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

Remix Challenge by dakfinv

Title: Pain and Pity
Remix of: Tea and Theatre, by sytaxia
Author: dak
Rating: blue cortina
Word Count: 4562
Notes: Major spoilers for 2.08, themes of depression, angst, implied Sam/Gene
Summary: Missing scene from 2.08...

Smack. Smack. Smack. Smack.
Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.
The soles of his trainers echoed off the wet pavement as he ran.
Smack. Smack. Smack. Smack.
It was raining this morning. He was soaked all the way through. He couldn’t bring himself to care much. He wondered if it had something to do with flushing his pills, again, before he’d left his flat.
Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.
Xanax. Paxil. Diazepam. All into the toilet.
Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.
He wondered if it had something to do with leaving his friends to die.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Gene. Chris. Ray. Annie.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Gene. Chris. Ray. Annie.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.
Well, that was if they’d even been alive at all. He hadn’t checked. He was too much of a coward. They probably hadn’t been real anyway, just a part of his brain. Maybe it was part of his brain that had died.
Smack. Smack. Smack. Smack.
Or, maybe it was a part of his soul.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Maybe he should’ve taken his pills that morning.
Sam finished his daily jog a half hour later than he intended, which meant he would be a half hour late into work. He’d become very bad at time management ever since he’d abandoned...woken up. Not that it mattered. The miraculous, death-defying DCI that was Sam Tyler could do no wrong nowadays. He could arrive at the station two hours late for his shift with a bloody ax and body parts in a bin bag, and everyone would simply smile and nod.
It was a gruesome thought for the point he’d been trying to make to himself, but he was as good as a murderer now anyway, so the example seemed to fit appropriately enough.
Trading the cold wetness for warm, he stepped into the shower, though the blistering heat couldn’t dampen the chill inside him. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d burned himself in the bath since destroying...waking up. He decided to see if he could get off with showing up an hour late. He could blame it on a headache, and everyone would smile and nod, not that he needed a plausible excuse anyway.
He dried off and chose a suit. He’d had a particular shirt in mind, then remembered that shirt only existed in his subconscious, and had to wear a suit instead. All his suits were too big for him now. He had lost weight while in the coma and hadn’t bothered to put it back on. Or he couldn’t put it back on.
He decided to walk to work again. He could tell them it was better for the environment. Sam Tyler, doing his part to stop global warming. They didn’t have to know it was because he was terrified of trying to drive. The green man crossing turned red. He didn’t notice. He was almost hit by a car. Well, it wouldn’t have been the first time. Yeah, global warming. They’d eat that up.
He started to greet Phyllis as he entered the station, then remembered the desk sergeant was some pompous prick named Chester Ciupcyk and decided to keep his greetings to himself. Some new WPC, some new PC smiled at him as they entered the lift together. She must have been new because her smile was genuine. He debated telling her his name so he could take pleasure in watching her expression change to one of pity, but he was already an hour and half late and CID would supply him with enough pitying glances to last him through the week.
He entered the office unnoticed. Most of the detectives were off doing real police work with their acting DCI, who would likely become their permanent DCI as soon as his superiors stopped feeling sorry for their former golden boy, DI, DCI Tyler. Well, maybe it wouldn’t be that soon, then.
He stared at the files in his inbox, the tower beginning to lean ever so slightly. He switched on his PC and started on his most pressing project - beating his best time on the advanced level of Minesweeper. He didn’t bother to minimize the screen when DC Whats-his-name strolled passed. No one would say anything. They didn’t want to make him feel bad.
He made sure to sign off on at least three of the files sitting on his desk before leaving for the day. He briefly wondered if anyone was heading for the pub, then remembered it was a Tuesday and if anyone went to the pub at all anymore, it wasn’t on a Tuesday. Maya had offered to go with him the only time he ever put forth the suggestion. He’d had a pint of Broadside. She’d had a Diet Coke. He felt embarrassed to be sitting with her, even though half the pub seemed to be drinking Coke, or coffee, or a J2O. At least someone had been smoking. He hadn’t suggested it again.
He went to his local by himself. The Polish girl behind the bar didn’t know his story and didn’t seem to care. No Nelson, but at least she didn’t feel sorry for him. He had one pint, realized there was no one with him to get the next round, and went home.
He turned on the telly, still surprised by the crystal clear image that greeted him every time. He switched it off, played an old T-Rex record instead, and helped himself to a bit of the J&B Rare he had sitting around.
He climbed into bed at eleven-thirty and waited for the nightmares to come. Tomorrow he would do it all again. Tomorrow he was going round his mother’s for tea. At least that would make things a little different. He thought about that until the screaming started.
“There you go, sweetheart. A nice lamb roast, some sweet potato mash. Do you want any asparagus? What about to drink? Some wine? Oh, you’re not supposed to have that with your medication, are you?”
“I haven’t been taking my pills, Mum,” he whispered softly.
Ruth stilled, setting down the pot in her hands and sitting next to her son. “Why not, love?” She asked quietly.
Sam stared at his plate. “It only makes me feel numb. Number than I already am.”
“Have you talked to them about it?” She placed her hand on his arm.
“Tell me about the Seventies, Mum,” he asked.
“The Seventies?” She laughed gently. “Just a mess of strikes, power cuts, and burnt orange.” She ran her hand up and down his arm, trying to will some life back into him.
“Where do you think Dad is now?” They never spoke about Vic before the accident. It had taken Sam months after betraying...waking for him to broach the subject.
She drew back her hand, folding it in her lap. “You know I don’t like thinking on the past, Sammy.”
“If he’d died, do you think someone would get in contact with us?”
“I don’t know, Sam,” she shook her head, looking away.
“Do you think he heard about the accident?”
“I don’t know.” Her words pleaded with him to stop.
“Do you think he came to visit me when I was in the coma?”
“Sam! I don’t know!” She cried out, tears forming in her eyes as she leapt from the table. She wanted him to stop, he knew that, but he couldn’t. His breath was quickening, his heart ached. It was the most alive he’d felt since the tunnel...since waking up.
“Why did you tell me I’d see him again?”
She’d backed away but he turned in his chair to face her.
“What do you mean?” She asked, dabbing at her eyes.
“The day he left, the wedding, you told me he had to go away, back on the road, but that I’d see him again. Why did you say that?”
“I said what I thought you wanted to hear. You were four, Sam! What should I have said? That Daddy had to run from the police? That there wasn’t a chance he’d ever come back?” She paced the dining room briefly before escaping to the kitchen. Sam followed.
“The police. Do you remember them? The ones that were investigating him?”
He backed her into a corner, arms outstretched, pleading. “The DCI or...or the DI...”
“I don’t remember, Sam. It was too long ago. It wasn’t a memory I wanted to keep.”
“Please,” he cried, hugging his arms around her, burying his face in her shoulder. “Please remember.”
She wrapped one arm across his back and cradled his head with the other. He could feel her fingers running over the surgical scars. It almost felt real. “Shh, love, shh,” she cooed.
“Please...” he sobbed.
“Oh my boy,” she held him tight. “My beautiful boy. Is it that important?”
He nodded against her. “Yes...oh God, yes...”
“Alright. Shh. Alright,” she rocked him back and forth. “I’ll try to remember, Sammy. I’ll try.”
He spent the night at his mother’s. He spent the night with his hand clenched in his teeth. He didn’t want his mum to hear when he cried out upon seeing their bodies hit the ground.
Click. Drag. Click. Drag.
“You’re quiet today,” Maya pulled up a chair and sat next to Sam as he finished a game of computer solitaire.
“I’m quiet everyday,” he replied, starting a new game. He knew she was only trying to help. Besides his mother, Maya was the only person who spoke to him regularly. He shouldn’t push her away. He didn’t care.
Click. Drag. Click. Drag.
“How are the headaches?” She thought they came from the accident. He knew they came from the screams.
Click. Drag. Click. Drag.
“Just below tolerable,” he stared at the screen, clicking and dragging the mouse over the digital cards. He found he preferred solitaire over minesweeper. If he made a mistake in solitaire, he could just hit Ctrl+Z. Undo. There was no undo in Minesweeper. No Ctrl+Z. If he made the wrong move, everything was done for.
“You could take the day off, if you’re not feeling well,” she tried to smile.
“I think I’ve had enough time off, don’t you?”
Click. Drag. Click. Drag.
He didn’t care much virtual solitaire either, really. He liked cards but poker at the Arms was so much more exciting, tactile, than a computer game. He tried not to remind himself it was the virtual game that was real. It was the games at the Arms that hadn’t existed.
“Well, I have some work to take care of. I just wanted to pass this on.” She held out a memo. Since it would make her leave sooner, he took it. “DCI Stanton sent it to me...because of my incident with Raimes last year.”
“Did she tell you to give it to me?” He was tired of people he didn’t know being concerned for his well-being.
“No, but I thought you might want to take part yourself.” She rose from the chair, smoothing her neatly pressed trousers.
“Maya,” he stopped her, staring at the paper, but not looking at it. “What happened...with Raimes. How did you get away?”
She shifted nervously, the same as his mother. No one wanted to recount the past, even if it was all he could think on nowadays.
“It’s in the report, Sam,” she suggested tentatively.
“I know it’s in the report,” he allowed the frustration to seep into his voice. “I would have read the report if I wanted. I’m asking you.”
“I tailed him. He caught me. I managed to escape.” Maya tried to leave after giving her stilted account, but Sam caught her arm from his chair. She jerked away but stayed.
“What about Edward Kramer? Wasn’t Raimes only trying to impress him? Like you said? His hand was still reaching towards her, his eyes soft and pleading.
“Who?” She looked around the office uncomfortably, wary of either someone noticing Sam’s outburst or someone noticing her talking to Sam during his outburst. “Sam, it was nearly a year ago. It’s over and done with. Look, why don’t you come out to dinner with me and David tonight...” She softened, her frustration melting into the carbon-copied pity that papered itself over everyone’s features when they spoke to him.
If Maya wanted to end the conversation, which she clearly did, she couldn’t have found a better way than by mentioning her current boyfriend, David. Dr. David Matthews, whom she’d met at St. James and shagged, probably sometime thereafter, while Sam had been suffering with an iron strapped to his chest as he attempted to track down her father’s killer and save her mother from a murder charge.
Not that any of that had happened, anyway. He turned back to his computer screen. Undid his last three moves. “No. That’s alright. I was going to my mother’s tonight.” It was always the same excuse, he knew that. He also knew it was only ever fifty-percent true and made him sound, one hundred percent, like a modern student of Norman Bates.
From the corner of his eye he saw Maya relax as he turned down her impromptu offer. Another little piece of him broke off and died as he witnessed the woman he once loved, who once used to want to spend every waking moment in his arms, feel relief over his absence. It was only a small part, though. Nothing he’d miss.
“Okay. Right, well, do you need anything right now, while I’m here?” She was just being courteous. At least she was trying.
“No. PC Terminal and I are fine, thanks.”
“Right,” she turned away, then spun back, sliding the memo closer to him. “Give it a thought, at least, won’t you? For me?”
He didn’t answer and finally she was gone. Solitaire lost its glamour five minutes later and with the stack of files on his desk holding absolutely zero appeal, he picked up the memo.
FROM: The Metropolitan Police
            Fenchurch Street Station
            DI Alexandra Drake
RE: Request For Accounts of Work-Related Trauma
To Whom It May Concern:
In an attempt to explore the psychological aftereffects of severe trauma, when pertaining to on-the-job incidents, Detective Inspector Drake has requested that any officers who...
He wasn’t going to do it. It would serve no purpose, really. He was trying to forget all that had happened to him, or hadn’t actually happened to him. That’s what everyone was telling him to do. He went home and went to bed, determined to ignore the request.
So, the memo sat in a drawer, collecting dust as those things often did. It wasn’t until another pointless, one-sided argument with his mother, (he really needed to see other people), that he stormed into the office, his actions ignored as they always were, and ripped the paper from its hiding place.
No one wanted to talk to him about the past. His past. Their past. Any past. It was always today, here, now. Tomorrow, forward, future. Move, move, move. Go, go, go. No looking back. No time. Not now. Not ever. Sorry, Sam. Can’t wait. Can’t you catch up?
He pulled out his Dictaphone and borrowed DCI Stanton’s office, forgetting for once, or not caring, that it used to be his office. If this DI Drake wanted trauma, by God was she going to get it. As he stood by the window, staring out at the cold, gray Manchester he no longer understood, he recounted everything he could think of, starting with his sudden arrival.
Then it was his first meeting with Hunt. Warren. Reg Cole. The emotional debacle of meeting his father. He meant to stop there, but he couldn’t. His thoughts turned to Tony Crane. Glen Fletcher. Simon Lamb. Frank bloody Morgan.
Once he found this outlet, he couldn’t hole it up again. The relief he felt in being able to pour out all the emotion he’d been holding back all these months was better than any of the drugs he tipped into the toilet every morning.
Talking about CID, his CID, remembering the smells, the shirts, the team, he felt more alive than he’d ever been. It took the entire day, but he finally ran out of things to say. The moment he stopped recording, every bit of life he managed to repossess began to fade away, back into the past.
He dropped his soul into an envelope and had it shipped off to the Met, but now that he remembered what it was like to feel alive, he couldn’t bear to survive without it again. He sat at his own desk, closed solitaire, and began the search his cowardice had refused to allow him before.
Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.
His polished shoes echoed in the slick-tiled corridor. He didn’t know why he bothered to polish them. He’d only be mocked for it. He wanted to look good, though. Presentable. He still didn’t know why.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
His heart echoed louder in his ears than his shoes in the corridor. It was nice to know it could still beat. He glanced nervously at the nurses and doctors he passed. He didn’t recognize any of them, but returning to a hospital as a visitor after spending so long as a patient was more than a little uncomfortable.
Slap. Thump. Slap. Thump.
He felt doubly out of touch with reality. Out of time. Out of place.
Slap. Thump. Slap. Thump.
He stood outside the door. He was going to walk through it. He had to. He hadn’t come this far...
“An’ I don’ want to see you again ‘less it’s with pack o’ fags an’ decent single malt. Got that, princess?”
An aggravated nurse stormed out of the room in a huff, ignoring Sam entirely as she muttered angry retorts to herself. Sam smiled. He’d found the right room, then. He entered cautiously, repeating in his mind the opening speech he’d so carefully prepared. All his thoughts fled his brain as the patient spoke first.
“Take me now, then. Been waitin’ long enough,” he wheezed, the air supplied to him via a tube through his nose not nearly enough to support a typical Gene Hunt tirade.
“Sorry?” Sam froze halfway into the room.
“They say when yeh start seein’ ghosts an’ whatnot, that’s when it’s your time to go,” he sighed.
Sam wanted to say he wasn’t dead, but he didn’t really believe it. “I’m not a ghost,” he stammered, his feet managing to edge closer to the bed.
“Well you’re certainly no angel, Sam Tyler,” he spoke with his eyes closed.
Sam managed to get to the visitor’s chair beside the bed and collapsed into it. “I would have to agree with you there, Guv.”
Wrinkled eyelids cracked open and regarded Sam with only a trace of the fire they once possessed. “Is it jus’ all them drugs they’ve pumped through me veins, or did you jus’ agree with me, Gladys?”
Sam rested his arms on his knees and clasped his hands. “If I were you, I’d be more worried about why a man who deserted you thirty years ago suddenly appeared at your bedside, looking the same now as he did then.”
Faded green eyes gave him a quick once over before closing again. “Don’ look that young, Tyler. ‘Sides,” he took a deep breath of manufactured air. “Told yeh you’re ‘ere only cos I’m ‘bout to cop it.”
“So you don’t think I’m real?”
“No more real than you were back then.”
“I’m sorry it took me so long to get here.”
“No you’re not.” Sam knew he would’ve rolled his eyes if they’d been open.
“I am, actually,” Sam argued back.
“You may be sorry for a lot of things, Tyler, an’ you should be, but I’m tellin’ yeh, you’re ‘ere exactly when you need to be.” He started coughing and Sam reached for the plastic cup of water on Gene’s table. “Leave it,” Hunt waved it away. “Won’ do no good.”
“I told you those things would kill you,” Sam sighed, still holding the cup.
“Enjoyed meself though, din’t I? But that’s you, innit? Always me voice of reason. Maybe that’s all you ever were.” The coughing subsided, though it made Gene look even frailer than before.
“I shouldn’t have listened to Morgan,” Sam spoke softly, wanting to slay the elephant in the room before it trampled them both.
“Gee, really?” Hunt mocked.
“I was confused. I thought...I lost track of what was real.”
“Shoulda used one o’ them lead tables yeh loved so much.”
“I...when I made it home, everyone told me it wasn’t real. That none of it had been real.”
“You’re babblin’ again, Dorothy,” Gene sighed.
“Ray Carling. Heart attack. Aged sixty-two.”
“Been havin’ pains for a week. Told ‘im to have it checked out. For once, the useless knob din’t listen to me.”
“Chris Skelton. Shot during a hostage crisis in ‘98.”
“Held on for a week ‘fore his missus decided to switch ‘im off. Told the div he shouldn’t’ve gotten married,” Gene grumbled.
“Annie Cartwright. Breast cancer at fifty-five.”
“You were right about her, Tyler. Right smart Nancy Drew. Did ‘er best to take your place once you vanished.”
“You all existed. You all lived. And I nearly destroyed you. I thought you all died in that tunnel. I thought I left you to die.”
“Not to rub salt in your obviously girly wound, Tyler, but you did. We jus’ din’t cooperate is all.”
“I didn’t want to leave you.”
Gene sighed heavily. “I know, Sam...We looked...for yeh,” he told him, his breathing becoming more labored. “No body. No trace. Nowt. Gone...quick as you’d come.”
“If I could fix what happened...”
“Only you’d...fancy...yourself...good enough to...change the past, Tyler. But...there ain’t no goin’ back...not even for you,” Gene began coughing again, so violently that Sam left his chair and grabbed his pale, weathered hand.
“It’s not right, this world. I don’t belong here, Guv. I thought...but I was wrong.” He placed his other hand on Gene’s shoulder. The coughs had subsided, leaving a wet wheezing in their wake. “You hear that, Gene Hunt? I. Was. Wrong. I did like it there. I just couldn’t see it. And now...”
Afraid he was hurting him, Sam dropped his hands. “Stop what, Gene?” He asked with concern.
“What do you need me to do?”
“Stop...whingeing, yeh fairy,” Gene ordered between soggy breaths. “...always your...problem...all tongue.”
Sam placed his hand back in Gene’s. “Sorry.”
“Then...” he coughed. “Then get...get on with it,” he sputtered.
“Get on with what? Gene?”
But Gene couldn’t answer. His chest stopped struggling and his hand went limp. The heart monitor screamed a monotone shriek, but Sam couldn’t hear it. Nurses rushed in and attempted to revive him, pushing Sam away from the bed. Everything around him was a blur. All that remained in focus was the still, prostrate body of the man that had taught him how to live. He, too, was gone now. The last remains of an old life swept under a stale sheet.
A nurse tried to comfort him as they carted the body away, but the sight of the corpse was no shock to him. He saw the same whenever he stared in the mirror.
“I am sorry, sir. For your loss.”
“He’s exactly where he needs to be,” Sam whispered, shuffling out of the room, and into the dark day.
“I went someplace, Mum, and every day, I woke up in that place and I told myself, ‘I’m alive.’ And I was, in some ways, more than I’ve ever been.”
It was still raining. It was almost always raining in Manchester but this was the same rain that had carried his Guv away. Somehow, it gave him the strength to tell his story again, however abbreviated it might be. He wasn’t sure what he was telling her, which words his brain decided to spill out of his mouth, until he suddenly wasn’t speaking anymore.”
“Then they have nothing to worry about, cos you always keep your promises.”
He looked at her, almost surprised to hear her voice instead of his own. Instead of his mother’s.
“What am I supposed to do, Maya?”
“You should take some time off, Sam. An extended leave of absence. The department will do anything for you, you know that.” She tried to grab his hand, and he let her, though it felt cold in his own. “Losing your mother so soon after waking need more time to adjust.”
“What if I don’t want to adjust?” He asked, completely emotionless. “What happens when the world changes and you don’t change with it?”
“Do you really want to find out?”
“I’m tempted,” he snapped.
“Talk to DCI Grovesnor. You’ll see him at the departmental meeting tomorrow. You can sort out your options.” She removed her hand and laid it gently on his shoulder. “Go home, Sam. You can worry about her things later.”
He said nothing, but rose from the settee and followed Maya out of his mother’s dark house. There were no screams that night, only silence. Unending silence.
Stay. Go. Stay. Go.
Click. Click. Click. Click.
Each thought of his options resulted in another click of his pen. If it annoyed anyone, he didn’t care. They wouldn’t say if he were anyway, one of the perks of continuous pitying.
Stay. Go. Stay. Go.
Click. Click. Click. Click.
Stay. Go. Stay. Go.
Well, maybe they would say something. He still wouldn’t care.
“Sam, look at your hand.”
He did, only to appease them. He dropped the letter opener as he stared at the blood pulsing from his thumb.
Stay. Go. Stay. Go.
“I didn’t feel it,” he muttered, then excused himself on pretense of finding a plaster. Instead he found the roof.
The sky was the complete opposite of the day before. Bright. Clear. Sunny. Church bells rang somewhere in the distance.
Stay. Go. Stay. Go.
Annie said stay. Maya said go. His mother...His mother was gone, had been gone for months, but he’d kept her because she had been the only one who listened.
Stay. Go. Stay. Go.
They say when you start seein’ ghosts an’ whatnot...
His feet moved on the rooftop, carrying him forward.
...that’s when it’s your time to go.
Go. Go. Go. Go.
Gene told him to go. So, he went.
It was taking them ages to scrape the body off the pavement. They had to cordon off the scene, photograph what was left, gather the scattered shoe, the fallen warrant card. It was causing a great stir, of course, and he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the dead eyes of a man he thought he once knew.
“Guv, c’mon,” his partner tugged at his sleeve. “Ray and Chris are waiting for us at the church. ‘Sides, Annie’ll rip us a new one if we miss her third grandchild’s christening.”
“Can’t we go straight to the pub?” It was the obvious question, but he was only asking it to buy himself more time. He knew he recognized that man.
“Gene,” he pleaded. The tone of his voice was enough to tear his gaze away from the carnage. “Gene, I’m exactly where I need to’s in the past. Leave it. C’mon.”
Sam was telling him to go. So, he went.

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