Summary: Sam hits rock bottom. Sequel to Serpent's Tooth
Rating: M - Mature Adults only (may contain drug references, violence, nudity, coarse language, sexual references, adult and supernatural themes)
Warnings: Loosely based season one
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended
Frankie was dragging scuffling and swearing loudly down the corridor and slung into Lost and Found, followed by Gene, who shut the door on Sam without so much as a word.
Sam loitered outside the room, somewhat lost himself, and feeling very much like he was waiting for the Head to stride out and give him six of the best. He leant back against the wall, sighing, studying the walls, the floor and the ceiling, noticing how most people who walked past him kept their eyes firmly averted. So much for keep a lid on it, he thought bitterly. Cop shops were worse than ladies auxiliaries for vicious gossip, and he could imagine certain people in CID polishing up themselves for their imminent return to favoured status while he, himself, fell from grace. Speak of the devil, he thought, as the door opened.
Gene came out of Lost and Found, grabbed Chris and Ray, whispered to them conspiratorially and gave them a slip of paper and sent them on their way.
Sam was left standing around in the corridor like a bunny. He'd not been invited into the interrogation, nor had he been allowed to have anything to do with handing Frankie over to custody, or any of the paperwork. Even now he was being kept in the dark, left hanging in the corridor.
"You got his supplier?' Aren't we going?"
"No. Chris and Ray can handle it."
"What are we doing then?"
Gene looked him up and down harshly, as though he could barely stand the sight of him. It unnerved Sam, just a little. Gene was really quite furious with him, especially after having a nice long chat with Frankie, and Sam was suddenly very aware of his very shaky footing in CID.
"Guv?" he asked, almost pleading.
Gene just tossed him a look as if there was a bad smell in the room.
"You've got typing to do," was all he said.
Sam's eyes narrowed.
"So that's it? I'm being punished? What, you're going to have me cleaning out the toilets next?"
"Don't give me ideas. Just go, Sam. I need to think, and I can't do that when you're around. And I need that typing done. If I were you, I'd consider myself getting off lightly," Gene warned, and Sam went, scuffing and scowling all the way.
Gene scowled after him, torn between being too hard on Sam, and not being hard enough. Love warred with bitter disappointment. Gene wasn't one to give up on people, not even after they'd made a terrible mistake, but Sam was constantly pushing the envelope and something had to give.
Right now he was too busy to do anything but send Sam off like a whipped puppy, and hope to hell he gave him something to think about. At least Sam had brought to light an increasing problem in his city: that the back street merchants weren't just dealing under the counter booze, fags and porn now. They were selling hard drugs as well.
"This," Gene slapped a small bag of brown heroin down on the table. "Has been coming into my city, and I won't have it. Those southern bastards have started bringing the stuff up from London, and I mean to put a stop to it."
Sam stared at the bag of brown sugar. Was this some sort of test, like dragging a recovering alcoholic into a bottle shop? If it was, it was a test he was going to fail, because suddenly Sam's universe spun solely and entirely around that bag, and the cravings reached up and grabbed him hard, shaking him to the bone, and he eyed that bag like the wolf sizing up Little Red Riding Hood. He needed a fix like nothing else on this earth. He was an addict, and he didn't care. Right now, all he wanted was a taste. Just one taste.
Gene stopped his spiel suddenly and slapped Sam's hand, the hand that had been reaching towards the plastic bag, as if it were a bag of sweeties.
"I was just going to test it."
"It's been tested. It's high grade stuff, all the way from Hong Kong. Isn't world trade wonderful?"
"Globalisation," Sam corrected, but Gene ignored him, aside from the darting glance of one furiously pissed off look.
"Now, Sammy boy here has been working undercover, getting a list of suppliers and dealers, and we're going to round them all up."
"You heard me," Gene warned him.
Sam just shrugged and leant back against the filing cabinet, annoyed, arms folded.
"Right, what we're going to do is hit them all at once. Nice big showy operation. Shake them up a bit. Show them we mean business."
"It won't work," Sam muttered.
"Did I ask you?" Gene shot another volcanic look at him, and then turned his back on him, directing his address to the rest of the room.
Behind Gene's back, Sam saw his chance and darted forward, snatching a pinch of nearly pure brown heroin from the tiny opening in the bag, and quickly rubbing it over his gums before anyone noticed. The rush hit him almost straight away and his head tilted back and he smiled, euphoric.
When he opened his eyes again, he saw Annie staring daggers at him. She'd seen what he'd done. His own expression was unrepentant and she just shook her head, very sadly.
Gene caught that, and swung around, and saw a now very relaxed Sam, still leaning back against the filing cabinet, very obviously buzzing.
"Can't I even leave you alone with my evidence? Oh shall I get you a liquorice stick and just let you go to it? Right." It was all he said, but it was there in his eyes: Sam had pushed well past his limits.
"Chris!" Gene summoned the only officer he could trust. He slapped the bag in Chris' hands. "Take this down to the evidence room and lock it in the drugs cupboard." He held up the key to Chris and gave it to him. "Do not give that key to anyone else but me, and if you see this bastard," he indicated Sam," hanging around that locker or anywhere in the vicinity, I want you to tell me about it. Got that?"
"Yes, Guv," Chris almost stammered. He shot a confused and worried look at Sam, then scurried off on his mission.
Gene just shook his head a Sam and held up one finger as a warning to Sam to say not one word, not a word.
"On second thoughts, get out of my sight," Gene snarled at him, his temper barely under control.
Sam grabbed his jacket and went.
Sam was sitting on cold concrete near the top of the stairs leading up to the station, smoking for something to do, to occupy him, to keep him from thinking, to try and keep away the craving that had kicked up inside him. He was only just starting to come down again. A shadow fell across him but he ignored it.
"What are you doing, Sam?"
He glanced up and exhaled, but the wind carried the smoke between them away too quickly.
'Go away, Annie," he warned tiredly.
"I will. I'm going to. I just wanted to ask why do you do it? Why do you have to push all of us away? Do we mean that little to you?"
"It's not like that."
"Yes it is. Whatever you think your life was like before, this is your life now. You should try living it, instead of trying to destroy it. You make me so sad, Sam, seeing you like this. I thought I could help, but I can't. I won't have you around, not like that. You treat everything like a game, you're unstable and dangerous, and I just can't deal with it. I'm sorry, Sam, but I don't want to see you any more."
He glanced up at her, hearing what she was saying at last, too late.
Annie just backed up, her hands in front of her, as if she needed to physically deflect him away from her. Then she turned and ran away from him without ever looking back.
Sam was still sitting on the edge of the concrete planter smoking quietly when Gene found him.
Sam flicked a wary glance towards the Guv but it didn't look like Gene was about to thump him, as much as he might richly deserve it. He exhaled a thick cloud of smoke, tossed his butt down and ground it into the concrete.
"Annie dumped me," he announced, leaning forward heavily, the cramps starting up again.
"Well, I'm not surprised. You're hardly a prize catch, are you,' Gene observed, not terribly sympathetically. Nor did he really need to be. Sam didn't look that cut up about it. It had been, as Gene had suspected, another cynical attempt by Sam to prove that he was into girls. It was never going to last. The girl must have got a few parting shots in though, because Sam was clearly brooding, if not actually sulking.
Sam was flicking another glance over Gene. "Well, yeah," he agreed, still feeling sorry for himself. "You dumped me, too."
"I -" Gene was gobsmacked. He was actually too shocked for a moment to speak.
"It wasn't like that. I just said we had to be careful. We were both on a warning. If you must know, I did some things I'm not proud of to get you off that murder charge. And don't bother asking because I won't tell you. I'm in no mood for a bollocking from you. I did what I had to."
"Don't ask, don't tell, gotcha," Sam repeated, irony salting his voice.
"Don't be so bloody cheeky. I put my head on the block for you. It's still there."
That knocked the idiot grin off Sam's face.
"Sorry. Thanks." Sam looked up at Gene properly at last. "Really," he added, sincerely.
Sam wasn't about to argue over the fact that Gene was giving him special treatment on account of having previously exchanged bodily fluids. His past relationship and his clearance rate were the only things saving him at that very moment.
"Well," Gene glanced away, not wanting the thanks for what he'd done, not wanting to talk about it any more, wishing to hell that he wasn't haunted by the sight of Vic Tyler coughing up blood as he died. That memory had driven a wedge between him and Sam, but how could he ever tell Sam that he'd killed his father? And how could he tell Sam that he still worried that Vic might have left more incriminating negatives around, just waiting to detonate? It hung over Gene like the sword of Damocles. He spent every day just waiting for the other boot to drop, waiting for that envelope, waiting for Sam to find out what he'd done.
An awkward silence fell between them. Gene blew on his hands, cold.
"How about coming back inside where I can keep an eye on you?"
"Don't trust me?" Sam grinned, trying to make light of it, but Gene wasn't smiling.
"You must be bloody joking. Not two hours ago I caught you snuffling in my evidence like a truffle pig, getting high. Police evidence. For fuck's sake, do you want to be out of here that badly, Sam? Because you're going the right away about it, make no mistake. I've just about had it, Sam."
And he meant it.
Sam nodded and pushed himself up with an effort and stood, feeling somewhat the worse for wear.
"Right." Gene clapped him hard on the shoulder. "I've got a nice pile of reports that want typing up and don't go forgetting the carbon this time. Anyone would think you've never used it before."
"You'd be surprised," Sam muttered, missing Microsoft in ways he never, ever thought he would.
Sam returned to his desk to find the typewriter there, moved out of Gene's office, as to were his cup and coat and pens. He felt very much like a lover coming home to find all his belongings stacked up on the footpath, but he sucked it up and said nothing. He knew now, at least, just how close he'd skated to being finished with Gene today.
Even now he felt the tips of his ears burn crimson with shame. He could not understand why he'd done it. It really was true, when people talked about watching themselves do something truly dreadful, like a helpless bystander. He'd seen himself tasting the heroin, trying to be all casual like the was a food critic sampling the wares, as if he could tell what side of the hill it had been grown on and how pure it was. Oh sure, like they believed he was just tasting it to make sure it had been what Gene said it was.
Gene and Annie knew the truth, but they would, wouldn't they. He was an addict and he had no self control. It was a hard thing to come to terms with, and not something he wanted to do, so he shoved it aside with all the other incidents that didn't fit into his idea of himself: the fights, the turning of blind eyes, the staying silent where once he would have said something, accepting protection and a massive cover up from Gene where once he would have screamed for discipline and transparency.
He was losing himself here. He'd said it before and it was even more true now. Right now, he was the sort of man he once arrested and quite happily threw away the key. He was an unstable bent cop with criminal connections and an addiction. Gene was right, he should be out on his arse.
It was a long lonely evening of typing, without the aid of any cut and paste buttons or a spellchecker, before Gene appeared suddenly at his shoulder like Morley's ghost.
"Am I done here?" Sam asked wearily, arms folded.
The question had a deeper meaning, but Gene wasn't in the mood to play that game.
"No," Gene repeated, tired.
Sam sagged back against the chair. Would this ever end? The last of his strength had deserted him hours ago.
"What now?" was all he could ask.
"Get your coat. I'm taking you home."
While Sam was pulling on his coat, Gene added: "And grab a spare shirt out of your locker." Which pulled Sam up short.
"You're coming home with me," Gene told him, in tones that brooked no argument.
Sam raised an eyebrow.
"Won't that be a bit socially awkward?"
Gene leant on the wall beside him.
"It's not like I have any choice in the matter."
Sam just looked utterly defeated. He leant against the wall, arms crossed, miserable.
"Sam," Gene tried to explain gently, leaning in close. "Look at the state of you. I can't leave you alone, and I won't leave you alone. Now if you come along quietly, be a good boy and behave yourself, you just might get ice cream."
Sam half smiled at the insanity of it.
"Only if you behave yourself," Gene warned softly, leaning in close, making his point.
Sam felt very much a third wheel, a spectator to the domestic tableau of Gene and his wife as they prepared dinner like a well oiled machine. He felt awkward and clumsy, like a child at the adult's table, getting in the way, unable to follow the conversation, unaware of unspoken customs. He felt disorientated, as though coming down hard to a life that should not be his wasn't enough to do his head in.
Later it was better, just sitting in Gene's kitchen, playing cards over coffee and cigarettes and ice cream. Sam hadn't had ice cream since, well, since he'd been a kid. Just the taste of it took him instantly back to the Seventies. He glanced around, smiling at the absurdity of it all.
"Alright?' Gene asked, catching that smile.
Gene said nothing more, but the tension visibly drained out of him as he dealt Sam another hand.
Later they left Sam on the sofa watching the telly, though he wasn't really watching. He was just letting the TV wash over him like everything else. He was tired, and he must have fallen asleep because he woke with a start to a darkened room, the television still on and strobing static at him.
Groggily he got up and switched it off, bitterly wishing for a remote, suddenly cold. He slipped back under the rugs Gene must have dropped over him and pulled them tight around him. He thought about going upstairs to the guest room and glanced up at the ceiling.
That's when he heard it, the muffled yet unmistakable sounds of Gene in the throes of passion. Sam listened to each grunt and thought that Gene would get it over with quickly but no, Gene was really going for it, huffing and puffing above Sam.
Sam thought he should have felt a sharper stab of jealousy, but he didn't. Maybe he was just tired. His eyes fluttered closed. He never even heard Gene finish.
Gene was leaning over the edge of the sofa, watching Sam sleep. Sam could be so peaceful when he slept, so supine, so sensual, so ready to be kissed.
As if by magic, Sam's eyes opened. He saw Gene watching him and scrubbed at his face and hair, yawning and stretching.
"How long have you been awake?' he asked sleepily, seeing Gene already shaved, bathed and dressed.
"A while. Did you spend all night on the sofa?" Gene asked, concerned.
Sam was rubbing his eyes.
"Must have fallen asleep. What time is it?"
Sam sat bolt upright with a start.
"Whoa there, easy cowboy." Gene patted his shoulder, amused. "We're not due in until lunch."
He handed Sam a cup of coffee and sat down beside him. Sam cradled the cup carefully between two hands, sipping at it, almost painfully. It was watery and bitter. Good coffee was at least a decade away, if he was lucky.
Gene came around and sat down on the couch beside Sam, studying him, concerned.
"How are you travelling?" he asked softly. "You alright?"
Sam tilted his head back, eyes closed, almost laughing at his predicament. Then he turned his head to look at Gene.
"No," he answered, as if it were a daft question.
Gene winced, wishing he could do something. He wished Sam would get over it. Sam wasn't the only one to have a rotten father. Gene's old man had knocked him about until Gene had grown tall enough to dish it out as well as take it. But Gene's old man had just been a bully. He'd never been a vicious little fuck like Sam's. Gene bitterly wished he could tell Sam that he was safe, that his father could never hurt him like that again, but he couldn't. Not now, not ever. Sam would never forgive him, because Sam still loved his father. That's what was doing his head in.
Sam tilted his head slightly, eyeing off Gene.
"I never meant it to go this far."
"I never meant to let it," Gene answered quietly.
And that was the crux of it. Sam had fallen too far, too fast for Gene to catch him. Sam had just pulled away, then dropped away.
He knew Sam was sorry for getting himself in such a mess, but it didn't change how pissed off Gene was. Sam should have known better. He should have said something.
He would have said something, but Sam was smiling at him. One of these days that smile of his wasn't going to work, but that day wasn't today. They were so close Gene could have just reached across and kissed him, and maybe Sam would have let him, but he didn't.
"Hungry?" Gene asked, changing tack.
"Well, that's a pity because the Missus has been in the kitchen all morning making you breakfast. She thinks you're too skinny. Are you going to go in there and tell her you're not hungry?"
Sam leant his head back against the sofa and closed his eyes, then he opened them again, glancing at Gene in hope.
"Not a chance, Sunshine."
Sam just shook his head. No choice then.
Sam regarded the plate full of egg, bacon, sausage, tomato and fried bread with no small degree of horror, and his stomach lurched again. It was the cure for a hangover, not withdrawal, and the smell almost made Sam reel backwards and he had to catch his retch in his throat.
It was well meant and he was a guest, or possibly a prisoner - he was unsure of the finer distinction - and thus he had no choice but to sit, smile politely and try and wedge a forkful of food between his lips without gagging.
Sam paused, holding his sausage between mouth and plate, poised upon the tines of his fork. He wasn't hungry, in fact, quite the opposite, but the multiple obligations he owed to Gene and Gene's hospitality made him slide the sausage into his mouth with some distaste, chewing bravely at the bitter gristle. At least he hoped it was gristle. His mind ran hastily over Seventies era food regulations, then bid an even hastier retreat. Best not to think about it at all, really. Perhaps he could just shut his eyes and pinch his nose and force it down that way.
"Eat up, Sam," Gene encouraged. "You're just skin and bone."
Not quite, but as Gene ran his hand down Sam's rib cage to illustrate his point, he could actually count them if he had a mind to.
Sam paused again. It had been an intimate gesture between two men who had no secrets from each other, at least physically, and it had been meant entirely innocently, but they had both felt the sudden frisson, crackling like static electricity just waiting to spark between them.
Sam sipped at his milky, sugary tea, breaking the moment. The sugar rush kicked him like a mule. It had been one of the things that had most alarmed him upon first arrival here: the way everyone had no qualms whatsoever about tamping the gross domestic sugar output of a small tropical island nation into a cup of tea. Sam had reeled, literally reeled at his first sips of what he considered as cups of sugar diluted slightly with tea, but once he'd become used to the idea that no diet Nazis were about to spring from behind the bushes, screaming and waving and slapping the cup out of his hands, he'd indulged in a sinful sugar hit, stirring in a full teaspoon by his own hand. It had been, he realised, the first small step towards damnation.
Gene could see clearly Sam was distracted, and his hand squeezed Sam's shoulder for a moment, before dropping away. He wanted to help, if Sam would let him.
Sam appreciated the gesture, but there were some battles Gene couldn't fight, some things not even Gene could try to put right.
Sam glanced at Gene watching him, then glanced away again. His gratitude for Gene's kindness was twisted by resentment. Gene's protection meant certain terms of obligation, and Sam hated owing anyone anything. Gene had never, and probably would never, remind Sam of these favours, but Sam would feel the heavy price he had yet to repay.
Sam's resentments were tinged with the bitter realisation that Gene was the better man. If it had been a DI under Sam's command, no matter what the man's previous record, he would have been out on his ear. Sam felt Gene was turning a blind eye to corruption, and he was party to it.
Sam was too much a man of his age, a consumerist and disposable society of waste landfills.
Gene had grown up learning that you didn't just throw away something just because it developed a few rattles or wobbles, not if you could still get some use out of it. And so it was with Sam, as far as Gene was concerned. Sam was a squeaky wheel and he needed a lot of oil, but when he worked, he worked wonders. Gene wasn't about to toss Sam out because he was difficult and tricky to handle. Gene would treat Sam like an unexploded bomb, he'd even let himself get burnt on occasion, because Sam was the best detective in the CID and the city needed him. And that was a simple fact, never mind Gene's feelings regarding Sam.
Sam, however, just couldn't see the bigger picture. He only felt deep shame and bitterness that he wasn't the better man.
Gene watched Sam push his food around the plate, wishing he'd eat something, but not quite ready to take the drastic action of shoving a tube down Sam's throat and feeding him like some martyr happy suffragette.
Having Sam here, at his table, it was the closest they'd been in a long while, but seeing the way Sam looked at him, all closed off, Sam was still a million miles away.
It hurt him, it really hurt him that Sam could be so distant after everything that they'd shared. Once again Gene found himself on the brink of begging Sam, and once again his pride saved him that last indignity.
It was like there was a thick glass wall between them, a no man's land, put there by Sam, for whatever reason that he felt he had to. Gene felt raw and bloody, as though Sam had ripped his heart from him. One minute they were lovers, the next: strangers. Sam had just shut him out. At first Gene had written it off as a bit of shell shock and had let him have it, but it had gone on, and gotten worse, and it had ended like this.
It shouldn't be like this. Especially not now. Not the way Sam had just arrived, the secret answer to all of Gene's most private prayers. Studying Sam's face, Gene caught tiny slivers of half remembered fragments, and he knew that he had been dreaming of Sam all his life, and now he was here. It seemed so cruel that Sam would only let him look but not touch.
"Sam," Gene tried again. He rested his hand over Sam's.
Sam endured it for a moment, then pulled his own hand away.
Not now. Sam couldn't deal with that now. Not on top of everything else. He had far too much to deal with without adding a secret homosexual liaison with his DCI on top of everything else. He couldn't cope. He wasn't corrupt, he wasn't gay and he wasn't a junkie. He was losing himself, if he wasn't lost already, and he couldn't keep it together. The only way he could get through, to try and keep what was left of himself, was to just keep it straight, keep everything straight. If he let this place seduce it, it would rag him back down, and this time he wouldn't go quietly, this time he would fight it.
He regarded Gene as the enemy, the devil on his shoulder, and drew away a little.
Gene was gutted, but he said nothing. He wasn't the sort of man to show when a punch had landed. Stoically he pushed his own feelings aside and concentrated on the task at hand: getting his best detective back on track.
"It's really got you by the short and curlies this morning, hasn't it? You never imagined it could be this bad, did you? Don't go looking at me like that. I know you, I know how you think. You'd have never have done it if you didn't think you could stop any time you wanted to. I'm not saying you can't. Hell, if any one could stop cold turkey just out of sheer bloody mindedness, it'd be you. But you never thought it would be this bad, did you?"
"No," Sam admitted, quietly. No, he had not. It was killing him, he wanted to die, but like Gene, he wasn't about to show his weakness.
Gene placed a couple of asprin down in front of Sam. It was like pissing in the ocean, as far as Sam was concerned, but he wasn't about to say no, either. Every little bit helped, and he'd remember this, the next time Gene was hungover. Maybe that was the point, an exchange of favours. Sam bristled again, feeling compromised, and he had to forcibly remind himself that Gene had not pushed him into this mess, but was trying to pull him free, the best way he knew how.