It's the little things that get to him.

Never mind the pre-historic state of forensics, or the cavalier attitude towards suspect's rights, what about the music? All the songs he's got stuck in his head won't be written for nearly two decades.

The Beatles broke up less than three years ago, The Who are still intact, and the Stones aren't yet a joke. Disco is a far-off glimmer somewhere in New York City, though the idea of Ray in a white shirt, attempting a John Travolta move is certainly worth a smile.

Sometimes he catches himself humming, and then getting one of those looks, from Gene or Annie, and it makes him realize how alone he is here, now, where no one knows about 1996 and the Battle of Britpop.

Backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out.

"What's that, boss? Ain't seen that one on Top of the Pops."

Chris has come over. Again. If Sam wanted to be a bastard, he make a list of all the excuses DI Skelton seems to find to drop by his flat, but Gene's pretty much cornered the market on that job and Sam doesn't mind having Chris around. He's sort of a soothing presence especially after a bad day on the job and what other kind is there when every day is battle to get the job done right and fight off the pervasive corruption and mediocrity surrounding him?

Sam may not know what he's doing here, but he has a pretty good idea what Chris wants, even if Chris doesn't know himself. He tends to show up after Sam's more violent tiffs with Gene, the ones that always seem to take place in public, with the whole lot of them standing around gawping while Gene slams Sam against the nearest horizontal surface, bellowing like a wounded dinosaur.

Presumably these displays move Chris towards feelings he can't articulate, much less admit to himself, so instead he knocks tentatively on the door, holding a bag of take-away or a game of dominos for them to play together or once in awhile a book he thinks Sam might enjoy, usually some battered lurid true-crime thriller.

And maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me.

He wonders what it would be like if Chris were on the force in his time, when there are openly gay cops and pride parades and civil partnerships. It's still not a treat to grow up feeling different, but it's a hell of a lot easier than it might have been for a young Chris in a town like Manchester where it's all about the football and the rugby and being a M-A-N in very manly capital letters.

What's worse, he doesn't think for a minute that Chris is actually gay, and if he can't explain that a homosexual is more than that long list of filthy epithets Gene had used to describe Stephen Warren, then how can he made a young man understand that the longing he feels when he sees Gene knocking Sam about the precinct isn't a diagnosis or a life-sentence.

It would be easy; too easy. Sam's been there before. The late hour. A few too many drinks. Chris is obsessed with the abuse that Sam seems to accept at Gene's hands. All he has to do is let him see the bruises, accidentally of course, while changing a shirt. Maybe a fleeting touch of Chris' cheek or the lock of hair that's endlessly falling on his forehead.

"Boss…" Chris would say haltingly, and Sam would shush him with gentle kisses and lead him to his sad, creaking bed and for a few hours it would be all right. He'd make it good for Chris, he promises himself.

I don't believe than anybody feels the way I do about you now.

But it wouldn't be right. In fact, giving Chris Skelton the best sex of his life would probably be the worst thing Sam could do to him. There's no way to offer the emotional support he'd need to survive finding that kind of pleasure in another man's arms.

It's just so fucking unfair. Another thing to rail against, as he jerks off in the loo, imagining that Chris has gone home to do pretty much the same thing, even if he doesn't understand why.

Of all the people he's met here and now, Chris is the one he'd most like to take back to his own time.

At least he could play him some decent music.