Word Count: 3,537
Notes: An extremely (I AM SO SORRY) late gift for talkingtothesky, for her prompt '14. Sam/Gene, friends to lovers, first Christmas as a couple'. This is not everything I wanted to do with the prompt, but I'm running out of time to post everything, so this is part 2 of the fic I originally planned- the 'friends to lovers' bit will come later as a separate fic, this is the first Christmas as a couple. I hope you enjoy and I'm so sorry for the wait and the roundabout fulfilling of the prompt. Thank you so much for your patience with me <3 <3 <3 <3
“My granda got arrested one year, Boxing Day, 1950. Stu’d been cryin’ because Father Christmas didn’t bring ‘im a toy pony, that was all ‘e wanted that year, but our dad wouldn’t let Mam make ‘im one ‘cos only girls ‘ad ponies for Christmas. Our granda took pity on ‘im an’ went an’ nicked one from the toy shop while nobody was there, got me a racing car while ‘e was there. Unlucky for ‘im that PC Price was on duty that day.”
“PC Price? Why, was ‘e the superhuman officer of the day?” Bonding with Gene has become Sam’s number one (besides tackling Christmas crime) imperative for their first festive season together. Gene’s a closed book at the best of times, but Sam made shutting himself off an art form in his own youth, knows how to slip past the barriers erected (bad word to use in such close proximity to the man he’s been teaching the joys of shagging like rabbits for weeks now), get at the centre of the man. (Not in that way. Actually, yes, hopefully later, very much in that way. But not right now. Down, boy.)
“Nope. Granda was stone deaf an’ didn’t realise ‘ow much bloody noise ‘e was makin’. PC Price could’ve ‘eard ‘im in Birmingham.” Gene sniffs, takes a gulp from his flask before offering it to Sam. “They let ‘im go, though. My mam was in a mood with ‘im for weeks.”
“Why, did ‘e end up with a record?”
“No, ‘e forgot to get ‘is Lloyd George an’ the daft bastard lived on Spam for a week.” A smile creeps over Gene’s face. “So I nicked ‘im a loaf of bread to prove that at least someone in our family could steal. Got a good ol’ slap from the old man for it too.”
The amateur bomb-maker they’re staking out is busy brushing his teeth. Sam reaches over, puts his hand on top of Gene’s, watches Gene watching his hand. “So did Stu get the pony?”
“An’ I got my racing car. He hid ‘em in his trousers an’ our mam disinfected them for us.” Gene flexes his fingers, says nothing when Sam interlocks their hands. “Still got it somewhere.”
“Did you keep the pony too?”
Gene’s mouth tightens, in that way that Sam’s learnt means he’s in dangerous territory. “I put the pony in Stu’s coffin, at the funeral, ‘cos it was the only present the poor sod ever got at Christmas. ‘Cept for a broken arm.”
His eyes are burning now. He’s sure Gene’ll mock him for crying, so he blinks the hot wetness back, swipes quickly at his cheeks and turns back to the suspect’s window, changes the subject. “I got the Christmas pudding from the market this year, lovely lady called Eleanor Parks, she gave me one with extra raisins ‘cos I mentioned you like them, an’ took the orange peel off the top too, orange on Christmas pudding never ends well but it did leave a bit of a splodge so I’ll ‘ave to deal with that-”
“Tyler, for Christ’s sake, shut- what’s this?” Rough fingers on Sam’s face. “Christ, Tyler, yer not gettin’ all weepy ‘cos you ‘ave to spend Thursday evening mending the pudding?”
“No! Believe it or not, it was when you mentioned Stu’s funeral!”
Gene pauses, looks down at his lap. His hand doesn’t move from Sam’s face. “You never even met the bastard.”
“My… my would’ve-been sort-of brother-in-law.”
“Stu would’ve liked that,” Gene snorts. “Picky pain like you. Stu was so bloody pernickety about everything, wouldn’t let ‘is peas touch ‘is potatoes, put everything neatly away in our bedroom. ‘Specially when I was in the middle of usin’ it. Used to drive me insane.”
“Nothing wrong with being tidy, Gene.” Too much emotion. Gene might be entirely repressed in that regard, but Sam’s not spending his first Christmas Eve weeping like a fountain. “Speaking of which.” He stirs up the empty takeaway cartons and old newspapers dumped around his feet, wrinkles his nose. “Christmas clean-up in the Cortina?”
“No it doesn’t.”
“I can read those newspapers when I get bored.”
“No, you fall asleep when you get bored.”
“Do too. And you drool.”
“I do not drool when I’m asleep. Besides, you talk.”
“Only when you leave the TV on an’ it disturbs me. An’ you do drool. There’s proof on the window there.”
“That’s bird shi- right. Christmas clean-up in the Cortina, startin’ with-”
“Argh! Gene! Don’t tip me OUTowwwwwyoubastard…”
“Guv! Want a turkey sandwich? Some of ‘em ‘ave got cranberry sauce in as well. They’re the ones with pinky blobs on the bread.” Chris has spent most of the last two hours in the canteen, helping Gwen and her new assistant Linda (the main reason for Chris’s sudden interest in catering) make the Christmas fare. Which actually seemed to have boosted CID’s productivity. Then again, Gene had said they could bugger off by four if their paperwork was done and someone had arranged a plod to watch their bomb-maker for the evening.
Sam’s got plans for this evening that don’t involve another festive stake-out, unless Gene starts using that as a euphemism too.
“Don’t mind if I do, Skelton. ‘Ope you washed yer ‘ands first.”
“Linda showed me ‘ow to wash ‘em thorough-like.” A dreamy smile flits across Chris’s face. “I should’ve brought some coronations in for ‘er.”
“Carnations, Chris. They’re flowers, Guv. You know, those things that grow on the bushes you so like to use as braking devices.”
Gene reaches round Sam with both arms, nabs a sandwich with each one at the same time as grinding himself against Sam’s arse, out of sight of the babble rushing for sausage rolls or slices of cake. Sam drops his own sandwich.
“Never use a bush, scratches the paintwork. Oops! Clumsy, DI Tyler. Never mind, you ‘ave this one.” Gene proffers him the cranberry sandwich in his right hand, clapping him on the back as he retreats to his office. “Never say I’m not generous.”
“I will get you back for that,” Sam mutters through gritted teeth.
“I certainly ‘ope so,” he hears Gene whisper as he dodges through desks and slams through into his office. “Cartwright, morgue reports!”
“Why me?” A valid question, as Annie’s very clearly in the middle of typing up statements.
“You’re the only one who won’t sneak off for a crafty mince pie in the cafeteria. If I send Chris, ‘e’ll be up poor Linda’s skirt within five minutes.”
“She’s wearin’ trousers, Guv,” Chris interjects, a mournful look on his face. “I did try.”
“Please don’t, Chris. That’s actually sexual harassment.”
“Don’t apologise to me, apologise to the poor girl you felt up.”
Chris is out of the office in seconds; Sam sighs, picks up another sandwich, and heads through to Gene’s office for five minutes of (relative) peace and quiet.
“Gene, if I ‘ave another whisky chaser, I will turn into a whisky chaser. All my alcohol is blood. Er. ‘Ang on.”
Gene hiccups, slaps Sam on the back and wavers on his stool; Annie rushes to catch him. “Dissolved that stick up y’r arse yet, S’mmy-boy? Ooh, Cartwright. Gimme an ‘and, th’bar’s movin’.”
“It’s not, Guv.”
“’Tis! Can’t y’see? Swimmin’. RAY! Ent the bar movin’?”
Ray, flat over the bar, lifts a hand in response and waves. Which might have been adequate had he not waved at the wrong end of the bar.
“Girl,” Gene mutters. “Oh. Y’r a girl too, ent yeh, Cartwright? You c’n ‘andle yer alcohol better’n Raymondo. Raymundo? Raymondo? Tyler?”
“No, I’m Tyler,” Sam says, eyes rolling in drunken exasperation. “Come on. Get off that stool, I’ll drive you ‘ome. Please don’t brain yerself, two of us in a coma is not goin’ to end well.”
“Sam,” Annie mutters.
“I’m drunk. I’m not goin’ to remember this, Gene’s not goin’ to remember this, you’re not… what was I sayin’?”
“Stop bein’ so bloody logical, yer meant t’be drunk,” Gene sighs.
“Oh yeah.” Sam levers himself off the stool, keeps himself upright by grabbing Vince’s jacket. “Vince, I’m goin’ to call myself an’ the Guv a taxi, ‘k?”
“M’not leavin’ t’Cortina ‘ere!” Gene lunges for Sam, misses, grabs Vince instead. “Oops. Where’d Sam go? Was two of the bast’rd a second ago!”
Vince helpfully hands Sam over and scarpers.
“Gene, we’re both pissed,” Sam says, carefully enunciating each word. “If you crash the Cortina, you’ll ‘ave a terrible Christmas. So will I. The passenger usually gets injured worse than the driver.” He points a wobbly finger at Gene, who goes cross-eyed trying to focus on it. “Not that I want either of us in ‘ospital over Christmas, the dinner is terrible, I know from experience. Let’s just get a taxi, OK? We can sober up at ‘ome. It’s only nine. Nelson’ll look after yer car.”
Gene heaves a huge sigh, lets Sam pull him towards the door. “G’night, Manchester!” he roars, throws his arms out to either side and slaps Chris in the face. “G’night, Skelton.”
“Goodnight, Guv,” Chris mumbles, nursing his nose. “Get ‘ome safe.”
“’Ow could I not? Got the great Sam Tyler to chap- chaper- babysit me,” is Gene’s parting shot to the pub.
“You are so drunk,” Sam mutters as he hauls Gene’s unco-operative body towards the road, leans him against the wall by the payphone. “Stay there an’ stay still.”
“Need a piss.”
“Tie a knot in it.”
“Ow.” Gene winces. “Don’t like that idea.”
“Me neither. Hi, hello, ‘ave you got a cab available to pick us up from the Railway Arms? Yes, we’re outside.”
Gene turns to one side and is heroically sick over Nelson’s fence.
“Er. Yes, any cab’ll do. Ta. GUV! Don’t pass out, please?”
“Good, er, midnight, Gene. Whatever it is, I don’t care.”
“There’s a cat fallin’ off the gutter again.”
“Shit!” Sam bolts out of bed, bollock-naked, and grabs his towel and the bucket by the window, hauling it open as he throws the towel about his hips. “Shit! Cold! Shit! Where’s the cat?”
“I was lyin’. I need paracetamol an’ another cup of tea.”
Sam dumps the bucket with a clatter, tugs the towel away and takes three deep breaths. “I nearly just flashed half of Manchester because of you. Not to mention the minor bout of hypothermia.”
“Lucky Manchester.” Gene rolls onto his side, regards Sam through wide-open eyes. “Tea? Painkillers?”
“Sod you. You get them.” Sam throws the towel on the floor, ducks back into bed, and steals the blanket in its entirety, wrapping his shivering body in it. Gene’s gasp as Sam snatches away his warmth is almost worth the inadvertent public display.
“You git.” But he clambers out of bed and stumbles downstairs, leaving Sam huddled in the blanket, shuddering with the cold. Gene has to let him help with the radiator repairs. Manly pride be damned, Sam’s colder than the proverbial polar bear’s knackers.
Not that their knackers would actually be that cold. He’s sure David Attenbourough did something on polar bears in 2003-ish, they seemed remarkably warm to him…
Clonk, and a mug of steaming something-that-smells-milky lands on his table.
“Mmh? Genie?” Shit. He’s not supposed to be being nice to Gene. Gene woke him up and nearly caused a mass public indecency complaint. And yes, he would climb out a window naked to save a cat… again… and there’s no shame in that. (Nobody saw the first time. Or so he hopes.) And Gene is not supposed to bring Sam milky drinks when Sam’s angry at him. Especially not ones with just a little bit of cream on the top and the skin taken off, just as he likes it. This is absolutely not how it’s meant to go.
“Thought that’d ‘elp you get off to sleep again.” Gene takes a slurp of his own tea, nicks some of the blanket back; Sam grudgingly lets him. Cold toes touch Sam’s leg and he slaps blindly at the mass behind him, growling low in his throat. “Girl.”
“Merry bloody Christmas.”
“It’s Christmas Eve.”
“Yeah, so merry bloody Christmas.”
“I am seriously considering returning your presents.”
“Don’t you- wait. Presents? More than one?”
The blanket is flung over Sam’s face as Gene jumps out of bed and gallops downstairs; Sam sighs, nestles further into the residual warmth, and takes another glug of milk drink. Mmm, Gene’s put honey in it. Sweet of him. (Pun intended, he’s not as brash with his language as that sodding oaf and his metaphors.)
“TYLER! There are six presents ‘ere!”
“Yes, Gene. Six.”
“Six.” Gene sounds… dreamy. “Six presents.” Is six too many? Has Gene only got him one thing? Has he made a terrible mistake?
“Six. Goodnight, Gene, enjoy the sofa.”
Thud-thud-thud and there’s a warm body wrapped around him, cold nose on his neck. “Yer right generous, Tyler,” Gene rumbles behind him. He plants a wet smack on Sam’s cheek, turns over, and nicks most of the blanket only for Sam, yelping, to twist round and an undignified scuffle to break out.
“Ugh! Not that generous, gimme back!”
“A nice quiet Christmas, we said. No guts strewn over floors, no ‘eadless bodies in bins, no cats stuck up ruddy trees.” Gene slouches down, sunglasses pulled tight to his face, and pouts. Sam tries not to snigger. “Instead we get a ruddy bloody bomb planted on my patch. Fan-bloody-tastic.”
Sam pats his shoulder. “It’s only nine forty-five. We might still make it off shift early.”
“Only nine forty-five an’ it’s gone this wrong already. I was goin’ to take you somewhere tonight. Don’t remember any of last night, see. First Christmas an’ all that bollocks.”
Gene nods towards the deserted community hall, cordoned off and swamped by tiptoeing police officers. Sam’s eyebrows shoot up into his fringe. “Stuey an’ I used to play football ‘ere when the Guides were meeting. Kick the ball against the window enough times an’ Brown Owl would come stormin’ out, Stu would take the blame, I would sneak inside an’ get a quick snog with Ivy Matthews.”
“Partners in crime.”
Gene adjusts his sunglasses, tips his head back; Sam lets the very tips of his fingers rest on Gene’s neck. “I used to give Stu ‘alf me pocket money. Ivy started goin’ out with Graham Powell not five months later. Bloody fickle women.”
“One member’s actions do not a gender taint.”
“You gettin’ sanctimonious again, Tyler?” Gene straightens his spine, knocks Sam’s fingers away. “All women’re like it. Say one thing an’ mean another.”
“An’ yer basin’ this entirely on the actions of one person, so I see? Guv, that’s a bit pathetic, don’t you think?”
“Pathetic? You callin’ me pathetic?”
“I am not gettin’ into a stupid argument on Christmas Eve.”
“Not a stupid argument. You called me pathetic.”
“You are pathetic, when you try to disguise yer self-imposed shame over being “gay as a Christmas tree” as plain misogyny! Well, guess what, Gene, it’s you who chose to dip yer wick in the chocolate fountain, Ivy Matthews ‘ad nothing to do with it! Nor any other woman who has had the misfortune to be on the receivin’ end of your particular brand of sexism! God, sometimes it’s just plain embarrassing to be with you, when you open yer mouth an’ come out with that kind of shit.”
Gene is ramrod straight, deathly still, his mouth half-open and fist clenched bone-white on the gearstick. “You,” he gets out, lowering his hand from the steering wheel to the handle of the door. “You really are just a sanctimonious prick an’ I’m sorry I ever thought you might like to ‘ear about my Christmasses gone.”
“Now you want to blame it on me. You think if you make me feel bad about tellin’ you the truth as it is, I’ll retract it an’ you can carry on blamin’ everyone else for yer shortcomings.” This was not the route he wanted to go down on Christmas Eve, but for goodness’ sake, does Gene never stop and listen to himself? Does Gene never bloody reflect on what he’s saying-
“See you later, Sam. Enjoy Christmas at yer flat. Maybe Cartwright would like a visitor.” Gene shoves himself out of the car and slams the door shut so hard the whole chassis wobbles, stomping down and past the sergeant guarding the door into the community centre.
Well, that went well.
Sam leans his own head back against the headrest, exhales hard through his nose. Gene is the most irritating, confusing, bloody wrong person in Manchester, and Sam has to be magnetically attracted to him. Never mind Gene’s taste in sweethearts, Sam’s own is some kind of sick joke to his 2006 standards.
He looks down at Gene’s coat, still slung over the back of his seat. It’s cold in here, but he’s pissed off at Gene, he can’t really wear Gene’s coat, can he? You don’t wear the coat of the person who’s just told you you’re no longer welcome for Christmas.
He’s no longer welcome in Gene’s Christmas. Oh shit. That went really, really wrong.
Sam tugs the door of the car open just as an alarm goes off and PCs scatter in all directions, screaming for everyone to get back, get out of the way, it’s going to explode and Sam catapults himself behind a brick fence and crouches down as far as he can whilst keeping his head up over the wall, scouring the panic of police officers for Gene-
Gene, where is he, if the idiot’s actually gone inside with a live bomb in there Sam won’t get the chance to kill him himself-
BANG and the windows explode, the door flies off its hinges into the back of a retreating officer and Sam leaps up and runs towards it screaming at the top of his lungs, shouting and shouting and someone tries to step in front of him and he bowls them aside into a bush and bolts inside and round the corner and into the main hall and-
“Gene? GENE! GENE ARE YOU IN ‘ERE! GENE!”
Arms wrap around him from behind and he smells him before he sees him, squirms round and throws his arms around Gene and there’s blood on Gene’s forehead and his arm and he clings as hard as he can, buries his nose in Gene’s neck and he couldn’t give less of a shit that he’s meant to be angry with him, Gene’s alive. Gene’s alive.
“You div,” Gene mutters. “I was outside.”
Sam can’t help a sob. “I didn’t see you come out.”
“Most buildings only ‘ave one ruddy bloody door in an’ out. Funny thing I’ve noticed. Call yerself a detective?”
“Well, I never claimed to be an architect.” Sam reaches up, touches the cut on Gene’s forehead. “Where did this come from, then?”
“Saw you runnin’ in like the maniac you are. Thought I should probably follow an’ save you from doin’ something stupid.”
Sam swallows hard, tastes dust and smoke and man. “So nice to know you care.”
“Maybe we’ll skip the fire this Christmas.”
“Maybe we will.”
“Is it eight o’clock?”
“Christmas morning, Gene!” Sam’s been up since half past six, couldn’t get to sleep for nightmares about running into burning buildings and finding the tattered remains of a camel-hair coat flapping in the smoke. Gene’s huddled in the blankets, a sleeping mountain of unshaven, sleepy man, one foot poking out, and Sam placing a single gingerbread biscuit on the pillow beside his face elicits nothing but a snore. “I made gingerbread last night!”
Gene reaches out, snaffles the gingerbread, and demolishes it, eyes still closed.
“Yer awake now. You’ve ‘ad breakfast.”
“Go to sleep. Yer not six.”
Sam kisses his forehead, just above the angry cut. “Get up now an’ I won’t cook us Brussels sprouts with our Christmas dinner. How does that sound?”
“Tyler, unless there’s a fire downstairs, I’m stayin’ in bed.”
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me-”
“You call me that an’ I’ll smash yer teeth in.”
That hurts more than Sam expects it to. “Er. On the first day of Christmas, my shagging partner gave to me-”
The blankets tumble backwards, and a soft pair of lips silence Sam. “True love, ‘ow bloody soppy. Try… partner for life. In crime. In fightin’ crime. Just don’t get too girly.”
“What did I say about casual sexism.” But Sam’s grinning, winding his arms around Gene’s waist, tickling his side to make him squirm. Maya hated it. Gene thumps him if he finds that really sensitive spot on his waist, where he was shot in National Service. Maya had a scar somewhere, maybe her foot, maybe her wrist, he doesn’t care as he rubs a careful thumb over Gene’s poor forehead. “Doesn’t suit you.”
“You put the pigs in blankets in the oven?”
“Very suitable for cohabitin’ coppers. Not yet, you heathen, it’s only half seven.”
“So it is. G’night.”
“Gene! I want to open my presents! No, Gene, please! Ge-ene!”