Title: Being There
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: 850
Spoiler: Major spoiler for 1.01 and 2.08 And it probably won’t make sense if you haven’t seen those episodes.
Summary: Gene wonders what will happen when that day comes around.
Author’s Note: This is a companion piece to Twice is Enough, taking place on the same day and leading up to the same moment.
Gene knew what was happening. He’d worked it out years ago. As things had started to come true, things that
Because it was all coming true. In the job, in the world. In his life.
There was never any danger of getting the date wrong. You don’t forget your own birthday, after all. And
Had been knocked. Whatever.
Which left the question of what to do. He’d thought about little else for months, although he hadn’t let
So he kept quiet and listened carefully to what
For a while he’d wondered whether he was supposed to do the thing himself.
He’d sweated over that; Sam might look up as he sped towards him, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to look into those bright young eyes and go through with it. The occasional pictures in the newspaper didn’t do justice to the successful man in the smart blue suit, but the younger Sam still looked like the gorgeous, annoying prat Gene had wanted from the moment he first clapped eyes on him. It would be easier to drive himself off the edge of the flyover.
So in the end, he decided to do nothing. Leave it to Fate. Coward’s way out, if you wanted to look at it that way.
And so here they were on Gene’s birthday, all waiting done. Still together as God intended, driving along the raised section built across the old bomb-site.
Gene knew to the minute when it would happen, because as soon as he’d realised it was all true, he’d quietly abstracted the RTA report from Sam’s personnel file. Date, time, place, all neatly logged for future reference, and hidden in Gene’s wallet these eighteen years.
He had to be close enough to know, but not close enough to see. He couldn’t bear that. So he’d chosen this route hoping he’d still hear the ambulance arriving to take a broken young man to be Gene’s long-ago future.
Sam was staring at the dashboard clock, he noticed now. Too strung up himself to be thinking clearly, Gene teased him in his usual fashion. “For God’s sake, Gladys, cheer up! You look like you’re going to your own funeral!” He could have bitten his tongue out. That was bloody tactful, even for you he thought. What if that’s the last thing he ever hears you say, you complete idiot.
Surreptitiously, he slowed down, and opened the driver’s window. Sam had his eyes closed now, and Gene hardly dared to breathe as he listened. The traffic was light at this time of day, but still the screech of brakes was at the outer limits of Gene’s hearing; he couldn’t be sure he hadn’t imagined it. He pulled over, hands clammy on the wheel as the car rolled gently to a halt. Sam didn’t notice; he was biting his lip as he lived through the moment again
Nothing happened for a while, which on the whole was probably good, Gene thought. He felt sick as he prepared to pull away, then he finally heard sirens on the lower level. Trying hard not to visualise the scene below, he was already accelerating smoothly as Sam jumped at the sound, opening his eyes and staring fearfully ahead.
Gene took a deep breath and tried to sound unconcerned as he said “ ’s OK, Sammy, it’s down on the sliproad, nothing we need to worry about.”
Seeing Sam’s face break into a grin as he said “I’m still here,” Gene smiled to himself, swallowing down his own relief. Daft beggar, always got to be talking about stuff. Not that I’m complaining.
He smiled across at the love of his life. “And I’m glad of it, yer great poof,” he said. Reaching across, needing the touch, he took Sam’s hand and squeezed it briefly.
“Best birthday present I ever had.”