Remix of: Venus in Furs by Fi of fiandyfic
Rating: Red Cortina – vague allusions to incest and non-con.
Word Count: 2300 words.
Notes: Allusions to Sam/Gene and unrequited Sam/Annie. Allusions to Ruth/Sam and Ruth/Vic/Sam.
Gene sat with a cigarette poised between two fingers, feet up on his desk. He looked the same as usual, except maybe his shoulders were slightly more hunched, and perhaps there was a flicker of something like pain in his eyes. Annie saw this. Annie saw everything. From Gene’s tired, weary gait, to his fiercely determined, yet indeterminate persistence. He had moved from mockery, to confusion, to aggression in a short period of time. He kept saying things like, “he’s a big boy, y’know. Can take care of himself. Yeah, alright, he’s cracked and crazed - he’s also cunning as a fox.” But as he said those things, he flexed his fingers and worked his jaw and it always seemed to Annie to be more about him trying to convince himself as opposed to him trying to convince anyone else.
They didn’t know. That was the problem. They had no idea where Sam had gone. He had disappeared without any indication.
Annie thought about it as she stood, waiting for Gene to acknowledge her presence. Sam had been so vague that last day she had spoken to him, his eyes furtive and his skin pale. He had been awkward and she’d felt he was trying to reach out to her, to tell her something, but had stopped himself for whatever reason. She took a deep breath as she thought about it – the vein of terror running through Sam like black streaks through white marble. Once upon a time, he would have confided in her. Once upon a time she might have helped him. But she’d put a stop to that through worry and condemnation and at first she had been pleased because she’d thought Sam was adjusting.
He wasn’t adjusting, he was hiding his true nature, that’s all. He wasn’t letting her see his madness, he was letting it fester.
And now it had sent him away from her, away from Gene and the whole of CID, and they were searching for him - how could they not? – but chances were he was another body in the canal.
“I think I know of one person we could ask, Guv,” Annie said, trying not to be tentative and failing. She felt idiotic, standing there perfectly still, as if afraid she might break into little pieces were she to allow any muscle to relax.
Gene looked up at her with hollow eyes. “Already thought of it,” he said. “Been trying to track down an address, but they’ve moved four times in the last three months, so it’s taking a while.”
“He had a bit of a mania about her... about them,” Annie tried to explain. Words kept creeping up over her tongue and she wanted to be able to say them so much, but she was afraid of Gene’s reaction.
She was right to worry. Gene cut her off. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I just thought you should know that---“
“I don’t want to talk about it, Cartwright. Get your lacy knickers out of my office and go do some bloody work.”
It hadn’t been exactly joy in his expression when he came to tell her he had a number and street to go to. It hadn’t even been victory, or hope. It had been desperation. Annie frowned to herself as she contemplated this. She never would have expected Gene to be so angry, so concerned. Oh, the others had hardly noticed a change – the Guv still went to the Arms to get bladdered and was talking the big talk, but he was reserved in ways he had never been, quiet when he’d usually be voluble. Annie knew that Gene was the great protector, he would always care and do his best to take care of his team – but this went beyond that.
She understood it, she felt it too, but it wasn’t like Gene and Sam were good friends. They were better friends than she ever would have thought them capable of being. They did drink together, laugh together. They also fought as if their life depended on it – and perhaps in some twisted way it did - once or twice she had thought there would be actual bloodshed. When it came down to it, Annie had assumed Gene was more annoyed with Sam than pleased to have him on his team.
She realised she had a limited view of their relationship. And to her it seemed quite obvious that it was a relationship, not just a workplace necessity, not just two men who liked squabbling over football. It was a connection that – once severed – caused actual physical harm. The lines around Gene’s eyes, the filmy grease over his forehead of a morning, indicated that he wasn’t getting much sleep.
She wasn’t sure how she felt about the prospect that Sam would react the same way were Gene to disappear. Part of her was undeniably jealous – though she knew it was stupid to be so – but the better part was pitying.
The Cortina stopped and Annie pushed on the handle to get out. She could sense something holding Gene back. He hadn’t moved from his seat. She turned around to see he was clasping at the steering wheel.
His gaze snapped from looking out of the windscreen to looking at her. Wordlessly, he opened the door and stepped out.
When Gene didn’t knock on the green painted door, Annie did. She also addressed Ruth Tyler when she answered.
“Mrs Tyler, sorry to disturb you. We’re here to ask some questions. Do you mind if we come in?”
“What sort of questions?”
“We’re enquiring about a missing colleague. DI Sam Tyler. We won’t take up much of your time.”
Ruth Tyler stared, wide-eyed, but stepped away from the door as invitation. Annie travelled down the hallway to the lounge, glancing back once to see Gene still hulking in the doorway, eyes seemingly intent on the décor.
Ruth asked if they wanted tea, but Annie declined for the both of them. She went straight into trying to find some clue as to where Sam had gone. There was no point couching query in meandering drivel.
“When was the last time you saw DI Tyler?”
Ruth frowned. “At the wedding, when Vic disappeared.”
Annie gritted her teeth, closing her eyes for a moment to hide the disappointment. “He hasn’t been in contact since? Hasn’t called? Left a letter?”
“No, sorry. He’s missing, you say?”
Annie looked carefully at Ruth. She seemed genuine in wanting to help them. Confused. Annie didn’t know why, but something within her found this slightly suspicious. In her experience, people rarely reacted the way they should. Ruth was behaving exactly as you would anticipate for someone being asked something that was just left of field. There was no undue aggression. No humour. Just an atmosphere of gentle understanding. Annie ignored the question and asked another of her own.
“Have you been contacted by your husband Vic?”
Ruth projected the appropriate level of defensive anger. “I thought this was about DI Tyler, not my husband?”
“No I haven’t. Not a word, not a whistle.” Ruth had a puzzled expression. “I don’t see what that’s got to do with your DI?”
Annie glanced at Gene, but all she saw was a stony-faced expression she couldn’t decipher. There was a cauldron of emotion bubbling underneath the surface, she knew that, but she didn’t know why. Gene uncrossed his arms and looked at Ruth in a round-about fashion. “Sorry to take up your time, Mrs Tyler. We’ll be on our way.”
Gene was clipped, precise. “Let’s go, Cartwright. We’re stabbing in the dark.”
Annie refused. “I’m gonna stay and talk a bit more, Guv. I’ll meet you back at the station.”
Gene didn’t say anything. He simply left, an echoing crack ringing behind him as the door slammed shut. Ruth hadn’t even been quick enough to show him out.
“When you spoke to Sam,” Annie said after a pause. “Did he ever say anything strange? Anything that made you think...” Annie wanted to say ’that DI Tyler was insane’, but couldn’t bring herself to utter those words. “He had an accident,” she amended. “He had an accident and he was confused. He’d a strange fixation on you, on your family. Thought that just because you’d the same name, you were related.”
Ruth was smoothing her hands down her thighs. “No, he didn’t,” she said, in what sounded like honesty. “He never suggested such a thing.” She blushed. “If anything, it seemed more like he was attracted to me. Gave me money and always stared at me as if --- well, it was hard to get away from his gaze.”
Annie could feel prickling behind her eyes and willed herself to remain calm and collected. “He thought you were his mother,” she said quietly. “That he’d somehow travelled in time. He thought he could fix things. If he stopped Vic, he’d go back to where he came from.”
Ruth stared at Annie nonplussed and Annie couldn’t take it anymore. She reached forward. “So if you know anything, anything at all, please tell me – please?”
“I don’t know where your Sam is,” Ruth said, and Annie could tell she was measuring her words carefully. “I’m sorry.”
Annie nodded. She stood up to leave and thanked Ruth for her time. And she knew she was losing it, but as she walked down the garden path, she almost thought she could hear Sam calling her name.
“Find anything else out between your tea and crumpet?” Gene snarled when Annie came to tell him she was back. He had a double scotch on the desk in front of him and was slumped with his head in his hand.
“Can’t get a warrant because there’s no evidence. Back to square one. As bloody usual.” Gene suddenly stood. He paced. It reminded Annie of Sam and she couldn’t help but think Gene was channelling him. “Do you believe her?”
“I don’t see why she’d lie.”
“Yeah, but do you believe her. What does your gut say?”
Annie sucked in a breath. She didn’t believe Ruth. She couldn’t figure out why, but she didn’t. There was nothing she could pinpoint and it made her angry. She was sure the only reason she was sensing strange vibes from Ruth was that she wanted there to be something else. She wanted there to be answers. She had spent the last two weeks worrying endlessly about Sam and was now worrying endlessly about Gene and she couldn’t take it.
“My gut says we’re clasping at straws. He could be anywhere. Maybe he couldn’t handle it anymore? He wasn’t right in the head, Gene. You know that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finally found a roof to jump off.”
Gene clenched his fist and Annie could tell it was taking all of his willpower not to use it. He spoke slowly, gratingly. “Sam would never do that. Something has happened to him and we’re going to find out what it is.”
“Vic Tyler’s a sick fuck. He was gonna kick you to death, but Sam saved your life. He told me, don’t you get it? He told me everything.” Gene’s face crumpled and a shudder passed through his body. He leaned a hand against the wall, head bowed. “But he didn’t tell me this. He didn’t tell me he was going after the murdering bastard and I’ve no idea how to help him.”
Annie stepped forward and placed a hand on Gene’s arm. “Gene...”
“Tyler --- the other Tyler, is capable of anything,” Gene said, ignoring her. “I know it just as clearly as I know the sky’s blue and Chris is a div. Just as much as I know you’re sweet on Sam, but a bloody good detective to boot.”
Annie pursed her lips, knowing Gene wouldn’t appreciate her response or her commentary.
“He has the power to intimidate Ruth into anything,” Gene said, and he frowned, confused. “Has the power to break Sam. And he would. Just look at what happened before. He delights in playing mind games. He loved the thought Sam was convinced he was his dad. Used it to his full advantage. And would do it again just to screw with his brain. He’d do the worst things, just to gain control. It wouldn’t be normal abuse; a kick, a bruise, it’d be... whatever would hurt Sam the most.”
Gene stared down at the carpet, eyes burning. Annie’s throat constricted. “What’re you suggesting?”
Gene looked ready to say something, but obviously changed his mind at the last moment. His unspoken words hung in the air between them like cobwebs. “Sam isn’t dead, Annie, I can feel it. Vic Tyler’s got something to do with it.”
“We better find him, then,” Annie said with a bravado she didn’t feel. She was reeling from the implications of Gene’s assessment of the case. Whatever would hurt Sam the most. Annie could imagine. And it came to her, what had tripped off her wariness where Ruth was concerned other than her being a little too perfect - when talking about Sam's attraction to her, she had seemed almost pleased by it. And yet, not at all disturbed by the notion of Sam thinking he was her son.
No. It couldn't be that. It would never --- Sam would never allow that to happen. He was too strong, physically and mentally.
Gene gathered strength at Annie's words. He stood upright and tilted his head back, determination settling into his features once again. Annie felt sure that he knew what he had to do.
That night, Annie took sleeping pills to get some much needed rest and dreamed about Sam in a cold, stark room. There were shadows climbing over him, enveloping him in darkness, and nothing she could do to stop them. She stood in a corner, trying to reach, but failing. In the other corner stood Gene, mouth pressed into a tight thin line, and fear and disgust in his expression.