Fandom: Life on Mars
Rating: White Cortina
Word Count: 1,380 approx
Pairing: Gene/Sam, Past Gene/OMC
Summary: Gene unexpectedly meets an ex
"You OK there, Gladys? Looking a bit dozy."
"Mmm... wake me up at tea-time."
Sam's voice was faint, thick with sleep, and Gene toyed briefly with the idea of taking him straight home to bed. But he looked so relaxed lying there by the lockside, the smooth skin of his neck glistening gently in the sun, that Gene lay down and let himself unwind as well.
Around them, the distant roar of their city rose and faded in the heat, and the endless rushing of the water lulled him gently and imperceptibly into sleep.
* * *
When he awoke, it was to the sound of laughter - Sam's and another man's. Gene kept his eyes shut as he tried to place the second voice: whoever it was, he seemed to be getting on very well with Sam, and Gene was about to open his eyes suspiciously when he heard his own name.
"So how long have you been with Gene, then?"
" 'Cos he's looking well on it. Quite the sexy beast - you're a lucky man, Sam Tyler."
Jimmy. Jimmy the accountant, of all the embarrassing professions to fall for. His one saving grace had been that his need for secrecy had been as desperate as Gene's own.
The ring of pride in Sam's voice as he replied "Three years last week" made Gene want to strut the towpath beating his chest, and he smiled involuntarily.
"Hey up, he's awake. Gene, you old bugger! How're you doing?"
"I'll be better once you stop chatting up my ... Sam," he grumped, hauling himself off the dusty ground. He took a seat the other side of Sam and reached across to shake hands.
"That a new suit, Jimmy? Bit flash for round here, you'll have someone nick it off your back if you hang around too long." He looked Jimmy up and down, from the Alicante suntan to the accountant's Oxford shoes. "I suppose I should say it's nice to see you again, you flash git. Been a long time; didn't know you were back. You, er...?"
"Er, yeah, I'm... that is, I've..." Jimmy glanced at Sam. "Yeah, I've got a pretty boy to help keep me warm at night." He smiled as he took Gene's hand and shook it vigorously. "Still something to be said for the older man, though. Just look at you - fit as a fiddle. You don't look a day over seventy."
Sam snorted, and Gene was round him in a flash, grabbing Jimmy by his well-cut lapels and waltzing him to the edge of the lock. Jimmy flailed and gasped in mock terror until Sam, intrigued by this new side to Gene, intervened.
"Boys! Boys! Enough now, hands off - this is a respectable area." They stopped and wandered sheepishly back to the lock-beam, puffing slightly and grinning at each other. There was some shuffling as they sorted themselves out to sit either side of Sam again, then Jimmy spoke.
"Seriously, though, Gene - you're looking great. Being settled must suit you. D'you work together? Sam has that copper look about him."
"He's my DI," Gene said, amused to hear Sam's pride in him echoed in his own statement. "Bit of a nutter, but we get by. He's a damn' good copper, too."
"When you two have quite finished talking about me...?"
"Sorry, love." Gene patted him briefly on the leg, wondering, but not caring, whether Jimmy's splutter of surprise was for the touch, or the endearment.
"So you two used to... know each other? How did you meet?"
They looked at each other and grinned.
"Rugby Club dinner," Gene said. "Him and his girlfriend were both eyeing me up. Next thing I know, he's slipping his business card into my pocket."
"Hip pocket," Jimmy interjected. "Had to get my hands on that arse somehow."
"Anyway," Gene ploughed on, ignoring him. "I phoned him up next day, couple of pints, dinner - he paid, obviously - and Bob's your uncle. We were together, what, six months?"
"Felt like more than that," Jimmy remarked. "Nice though, while it lasted. Then I got a promotion to set up the Scottish operation. Four partners up there now, and twenty-five staff. Moved back here last year." He looked down at his fingernails, silent for a few moments. He glanced up at Gene sideways. "Did you ever move away?"
"Not on your life," Gene answered shortly. "This is my city. Won't catch me walking out on it."
Jimmy looked momentarily disconcerted, but soon rallied and smiled at Sam. "Such dedication. Anyway, it's been brilliant to see you again, Gene. I'm glad you've found someone who's good for you." Climbing off the warm wooden beam he took a step awkwardly towards the road then turned and held his hand out. "Well, nice to meet you, Sam. Perhaps we'll see each other around some time."
After he had gone there was a silence. Gene found himself thinking back to those brief, heady days of first love and smiled ruefully. It hadn't really been love at all, but it had taken meeting Sam for him to work that out. Looked like Jimmy still hadn't got there.
He looked across at Sam, who was watching Jimmy disappearing into the distance.
"You ready to go then, Gladys? All this talk of old times is making me thirsty."
"If you like," Sam answered absently. Then he shook himself and turned to Gene. "Come on then, tiger."
He was quiet on the way home, alternately gazing out of the window and stealing glances at Gene.
Eventually, Gene sighed. "Out with it, Dorothy."
"I was just wondering. When you and, um, Jimmy were together - was it, you know, like - us?"
"What, endless nagging and looking for reassurance?" But he smiled as he said it, and watched Sam's face lighten. "No, love. It was good, I won't lie to you; we were very happy for a while. Didn't live together, obviously - this was before I was married and he was even more paranoid about people finding out than I was - but we saw each other a lot, weekends away, that sort of thing." He trailed off, remembering.
"So what happened?"
"Like he said. He got himself a big promotion to go to Edinburgh for his firm. Pleased as Punch, he was; wanted me to go with him, get a job in Scotland." He smiled slightly. "I said I wasn't leaving my city for someone who never left the office till dead of night, and that was it. He pretended to think about it for a bit, but it was too late; the damage was done."
He looked in the mirror and turned the wheel, rolling the car to a halt in a patch of mud. He turned to look out of the window, not quite catching Sam's eye.
"When it came right down to it, neither of us was willing to give up our jobs for something that was never going anywhere." He half-smiled again, mouth twisting at the memory. "I helped him pack, saw him onto the train, came home and worked hard for DCI. Got married a year later, and the rest you know."
Sam opened his mouth to speak, but Gene cut him off.
"And just so you know, Gladys, and you can call me a soppy sod if you want, but - for you, I would give up everything. Leave it all behind, start again somewhere else. New job, demotion, whatever it took." He stirred in his seat, uncomfortable with so much raw truth.
Sam was staring at him. He appeared to be searching for something to say.
"Don't worry about it though," he added hurriedly. "Would never ask you to give up anything for me."
"I'm not worried, Gene. I made my decision a long time ago." Sam lifted Gene's hands to his own face, licking delicately at the fingertips. "Where you go, I go."
~ ~ ~