Pairing - Sam / Gene
Rating - PG-13
Summary - Alex finally finds out what Gene has been hiding about Sam Tyler's disappearance.
Spoilers - All Life on Mars / all Ashes to Ashes to date.
Alex looked around the quiet station and saw the Guv sitting in his office, just the faint glow from the lamp on the corner of his desk and a bottle of scotch in front of him. Everyone else had left to go for a drink at Luigi’s ages ago but, when he hadn’t shown up, she’d come back to look for him. He’d been different today; sure he’d acted like his usual pig-headed, chauvinistic, insensitive self but she could see that his heart really hadn’t been in it. He’d even called her ‘Alex’ at one point, instead of Drake or Bolly. Despite the fact that he usually brought out the urge for her to slap him, she was concerned about him.
When she’d asked Chris, he’d merely said that the Guv was like this every year at this time and that he’d be fine tomorrow. Just leave him alone, Chris had told her before quickly changing the subject. Alex sighed; she was likely to get told to bugger off, but she knocked on his office door anyway and let herself in.
As she went in, he glanced up and as soon as he saw who it was, he moved something on his desk. He hadn’t been fast enough, though, and Alex had seen the photo; Sam Tyler, smiling for the camera. Now it made sense. She thought back to what she’d read in the case reports and wondered why it hadn’t clicked earlier. Today was the day it had happened; today was the anniversary of Tyler’s disappearance.
Alex sat down, but not before getting a relatively-clean coffee mug from the corner of his desk and pouring herself a drink.
“I was wondering where you’d got to,” she said.
He finished his drink and refilled his glass, ignoring her comment as though hoping she’d go away if he didn’t talk to her. A few minutes later, he glanced up again and sighed.
“What d’you want, Bols?”
She smiled. “Nothing. You just looked like you needed some company.” She took a sip of the scotch in her mug. “I know what day today is.”
Gene nodded. “Friday?”
“You can drop the act,” she said. “You miss him, don’t you?”
There was a long silence, Gene staring out of the window and avoiding looking at her. She’d almost accepted that he wasn’t going to answer when she heard,
“Yeah.” It was so quiet that she almost missed it. Alex leaned forward and slid the photograph out from under the pile of paperwork where Gene had hidden it when she’d come in. He noticed and snatched it back from her.
“I’ve no right to, but I do.”
Alex frowned. “I don’t understand.”
He set the picture down on the desk once more. “It was my fault. The crash.” He didn’t even look up at Alex as he spoke, his eyes fixed on the image of Sam Tyler.
Alex reached over and touched the back of his hand lightly, making him jump.
“I thought he crashed during a pursuit?” she said. “Didn’t he? If not then what really happened, Gene?”
“So you can put it in some report? No thanks.”
She shook her head. “No. I just want to help; you obviously need to talk to someone and you can’t exactly have a heart to heart with Chris or Ray, can you? I’m here as a friend, not your DI. Whatever you tell me won’t go beyond these four walls.”
He gave a half-hearted laugh. “No, ‘can’t exactly talk to them two.” There was another long silence and then, “Get your coat, Bolly.”
Alex found herself sitting on a bench in the park about five minutes later, jacket wrapped around herself to fight off the cool night air.
“Why decide to tell me now?” she had asked as they walked over here.
Gene sighed. “Tired of pretending he didn’t exist. ‘Sides, nosy bird like you’ll just keep asking.”
Alex smiled; at least when he was insulting her, he sounded like his old self. She didn’t argue with him, just sat beside him and let him talk.
“God, he was a poncy little pain in the arse,” he said, “but he kinda grew on you, you know? He was a good bloke and when the missus…well, I ended up sleeping on his sofa. That or the office. Not that his rat-hole of a flat was much better, mind.”
“It was more than that, though, wasn’t it?” Alex asked, the profiler in her reading his body language and facial expressions. “You and Sam were more than just friends?”
Gene looked at her sharply, anger in his eyes. “I’m not a bloody poofter,” he snapped.
“I’m not judging you, Gene. I can just see that you cared about him."
He sighed and looked away again. “Not like I expected it but Sam could be… persuasive. Little sod,” he muttered fondly.
“That night we were at a pub outside Manchester, a little out of the way place. We’d argued, and I said some things... We always argued; I thought he’d just tell me to shut up like he usually did. This time he didn’t, just took off in his car.” Gene looked out into the quiet park, remembering. “I tried to follow him but by the time I got there, the car was off the road. I called it in and we pulled the car out of the river but Sam wasn’t inside.”
“And you never found him,” Alex finished, remembering the report.
He shook his head. “No.” He took a deep breath before looking at her. “If I’d just kept my bloody gob shut he wouldn’t have taken off like that. He was upset; I should have stopped him leaving, taken his keys off him or something…”
“You can’t blame yourself,” Alex told him firmly.
Ignoring her, he said, “I told them we were pursuing a suspect; that’s how we ended up out there,” he told her. “I had to run the investigation, had to let ‘em all believe he was just my DI.”
“Didn’t any of the others know the truth?”
That earned her a disbelieving look. “Get real, bolly. D’you think I’d still be a DCI if they did?”
“I guess not,” she agreed. “It’s just that it’s different where I’m from.”
Gene frowned. “He used to say that, too. Talked about Hyde like it was a different bloody planet.”
She wondered if Chris and Ray had known, or suspected at least. She’d asked them about Tyler but they had been evasive, as though they knew more than they were willing to share with her. Maybe this was why.
Suddenly, Gene stood up and clapped his hands together. “Right, enough of this. Come on; we’re off to the pub. I need a pint,” he announced, signalling the end of the conversation.
Alex got to her feet to follow him, knowing that this moment of uncharacteristic openness was over. As they walked back through the streets, she thought how rough it would have been on Gene, to have to investigate his lover’s death, to not show that he was anything more than a colleague. Gene had tolerated years of speculation that he’d had some involvement in the crash, merely because he wouldn’t have been able to explain why he got there so fast, or why it seemed like he was hiding something from the investigation. He was, it just wasn’t what they thought it was. As they got to Luigi’s, he stopped her.
She could see how that one word was almost more uncomfortable for him than their entire conversation earlier. A conversation that she knew wasn’t likely to ever happen again. She nodded.
“Welcome. Now, let’s go inside and you can buy me a drink.”
She nodded to Shaz, sitting with Chris and Ray, as she made her way to the bar, receiving a warm welcome from Luigi. All the while she could hear Gene grumbling beside her about ‘bloody birds harping on about equal rights but as soon as they want a drink…’ She laughed; it was good to have him back.