Summary: Sam is arrested for murder
Rating: M - Mature Adults only (may contain drug references, violence, nudity, coarse language, sexual references, adult themes)
Warnings: Loosely based season one
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended
It had all started with a phone call in the early hours of the morning.
Gene had been barely awake as he crouched by the body that had been found just under the bridge by the canal, ghostly white in the pale blue pre-dawn light. Getting a call out on a homicide was never enjoyable, and at this hour of the morning, even less so, but this was something else again. Gene was suddenly glad he’d not had time for breakfast, as his stomach kicked up. This was nasty.
“Where’s Tyler?” he growled, lighting a fag in the near darkness.
“Dunno, Guv,” Chris answered. “Couldn’t raise him.”
“Well go and fetch him, he only lives just up over there,” he nodded to the row of run down flats at the top of the hill.
“You might want to see this first, Guv,” Ray interjected, quite serious, which caught Gene’s full attention instantly.
“Found it, in her pocket,” he nodded to the pile of discarded clothing nearby as he handed across the bloodied slip of paper, already bagged and labelled.
It was Sam’s address, and it gut punched Gene. He swung back to the body, and saw for the first time, clearly, the belt, still looped tight around her neck. Sam’s belt. He knew it. He’d had that same buckle slide through his own hands just hours ago.
“Right.” He stood, tossing his fag to the ground and grinding it in. “Seal off this area, get some tape or sheets whatever you have to and sealed it off. Nobody gets near this body without my say so. Take photographs of everything, absolutely everything. And get the science boys down here. Tell them I want everything tested.”
“Where are you going, Sir?”
“To see Sam,” Gene answered, resigned. “You stay here. I’ll take a couple of uniforms.”
Sam was asleep, lying face down and sprawled untidily across his bed, clumsily half dressed and oblivious to the pounding knocks on his door.
Finally the door was kicked in by DCI Hunt, followed by a couple of uniformed officers.
“Sam. Sam!” Gene barked in his ear and Sam stirred at last, bleary eyed and stinking of gin and vodka.
There were deep scratches on his face, including three long ones across his cheek, and his clothes were awry and covered in blood. There were long strands of bleached blonde hair on his jacket, and ejaculate staining his y-fronts.
Gene had been given no choice in the matter. None at all.
“Get your trousers on, Sam. We have to go.”
“Where? Now?” Sam asked, still half asleep, rubbing his eyes and fumbling for his belt, then forgetting it and pulling up his pants, zipping his fly. He couldn’t remember what had happened. He couldn’t remember how he’d gotten home.
“Gene?” he asked, but Gene couldn’t look him in the eye.
Gene bit down bitterly on what he had to do.
“Sam Tyler, I am arresting you on suspicion of murder.”
A PC pulled Sam roughly to his feet. Sam hissed, and Gene quickly snatched the cuffs off the uniform. Unable to do anything but go through the motions, Gene turned Sam around, doing it as gently as possible, holding Sam’s arms behind him and cuffing him, trying to get as much give out of the cuffs as he could.
“I’m sorry, I have no choice,” Gene whispered into Sam’s ear, and then he straightened.
Sam said nothing in the car, nor as he was photographed and then fingerprinted by Chris, so very carefully, and given a tissue to wipe his hands with afterwards. Nobody said anything. They were all reeling in shock and only the demands procedure kept them in motion.
“My hands,” Sam suggested quietly. “You should take a photograph of my hands.”
Chris glanced at the Guv, who nodded.
Sam held his hands out over the table, front and back, and Chris took a photo of each.
“My face, too,” he prodded.
Chris took another close of Sam’s face. Sam blinked away painfully from the flash.
“Right, that’s enough,” Gene stepped in.
“No. We do this right. You have to take my clothes. All of them.”
“Right. Chris, go get back to his flat, get him some clean kit.”
While Chris scurried off, Gene backed Sam into a corner.
“What are you trying to do?’ he growled.
“Everything has to be by the book.”
“Sam, you’re stitching yourself up.”
“Or it could be my only chance. Some stray hair of fibre that proves someone else was there. Gene, you have to help me. I know how these cases work.”
“So do I, and you’re not helping matters. You can’t remember anything?”
“Not a thing.”
Gene sniffed at him again. “I’m not surprised. I should sell you to the funny buggers on suspicion of being a Russian spy. You reek of vodka.”
“I know. You have to do a blood test now. Establish the amount of alcohol in my blood. It’s important. Do a tox screen.”
“Test for drugs. All of them. Anything. I feel, I feel like I’ve been drugged, and there’s a metallic taste in my mouth that isn’t just blood. I didn’t do this, Gene. On my life, I swear to you, I’ve been set up.”
“So you say. I wish you’d bloody stayed.”
“You can’t imagine how much I regret that.”
“Why did you leave?”
“Sam, do you have a brief?”
“Yes,” Sam answered dully, then remembered. “No.”
“I’ll get you one. You’re going to need one. This doesn’t look good.”
“But I didn’t do it. You believe me, don’t you? Gene?” he pleaded.
Gene kept his distance, all business. “It’s not what I believe. It’s what the evidence tells me. And right now, it’s telling me I have to lock you up for your own safety as much as anyone else’s. I’m sorry Sam. I’ve got no choice in the matter.”
Sam was led quietly to the farthest cell, uncuffed and the door slammed shut on him.
He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. Wake up now, please, he pleaded. No. He couldn’t be that lucky. Nothing happened. He was still stuck in the cell.
Gene didn’t say another word as he walked back alone, and no one dared speak to him. It was unspeakable. No one could believe Sam could be accused of such a thing, something so violent, so horrible. And yet, they all remembered the odd behaviour, the times when he’d seemed out of his mind or at least acting very strangely. Perhaps he’d just snapped. And so the whispers began.
Annie handed Sam a clean set of clothes and a couple of crinkly plastic bags to put his old clothes into, and stepped back into as far a corner of the cell as she could stand from him.
“You’ve seen me naked before,” Sam tried to fill in the awful silence.
“I know.” She didn’t budge.
“I won’t hurt you.”
“You’re charged with murder, Sir.”
“I didn’t do it.”
She nodded to his clothes, soaked in blood.
He could see it in her eyes. She’d put it together, this murder, his craziness. She thought he’d done it. She didn’t want to, but she did. Just standing there, Annie landed him the hardest blow of all.
Unable to speak, he quietly unbuttoned and unzipped his clothes, folding them neatly into the plastic bags. The concrete floor was ice cold under his bare feet, the damp air pricked at his bare skin before he pulled the clean clothes someone had fetched from his flat. He should have been stripped and searched straight away, but at least they were learning and doing it now. Procedure kept him in motion and he bagged his own evidence neatly and handed it over.
Annie had to step forward briefly to take the bundles from him, and then she was out of his cell like a scalded cat.
Sam leant against the cell door, then thumped his head against it harder, angry with himself, with everything. This couldn’t be happening. Please, somebody, get him out of here. Make it stop now. He’d had enough. He wanted to go home.
Annie almost threw the bags down on the Guv’s desk.
“No trouble then?” he asked.
“No,” she sulked, hating every minute of this. He’s being a model prisoner, so far. She walked out, but turned back at the last minute by the door, needing to say it, knowing she’d be sorry if she didn’t.
“Guv, you need to get somebody to look at him, a doctor. He was covered in bruises, with marks all down his back.” She hadn’t wanted to look, not at Sam, not then, not ever, but she’d seen the red marks and blotches, slowly deepening into bruises. She hated him, for doing that, for getting so obviously out of control, and she’d hated herself for saying nothing until it was too late.
The Guv just nodded, and she could see his thoughts weren’t that far off hers, that they should have done something about Sam, before now.
Gene pulled out the chair with a scrap, sat down and pressed down the record buttons on the tape deck.
“Right. Interview commenced at,” he glanced at his watch. “6.45am. Present are DCI Hunt, and the suspect, DI Sam Tyler. I am now showing the suspect photographs of the murder weapon, one large kitchen knife, found in his kitchen drawer, still covered in blood, very uncharacteristically grubby of him, I must say, not washing up after himself, his belt, found wrapped around the neck of the victim, a note, found in the victim’s pocket containing his name and address, his clothes, covered in the victim’s blood, and the victim’s own clothing, or what’s left of it, with traces of the suspect’s own blood on it, to wit, one bloody handprint. I am also showing the suspect photographs of the crime scene.”
He laid them out carefully like a hand of face cards, and Sam groaned and twisted away, not wanting to look.
Gene pressed on, anger bubbling just beneath the surface. “I am now going to ask the suspect if he can account for his whereabouts between 11 pm and five am.”
“I can’t,” Sam answered miserably, still staring at all the evidence on the table in numb horror, rubbing the knuckles of one hand in the other unconsciously.
“Right. Interview suspended at 6.50 am.” He thumped the tape recorder off.
Sam glanced at Gene nervously, suddenly dreading being on the wrong side of the desk. He’d seen what Gene could do, and he was slowly, too slowly, realising that Gene wasn’t, and couldn’t do him any favours.
Gene eyed him, cold and angry.
“You’re not helping yourself by staying schtum, Sam.”
“I’m sorry,” was all Sam could offer.
The tape recorder was pressed on again. Gene leant close over the little trestle table, over the horrible photographs, and spoke very low and soft.
“What happened, Sam? Did you get hungry on the way home?”
Sam rocked back as if struck.
“What are you saying? Do you think?” He spluttered.
Gene folded his arms, leaning back again.
“I don’t know what to think. I’ve got one of the most horrible murders I’ve ever seen, and one of my detectives charged with it. You keep telling me you don’t know what happened, but look at you, sitting there, with those scratches running down your face. She put up a fight, yeah? I bet we find that’s your blood type under her nails, and your spunk up her wotsit. This is bloody serious, Sam.”
Sam looked at him aghast. “You think I don’t know that? I told you I can’t remember what happened.”
“I think you don’t want to remember. Look at these photos, Sam. That’s your belt. She’d been in your flat. We found hairs all over the bed, and it’s not the first time you’ve taken a prozzer home, is it?”
Sam reeled back again.
“That was different.”
“Was it? I seem to recall she ended up dead too. Or is that just coincidence?”
“Gene, please, this is me, Sam.” He was begging now.
“I know,” Gene answered quietly. That’s what made this all so horrible.
“I didn’t do it.”
“You don’t know what you did. You keep telling me you don’t remember. That’s not exactly a declaration of innocence, is it? I can smell why you can’t remember. You’re practically sweating gin. What, did you crawl into a bottle or three after, or before and during as well?”
Gene thumped the table. Hard.
“No. I’m conducting this investigation and this interview. I ask the questions. And I expect answers. Where were you last night?”
Sam shook his head. “I can’t,” he offered weakly, glancing at the tape.
Gene smacked the recorder off.
“Can’t or won’t. You have to say something Sam.”
“It’s 1973. I still have a right to remain silent.”
Gene fumed. “Don’t you dare start playing silly buggers with me,” he warned.
Sam glanced around the room wildly. Why not? This was all a joke. Some horrible, nasty joke. He started to weep, openly now, tears sliding uncontrollably down his face. Please, he could he wake up now?
“Right.” Gene gathered up all the evidence back into his file, making notes. “This is serious, Sam. You are being charged with murder. If you won’t help me, there’s nothing I can do.”
“Gene, please,” Sam begged quietly. “You’ve got to help me. You know me, you know I could never…”
Gene leant close again.
“I do know you, Sam. And that’s the problem, isn’t it?” He leant real close. “I think you’re bloody dangerous.”
As Sam sat there gaping, Gene elaborated in a low, tightly controlled voice.
“You’ve got me compromised. I shouldn’t even be handling this investigation but there’s no one else. And I’ve seen you lose it, and I did nothing. This is my fault. I’m to blame. If I’ve done something, maybe none of this would have happened and we wouldn’t be sitting here. It’s my mess. I’ve got to clean it up.”
Sam just sat there, unable to speak.
“That’s your statement then? Nothing to stay? Right.”
Gene stood up, knocked on the door, and handed Sam over to the uniform who was waiting outside, listening for the tell tale thumps, letting the uniform pull Sam up by the collar and lead him back down to his cell. Gene had no stomach for doing it himself. He saw, as Sam went, that he was bleeding, down the back of his shirt, but he wasn’t surprised, the dead prozzer had nails on her like talons.
Gene shut the door and leant back against it in the now quiet near darkness. He suddenly covered his face with his hands and doubled over as one terrible sob escaped him, then he recovered himself, wiping his eyes and just breathing in the darkness. Then he thumped the table in a sudden flash of fury.
Damn you, Sam. What had you done now?
Sam leant back against the wall, trying to remember the night before, but all he had were wisps of memory that flitted beyond his reach. A flash of Gene trowing him up against the wall, pinning his wrists. He remembered grinning, telling Gene to bring it on, and the hard hungry kisses that had followed. He remembered rolling in sheets naked, Gene beneath him. He remembered kissing Gene all over his shoulders, throat and cheeks before he plunged into his mouth again. He remembered drawing back and catching Gene’s eyes for a moment. He remembered those eyes, he remembered knowing, absolutely, in that moment, that Gene had given himself to him, totally and completely, and he’d been heady with knowing that, grazing kisses over Gene’s skin, knowing Gene was his, and his alone.
“Did you come?” he asked, snapping back to the present.
“Did I what?” Gene asked, startled and offside by such a question.
“Last night. I can’t remember much but I think I remember you coming hard, like you were going to blow your brains out your ears.”
Gene snorted. “You’re not that good, Sunshine.” Though in truth, he couldn’t remember a more powerful moment. It had shaken him to his core and left him high on a cloud, and he would have stayed on that cloud if he hadn’t had that damn phone call. Bloody Sam, he couldn’t leave him alone for a minute.
Sam was trying to remember again, head tilted back against the wall, eyes closed, throat exposed. God, he was so lovely like that, so damn inviting. Gene’s prick twitched in anticipation, but he ignored it. Not here, and not now, no matter how provocative Sam was being.
It stopped Gene hard with a slap, knowing, again, that he had to do everything in his power to get Sam out of here. If Sam went into the general prison population, he’d end up damaged or dead, and if by some miracle he did survive it, he wouldn’t be Sam any more.
“I wish you’d stayed the night,” Gene complained again. Letting Sam walk out that door was proving to be one of the worst mistakes of his life. “I could have been your alibi.”
“No,” spoke Sam, but with great love and respect. To admit to such a thing would destroy them both, and he wasn’t about to take Gene down with him. “No,” he repeated, just in case Gene was harbouring any residual ideas of making a heroic sacrifice.
Sam couldn’t remember anything of that night after he’d left Gene’s house. He remembered walking down the street, he remembered it being cold and there being no taxis about. After that, nothing. He couldn’t remember getting back to his flat. He couldn’t remember anything except waking up to find Gene standing grimly over him. He tried, but he couldn’t even get flashes or even the tiniest strand of memory.
He knew he’d been beaten up because there was a nasty, swollen cut on the back of his head. He was covered in bruises and scratches, especially along his arms and across his face, both defensive and offensive injuries. From the state of his hands, his grazed knuckles, he’d tried to fight back, whatever had happened to him. And there was blood. His own blood, and the blood all over his clothes. Someone else’s blood. Her blood.
So much blood they’d finally taken his clothes away to forensics and Gene been forced to send someone back to his flat to fetch new clothes. Sam had seen the way Annie had looked at him, him dressing, bare and naked in the cell. She thought he was guilty. She didn’t want to, but the doubt, it was there.
He wished and pleaded with himself to remember what had happened, but he couldn’t.
“Why did you go home? Why did you leave?” Gene finally gave voice to the questions that had been eating away at him since last night.
“I was happy,” Sam answered simply, and Gene looked at him as if he were daft. Sam summoned up what reserves he had to try and explain, the effort showing a little on his face.
“It was perfect, just perfect. I didn’t want to ruin it by staying too long, or getting into a fight. So I left. I just wanted to keep it perfect, in my head. I just wanted to remember what it felt like, the moment I knew I loved you, without having anything else happen to ruin it. I just wanted to walk home on a high, and remember that perfect moment.”
Gene looked like he was about to weep.
“Don’t,” Sam warned. “It’s all right. I still have that moment. It’s the only thing I remember. Until you woke me up and arrested me.”
That was the second punch and this time Gene had to get up and walk away, leaning on the cold concrete wall, covering his face and taking several deep breaths.
Sam said nothing. He kept sitting there, watching Gene in silence. The moment was long since gone, but not entirely forgotten, but he had nothing left to offer to Gene, not right now. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. He had nothing left.
Several long minutes passed, marked only by the too loud ticking of Gene’s watch in the cell.
“I’ve been set up,” Sam finally announced dully to Gene, who was still sitting beside him patiently, waiting for the smallest clue or change in Sam’s story.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Gene agreed bitterly. Deep in his heart, he knew Sam couldn’t do it. He was a different kind of crazy. “Somebody has stitched you up good and proper, and the line of people you’ve pissed off enough to do it would stretch out of the station.”
“Why?” Sam had to ask, but Gene couldn’t answer. Why this, and not a bullet? Somebody really wanted to cause Sam pain, which narrowed it a little.
Gene leant against the wall, gazing at the far corner of his office, remembering last week. Christ, had it only been a few days ago? It felt like decades.
Sam had been fast asleep on the ratty old sofa in the corner, the folder he’d been reading still clutched on his chest. Poor bugger, he must have been knackered. Gene hated to wake him, but he couldn’t have him sleeping there all night.
Gene moved in to shake him awake, but at the last moment thought of something better and crouched down by Sam, gently kissing him on the lips.
Sam stirred, waking into the kiss, then three seconds later his brain kicked in and he remembered where he was and he sat bolt upright scattering his papers onto the floor.
“Steady now, Sam” Gene teased softly in the dim and darkened and near empty CID. Nobody could see them, he was pretty sure.
“Here,” he handed Sam both his papers and his coat while Sam blearily rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. “I’ll drive you home. No arguments, you’re asleep on your feet.”
He stood back and offered Sam his hand and drew him up beside him, helping him on with his coat.
“You’re not having trouble sleeping again, are you?” he asked, concerned.
“No,” Sam lied, a little too brittle. “No, I’m fine. Long day, that’s all.” He brushed Gene off and led the way out of the office.
Gene watched the ghostly memory of Sam walk past him. He’d been having trouble sleeping. It made Gene’s skin prickle. Sam had seemed on an even keel, he’d kept the silliness to a minimum. He’d been a bit tired and distracted, but they all were. Gene had enjoyed the luxury of thinking everything had settled down. But what if it hadn’t? What if Sam had just been keeping it from him, and inside Sam’s head, things had been a strange as ever. What if he had snapped? What if those voices he heard had told him to do this?
Well, he’d have an insanity defence in the bag, that was certain, but not entirely helpful. Gene didn’t want to believe Sam had done this. He wanted to believe Sam was innocent, but on the evidence, it wasn’t looking good for Sam, not at all.
Six hours. Six fucking hours. Nobody had seen Sam since he’d left Gene’s house, not that Gene had disclosed that particular morsel of information, Sam’s last known whereabouts being officially listed as The Railway Arms, two hours earlier, until he’d been arrested in his flat. Nobody could account for his movements, least of all Sam. There were no witnesses, no alibi.
It was highly suspicious, because normally people did see Sam, down at his local shops for a pint of milk and the paper at least, but not this weekend. Sam had just vanished.
Gene glanced in, checking on Sam, who was curled up in one corner, asleep by all appearances. Gene didn’t like it. In his experience, only the guilty slept like innocent babes in the cells.
“He’s been sick twice,” Phyllis elaborated with distaste, but she’d made sure it was cleaned up anyway.
“Has he said anything?”
“Not a word. I thought he’d be screaming to be let out. It’s not like Sam, to take something like this lying down.”
No, it wasn’t.
The key rattled hollowly in he lock and the heavy door scrapped back as Gene let himself in. Sam didn’t stir, not even a flutter.
Worried, Gene checked for a pulse. It was there, as steady as the tick on his watch, but Sam’s skin was cold, nearly ice cold to the touch.
“Sam, Sam. Wake up, Sam,” he tried rousing him, dragging Sam up until he was leaning against the cold concrete wall, trying to rub some warmth into Sam’s hands and arms. Gene brushed Sam’s cheek tenderly.
“You’re cold,” Gene answered Sam’s bleary blinking. “You should have a blanket.”
“Not allowed. They’ve put me on suicide watch,” Sam sulked dully, knowing it must have been Gene who had so ordered it.
Gene ignored the taunt, rubbing Sam’s hands between his own. Gene stared hard at Sam, noticing the way he seemed to have trouble focusing, the way he occasionally slurred a word. Mind you, he smelt like he’d drowned in a vat of vodka, so it was hardly surprising. There was also the shock of being arrested, the shame, the psychological torture of being shoved in a dank little cell. It affected all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. His eyes were large and dark and he was far less lucid than before. There was dried blood on his collar and dried patches dribbled down his neck. Gene tilted Sam’s head slightly and found the swollen bruise, poking it.
Sam swore sharply and wrenched away, but at least he’d reacted.
“Somebody’s given you a thumping.”
“Don’t remember.” Sam sulked.
“I’ll see if I can get you something,” he offered and left.
Gene came back with a thick sheepskin coat. Thick enough, he hoped, to make it at least difficult for Sam to tie into knots.
Sam sat quietly while Gene put it on him and buttoned it up carefully. It was like dressing a small child. But then, there was something very subdued and childlike about Sam right now, as though he’d sunk deep into himself. Sam’s unsettling silence worried Gene greatly. Prisoners this quiet usually only meant one of two things: they were as guilty as sin or they were going to be dead by morning.
“Hold tight, Sam. I’ll get you out of here,” Gene promised.
Sam tilted his face up to him at last.
“I know you’ll try. Any word on the bloods yet?”
“Yes, they’re a match.”
Sam nodded. They knew it would.
“Somebody’s stitched you up good, Sammy boy. I’d ask if you had any enemies, but the boys have been out half the night rounding up the usual suspects. You’ve made waves, Sam, and waves come back on you.”
“I know. Can’t be Warren, he’s banged up.”
“My first port of call tomorrow. Sam, think-“
“I can’t. Not in here.”
“All right,” Gene acknowledged, though he couldn’t see much else for Sam to do but think.
Gene straightened up, buttoning his own coat.
“Right then, I’ll be off now, but I’ll check back in a couple of hours.”
‘You should get some sleep,” Sam advised, concerned.
“You must be joking,” Gene fobbed him off.
“Gene,” Sam called as he turned to leave. “Why do you think I could kill myself, but not commit murder?”
“Because I know you, Sam,” Gene spoke softly, and stooped to impulsively brush Sam’s pale lips with a kiss.
Sam grabbed him, clung to him, but Gene pulled free. Not in here, not now. One of them had to be thinking like a policeman.
“I’ll get who did this, Sam. I promise.”
Sam nodded, and Gene closed the heavy iron door on him with a horrible, heavy clunk.
“Keep an eye on him,” he asked of the WPC hovering outside. “I’m really worried about him. “
“Did he do it, Sir?’ Annie had to ask.
Gene snorted. “Of course not. Psychotic our Sam is at times, but never homicidal.”
Gene shook him awake as gently as he could, but Sam still woke with a shock, shaking, ready to fight.
“It’s only me,” Gene soothed as Sam woke properly and sat up, rubbing his eyes.
“I’ve brought you tea.” He held out the tray to Sam.
“Not hungry,” Sam sulked.
“It’ll help,” Gene persuaded, and Sam took the tray off him reluctantly. He lifted the metal lid to find a pie beached on a sea of brownish mushy peas which he poked at, not really interested.
“This isn’t what the other prisoners got, is it?”
“No. I went out and got it for you especially.”
Sam sank back, folding his arms.
“I’m not supposed to be getting any special treatment.”
“Well, you are. You’re one of us, and it’s going to be special treatment the whole way whether you like it or not. You’re not an ordinary prisoner, you’ll be a cop, in prison, and that’s very special, and you’re my DI. The papers are going to have a field day for a start, never mind the rumblings from upstairs.”
Sam blanched at that. “The papers? Do they know?”
Gene shook his head.
“Nothing in the early edition.”
Sam looked up at Gene wearily.
“You’ve got to go to the press with this. They’re be all over it in the morning. In cases like this, you need to get out in front of it first, make a statement, show them you’ve got nothing to hide.”
“Sam, you’ll be torn apart out there.”
“I don’t care. It’s over for me. I’m thinking of you. Don’t cover up. Be transparent. Show them you’re not afraid to investigate your own. No favours, Gene. Promise me.”
“I don’t need your bloody sacrifice,” Gene muttered, bitter and upset.
“It’s too late for me. You know it. I know it. Save yourself. Please. Go to the press first. Make a statement. Give them the facts. They can’t speculate or whip up wild rumours if you’re out there and honest.”
“Sam, if I could…”
“I know. Just go. Please. Before the morning editions hit the streets.”
“I’ll tell our side of the story.”
Sam shook his head. “They won’t believe you. They evidence all points to me and I’ve got no alibi.”
“You should have stayed the night.”
“That would have hardly have helped matters. As it is, you should distance yourself. You’re too involved.”
“No chance. This case is mine.”
“You’re not thinking clearly. You shouldn’t even be in here with me. Not like this.”
Gene was genuinely offended.
“Don’t get like that with me, Sam. Remember who you’re speaking to. I’m your mate and I’m your DCI. I am not going to let you swing for this. You don’t need a lawyer around me, I’m not trying to trick you. I’m trying to get you out of here. Now tell me again what happened.”
“I don’t remember!”
Sam sank back, annoyed and exhausted.
Sam was right about the press, though, which was why Gene was now outside the offices of the Manchester Gazette, as promised, sharing a cigarette with Jackie Queen while she wrote down everything he told her.
At first she’d thought this was a wind up, him calling her at that hour, making her come here, in person, when a simple phone call could have done it. Now she saw why Gene Hunt had wanted to handle this personally, why he was only speaking to her, why he was begging her not to do a hatchet job on Sam.
“He’s a good copper. You know he is. This is a fit up, a bit of tit for tat as a result of another ongoing investigation.”
“Sam was getting close?”
“I’d rather not say.” To be honest, Gene had yet to narrow down the list of suspects with a grudge against Sam to a single page.
“He didn’t do it, Jackie.”
“How do you know? You just told me all the evidence looks like he did do it. Are you sure you aren’t letting your emotions cloud your judgement?”
He gave her a sharp look.
“What the hell do you mean by that?”
She changed tack. “How well do you know Sam. I mean, really? He’s new, isn’t he? New to the division, not really fitting in, causing a bit of friction. You don’t really trust him.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Do you? Really? I’ve seen you second guess him. And I’ve heard things about Sam. I’ve heard the talk.”
“Yeah, well, he might be a bit strange but he’s not a killer.”
“He’s a police man. You’re all trained to kill. What’s his record like? Has he killed in the line of duty before?”
“A life is a life, Chief Inspector. I’m just warning you, this story might not end the way you want it to.”
Gene said nothing, chewing on her words.
“Just tell ‘em he’s helping us with our enquiries. No lurid details. I don’t want a complete circus confusing the issue.”
“Alright, Gene. Just this once. But you owe me, and I’ll want a direct line to you for any follow up I need to do, and I want to be the first to know about any new developments.”
“On my word, Jackie,” he promised.
She wanted to snort and throw his promise back at him, but he was being sincere. He needed her help to try and keep a lid on it, and she wondered if she was selling out, by agreeing to such a deal. Would having a direct line to the DCI be worth letting him control what she was told? Well, if he stiffed her, he’d be sorry, and it would all come out. All of it.
She threw her cigarette butt on the ground and crushed it with the tip of her shoe.
“See you, Gene. I’ve got a deadline to make. You have got my number?”
He patted his coat pocket.
And that was it. The deal was done. At least Gene hoped it was. He wanted to keep Sam’s name out of the papers as much as possible, but Jackie had asked some hard questions about Sam, and he didn’t like thinking about the answers. Not one bit.
Gene’s next interview wasn’t any better. In fact, things went from bad to worse.
Warren sat back and beamed at him across the desk, the cheeky bastard.
"DCI Hunt, what a pleasure. Anything I can help you with? Not having trouble with any of your lads are you? Your golden boy?"
He'd heard. Of course he had. He'd probably known before Gene had. In fact, Gene was sure of it. Smug bastard.
Gene tried to school his features into rock hard indifference, but it was impossible, his feelings for Sam were there to anyone with eyes. Sam was the one chink in Gene's armour that could be breached and broken open.
Warren had seen that tell, he'd seen it before, and he slipped the knife in again.
"Dreadful business," Warren was shaking his head. “What will you do?" He rocked back. "You don't think I had anything to do with it?"
"Did you?" asked Gene flatly, too tired to play this game.
"Why should I? Why would I waste time teaching a snivelling little shit of a DI to respect his elders and betters when I'll be getting out of here any day now. That conviction won't stick, my brief is appealing."
"Good luck with that." Gene dismissed, ready to leave. If Warren had done it, he'd be bragging about it quite happily now. He had always been one to sign his work, just so you knew who had shafted you. Nor did Gene doubt that Warren might be out shortly, he'd be naive to think Warren's influence stretched only as far as a bent DCI.
He leant forward suddenly, leaning in real close, his voice real low.
"If it wasn't you, then somebody's on your patch, calling the shots and passing themselves off as you. This had your fingerprints all over it and I’d be happy to fit you up for it, just for old time’s sake. Somebody is being very cheeky, if you’re not spinning me a line of bull about it having nothing to do with you. I'd look into that if I were you, unless you want to go back to pushing a barrow when you get out."
This time it was Warren who dropped the act, just for a second, and Gene knew he'd struck home. One of Warren's lieutenants must have been getting uppity, throwing his weight about, and would be needing a short sharp lesson in the chain of command.
Then Gene's brief victory fell to ashes. He'd let his anger get the better of him, played his hand too soon. If Warren cleaned house, Gene would never find who did this to Sam, it'd just be another body fished out of the canal.
Warren was smiling at him again. He knew it, too. He could still stick it to Gene, and that was like savouring his best brandy.
'So glad you dropped by, Chief Inspector," he taunted.
Gene shot him off a snarl of a look, but there was nothing he could say or do. He'd done enough. Aside from alerting Warren to problem in his organisation, Gene had once again demonstrated to anyone who mattered that he could be got at through Sam. It was a fine morning's piece of work.
Gene walked straight past the front desk on the way to the cells, despite Phyllis trying to hold him up.
“He’s not there,” she called after him.
That stopped Gene in his tracks. Slowly, he turned.
“Where,” he demanded, with menace.
Phyllis back up a bit, knowing full well the Guv was likely to kill the messenger, in the mood he was in.
“Hospital. They had to take him to hospital. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. He asked for a cup of tea, he seemed fine. Annie only turned her back on him for a minute or so.”
“Ten minutes at the most. He smashed the cup. Why on earth would he do that?”
“Why wasn’t I called?”
“We didn’t want to broadcast it.”
Gene pulled open the cell door and was stopped short by the dark, sticky puddle of slowly congealing blood. Sam’s blood. It had been walked in, slipped in and skidded through by several sets of boot prints: the ambulance men, for two, and Chris, who’d been the one to find Sam. If Chris hadn’t popped in on the spur of the moment to check on Sam, Sam might very well have died, having precisely timed his suicide attempt between welfare checks. The calculating little bastard. Even now, Gene saw the sheepskin coat, neatly folded on the bunk. Sam hadn’t wanted to get bloodstains all over it.
The stupid bastard. That he should care more about that than…Gene couldn’t finish that thought. He tried not to think about Sam, just the facts of the case. He tried not to think about whose blood it was pooled at his feet, but he couldn’t help himself. It must have been cold, leaning against that concrete wall, feeling the blood drain out of him, drop by drop. In fact it had been too cold. It had been the one thing Sam hadn’t factored in, that it was damn cold in the cells, and it had screwed up his chances of bleeding to death before anybody found him.
Thank god for Chris. He’d taken charge, gotten the ambulance in and told Phyllis not to advertise it over the radio. Gene was out working the case, and there was no point telling him until they had news to tell. Gene had wanted to throttle Chris, but it’s what he would have done.
It was Phyllis, standing behind him, unsure of what he was up to, unable to judge his mood.
“Get somebody to clean that bloody cell out,” he growled at her as he stalked past her, not wanting to talk to any one.
That at least saved Phyllis from a bollocking. Gene just nodded curtly and left.
By the time he got to the hospital he was told Sam had been moved to his own room, and there he found the room crowded with a doctor, a nurse, and that bloody plonk.
“Outside, now,” he growled, and they all started to leave. “Not you.” He held the doctor back, trapping him against the wall as though interrogating a suspect.
“He had a go at slashing his wrists. Fortunately the cuts aren’t very deep, so there’s no real damage, but he did loose a lot of blood. A lot of people get it wrong and cut across the wrist, but he knew what he was doing, well, as much as person attempting suicide can be said to know what they were doing. I understand this man was in custody?”
“We had him on suicide watch but I just can’t get good help these days.”
The doctor glared coldly at Gene.
“Should I report you?”
“For what?” Gene asked dully, feeling knocked from pillar to post.
“Police brutality. I don’t know what you did to him but you damn nearly killed him.”
“Eh?” Gene was confused.
“Didn’t you beat him up as well?”
“Nobody laid a finger on him,” Gene protested. "No, that happened before we got our hands on him. He can't tell us what happened."
"I'm not surprised. He's taken a very bad blow to the head, causing a serious concussion. That's what I'm really worried about. He should have had medical attention before now."
"He was walking and talking under his own steam," Gene disagreed. “He could have done this to himself.”
“Could he?” The doctor unfurled the x-rays and held them up to the light in an extravagant gesture.
“He did this all to himself: the broken ribs, the internal injuries and a concussion?”
“He what?” Gene just looked blank.
“You really should have had him seen to by a doctor when you’d arrested him. They could have told you about the scratches and bruises, both offensive and defensive wounds. He’d been battered and restrained, there were marks on his wrists and ankles from being bound with some small ply cord, it had cut deep into the skin. I know he’d had sex recently, so I can’t tell you whether it was consensual or not, and believe me, I’ve seen some things in my time, but given his more serious injuries, that someone really gave him a hiding, and that they’d been very careful to land body blows where it wouldn’t show as much, around the torso, I’d have to say that this man was tortured against his will. I could have told you all of this if you’d brought him in here first. You tell me he’s a murder suspect? I’d say he was the second victim, and that you’re lucky you’re not looking at a double homicide.”
Gene said nothing, doing his best impersonation of a brick wall.
“Looks like he fought back, he even broke his fingers, though that might have been done for him, it’s hard to tell.”
The doctor held the x-rays up to the ceiling light again so Gene could see, as if the abstract shapes meant a thing to Gene, who was a bit squeamish about the whole thing to start with, to be honest.
“Then there are the two broken ribs, here, and here. Your man took quite a beating. It looks like they gave him a really good kicking, even when he was down.” He pulled down the sheet and lifted up Sam’s hospital gown with clinical brutality so Gene could see the bruises, now stormy dark on the pale skin.
Fuck. Gene had to look away.
“There’s a lot of soft tissue damage. We’re worried about internal injuries, especially to the kidneys. There was some blood in his urine, so we’re keeping a close watch on him.”
Gene was shocked.
“That’s serious, isn’t it?”
The doctor gave him a withering look, reserved for idiots and policemen. “He could have died.”
Gene had stepped back, defeated a little, and the doctor could clearly see now that the DCI at least wasn't the cause of the man's injuries, first impressions to the contrary.
“He never said, he never said a word. When we had him in the cells, not a word. Stubborn bastard.”
“He might not have been fully sensible to all his injuries. He would have felt it, but he probably doesn’t remember it. That blow to the head would have been disorientating, and his blood tests came back with a dangerously high reading for alcohol and heroin.”
That shocked Gene. “He’s not a user, or a heavy drinker.”
“I know. His liver would be shot if he was, and there’s only one puncture mark, and it’s at an awkward angle. I’d say, if the blow to the head and the defensive wounds happened first, there’s no way he’d have been able to inject himself. Not there.”
The doctor carefully laid out Sam’s hand on his own.
“See the knuckles. He went down fighting. They knocked him down and then drugged him to keep him down. It wasn’t a fair fight . He would have been in shock, and they dosed him to the eyeballs, though whether they were trying to kill him or just make him manageable, I couldn’t say. By all accounts he should have passed out in the middle of all of it – a small mercy.”
“How can you be sure that’s what happened?”
“He wouldn’t have been able to put up such a fight with that much junk inside him. There were also some marks on his wrists, from restraints, handcuffs, most likely, and this bruise here.” He turned Sam’s forearm slightly outwards. “That almost looks like a handprint, as though somebody grabbed him really hard, probably forcing his arm behind his back. He’s lucky they didn’t break it. I thought it must have happened when he was arrested. Now, help me roll him a little.”
Gene did as he was told, numb.
“As you can see, he’s been beaten quite severely. This was quite deliberate, as if someone wanted to make a point of it.” There were bruises and welts cross hatched all the way down Sam’s back.
“But that isn’t the worst of it.”
Gene blanched. There was worse?
The doctor gently rolled Sam back again.
“There evidence of sexual abuse. We found semen, and a lot of soft tissue damage.”
Gene just looked stony and said nothing. The doctor assumed Gene was shocked or repulsed. He didn’t know the half of it.
Gene wished bitterly he’d used a rubber. He’d always feared discovery, it was a deep dread that hovered over him like a cloud, but he’d never expected it to be so clinical. He’d never expected that what had been a romantic moment, wanting nothing, absolutely nothing between him and Sam could be now used against him.
Ruminating on his foolishness, he was caught entirely unprepared for what the doctor said next.
“From the injuries there's also evidence he was sodomised, quite brutally Not only by a person or persons unknown, but by a blunt object as well, something like a broom handle, or one of those truncheons you carry around?"
Gene shook his head, focusing on the detail. "He doesn't carry a truncheon, he's a DI, but I know he keeps one, back at his flat, it's a rough neighbourhood."
"He's a police officer? Then what was he doing in the cells? I thought he was a murder suspect. He isn't the one…"
"He didn't do it. But somebody's done him over, good and proper.”
“Some might argue that he liked it a bit rough and paid for it, all of this, but with that blow to the head and the rest of it, it’s too much, it goes too far, I doubt very much it was in any way consensual.”
“But the lab found evidence, semen on his clothes.”
“It can happen, an erection, even when being tortured. Of course, it could have started out as good clean fun. Her pimp could have shown up.”
“No, it wasn’t like that. Sam’s not like that.”
“No? I read something about another prostitute who ended up with her throat cut.”
“Where did you read that?” growled Gene.
The doctor shrugged. “It was in one of the papers.”
Bastards. Somebody had been speaking out of turn. Gene would have their guts for garters when he found out who.
Gene turned away from the doctor, from the x-rays he’d been holding up to the light, from Sam, still unconscious in the bed. He was still reeling inside. He just hadn’t thought, he hadn’t wanted to think. He’d seen some of the bruises, the marks on Sam’s wrists, but he hadn’t wanted to say anything. He’d thought they were his, his marks on Sam. He had thought he had been the one who had done those things to Sam, in the heat of the moment.
Worse, in the back of his mind had been the thought that Sam had picked someone up on his way home, a cheap fuck in a park or a laneway, just to cap off the night. It had been such a great night, just the two of them, alone in his house together, no one to see or hear them. They’d been free, and it had been powerful. He couldn’t understand why Sam had left. He couldn’t understand how Sam could have wanted more.
Sam hadn’t. Someone had done this to him. All of it.
“I’m sorry,” he spoke at last.
The doctor regarded him sympathetically. “I can write it all up for you in a report, especially the bit about him being restrained. It could be useful. It’s hard to commit murder when your hands are tied behind your back.”
“You do that,” Gene agreed, the process of collecting evidence tiding him over. “Nobody but you, or that nurse or that plonk come in here, alright? He's under protective police custody."
"I thought they only did that for Mafia witnesses."
"And police officers who piss off the wrong people."
The doctor finally left him alone with Sam, and Gene sat down heavily in the chair beside the bed, still warm from a policewoman's nice round buttocks.
"Jesus wept, Sam," was all he could say.
Sam was asleep, sedated heavily, no doubt, and probably a good thing, too. His wrists were bandaged thickly and he was hooked up to bags of blood and whatnot. He looked so pale, and Gene could really see the bruises now. Maybe it was the hospital lights, or Sam losing a couple of pints, or the bruises just finally starting to really show, but he hadn’t really seen it before. He knew Sam had taken a beating, but Sam had been walking and talking, and he’d never said a word, not one word. Stupid, stoic bastard. Like that stupid Spartan kid who’d rather have his guts eaten out than let loose with so much as a whimper.
“How is he?” Annie asked, not waiting to be told she could come back in.
Slowly Gene rose to his full height, allowing her to see the full measure of his displeasure.
“I told you to watch him.”
“He waited until my back was turned. He asked for a cup of tea,, as nice as you please. The next thing I know he’s on the floor of a cell in a pool of his own blood. I can’t take it any more, Sir, I can’t. You’re going to have to do something about him.”
“They say he has concussion. I’m thinking it’s not the second or even third time our Sam has been hit on the head. That doesn’t excuse what he did but you know what it does to people, being locked up like that, and Sam is such a sensitive boy. I thought that’s why you liked him.”
“I did, I do, but he’s messed up. He needs help.”
“He needs our help, to get him out of this.”
“You think he’s innocent?”
“I know it.”
“But the evidence…he was there. He’s clearly not well. He could have done it.”
Gene turned away from her, back to Sam.
“No. Somebody did this to him.”