Sometimes I wish I was a hippo (dakfinv) wrote in 1973flashfic,
Sometimes I wish I was a hippo

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Sober challenge; Returning the Favor

Title: Returning the Favor
Author: dak
Word Count: 1337
Rating: blue cortina
Warnings: implied alcohol and drug (mis)use
Summary: Who can you count on for a quiet place to sober up?

Mum was going to kill him. Yes. Absolutely. No doubt about that. Unless he killed himself first. Accidentally, of course. He wasn’t depressed. Not him. No. He’d kill himself, accidentally, by stumbling in front of a car or contracting pneumonia from sleeping on the street or some guy would stab him for his bus fare. He didn’t have any bus fare. Did he?

He hastily checked his pockets. Too hastily. The few quid he had left went tumbling through his fingers and rolled away down the damp street.

No, he did not have bus fare. And Mum would kill him if he went home, anyhow. She had a strict policy, Mum. Not overly strict. She wasn’t puritanical, no. Not Mum. But she was strict on alcohol. Sort of. And drugs, definitely. And he was filled with both of those now. Not filled. He wasn’t bursting at the seams, was he? He couldn’t tell. He hoped not. At least it had stopped raining. He could find a quiet corner in an alley to curl up in for the night. Yes? No? Stumble home in the morning. Said he spent the night at Nicky’s. Would Mum check? Would she call Nicky’s mum? No, stupid. Nick didn’t have a mum. Nick’s mum was dead. Stupid.

He fell back against the nearest brick wall. He was wet. It had stopped raining but not before he’d been trapped out in it. He was shivering because he was wet and yes, absolutely, it was going to be pneumonia.

In the distance, he heard a train arriving. A late train. It had to be what, two, three, four in the morning? But the train station, that wasn’t far, was it? No, he didn’t think so. He could sit in the station all night. It would be warmer and it would be dry. He could find a quiet corner there where he could sit, unnoticed. Not be a nuisance. He didn’t want to be a nuisance.

He pushed away from the wall, fighting the urge to vomit, and losing. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, nearly sicked up again, then stumbled towards the train station, crossing under the Mancunian Way, hoping he wouldn’t get hit by a car on the way there.



A nudge.


A slap.

Sam opened his eyes. A bear was standing over him. He sat up, hitting his head on the bench seat and blinking violently. It wasn’t a bear but a man. A very gruff man with a very serious expression.

“What’re you doing?” He asked.

Sam gaped. He was groggy, still drunk - still bloody wasted - but already starting on the hangover. And he’d been sleeping in front of a bench inside the train station.

“What’s your name?” The man asked.

“S-Sam,” he slurred.

“Thought as much. What’re you doing sleeping on public floors in the middle of the night?”

“I...” Sam looked around, but it made him dizzy. “I meant to sleep on the bench.”

The man snorted. Sam felt nauseous again. He closed his eyes. The drugs Nicky had, he’d said they’d stop him from getting nauseous. Hadn’t he?

“Oi,” the man tapped his face. “How much have you had tonight?”

“Had?” Booze or pills, Sam wondered.

“To drink.”

“Oh.” To drink, then. “Can’t remember.”

“Hm. And what else?”

“What else?”

“Don’t get pupils like that just from drinking, do you?”

Sam gaped. He was shivering. He was terrified. He had no idea where he was. Was he even at the train station?

“How old are you?” The man asked. He was still serious but less...mean, it seemed.


The man glared. Mean again.


The man glared. Downright terrifying, he was now.

“I turn seventeen next week.”

“Right. Up.”

Sam gaped. He wasn’t sure he could stand. Suddenly, there was a badge in his face. A police badge. Oh shit, he thought.

“Oh shit,” he said. “I’m sorry officer! Really really sorry. It was Nicky’s birthday and he wanted to go out and said he knew this place where they didn’t check IDs and he said if they didn’t check your ID then it were their responsibility if they served you so you weren’t really doing owt wrong. And then we had some drinks and Nicky said he had these things, yeah, that, uhm, could keep your head clear if you took ‘em with alcohol, so I took them, and then...I don’t know what happened after that but I was all alone in this were girls with...nowt on...and everyone had left and...”

“Tyler. Shut it.”

“Yes, sir.”

If he’d been sober, he would’ve realized he hadn’t told the officer his family name. But he wasn’t sober. Not even close.

“On your feet, lad.”

Sam staggered upwards, then nearly fell over. The man grabbed his shoulder and kept him upright. Sam thanked him by not vomiting on his shirt.

“Got a place to stay tonight?”

“ Mum...Mum would kill me if I...can’t disappoint her...”

“Come with me. I’ll take you to the station.”

“I’m under arrest? Oh shit, I can’t....but If you arrest me then I can’t...I’ll have a record and...oh shit.” He was about to cry, and in front of a bloody police officer. Brilliant.

“I’m not arresting you, daft git. You can sleep it off there. I’ll send you home in the morning when I can be sure you won’t cop it.”

Sam stared. His brain couldn’t compute. Cop it? Oh, die. Wait. He was dying?

“Let’s go, twinkle toes. Move them scrawny legs.”

The man pushed him forward and Sam walked as straight as he could which, he guessed, wasn’t very straight at all.

Sam was shuttled into a nearby car. He fumbled with his seat belt before giving up on latching it, then dropped his head against the back of the seat.

The man drove just slow enough so Sam wouldn’t be sick, and kept him awake enough so Sam wouldn’t start choking on his own vomit, if it came to that. At the station, he found Sam a nice, quiet, private cell, the smell of which made Sam ill.

The man looked at Sam, then the cell. Muttering something that sounded like “you deserve it, but...” he took Sam away from the cell and escorted him a few flights up, showing him to a dingy couch in a locker room.

“Thanks, sir,” Sam said, sitting down.

“Returning the favor.”

Sam laid down, passed out, and didn’t realize until he was sober that he had no idea what the officer had meant.


The Missus was going to kill him. Most certainly kill. Well, it was his birthday after all. Why shouldn’t he go out and have a few rounds with his mates? Not like he couldn’t hold his own. That last whisky chaser, though, number....something or other, well that last one didn’t quite agree with all the others. Wasn’t playing nicely with the rest of his stomach, the bastard. And that was why he was currently emptying his guts onto the pavement in Nelson’s back alley.

“C’mon.” A hand on his shoulder. “I’ll take you home.”

“Can’t,” Gene said, wiping his mouth. “Missus’ll chuck me out. Might’ve had an...accident with her new carpet the last time I went this.”

“You mean yesterday?”

“That’s the one.”

“Then I’ll take you to my home. You can sleep and sober up there. And don’t argue. I know it’s shit, but you can have the bed. We’ll tell your wife we were working a case.”

An arm under his shoulders. Gene was helped out of the alley and into the passenger’s side of the Cortina. His DI drove his normal picky-pain slow speed, but it kept Gene from sicking up in his beloved.

In the flat, Gene sat on the shaky cot, awake long enough to mumble out a “cheers.”

“Just returning the favor, Guv.”

Gene laid down, passed out, and didn’t realize until he was sober that he had no idea what his deputy had meant.
Tags: sober challenge
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