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Fic Commentary - Signals (4/4) - dorsetgirl
July 9th, 2008
12:25 pm
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Fic Commentary - Signals (4/4)

Sam woke to find Gene dressing. As Sam hadn’t given him time to undress in the first place, it didn’t take long, and Gene turned to face him. He wasn’t smiling.

When I got to this point, I had a list of subjects they still needed to discuss, and a list of scenes during which they might discuss each subject. The subjects as I wrote them down at the time were: “I can’t tell you everything” (3); “face facts, Sam” (4); “you were different then” (1); “I can’t call you Gladys after that / please do call me Gladys” (2); “I like it on top / I’m not going back to women” (5). Also, I had to fit in Gene calling Sam Gladys in front of everybody (6). I had a paragraph or so written for each one, and the numbers represent the order in which I felt these subjects should be covered. Yes, when I get analytical about a fic, I don’t muck about.

The scenes/times I intended to use for these subjects were: in the bedroom (1); cup of tea (2); Sam cooks a new dish for dinner – a good way of getting some vegetables into the Guv (3,4); driving to the pub (5); going into the pub ; at the bar / playing darts (6). The numbers here represent the subjects which my heroes were going to discuss at each point. The order did change in a few instances, and Sam appears not to have bothered about cooking dinner, or perhaps Gene was keen to get to the pub. I don’t actually enjoy doing things this way, and I very seldom bother - most of my fics are quite a lot shorter than this and it’s just not necessary. With this one though, I had quite a lot going on in their heads, plus I needed to move them from the bedroom via somewhere else to the car and the pub, so I had to make sure the location and movements worked together, and that each subject was discussed in an appropriate venue.

“You bastard,” he accused Sam. ”What was all that about? Getting your own back? Proving how strong you are?”

Sam had to admit there’d been an element of that. All that stuff, Gene protecting him, making signals at people about him, hadn’t made him feel good about himself. Or about Gene, come to that. OK, the part of him that still got the warm fuzzies from knowing that he belonged to Gene was coping with it quite well. Part of Sam actually does like being with someone who’s big and strong and wants to protect him, because it can be lonely always being the strong one like he was in 2006, and he’s lonely enough in this world anyway. But who he really was, deep down, hadn’t changed, and that man wasn’t at all happy with being treated as some air-headed ninny. A quick look at Sam’s innermost ideas of who he really is, as opposed to what he quite likes. 

He tried to explain it to Gene.

“It’s like you think I don’t need to bother my pretty little head about it or something.”

“It’s not meant like that, Sammy,“ said Gene looking puzzled. ”It’s just, when someone goes to try it on I put ‘em right before you’re bothered with it.” He looked at Sam, hurt. “You should have said if you didn’t like it and I’d have explained; it’s nothing sinister. There. That sentence there. Together with Sam’s response in the next paragraph, that is the entire core of the matter. It’s for you, Sam.” He reached into his top pocket for his cigarettes 

Sam sat up and stared at him. “Be reasonable, Gene! If things are going on that I don’t know about, I can’t tell you I don’t like them, can I!” This simply hasn’t occurred to Gene. He’s carrying the burden, doing what he sees as the right thing, and it honestly never occurred to him that perhaps Sam should know about it. He caught himself on the edge of fury again, and leaned back against the pillows in an effort to calm down. “At the very least, Gene, please, tell me these things. Look, I’m not upset about you looking after me, it’s just – I don’t like this assumption that I need looking after and that I don’t need to know about it.”

Gene was silent, looking over the top of his lighter at Sam. He flicked it and lit his cigarette, still looking at Sam as if trying to work out what to say. And again I give the quandary to the character to think about, because when I wrote that line I honestly had no idea how Gene was going to respond. I was just stalling while he worked it out. Finally, he said “It wouldn’t work, Sam. If I came home every night and said ‘Listen to what I’ve done for you today, I’ve protected you from Rathbone, I’ve given some bloke the evil eye for looking at you – it wouldn’t work, would it? You’d be thinking I was expecting you to be grateful, and that’s not how it is. We’d end up arguing, Sammy, you’d end up resenting me.” I wish I could remember thinking this up, because I quite like it.

He stepped forward, leaning over the bed, and traced Sam’s mouth with one finger.

“And while we’re talking about things people could have told other people: you could have told me who you really are.“ Sam tensed. What does Gene know? “I’ve never seen you like that before, Sam. It was like a different man.” 

Sam relaxed and laughed gently, reaching up to run a proprietary hand over Gene’s arse.

“No, I don’t mean like that Gl... Sam. I mean – the voice, the strength, the ... shit, you’re the words man, I’m just a simple old-fashioned copper.” Gene looked questioningly at Sam. ”You were different then, you know you were.”

Sam sat up as he thought about it, thought about how to explain. Opted for simple, if not complete, truth. “OK, I admit, I might have been holding it in a bit. Didn’t want to be challenging you at home as well as at work. Thought that might be too much for you.”

“Well, don’t bother on my account Sammy-boy, I’ll cope.” As he walked towards the bathroom he said over his shoulder “Just be yourself from now on, OK?” 

By the time Gene came downstairs, Sam had put out mugs and the kettle was boiling. Because there has to be a conversation before they go to the pub. Sam’s going to want to talk, and while Gene isn’t famous as a talker, he’s not going to put up with that sort of treatment very often, so he wants this sorted too.

Gene sat down at the table and ladled sugar into his mug. “Not too proud to make the tea then, Sammy-boy, now you’ve got your manhood back. Not allowed to call you Gladys any more I suppose?” Gene’s laying it on with a trowel because he doesn’t want principles and philosophy here, he wants Sam to understand his point of view. To give him full credit, he understood where Sam was coming from immediately it was pointed out to him. He looked at Sam, his face unreadable. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who gives Gene an unreadable expression quite frequently! It comes in so handy when I can’t think what he would actually be expressing. Also I can see him using it deliberately as an interrogation technique.

Sam put the kettle down carefully. It was either that or throw it at him. “Look, you didn’t explain why you would think I need protecting in the first place”.

Gene sighed.

“It’s just, at the station,” he began, “Doesn’t matter what you think, I’m your DCI, and that makes some things my responsibility, not yours. Just simple truth. Gene is Sam’s boss. No DI, even if he does come from Hyde, can go up against someone like Rathbone and survive.” Because if it came to that, Gene would believe his primary responsibility to Sam and himself was to keep his job. Sam wouldn’t agree, he’d expect Gene to resign on principle, and it could be the end of them as a couple. So Gene needs to make sure Sam understands the dangers.

“But the other stuff; I never thought; you coming late into this, you don’t know how it is. You attract the powerful ones, Sam, the men who’re used to getting whatever they want. I’ve no idea if this is true, but I think someone like Sam – small and pretty and delicately-built, but at the same time seeing himself with justification as an Alpha – would be fascinating to a strong, secure traditional Alpha male. (That would be a gay one, obviously.) They look at you, and then they look at me, and they see someone older than you, and bigger than you, and they expect me to protect you, to keep them off.” Sometimes you have to accept that everyone else in your world is playing to a set of rules that they’re happy with, and it’s going to take more than one person and a couple of months to change it. That idea is the source of Gene’s line in 1.07 – “Can’t change this world, Sam, only learn to survive in it.”

“And if they don’t see me protecting you, then they’ll assume you’re fair game.” Gene sat back and stared at Sam, willing him to understand. “And believe me, Sam, you don’t want that. I’m not going to apologise for protecting you. You’re mine and I have to, that’s just how it is.” 

I wasn’t too happy about the next couple of sentences. Gene had to say something like this to keep Sam happy, and it’s true anyway, but I think it came out a bit too soppy. So then Gene has to re-assert his gruff he-man personality.

He smiled, and touched Sam’s hand gently. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m yours, always, every bit as much as you’re mine. Here in this house we belong to each other.” He pushed his mug forward. “And now you’re making me go soppy. Hurry up and pour that bloody tea so we can go to the pub.”

Sam thought about it; he hadn’t been aware he attracted anyone, never mind “the powerful ones”, but here was Gene understanding it, taking it for granted and dealing with it for him. It still didn’t feel right, but perhaps now he knew the facts he didn’t need all the details? He wasn’t at all sure about that, but decided to let it ride for now. So that I don’t have to decide what he’s going to do about it, because by this stage I just wanted the fic done and posted.

The whole section from boiling the kettle to walking into the pub got re-arranged lots of times. There were a number of things they had to discuss, and there was no particular order to them, so I tried a number of different arrangements until it looked right.

They drove to the pub in a silence that had slightly more of an edge than usual. Gene has explained himself, stated his position and renewed his commitment to Sam. Sam has given nothing back yet; he’s just thinking, and he has no idea how his silence is affecting Gene. Sam was still mulling over the idea of Gene protecting him, and Gene was lost in his own thoughts. Unusually, Gene didn’t open his door the instant the engine stopped. They sat in silence for a moment, then Gene spoke. “So, did you like it better on top then?”

Sam smiled reminiscently. “Didn’t realise how much I’d missed it,” he said.

Beside him, he heard Gene take a tiny, sharp breath, instantly stifled, as if in pain. That’s because he is in pain; Gene is going through hell here. As he sees it, he’s just opened Sam’s eyes to the idea that he could have anyone he wants, and Gene really doesn’t know what’s going to happen now.

Realising how it had sounded, Sam said “Hey,” as he looked across at Gene, who refused to meet his eye but spoke to the floor.

For this section I had a few sentences mapped out that needed to be said, but my problem, as always, was to make it flow with the action. I think I wrote out the dialogue in full and then went back and slotted in the actions and the looks, which is something I often do to ground the thing and make it more visual.

“I wish I’d never said anything about all those other men fancying you. But I had to, you have to know to keep yourself out of trouble.” He looked at Sam unhappily. “And now you know you could have anyone you wanted...”

Sam interrupted forcefully ”I have, you twat. Don’t you get it, I want you. I didn’t just “settle” for this, you know, thinking it was the only offer I’d get! I fought against this for months, then it was months again before I got up the nerve to do anything. I’d never wanted a man before; you know this, Gene”. 

He leaned forward and kissed Gene softly on the mouth, easing his tongue gently between his teeth, as his hand moved slowly down the length of Gene’s body to his groin. Here he is emphasising, obviously, that he wants Gene, but I didn’t want this to get anywhere near being another sex scene. 

Lifting his mouth from Gene’s he placed a tiny kiss on the tip of Gene’s nose. Because this is about luurve, not sex. “I am not planning to go back to women. And nor am I interested in experimenting with other men. It’s you that I want. Always. And only.” 

He thought a moment and looked at Gene. “What about your other blokes, before me? Did they let you down? Is that where this is coming from?” This is an obvious question, but Gene isn’t that straightforward.

“No,” Gene said. “You’re not my first, you know that, but you’re the first that’s mattered. Once Gene commits, he totally goes for it. Never cared about a bloke before, it was just a bit of relief. Week or two, couple of shags, move on.” He shifted round to look at Sam properly.

“That sounds like there were hundreds, but having to think of me job all the time – well, it limits the opportunities. And like I said, none of them mattered.” Restating his commitment. None of this is about Gene having emotional baggage. It is simply his greater understanding of the realities of the world they are living in, and his fear that he has opened Sam’s eyes to the idea that he could have someone “better”. Not possible, of course. 

“Well, I’m not going anywhere.” Sam reassured him. “Except on top sometimes.” He grinned suddenly. “Why d’you think you couldn’t call me Gladys any more, you daft sod?”. Back to the friendly banter, to emphasise to Gene that everything is safe and normal.

“Hardly seemed the thing any more Sam, you getting all masterful and all.” Has to be done sometimes, sorry. And it’s a damn’ good word for Top!Sam.

“Well, don’t worry about it. I like it.” He tried to analyse why being called by a variety of girls’ names made him feel good, then he put both hands up to Gene’s face and kissed him firmly. I hope the joins don’t show, where I’ve slotted in the actions after writing the dialogue! “I’m used to it now. And it’s – well, no-one else has ever called me that. Obviously. And no other bastard ever will, only you. So it’s special, it’s ...us.

“And the best thing is, you can call me Gladys in front of the lads and no-one thinks anything of it. But I know. When you call me Gladys it’s all about you and me, Gene. You call me Gladys and it’s like you’re calling me ‘love’ in front of everybody.” OK, I wrote it, but I love that bit! I also think it’s canon. He kissed Gene again and turned to open his door. “Come on, last to the bar’s a sissy.” And bring it back to the comfortable friendly insults, the kind they can exchange in public - transition time.

“You would know” retorted Gene, getting out and straightening his coat.

The following scene was written at a very early stage, with just a few tweaks at final edit.

As they walked in together, Ray called from the corner table “Guv, are you in? Saved a chair for you”. 

“No thanks Ray, not just now; been sat down all day. Gonna play darts, give me arse a rest.” This line sprang into being immediately I realised how the sex scene was going to play. Sometimes I end up deleting some of my favourite lines because they don’t do the job, but I think this one did.

Sam winced as he turned towards the bar, leaving Gene effortlessly in command of the group by the dartboard. Because he always is. Nelson was just drawing the second pint when there was a roar from the corner.

“Oi, Gladys! Haven’t you got them drinks in yet? Hurry up and get your sorry arse over here; you can choose the next game.” This was a blatant excuse for Gene to call Sam “Gladys” in front of everybody. Also, telling Sam he could choose the next game was Gene’s way of reassuring Sam that if he wants to go on top next time as well, that’s OK.

Sam couldn’t stop the broad grin spreading across his face as he met Gene’s eyes briefly before turning back to the bar. As far as I can remember, this line was written very early on, and it was always going to be the ending.


Well, I seem to have ended up with more commentary than fic here. I can only hope that’s because there are lots of ideas to think about in this fic, and that the fic itself was relatively economically written. If not, then it’s because I just ramble too much. Either way I hope you’ve found this interesting. Thanks for reading.

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[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like both the fic and the commentary; I was a bit surprised how much I could remember.

Yeah, it always surprises me in the show just how much Sam appears content to go along with Gene rather than have his own separate case-load (although then we wouldn't see all the buddy-cop stuff of course). In 2006 (ep 1.01) we do see him very cold and confident, just as full of swagger in his own way as Gene is in his.

Thanks for commenting!
[User Picture]
Date:July 15th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
"You call me Gladys and it’s like you’re calling me ‘love’ in front of everybody.” OK, I wrote it, but I love that bit! I also think it’s canon

I love that bit, too! And its certainly *my* canon :D

I really like how you ended this fic, with the transition to the confortable banter, the 'Gladys' comment and the exchange and knowing grins in the pub. Lovely ♥.
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