Three chapters (with 2 parts each) and reading it all through without stopping was a real treat. The gradual building of Sam Tyler and the hints that shape his personality and background are fascinating. As is the idea of disassociation and how this is all going to play into what we know. Truely fascinating and am intrigued as to what will happen next.
5th-Feb-2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this - you've just made my night.

I'm posting twice a day, although I know that's probably more than people can keep up with, because I really want the whole thing out there before we see Ashes to Ashes on Thursday. I'm just a bit paranoid there will be something in there that will make me feel differently about this fic.

Anyway, I was getting a bit worried that no-one was reading, so thank you very much.
5th-Feb-2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
Oh am definately reading as am sure many others are - just one minute there was one chapter and the next there were 4. And this is great stuff and if you are posting so regularly I look forward to sitting down tomorrow night and reading some more (well around watching torchwood obviously).
5th-Feb-2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
I've done the final readthrough on tomorrow's posts, and sometime during tomorrow I'll do the last two ready to post on Thursday.

One thing about it, it's keeping my mind off counting the hours till 9pm Thursday!
6th-Feb-2008 01:06 am (UTC)
This is all splendid stuff - the process Sam is going through to construct his 'new' persona (how very 'him' to think it through to the nth degree, as you mentioned to me earlier!), and the glimpses of the man he will become.

And don't worry about 'Ashes' - I'm going to watch and enjoy it hugely and treat it just like any other AU...
8th-Feb-2008 06:59 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading, and it's lovely to know that it works for you.
6th-Feb-2008 03:13 am (UTC)
Firstly, thank you for putting your posts up quickly, 'cause I don't know how I would last if I had to be kept in suspense for a long time!

Secondly, I love watching the way we're seeing Williams build Tyler in his head. He's kinda building his own little Mary-Sue, isn't he? ;-) But it is all building up to the scar conclusion that he's just going to lose himself in that persona.

And Pete's getting all the more interesting, along with whatever happened to Sam six months ago....

Look forward to reading more!!

--j
8th-Feb-2008 07:02 am (UTC)
Sorry I'm all behind with my replies; Part 8 took a lot of polishing yesterday!

Yes, for me, Pete is very interesting; he's my first OC for a start. He was originally just a few lines, but he gradually became more and more important to Williams (whether or not he realised that) and to the story.
6th-Feb-2008 03:56 am (UTC)
Shame on you! You've been distracting me from my lesson plans with all of your mindblowingnessicity! ;) I love the idea behind this. Everytime I see episode 2x08 it makes me wonder if 1973 is reality, although the ending's not supposed to. I adore the way you've presented Sam Williams and given him real depth and believability. This is a good explantation for how Sam Williams becomes Sam Tyler, and in a way makes his story, both of their stories, even more heartbreaking.
8th-Feb-2008 07:08 am (UTC)
Sorry!

I just thought that the whole 1973-is-real scenario had a lot more going for it than is generally entertained. People get hung up on "but he's got the future right", but that's because we're seeing it from his point of view.

I adore the way you've presented Sam Williams and given him real depth and believability.

Thank you very much indeed for that assessment; Williams was to a certain extent an OC, but one that had to fit a particular profile and be plausible at turning into someone else. I'm thrilled that you think he works.

I've lived with this story for so long that I've got used to it, but yes, it is heartbreaking.
6th-Feb-2008 05:22 am (UTC)
I'm really interested in the developing Sam Tyler personality, the way he's going about constructing it just such a large part of Tyler's personality.

Thank you!
8th-Feb-2008 07:14 am (UTC)
I'm glad you found that believable; inventing a backstory and a character that would fit with the Sam Tyler we know wasn't too difficult. Getting all that backstory and character into "a week in the life", which was the structure I had and wanted to keep to, was very difficult indeed, when this started off as only the third story I'd ever written. Eight months difficult.
27th-Feb-2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
Hee; I know I mentioned Sam and women in my last comment, and then I went straight into reading this part, and it just made it feel as if you'd written it just for me. The way that you've set up such a well constructed line for the story to take, I'm sure, is the reason for that - another mark of excellent writing.

The flashback to Sammy as a little boy was once again very painful, and it's interesting to see things becoming more and more clear concerning his past, his childhood, and the aching need to leave behind the life that he can't stand. That pain just resonates throughout the entire fic, and is just so well sharpened by the flashbacks, that it feels as if it burns, like the need to change inside of Sam. I also enjoyed seeing more of your Pete character - definitely very well-rounded and thought out, although I'm seriously curious about why the student has never heard of him. Almost makes me afraid to think that he's some sort of construct that Sam has created (I really, really hope I'm wrong on that one). Great job, once again!
29th-Feb-2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
That pain just resonates throughout the entire fic, and is just so well sharpened by the flashbacks, that it feels as if it burns, like the need to change inside of Sam.

Wow. Success! Thank you.

I'm glad you're enjoying Pete; he's lovely, isn't he. I can't claim much credit for him, he just wrote himself. In fact to be accurate about it, he wrote himself a bigger part.

Pete's definitely real. The student just doesn't know his name, that's all. I became very fond of Pete while writing this - well, you never forget your first (OC, that is), do you!

I do have a coda to this fic half-written, which illustrates what's happening in Pete's life now, (all the clues are in this fic) and why he never came to the phone during this crucial time in Sam Williams' life. It's just a fairly brief look at one morning, and to keep it Life on Mars related so I can post it here, it also shows what's happening to Sam during the same morning. I just felt Pete deserved his happy ending too.

1st-Mar-2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
OOoh - I'm definitely looking forward to that!
12th-Apr-2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
She stands up gracefully and moves towards him as if to hug him, but something makes her stop. She looks at him compassionately and says merely, “You need to pack your bag, Sam. You’ve got a big day tomorrow.“ Oh, why couldn't she have adopted him instead of letting him go to that orphanage?! (Yeah, I know, I know. It's just...really sad. :( )

A man who looks a bit like Daddy walks up to him. “It’s OK, Sam, you’re quite safe. You need to come with me, Sam. Come on now.” Who was that? Can't have been Morgan, surely? He wouldn't be at an orphanage...So who was it? Or maybe I'm just reading too much into this. Never mind.
12th-Apr-2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
The "man who looks a bit like Daddy" isn't significant in himself; he was just there to illustrate the point that even at that stage, Sam was already fantasising about seeing his father everywhere, even when all logic tells him and us that it can't be his actual father he's seeing. Also, it is important to a scene later on that someone who looks like Daddy might trigger memories of this awful day in Sam's young life.
12th-Apr-2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
I've run out of time here; I'll do the rest tomorrow, and many thanks again. You're only the second person to have commented on every part, you complete star!
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