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1/ My internet time just recently has been almost non-existant, ten minutes snatched here and there. Yesterday was the first time in ages I got anywhere near up-to-date with my flist, and even then not so much because it only goes back 999 entries and I was way further behind than that. Been missing LJ so much I spent my day yesterday fixing my Mum's computer so I could use her internet. She thinks I'm being helpful. Ha! I just hadn't read a Spuffy fic for 21 days and they don't make patches for that. Everyone seems to have been setting up other journals that aren't on LJ and this is bad. If there's some kind of mass exodus I'm never going to have the time to find you all again so just stop it, okay?

2/ I accidentally wrote a little Life on Mars fic, and I'm feeling a little bit ashamed of myself. Okay, very ashamed of myself. Because I really didn't like the second series. Each scene between Sam and Gene was brilliant, but as a whole, badly thought through rubbish. Far excelled by the fanfic I've read online. (Not by mine, sadly, but I can throw stones from my glasshouse if I want to. I'm far less ashamed of writing bad fic than I am of writing LoM fic.) I thought the writing was lazy and, well kinda crap, and Matthew Graham is a nasty little hack with no attention to detail who doesn't credit his audience with any intelligence, and, most crucially, thinks fandom is silly. That's enough of that. It's only a story and now it's ended. Go and read a good book.. Wanker. Should be shot. So you could say I've written a fanfic to spite him, but actually, I've written it because my mind is obsessed with DCI Hunt. Which means I should be shot, also. Little bit slashy, btw. Sam POV.

The clock on the wall outside the CID office told Sam he'd been standing in that drab corridor for seven minutes now. He felt no inclination to move any further. He'd had the same problem outside the lift downstairs, and again a few yards away outside the police station, and earlier that morning he'd thought for a good twenty minutes about leaving his flat. As a consequence he was already three quarters of an hour late for work, but still he couldn't bring himself to take the final step and discover whether or not he still had a job.

Not that Sam had done anything to deserve a firing. Not by his liberal 2006 standards, anyway, and what he had done was pretty excusable to his own mind. Saturday had been a hell of a tough day for him in two timelines. In 2006 he'd lain helpless as some nutter played a tune on his life support system and in 1973 he'd cheated death twice in a half-hour, on the roof of a building and in front of a car. Hardly surprising he had a bit of steam to blow off. The drunken darts and male bonding in the Railway Arms hadn't lifted the lid but rather heated the cauldron. Near death experiences produced too many endorphins to be entirely dampened with beer and after one too many hearty slaps on the back from his DCI Sam had slunk off before he did something he would've regretted. It was sheer bad luck that, come Sunday morning, he still had regrets.

In the cold air outside the pub he'd briefly considered looking up Annie at home, exchanging more than smiles, but couldn't be bothered with all the careful thought and conversation such a move would require. Besides, vanilla and soft words wouldn't have cut it that night. Sam had been strung out, worked up, in need of release. In need of something rougher and unashamedly sexual, and he'd found it.

Canal Street had been a world away from how Sam remembered. It had been a good few years since he'd ventured inside any of the pulsing nightclubs in anything other than a professional capacity - now it would be a few years more before the first neon sign went up. A gay scene to the people of 1973 was a Botticelli painting. Still, Sam found what he was looking for. A dingy basement club where men danced with men and a roughly stubbled, anonymous bloke who had caught Sam's eye after one dance and invited him outside for a joint. They'd walked and smoked and small talk wasn't necessary and the sex in a random back alley was just the vent he'd needed. Raw and real and then over.

He was only a man, after all. Working for months between the soft temptation of WPC Cartwright and the animal magnetism of the Gene Genie. Sam might be the kind of guy who buried his urges very deep but every now and then even the most self-contained of men needed an outlet. It was rotten luck that had brought DCI Hunt to the very same dingy back alley. Sam had no idea what his Guv had been doing there - but as he came down from his orgasmic high the haze had crystallized into two sharp green eyes staring at him from the corner of the back lane. There'd been no time for Sam to make excuses. One moment he'd been facing that impassive glare and the next Gene was gone. Sam's partner in crime had disappeared soon after and Sam Tyler had staggered home alone, deeply unsettled.

But that was before the booze and smoke had worn off. In the cold clear light of Sunday morning 'unsettled' wouldn't wash - the feeling was out and out fear.

Not shame or repentance - Sam's 21st century trained mind wouldn't allow that. This was hardly the first time Sam had gone out looking for a little rough and tumble with a member of his own gender and he'd never felt the need to dwell too much on the why of it or feel ashamed. Experimenting had been just fine in the nineties, almost expected. Even in 1973 blokes knobbing other blokes was no longer illegal. Okay, if you happened to let the other bloke knob you against a wall in a public place that was still a little bit illegal, but somehow Sam suspected it wasn't the venue his Guv would object to.

He wanted to be able to walk into work defiant, with his head held high, because he'd grown up in a world where that was the way to be. But this wasn't the world Sam grew up in. This was his fantasy. And the only thing that kept him grounded, that made him belong here, that gave him a sense of purpose, was his crummy job sweeping out the gutters of Manchester. An impossible job that kept him fighting. Breaking out was one thing, breaking out and waking up, but without that job, that purpose... If that was taken he wouldn't be breaking out, he'd fade away. And if Sam couldn't keep fighting here would he fade out in 2006 too? Would his brainwave activity decrease until even his mother gave up on him and pulled the plug? That was a whole heap of scary to wake up to with your Sunday morning hangover.

Sam's I-haven't-died-today high was a distant memory. He'd been close to pissed when he'd left the Railway Arms, a few more pints in the dance club and a few more tokes of a weed he hadn't touched since his training days had conspired to make the ending of his celebratory night more than a tad fuzzy. But no amount of substance abuse could blur the moment when he'd opened his eyes. Face still pressed against the brick wall, his nameless partner sweaty and panting against the back of his neck, familiar green eyes boring into his until Sam had looked away.

Sam had spent most of his day off trying to interpret the expression on that craggy face, each line and pore was burned onto his memory with perfect clarity but he could make nothing of it. Gene Hunt had taken inscrutability to an art form; his actions spoke loudest. And Gene had simply gone. That was a hard action to read meaning into but his silence was more ominous to Sam than any number of threats or punches.

This wasn't 2006. There were no employment tribunals to run to, no committee decisions. If the Guv said he was out of the force then out he was and crying discrimination would get him nothing but a kicking from coppers who didn't like queers.

And always lurking at the back of his mind was the suspicion that this was real. That no matter how impossible it might seem or how often his logical mind told him otherwise, he really was in 1973 and his real boss had really caught him getting buggered in an alley. No wonder, come Monday morning, he wasn't keen to rush into the office. Even in 2006 that tasty bit of gossip would have spread round the station, there'd have been smirks and whispers and maybe a disciplinary charge, he could only guess at the insults and abuse 1973 would mete out to a bisexual copper. He could deal with it from the likes of Ray. Because Sam was better than them, he knew better, and arrogance would carry him over and above their narrow minded hatred. But he wasn't so sure he could take it from Gene. He'd heard the contempt in his voice as he'd talked of Warren the bum-bandit and Sam didn't ever want to hear that contempt directed at him, not from the Guv, no matter how wrong or bigoted he might be. If 1973 was real then Gene's respect was the only real thing he had.

Though at least if Gene was real Sam hadn't made him up. That thought was no less scary. Sam could think of many sound psychological reasons for his injured mind to take him back to 1973, his formative years. Many theories as to why it might have created DCI Hunt. He was all the things Sam was afraid of being, or maybe all the things he was too afraid to be, the flip side of his subconscious, or just an authority figure to fight against. Nothing a decent shrink couldn't sort out for him in 2006. But for his mind to create a fat, alcoholic, homophobic dinosaur who was by no means pretty, and then lust after him? That was disturbed. To then imagine him seeing you getting fucked by another guy? Bordering on deranged. Any shrink from any decade would agree - just mental. At least if Gene was a real flesh and blood person made in the regular way Sam only had to factor in the lusting when trying to gauge his own sanity.

But fearing Gene's contempt, real or imaginary, wasn't the reason Sam could admit to himself as he stood like the pansy Gene would no doubt call him outside CID, afraid to go in. No, he was afraid for his job. His grounding thread, his tie to some kind of life.

He might have stayed in that corridor all day. Sam Tyler, whose best friends would describe him as an arrogant prick, standing outside a door like a scared child summoned to Headmaster. Only he wasn't in school, he was in a busy police station and the decision was taken out of his hands when Phyllis came bustling around the corner with an armful of files. With one hand already on the push plate there was no graceful way out but to push. Walk into the dragon's den. And never had a metaphor been so literal.

Ray's desk was empty, Chris had his head deep in a pile of paper, the door to the DCI office firmly closed. Sam headed straight for his desk but he reckoned without his Guv's famous nose, which Gene had once claimed could smell a man from Hyde at 200 paces in a tailwind. The office door was thrown open and Sam's surname bellowed with enough force to rattle the cups in their saucers.

By the time Sam's faltering step had carried him to the office Hunt was sitting behind his desk, leaning comfortably back, wearing the same impassive frown that was seered onto Sam's memory. He said nothing. In the silence, the office door closed behind Sam with a doom-laden click.

"Am I fired?"

He'd meant the words to be confrontational, defiant, but somehow his voice let him down. He sounded like the little boy in Headmaster's office. DCI Hunt leaned further back in his creaky desk chair and folded his arms across his chest with a theatrical sigh.

"God help us!"

Sam met Gene's glare with confusion. "Guv?"

"Well out with it, Sammy-boy. What have you done now? Arrested the Arch-deacon? The Super's wife? Told the commissioner you're in a coma and he's a figment of your imagination?"


"Come on, Tyler! This has got to be bloody spectacular - considering all the shit I haven't sacked you for. So get it off your chest, there's a good boy, so Uncle Gene can start burying the bodies."

It didn't take much to have Sam questioning reality, waking up in 1973 will do that to you, but until now there'd been consistency to his delusions. It seemed just this once his imagination was giving him a reprieve, or he'd never seen Gene at all. Which was strange. Sam might have conjured up an image of his boss, once or twice, in the few moments before he shot his load but never staring, with a hint of accusation, from the other end of a filthy alley. Fully clothed. And the mental picture usually came before the event, not after. But if it was a vivid hallucination... Well, by Sam's reckoning Gene was already a vivid hallucination, so didn't Sam seeing him make him as real as he ever was? But his DCI was giving him a look that contained neither disgust nor contempt. It was just the standard there's-a-man-from-Hyde-in-my-office-and-this-can-only-mean-trouble glare. After more than a day preparing for a real confrontation Sam was a little too surprised to think on his feet.

"There are no bodies, Guv."

"Well that's a bleeding start. And also a bleeding metaphor, you div. So what have you done?"

"Uh..." The thinking came a little quicker this time. "Nothing you don't already know about," he answered ambiguously. And it was true, as far as Sam knew, except this morning was all wrong, and if you can't predict the world you created in your own head... It had to be the pot, Sam decided. Dodgy 1973 gear that had him hallucinating his DCI at inappropriate moments. It was better than thinking he'd imagined that his strangely charismatic superior officer had caught him getting buggered. That it was pot conjured up by his imagination was something he'd put aside for now.

Gene snorted softly through his nostrils, eying Sam suspiciously. "Bollocks!" he said firmly. "Why would you think I'd sack you if you haven't made some spectacular cock-up? Confess now, Tyler, you'll get a shorter sentence."

"No cock-up." Sam winced at his own unintentional pun. Maybe Gene had simply been too drunk to remember seeing him, though his eyes had seemed clear and the man himself upright. "I just... You seemed angry... and... Um..."

"I am bloody angry!" Gene shouted. But it was his standard irritated-policeman shout and nothing more. "You don't waltz into work at ten o'clock on a Monday morning, you lazy little scrote. We've had two stabbings last night and there are blood patterns that have gone completely unanalysed. Where the hell have you been?"

Standing outside, too much of a coward to come in. But Sam kept those words to himself.

"Sorry Guv," he said instead. "Overslept."

Another snort from Gene. "Well get to it then, Tyler. Between the tapes and the reports and the endless farting around you might actually get something useful done. Though I'm sure it's usually by accident."

The relief was physical; Sam could feel every muscle relaxing. "Yes Guv," he said again, with a meekness that must have been suspicious to Gene. He turned to make good his getaway but he was Sam Tyler and he'd never really learned when to leave things alone. A puzzle unsolved was nearly as bad as being outted and unemployed.

"So did you go on to a club Saturday night?" he asked casually, with no segue and all the subtlety of an articulated lorry. Gene made a noise halfway between a grunt and a bark.

"This about Saturday night, is it?"

Damnit, did he know or not? His DCI's rock-like face was giving nothing away. Maybe that was a clue in itself - you didn't assume a poker face until you'd seen your hand. "Saturday night?" he asked cautiously. But Gene wasn't a copper for nothing and even without fists his interview technique could break a man. He waited, eyebrows raised. Sam cracked.

"I thought you were going to sack me, okay. You're always banging on about queers and fairies and I thought... If you knew..."

Gene interrupted with a raucous belly laugh. "Jesus, Tyler! Knew you were a bloody poof the first time I ever slammed you up against a filing cabinet. A poof and a kinky little bastard with it."

I'm not a poof, was the knee-jerk reaction, but again Sam kept quiet. If Gene didn't care about him being gay then Sam was happy to let him go on thinking it. Sam firmly quashed the little voice that pointed out that he wanted Gene to care, just not in that special beat-him-to-a-pulp way. And the little voice that suggested he leap over the desk and show the man just how right he was. That particular voice wasn't merely quashed, it was bashed over the head and put in a strait-jacket until Sam was drunk enough to release it again.

"I'm a flaming detective!" Gene went on. "And you, Sammy-boy, are as camp as a tentful of Brownies. Was obvious to anyone but an idiot you were a fairy from the minute you ponced in here with your clean smell and your filed fucking fingernails. Are you calling me an idiot?"

"No Guv. Sorry Guv."

"Strange to tell, Tyler, I couldn't give a badger's fart 'bout who keeps you warm at night."

"But Warren-"

"Warren was a cunt," Gene interrupted forcefully. It was the first time he'd heard the C word since he'd landed in 1973, though he couldn't disagree with his DCI's assessment. "You, on the other hand, are a bloody good copper, when you're not being a flaming nutcase. Now go get some work done."

"Yes Guv."

(For the Americans on my flist who have no idea what I'm talking about - you should just ignore me. I wrote stuff that's not got Spike in it. Nothing to see here.)
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June 2007

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