Title: On The Road to Freedom
Fandom: Life on Mars
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters or their universe. BBC/Kudos do. I’m not making any money out of this.
Rating: White Cortina
Word Count: 1,510
Summary: Gene learns that taking Sam home isn’t going to be as easy as he had hoped.
A/N: Part of the Survival series. The piece that I finished Wine and Candles for is still not playing ball, so I wrote this instead. This chapter takes place on the morning Sam finally gets out of hospital, in other words a few hours before Not Just a Cry for Help. Not beta'd, so do shout if you have any comments or concrit.
Previously posted: Not The Dark (by dakfinv) / Body & Soul / Watching / Hope / In The Eye Of The Beholder / Breaking Through / Still With Us / On The Road to Freedom / Not Just a Cry For Help / Keep Taking the Tablets / Breaking Glass / Useless / Out to Lunch / Still Want You / Fighting to Survive / Into the Dark / Talk to Me
On The Road to Freedom
“Mr Hunt! Mr Hunt, if I could...”
Gene held his breath but carried on walking, wheeling Sam steadily towards the double doors and freedom. One of the tyres was almost entirely worn away in places; the rim clicked on the floor endlessly and he toyed with the idea of telling Sam the one about the Irishman and the wheelbarrow. But he was fast asleep again, head lolling to expose the paleness of his neck against the blue shirt. Gene kept his eyes firmly on the daylight ahead, steadfastly ignoring all thoughts of kissing that soft skin, of running his hands through the lank hair as his tongue travelled around the warm column of Sam’s neck into the deep valley behind Sam’s collarbone.
“Mr Hunt! I need a word before you go.” The voice was more authoritative now, but Gene had recognised it and kept walking. He hadn’t gone to all this trouble to get Sam out before morning rounds just to be stopped at the final hurdle.
As he finally reached the doors, they were pushed inwards by the cheeky redhead and her little dark-haired friend – on their way back from breakfast, Gene supposed – and he couldn’t manoeuvre the chair quickly enough to prevent one wheel getting momentarily stuck. In the confusion of “After you”, “No, no, after you”, the doors swung shut and Gene was caught, the young Registrar’s coat of office flapping around him as he hurried the final few steps to place a hand on Sam’s unheeding shoulder. He stood facing Gene as he caught his breath.
“Good morning Doctor Haskell,” the nurses chorused as they passed. The quiet one whose name Gene never remembered couldn’t take her eyes off the young doctor, while Molly looked speculatively between him and Gene.
“Good morning, girls; may I say, you’re both looking particularly lovely this morning.”
Gene snorted as the little dark one – Susie? – blushed prettily and treated the doctor to a full eyelash flutter while Irish Molly merely raised her eyebrows and gave him a knowing smile.
“Yes, well, run along quickly now, Sister’s waiting.”
“Yes Doctor; see you later, Doctor.” They hurried off in a whirl of perfume and stout brogues, the quiet one looking back soulfully as Molly whispered in her ear. Gene watched as they disappeared down the corridor leading to the X-Ray department - he didn’t like to think of the hours he’d spent waiting in there – before reluctantly turning back to Haskell, waiting restlessly now by his side.
“Come to say goodbye, have you? Glad to see the back of us, no doubt. Feeling’s mutual, so if you don’t mind...” Gene spoke dismissively, only half his mind on Bloomfield’s lapdog as he realised for the first time that the wheelchair was going to be almost as much handicap as Sam’s original injuries. He eyed the distance between the door handle and the back of the chair, wondering how the bloody hell anyone was supposed to hold the door open and push the chair at the same time.
“In a manner of speaking, yes.” With a nasty jolt, Gene realised he’d forgotten the doctor for a moment. Weeks of sitting night after night in Sam’s room watching him sleep hadn’t done his powers of concentration any good.
“Obviously I’ll miss having Mr Tyler on the ward, we’ve had some very interesting chats while I was on call.” Haskell shuffled his feet, an uncomfortable mixture of arrogant doctor and gawky young man. “I am truly delighted that he’s finally well enough to go, er, home, but I just wanted to make sure you know how long it’s going to be before Sam is ...” he lowered his voice, “... ready.”
Nonplussed, Gene abandoned his calculations for getting out of the doors without hurting Sam’s knees and looked round, indignation rising.
“What do you mean, ready? Do you think I’m thick or something? I’ve got eyes in my head, I know it’s going to be a while yet before he can go back to work, but he’s going to be ...”
“No, Mr Hunt, not work.”
Gene opened his mouth to speak but the doctor held up a hand and leaned forward slightly.
“I mean ... well...” He looked Gene straight in the eye. “Let me just say, I know how much Sam means to you. I know how ... close ... you are.”
Gene’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t know anything. Not about me. Not about Sam.” He stood still, waiting for the punchline.
Haskell held his hands up placatingly.
“If you say so, Mr Hunt. I just wanted to make sure you knew, that’s all. Because I don’t imagine anyone else has spoken to you about this. They ... well ... it’s just that it’s going to be quite a while before Sam is, er... It’s not so much the physical damage, you understand, although obviously you will have to be very careful not to, er, place any weight on quite a few areas.”
“I repeat, do I look thick? I am not totally lacking in restraint! And let’s be clear about this, I am taking my DI to my house, temporarily, so that I can look after the silly sod and stop him doing anything stupid! No other reason, got that?”
“Of course, Mr Hunt, and that’s ...admirable. Everyone here, er, admires the way you’ve given up so much of your time to help Sam through all this. No, it just occurred to me that in your ... position ... that is, not officially being family, as it were, it was quite possible that no-one had really prepared you for what’s going to happen over the next few months.”
“...few months?” Gene felt his heart sink.
“What I’m trying to explain, ... may I call you Gene?”
“DCI Hunt to you. Let’s not forget our places. Don’t want people talking, do we?”
The young man swallowed, and nodded. Sticking his hands in the pockets of his white coat, he continued.
“As I said, DCI Hunt, I just wanted to ... you see, so many doctors still see the patient merely as a collection of symptoms, but I like to think I can do better than that. Indeed, for me, Sam’s case goes a long way towards proving that ignoring the, ah, character and personality of the patient can be very counter-productive. Once Mr Bloomfield agreed to my suggestion that you should be allowed to visit whenever you wanted, the improvement in Sam’s rate of recovery was, if I say it myself, remarkable.”
“Look, if you’ve got something to say, spit it out. There’s a draught from bloody Siberia coming through this door and it’s going right up me jacksy, so if it’s all the same to you I think we’ll be on our way. I’d like to get Sam into the car before he dies of exposure!”
“Of course, Mr Hunt. I’ll be brief.”
“Well, that’s a blessing.”
“It’s just that, well, from what I know of Sam – Mr Tyler – he’s not going to find it easy being an invalid. He’s going to be chafing at the bit to get out of bed and back to work, and he’s going to find a prolonged period of convalescence very difficult. His type always do.”
He looked at Gene earnestly. “It’s not going to be easy for either of you. He’s going to be angry and frustrated, and he’s going to take it out on you. That’s not fair, of course, but it’s the way it is.”
Gene shifted impatiently but didn’t speak. He didn’t need anyone else casting doubts on his ability to look after Sam properly.
“I can see you don’t believe me, and I can understand that. Seeing you two together these past few weeks has been ... well, never mind that.
“But you need to appreciate that while Sam has been in here, he’s been able to blame us - the hospital - for his lack of progress, his confinement to bed, his continuing exhaustion, and you’ve been the breath of fresh air; the relief from it all if you like. Once he gets home, however, he’ll have no choice but to blame himself or you.
“And there will be blame, Mr Hunt, I’m sorry to say. Sam – Mr Tyler – doesn’t strike me as the placid sort who will accept what comes along and deal with it peacefully. He’s going to be angry and frustrated and you’re going to be the target for some very necessary letting off of steam. And any ... demands ... you might want to make, well, they’re only going to add to his feelings of being trapped, with you and by you. He’s going to see you as the cause of his troubles – his jailer, almost – and that’s going to alternate with a level of dependence and insecurity which, from what I’ve seen of you, Mr Hunt, you are going to find it difficult to deal with.
“I’m afraid this is going to be a very difficult few months for you both, Mr Hunt.”