Rating: Turquoise Cortina for language - no sex, not even a pairing
Word Count: ~1300
Notes: Conceived and written in less than 24 hours, which is a miracle for me *lol* and yes, different guest star but partially inspired by yesterday's fic from jantalaimon. I don't know what it is about LoM that makes me write angsty stuff though, I wouldn't normally touch it with a bargepole. An interesting distraction from the freaky crossover that is eating my brain.
"Where did it all go wrong?"
Sam couldn't believe it. Here he was, arriving early for work – as usual – and the car park was almost full! On a Sunday morning, no less!
He made his way up the steps, politely asking various leggy young women if they wouldn't mind letting him past, only to find himself confronted by an unlikely pair of smug 'taches. Ray had finally found something in common with a journo.
"Good morning Mr Barton, DC Carling," Sam greeted them, hoping they had a better reason for being here than to eye up the totty. "Which line of inquiry are you helping the Gazette with today then, Ray?"
"Our fine facility's been upgraded to a 5-star hotel, boss. I'm just, uh.. guarding the door against potential invasion."
Still unenlightened, Sam craned his neck so he could see inside. Phyllis was scowling even more than usual, and Annie was wearing some kind of apron over her uniform, striding across the foyer with a mop and bucket as if preparing for battle. He looked askance at Stephen Barton, who happily obliged.
"Georgie Best Superstar, Detective Inspector. He took a stroll into Moss Side on the night of a home win for City, challenged some like-minded fools to a drinking competition and -"
"Tyler, get your arse in here! Carling, stop gossiping like an old woman and find a constable to take over. You're not here to enjoy yourself."
Sam's eyebrows rose of their own accord.
"Gentlemen," he said by way of farewell, then turned to follow Gene. "Morning, guv."
A grunt was his only reply as he caught up to his ill-tempered superior. Having United's falling star in the cells obviously didn't make the DCI any happier than usual on a Sunday morning, or maybe that was the hangover from last night. He still stank of stale cigarette smoke, but then so did most of the station.
Cogs slotted into place. Last night? Moss Side? City win?
"Tell me you didn't," Sam groaned.
Gene's head swung round to face him, black eye and bruises clearly visible. "Oh yes I fucking did."
"Bloody hell, Gene, you're a high-ranking police officer! What were you thinking?"
The older man strode on, into CID's main office and through to his own, apparently so used to Sam's habit of chasing after him that he couldn't be bothered to close the door any more. He opened up a filing cabinet and withdrew a hip flask, taking a good gulp while staring at his precious Gary Cooper poster.
"What I was thinking, Sammy boy, and still think, is that that idiot in the cells should be thrown out of the fucking league." Gene took another swallow and made his way behind the desk, falling into his chair with a heavy sigh. "It was a victory night lock-in and we were all drunk, but he'd taken something else. Had to have done, the way he was acting. He barged his way through the door like a bloody steamroller and dared the younger lads to a car race along that unfinished slipway on the A57."
Sam frowned. It was still there in 2006, a monument to poor planning. "The one that just hangs over Brook Street? But that's –"
"Suicidal? Fucking right! So I tried to talk him out of it."
"You mean you hit him."
"That's what I said, wasn't it? Keep up, lad." Gene leaned back on his chair legs so he could prop his feet up on the mountain of paper that hid his desk. "But you'll be glad to know that I was only one of many fine City supporters who served their club bravely in the name of keeping Best from pushing up daisies. We like him a lot more now that United's a hair's breadth from relegation. Or we did."
Sam clenched his fists against a rising tide of indignation. He might not remember Best's glory days himself, but the man was still a footballing legend – not to mention pushing up the aforementioned daisies in 2006. Speaking ill of those departed gave him the shivers these days, not knowing what his own status was.
He strode over to the desk and planted his hands on its edge, glaring at Gene for all he was worth. "Come on Gene, how many of you were there? Ten against one? Twenty? You can tell me."
"Christ almighty, Sam! Don't get those red and white knickers in a twist," Gene glowered back, though he didn't move. "It was always one on one, and he invited it. He stood in the middle of a fucking circle and pointed to us one by one. Who were we to say no, after what he'd been trying to pull? He didn't have enough cash to cover his tab neither."
"Eight or nine, something like that." Hunt's eyes narrowed, lips twitching as the bruised skin crinkled. "Don't kid yourself Tyler, your hero gave as good as he got."
Sam threw his hands up in the air. "Oh, well that's all right then! And I suppose that's why he's in the cells? What's the charge, grievous bodily harm?"
"Grievous liverly harm more like. Fucking idiot was knocking back spirits like there's no tomorrow, on top of whatever it was he snorted earlier." Gene stopped himself there, inspecting the hip flask in his hand. He flashed Sam an apologetic smirk and screwed the top shut, placing the item in his top drawer. "As I was saying: George Best, the hero of United, legend of the beautiful game, is none the worse for wear, other than a little banged up. Probably pissed his pants too, for all that I care."
"You don't mean that, Gene," Sam countered.
His boss snorted. "Don't I? That long-haired ponce was so far out of line that he may as well have been in China, so I brought him here myself in the interests of safety. You should be proud of me. I haven't even been home to the missus, although that might have something to do with the pool of vomit on the backseat of the Cortina."
Sam looked up from the floor, impressed in spite of himself.
Gene saw the glance and waved and towards the door. "Go take a look at the wreckage, if you don't believe me."
"What, the pub or the car?"
"No, you fool; the cells. Your friend WPC Cartwright is having the time of her life cleaning up after him – three cells christened already, at last count. Now there's a story for the grandchildren." Gene dropped his feet back on the floor and leaned forward. "The man's a menace to himself and others. None of the lads'll be placing charges, but the lab's checking his blood for drugs. You taught me the value of that. Might knock some sense into his head, if last night didn't already."
Sam hung his head in frustration, scrubbing a hand through his hair. Watching history happening first-hand wasn't all it was cracked up to be and interventions shouldn't happen this way, but then this was 1973. Not only that, but George Best's lifestyle was already plastered all over the papers – hence the presence of Barton outside – and the fact that Tommy Docherty hadn't arrived on the scene to demand the release of his winger said more than Gene's fists ever would. The only people waiting outside to support one of the world's greatest footballers were a bunch of love-struck schoolgirls.
"Fuck off, Gene."
They ignored each other for a few minutes, Sam pacing while Gene rocked back and forth on two wobbly chair legs.
The infamous words of a late 70s bellboy echoed through Sam's mind. 'George, where did it all go wrong?'
"I'm going to go help Annie clean up." Sam announced quietly. "Unless there's anything else, guv?"
Gene shook his head, then stilled the motion with both hands, as if he could feel his aching brain rattling around in his skull. "Go. Leave me in peace. Get her to give the Cortina a scrub if you can. And don't -"
The door slammed loudly in Sam's wake.
Extra notes: Potentially handy references for the masses! George Best (legendary boozing footballer), Moss Side (home of Man City FC until recently), unfinished slip-road on the A57(M) (built in the 60s but shouldn't exist in LoM canon.. remember the Mancunian Way construction site that Sam 'landed' in?).