REMIX OF: Out of the Groove, by talkingtothesky.
RATING: Green Cortina for suggestions of suggestiveness. Possibly implied Sam/Gene, nothing explicit.
SPOILERS: None, other than perhaps the conceit of the series.
WORD COUNT: 1175
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for the Remix Challenge over at 1973flashfic and hosted on that community.
SUMMARY: Sam and Gene compare units.
DISCLAIMER: Life on Mars is copyright Kudos and the BBC. No infringement is intended and no money is being made.
GETTING THE SHAFT
"I can't believe it. I just can't believe it." Sam holds his head, brow furrowed, and he looks as though he's got the world's most massive migraine coming on.
"What's not to believe, Sammy-boy? I've kept nowt from you." Gene sounds defencive, as though exactly the opposite were true.
"I...just...how long? I've known you how long and it's come to this?" Sam is on point of spluttering, and if Gene wasn't caught up in the heat of the moment, he might well have been laughing by now.
At length, Gene does laugh...bitterly. "At least mine does work, Gladys. Yours seems rather...lacking."
"It's a problem that can be addressed, I assure you. With the proper care, we can have it up and running again in no time," Sam begins, brow still creased as he looks more and more pained by the very fact of having this conversation.
"It's still not better than mine," Gene sniffs, as though the very idea is completely reprehensible.
"You're joking me, right? You must be," Sam snarls, and there's a cold light in his eyes, as though the last vestige of everything he is has been stripped away and he's none too happy about it.
"I might not have some fancy poncey name for mine, and it might not feel as solid and sure under my fingers as you keep insisting yours does, but at least I've kept mine in good working order all these years," Gene retorts, absentmindedly cradling his gloved right fist in the equally-gloved palm of his left hand, as though trying to either work up to hitting the sorry git or trying to hold himself back from doing just that.
"Isn't it better, though, to have the superior equipment and know that even if it does break down, it's only a short matter of time before you'll have it running again and we'll know exactly who's on top?" Sam glares, now, and paces like a great angry cat. He's got wires instead of muscles, that one; his movements are smooth and jerky all at once, and the tension rolls off him in waves. It's surprising Gene hasn't been buoyed away on the tide.
"Your trouble, Samuel, is that you'll never say you're wrong." Gene hisses, suddenly still and very, very quiet. Low. Threatening. And directly invading Sam's personal space.
"I'd happily admit to being wrong if I actually was. And I've done many times before. But I'm not wrong now." Sam is equally quiet and deadly, and not giving a single millimetre even though Gene, as ever, is towering over him like a great, solid oak tree obscuring the sun from a small, thorny shrubbery.
They stand like this, unmoving, for untold minutes; each man refusing to back down, but each man holding himself back from devolving into their usual way of ending such confrontations. Maybe they're tired of laying into each other with their fists; maybe they actually relish the ridiculous amount of tension that surrounds them like a cloud in most of their interactions. Or maybe they're just tired, or maybe time is doing that strange temporal shifting thing that it does in certain weird situations, thus provoking such silly and trite phrases as "time stands still."
"Are we actually going to do this?" Sam asks, quietly, breaking eye contact and gazing somewhere just to the left of Gene's head.
"Do what?" Gene's got his thumbs hooked through his belt loops now. This can't be good.
"You're aching to punch me right now, aren't you?" Sam asks, quietly, eyeing Gene's fists as they clench and unclench around his belt loops.
"You're asking for it," Gene responds evenly, as though this is the most logical thing in the world, and even a man with the brain power of a field mouse, such as the one standing before him, should be able to see it clearly.
"Over such a small thing?" Sam scoffs, an instant before realising that this is completely the wrong thing to say.
"Now there's a point even you can't argue with, Mr. Science! Get out your ruler and I dare you to tell me mine's smaller again! It doesn't matter if yours is working or not, the measuring'll be the same." Gene is apparently not completely willing to let this conversation come to blows yet again, or he'd already have started it.
"That's not what I meant and you know it," Sam says, although it's clear from his tone he knows how weak this excuse sounds.
"So we have the facts in order here: you come round to mine. With your new 12" of complete noise, and what's more, you even bring your own turntable because somewhere in your tiny mind, you're convinced that I can't possibly care as much about the quality of my sound as you do. Have I got that right?" Gene sounds increasingly angrier by the second, with a small note of something else creeping in underneath.
"No, you haven't! I just thought you might like to hear this new technology they've come out with recently! I wanted to share it with you! If you thought stereophonic sound was amazing, wait until you hear the wonders of quadraphonic sound! And I knew you didn't have the right setup for it, so I brought mine over thinking we could have a nice afternoon listening to music." Sam is aghast at just how wrongly Gene has interpreted his actions. And slightly ashamed...his shoulders slouch down, not defensively, but as though he'd be tucking his tail between his legs if he had one.
More silence, as Gene digests this bit and understands that it wasn't what he was thinking, at all. And tries to remain outraged, but can't completely. He understands more than he'd ever admit to Sam, though it's written in indelible ink in every line of his body.
"Well, yours isn't working now, is it? Will this fancy new technology play on my doddering old BSR?" he says, at length, leaving his acknowledgement and acceptance of Sam's true intentions completely unspoken.
"It will, but it won't sound as good." Still, Sam slides the 12" black vinyl disc out of its sleeve and pops it onto the spindle on Gene's BSR as I watch, helpless, and sad I can't do more.
"What did you say this was called again?" Gene is listening, and now it's his turn to furrow his brow in concentration.
"Frankenstein." Sam smiles, guardedly, not sure whether Gene is going to like it or dismiss it as more noise.
Gene says nothing, but he does almost smile. Sam looks relieved, but can't keep himself from casting a few sad glances in my direction.
"'e's not bad," Gene concedes at last, but it sounds like there's a massive "but" coming. Sure enough.... "But back when I was doing National Service, I used to know this one bloke had magic fingers with his guitar..."
Sam's completely relaxed now, but still looks slightly sad. More than usual, I mean.
If only Sam had thought to check that I had the right cartridge. A store-display Dual 1229Q can be quite a bargain, to be s