Blast

Author: talkingtothesky

Spoilers: Series 2, Episode 3

Rating: K+ (Bit of swearing...)

Words: Around 4000.

Pairings: Gene/Sam, Sam/Annie and even a bit of Gene/Annie...

Summary:

Now, either you get in sync or I find another cog. ... Dead moron's no use to anyone.
In which sad Sam gets himself blown up and hospitalized following Ray's accident ...

Miserable and guilty about his part in Ray's injury, ostracized by the department, Sam cuts the wrong wire and ends up in hospital. In a coma. In 1973. With the team at his bedside. And is tormented by the Test Card Girl. Meanwhile, Ray's back on his feet. And Gene and Annie feel sick with guilt ... they know why Sam put himself in danger.

This is a response to the above prompt by marsorbiter on LiveJournal. Life on Mars belongs to the BBC and Kudos.


Tick…tock…tick…tock…tick…tockticktockticktocktick.

"No rush, Tyler! You've got about 22 seconds before all blows sky high!"

The pliers are slippery in his sweaty palm. The clockface hovers menacingly above him, confirming Gene's statement and daring him to disobey. It's the red one, no, it's the yellow – he knows he's done it before, back in 'Hyde'. Except how can he remember something from a place he has never been to?

Think! He orders of his unco-operative brain. While time seems to be speeding up, his mind is slowing down, the grey cloud forming over his memories and denying all recollection of his last encouter with a car-bomb. It suddenly occurs to him that he can barely remember what his own room looked like in 2006.

The insistent ticking of the clock. It looms above him, challenging him.

"15 seconds, Tyler!"

He glances around for help, but none is forthcoming. Except for a face that appears out of nowhere and almost makes him hit his head on the underside of the car.

The Test Card Girl leans down from the back end of the car. Her blonde hair spills down, brushing against the pavement.

"What are you going to do, Sam?"

"I've got nothing to prove!"

Sam stares back at her, a million voices coursing through his head, a flood of memories bursting through the dam and swamping him.

"He's hurt Sam, didn't you know? They haven't told you he's dying, have they?"

"No!" Sam shouts, shaking his head – it can't be true.

"It's all your fault, Sam…"

No! Shakes his head again.

The pliers shake uncontrollably in his hands, as still staring at the girl hanging upside down, closes around the yellow wire and pulls.

And suddenly the clockface is superimposed over the girl's face and the second hand gives one last tick.

"Bang! You're dead, Sam."

And the last thing he sees is the toy clown's face laughing before he is swept away into oblivion.

-----

Gene Hunt dives behind his beloved Cortina for the second time that day. He feels the heat ruffle his hair as it rushes upwards and outwards in a swirling ball of flame. His gloved fingers clench the door frame as if it is the only thing holding him up. It is over in seconds, but his heart is lodged in his throat and refuses to start beating again.

He barely registers the bomb squad arriving seconds too late, the fact that Chris is babbling something incoherent. He is running – no, sprinting – to his DI's side before he has chance to think.

And when he does, he wishes he hadn't.

"Shit, Tyler!" He drops to his knees and grabs hold of a bloodied wrist, but his hands are shaking so much he can't even find a pulse. He thinks he sees eyelids flutter, but when he looks again he finds it wishful thinking. He thinks Sam's fingers twitch, as if to grasp hold of Gene's own wrist, but Tyler's hand remains still. He thinks the bastard's flown about 6 feet from under that car. He thinks of how lucky they said Ray was to survive, and realises that Sam'll have to be bloody lucky too. Gene hates thinking.

Instead, he stares shakenly down at the man lying motionless next to him and sees for the first time. The open gash on his forehead, seeping blood onto the pavement, the scattered, mangled remains of the metal clock that caused it. The rest of Sam is burnt, battered and bruised. His brain won't stop putting things together as he runs through the events of the past few hours; the dark, defeated look in Sam's eyes everytime Gene reminded him of this morning's events, the flash of eagerness as he planted himself under that bomb and then stayed there.

The ambulance arrives after what feels like centuries and as they hoist Tyler haphazardly onto a stretcher Gene lets go of his wrist. His gloves are smeared with Sam's blood and he stares at them, disgusted. His gaze shifts to the ambulance as it trundles off, painfully slowly. Onl y when it has disappeared around the corner does he turn and punch the nearest wall.

-----

When he stumbles through the doors of CID the next morning – only slightly pissed ("I'm a professional officer!") – the first person he bumps into is Cartwright. She comes barrelling along the corridor, her voice far too loud.

"Thank goodness you turned up, sir! We've had three stabbings and a burglary!" When she reached him, however, her voice turned to a whisper and to his surprise asked; "How is he?"

His first reaction was to say; "How's who?" It looked as if the alcohol had done its job. All it had really succeeded in doing, though, was pissing off the WPC.

"DI Tyler! You know, one of your officers, short hair, leather jacket, got blown up by a car yesterday?!" With one look from Gene, though, she shut up sharp. She put a hand to her mouth, as though amazed at her own daring.

"I'm sorry, sir, I'll just-"

"I don't know." He admitted seriously, all traces of the hangover apparently disappated.

"You mean you haven't even-!" she almost yelled again, then caught herself.

Gene shook his head. Then the anger returned in full measure and he half-growled; "Looks like my officers have quite a habit of getting blown up though, doesn't it!?"

He pushed past her and made to stalk off down the corridor towards his office. Unfortunately for the both of them, the plonk was being just as annoying as Tyler himself, and followed him.

Gene made straight for his stash drawer of whisky; it was obvious he was going to need to drink just to get through the day. He didn't bother to hold the door open for her, prefering to let it slam in her face. Maybe she'd get the message and leave him in peace.

The truth was that he'd been so wrapped up in feeling sorry for himself, he hadn't even bothered to check up and see whether the bloke had died or not. In his head he'd pretty much made up his mind of the chances. He was half-expecting to see a note from Chris on his desk attached to a newspaper article detailing Sam Tyler's fatal mission. It would probably paint a picture of Tyler the bloody Hyde-hero, valiant to the last in the hope of keeping the city safe. The whole idea made him feel sick.

For he knew that Sam Tyler was a ruddy coward; and he, Gene Hunt, had driven him to suicide.

It was at that point that Annie finally reappeared, apparently nursing a bruised nose. He busied himself with the glasses, reluctantly beginning to pour her a glass when it became apparent she wasn't moving from his office.

"Oh, not for me, thanks, Guv." She protested. Gene shrugged and downed both glasses, one after the other.

"Right then, Cartwright, spit it out!"

"Okay…" For all her confidence of earlier, she wasn't sure if what she was doing was the right thing. She could just as easily be demoted for wasting his time. Or she could get Sam into even more trouble than he was already in. "Well, you know when I've told you before that Sam still hasn't recovered from his accident the first day he got here? He seems to have been getting worse recently. Remember Tony Crane? Sam has actually told me aspects of what Crane said to be true. He keeps saying that we're all imaginary, or something. He was rattling on to me about something called Semtec and the 1990s earlier…."

She paused, risked a glance at Gene, who was watching her intently, and she realised suddenly that she hadn't yet sat down. Dropping into a chair that Gene kicked out from the table towards her, she continued. "I…I snapped at him. I made sure he felt bad about what happened to Ray, and well…I don't know, but sometimes he can take things too far…"

"You think it's your fault?"

"I don't know!"

" He adores you, but I'm hoping you two aren't that close for him to kill himself because you had a go at him once?! Hell, Tyler pisses off everyone he meets, he must be used to getting shouted at! I mean, what have I been doing for the past seven months?!"

Annie, too, was losing her patience now. "How can you be so insensitive? When Ray gets hurt you go all high and mighty about needing to protect your officers, yet when Sam goes and very near dies, you don't give a damn!"

"That's because it was his fault! You can't expect me to like Tyler when it was his brilliant idea that got Ray hurt! Ray has followed me up the ranks ever since I first started; Tyler turns up on his big Hyde-horse and starts trying to rewrite everything we stand for! The only reason I let him keep his job was because he's a bloody good officer! "

"But that doesn't allow you to care when he is lying in a hospital bed?"

"I don't see you rushing to his side!"

"I thought you were there all last night!"

" Well, obviously not!"

"Then we're both responsible!"

"Fine!" He stood abruptly from his seat, knocking several files off the desk in the process. "Look, I've got a city to run here, so unless you're trying to replace Tyler in the pain-in-the-arse stakes, I suggest you shift it!"

"Yes, sir." Agreed Annie, knowing she had crossed several lines this morning already. "I'll bring the files through." She rose from her seat and was almost at the door when she decided she could push it just that one step further.

"In case you hadn't noticed, Ray's not the only one who's followed you ever since he started. While yes, Sam's different, you can't say the changes he's made haven't been for the better! Sam's stuck to his guns, even when the whole world's against him – and even though you won't admit it, he's been right in several of those times! And you might like someone to agree with you all the time, but I'm sure if you were honest with yourself you'd see that Sam being a 'pain in the arse' has made you a better officer and quite possibly a better man!"

And with that, she half-ran out of his office, leaving him fuming and with an awful lot more to think about. He didn't get those files for a very long time.

-----

He hates hospitals with a passion. Too tidy, too quiet, too clinical. And bloody freezing! Honestly, half the people in here were likely just sick with the flu!

He shoves his hands (gloveless) in the pockets of his coat and saunters down the never-ending corridors, not knowing where he's going, but knowing at the same time.

The ward he's in is full of coma patients, so it hardly matters if he makes a noise, and he doesn't try to be quiet, never has.

It was his conscience that won over in the end, the annoying, Tyler-shaped conscience that had niggled away through the scotch until even that couldn't make him forget anymore.

The department's reaction to Sam's accident had been very different to Ray's. When before they had stood together and made Sam stick out as the scapegoat, now they were subdued but ultimately unaffected. There were no collection tins, no get well cards (apart from Chris, who had lazily scrawled 'Get well, Boss' while dropping bits of sandwich all over it.) This had annoyed Annie most of all, who had grown sick of the muttering that permeated the offices hour after hour.

The cases they'd dealt with had not been too complicated, but the O' Brien case had resulted in Gene beating the bastard to within an inch of his life. He had only laid off him when some invisible force had pushed him back, his brain registering something about him being just as bad as the terrorists himself if he killed the bloke. Mercifully, said terrorists had been silent today.

Gene'd never admit it, but it had been strange without Tyler. Chris was all very well and good, but he wasn't quite as enigmatic a colleague as Gene had grown used to having at his side.

Which is why he had wound up here, when even sitting in the pub had done nothing to soothe his rattled nerves.

When he finally finds the man he is looking for, it is an unpleasant surprise. Sam's head is bandaged tightly, a tube thrust down his throat forcing him to breathe. Gene has never seen him so quiet. A recollection from months ago, Gene remembers Sam telling a nurse "Tell them not to stop talking to her." He'd wondered at the time how he knew so much about coma patients, but had never asked.

"Right, then, Tyler!" he said, sinking down into an incredibly uncomfortable hospital chair. He rubs his hands together, trying to figure out what to say next. "You're a royal pain, but Cartwright's got her knickers in a twist over you and decided to give me the third degree this morning. Now, for all our sakes, wake up and get her off my back, will you?! Besides, I am not losing any of my officers over this! It'll take more than the IRA to bring down my team, you got that?"

He keeps asking questions, but they keep going unanswered. "Now, whatever bee in your bonnet you've got telling you to get blown up is going to stop. We shouldn't have blamed you for everything that happened to Ray, who I've only just found out is gonna be just dandy anyway! So Gladys, stop pissing about and wake.the hell.up!" He punctuates this with a slap on the bedcovers.

Sam remains still and silent; it wasn't like Gene expected him to come round from a two day long coma just like that. The silence is broken, though, when a skinny nurse strolls up to the bed and begins to check Sam's vitals. She asks him "You family?"

Gene starts and shakes his head. It had only just occurred to him that Sam had never really mentioned his family; Gene had assumed they were all back in Hyde. "Nah, I'm his boss."

"Right, then, Sam's boss!" she says brightly, with a cheeriness Gene despises. "It's only a matter of time before he wakes up, he's healing quickly and his brain has sustained no further damage apart from the obvious." Gene snorts at this.

"He'll be no more insane than usual, then."

Nurse Williams (so it said on her nametag) ignored this and carried on; "It'll be up to him where and when he wakes up, however. This kind of trauma often results in patients wanting to return home, take a break, regroup. In the meantime, you'll just have to be patient while he decides."

The nurse trots off again only for another set of clipped heels to appear round the corner at the same time. Gene groans.

"Oh, you came then?" Annie remarks, sitting herself down on Sam's other side and glaring at him over the bed.

"How could I not? You'dve dragged me here by the balls anyway!"

Annie smiles slightly. "I've just been to check on Ray; they say he's free to go. He's just about bouncing off the walls demanding to get out of here!"

Gene breaks into a grin. "Good man! I'd better go and give him a lift!"

"Hey, not so fast!" Annie protests when he stands to leave. "What did the nurse say?"

Gene shrugged. "The lazy git'll wake up when he wants to."

-----

When the familiar voices return, Sam finds it both a relief and irritation. They are just a blur at first, loud and incoherent; disturbing his peace. Then he recognises the sound of the heart monitor and his mood soars. "Come on, Sam, wake up! We've missed you!"

Mum!? He thinks, tries to find his way in the blackness. Mum, I'm coming! I'm coming home! And slowly, ever so slowly, he begins to hear more and more of what's around him, begins to feel the tingling in his body that promises great pain as soon as he opens his eyes. But it is worth it, because he is home.

"He's waking up! Come on Sam, you can do it!"

He feels his mind drop back into his body again as the pain returns in full measure. His eyes open of their own accord, and he tries to focus his blurry vision on the ceiling. Only from what he can see already, it's not as clean as he remembers it being. The striplights, the ice-white, downright cleanliness of it all. Instead he finds himself looking at a yellowy-brown ceiling; there is a tile missing and the voice doesn't sound like his mum anymore.

"Oh, Sam! I'm so glad you made it!" cried Annie. Her grip on his hand tightened, and she leaned closer into the bed. Sam wrenched his eyes from the ceiling and tried to hide his disappointment. He had been so sure that time.

"Hi, Annie." He croaked, his voice hoarse. His head feels unbelievably heavy and he realises that it is bandaged.

"Hello, Sam." She smiled brightly and picked up a glass of water from the table.

"Here, drink this." Sam tried to reach out to take it from her, but found his right hand still clasped in Annie's. He tried again, this time with his other arm. He felt a sharp surge of pain in his left shoulder and almost cried out. "Woah, easy!" she said, moving her hand to rest on his forearm and stilling his movements. She held the glass to his lips. "Drink slowly or you'll bring it back up!"

The liquid tickled his dry throat and he almost choked on it. But once it was down he felt better for it. He attempted to sit up a little straighter, then remembered the shoulder and decided not to risk it.

"How long you been there?" he asked. Annie shrugged.

"Not long. Couple of hours."

"Right."

A small silence echoed between them, half-truths stilled on the tips of tongues and then swallowed back down. When Annie spoke again, it was nothing but truth.

"The Guv just left a little while ago, I'd better let him know you've woken up."

Sam froze. "What was he doing here?"

"He's with DS Carling, giving him a lift-"

Sam interrupted her again. "Ray? What, is he ok? She said he was gonna die!"

Annie was looking at him strangely. But then, Sam supposed, he couldn't blame her.

"He's fine!" she told him, firmly. She was looking directly into his eyes as if trying to find out if he knew something she was not aware of. "They've all gone off down the pub now, and Ray'll be given a hero's welcome. Just you worry about getting yourself better!"

She stroked the back of his hand and stood from the uncomfortable chair she had been sitting on. "Listen, you will be ok on your own for a bit now? Only I'm s'posed to be at a family dinner now and my mum will kill me…"

"Yeah, course, Annie. You go." Sam watched as she made her exit, his eyelids beginning to droop once again.

-----

Sam is awoken by a rough shout. "Oi, Tyler! I know you're awake – don't you dare go falling asleep on me!" He opens his eyes blearily to see his DCI marching towards him. He shrinks back under the covers, preparing for the bollocking of his life, but is surprised when Gene just plonks himself down on the side of the bed.

"You were supposed to be at the pub?" Sam asks, shifting into a more upright position.

"I was until that bird of yours rang and told me you'd woken up!"

"She's not my 'bird'!" he protests.

"Whatever, Tyler." Then his eyes darken and Sam shrinks back again; he hasn't escaped the telling off after all. "Don't you ever do that again!" Gene stabs a finger in Sam's direction. Sam knows there's no point trying to stop him, he'll just have to let him get into his tirade.

"I told you! I told you a dead moron is no use to anyone!"

"Not much use as a living moron though, am I?!" Sam spat back. "You spent long enough reminding me of that fact!"

This really puts the wind up Gene's sails. "You selfish bastard! I keep doing everything I can to include you in this department and all you can do is throw it back in my face! You put someone in danger, and you still expect people to bow down at your feet just because you always have to be right?"

"That sounds an awful lot like you, doesn't it! You beat people up just because they don't agree with you!"

"You listen to me, Tyler." Gene growls, his face dangerously close to Sam's. "Cartwright may believe your shit, thinks it's good for the department, but you are seriously testing my patience. I warned you to get in sync; you're lucky to still have a job, let alone a life!" He jabs his fingers sharply into Sam's ribs and suddenly Sam is doubled in agony, heaving over the side of the bed. His whole body is burning with pain; when was the last time he took painkillers? He brings up the water from earlier, along with blood from his tattered throat. Sam feels like shit.

Suddenly there are fingers on the back of his neck, rubbing circles into the tense muscles. "Woah there, Sammy-boy!" Hands pull him back into an upright position. Sam's ribs and shoulder are screaming with pain. He grits his teeth and refocuses on Gene, who is looking concernedly back at him. "Sorry, didn't think…" he says quietly, his anger vanished. "You alright?"

Sam shakes his head as best he can, tries to breathe and struggles. And then the lights go out.

Sam stares ahead of him, Gene nowhere to be seen. There is a television on a wall bracket down the corridor, and standing directly beneath it is the Test Card Girl, illuminated eerily in the only scrap of light in the room; a shaft cascading through a crack in the ceiling.

"What do you want?!"

"You were lucky, Sam," she says, clutching her wretched clown to her side, its neck twisted at an odd angle. "But you still can't trust them! They hate you, Sam! You're not safe till you're back home. I can help you get back home…" Then she is gone again, and the lights flicker on.

"Tyler, Tyler!" It's Gene again. Sam groans as he adjusts to the light, but the pain is thankfully numbed.

"They've topped up your painkillers." The Guv tells him unnecessarily, still perched on the edge of his bed. He sighs. "What're we going to do with you, eh?"

Sam shrugs with one shoulder, deciding not to risk it. "Sorry for falling asleep on you, Gene." He smirks.

"I am not your babysitter!" Gene insists, but he is smiling too.

"Do I still have a job then?"

"Only when they let you out of here!"

-----

They arrest Frank Miller; with Annie's help, of course. When Sam enters the pub later that day he recieves a round of applause from the whole department.

"Not bad, Tyler."

"Well, I did have a bit of help from DC Cartwright."

"Credit where credit's due."

Sam grins and immerses himself in the pub banter. He may not be 'home' yet, but he's starting to build a new one for himself whether he likes it or not.