Categories > TV > Life On Mars

If I knew then...

by xwingace 0 reviews

A visit to the police station lets Sam face himself.

Category: Life On Mars - Rating: G - Genres: Angst, Humor - Published: 2006-06-29 - Updated: 2006-06-29 - 2649 words - Complete

Disclaimer: Life on Mars is owned by Kudos, and I don't own them (although I can dream). I'm just playing with the characters and concepts. No harm is intended.

Note: This was written for the Life on Mars Ficathon, for Raven, who requested Sam talking to his young self and Gene finding out about Sam's 'delusions'in a gen fic.

Credit: Thanks to Saganami Dreams for her intial comments on this idea. Also big thank-yous to Sophie and Melata for their insightful comments while polishing this fic. Any oddities and inconsistencies still present are, of course, my fault for not listening to these people.

Feedback: Yes please. Lots of it. Reviews make me smile, concrit makes me cheer. Tell me what you think I could do better next time!


If I knew then...

They were going to visit a real police station! Sam had been excited about it all week. He'd woken his mother at four in the morning today, asking if it was time to go yet.

And now he was here, staring up at the desk and the scary woman who loomed over it, while the rest of the boys in his class were overrunning Miss Skelton's brother. Sam didn't dare join in, though it looked fun. Miss Skelton's brother was a police officer, even if he didn't act much like one.

The chaos at the desk had never been worse. Not even in the aftermath of the raid on the football hooligans.

Little kids were racing around the area, even swinging on the railings of the stairs up to the offices. A number of them were in a huddle in front of the desk, wrestling something. Annie and a young woman were unsuccessfully trying to keep some sort of order. Phyllis, with a little more luck or foresight, had barricaded herself behind the desk and seemed to be keeping the horde at bay fairly successfully.

Sam had paused at the door, struck speechless by the pandemonium. Gene, coming in after him, was not so shy. His voice somehow thundered over the commotion. "Oi oi oi! If it's not quiet in here in three seconds, I'm throwing the lot of you in the cells!"

Miraculously, it worked. The whole scene fell into silence, the children frozen in place, eyes fixed on what, to them, must have looked like an angry giant.

Gene surveyed the tableau, then nodded. "Better. Now would somebody tell me what the bloody hell is going on?"

The huddle of kids in front of the desk began to break up. From under it emerged Chris. He was covered in dust and dirt, and already tugging and swiping at his shirt and trousers in an attempt to get his clothing back into some shape of propriety. "It's me sister's kids, guv. The school class that was coming?"

"You never said anything!"

Chris had given up on his clothing and was now brushing his hair back. "I did, guv. You said 'whatever'."

Sam got a flashback of Gene ignoring Chris wittering on about something and dismissing him without listening, and couldn't suppress a smile. That'd teach Gene to listen to someone for once. "Yeah, guv, you did. I remember."

Gene turned around when he heard Sam speak, and he must have caught a hint of the smile, too.
"Oh, you think this is funny, do you? Fine. You're in charge here. I'm taking Ray, Vince and Pat out for the door-to-door."

And, after a quick foray into the office to summon the officers concerned, Gene was out the door again. Leaving Sam to pick up the pieces.

Sam sighed, and then rubbed his hands over his face in an attempt to get his thoughts straight. Right, so there was an entire class of four- to five-year-olds to deal with. In a police station. He had to think of something to do and he had to think of it fast, because otherwise the chaos from a few minutes ago would return. And this time, no Gene to out-shout them.

Best start talking now, while he still had some attention. He smiled at the little faces looking at him from every direction. "Hello. I'm DI Tyler." He gestured at Chris, now finally done with adjusting his clothing. Not that it couldn't do with more attention. "You've already met DC Skelton, I see." There were some giggles from the boys previously wrestling, and Chris himself conjured a grin far more genuine than Sam felt his own to be.

He indicated Annie, then Phyllis. "And the ladies are WPC Cartwright and Sergeant Dobbs."

He needed some time to talk to these people, get something organized. But he couldn't do that in front of the kids, could he? This whole group was also still clogging up the hallway. He'd better get everybody out of the way. The office would have to do. "Okay. If you could all go into the office," Sam pointed towards the door, "then we'll get started."

Silence. Not one of the kids made any move towards the door. Luckily, the young woman, possibly the kids' teacher, now clapped her hands. "Come on, you heard the Inspector. To the office." After those words, she herded the kids through the door.

Chris and Annie stayed behind. Sam approached them.

"I'm sorry, boss. Weren't supposed to go like this."

Sam shook his head. "Never mind that, Chris. We have thirty little kids to entertain for the afternoon. What can we do?"

After a short discussion the three of them walked into the office, leaving Phyllis to her desk.

Sam was a little disappointed. When the big man had come in and shouted everyone down, it had seemed like something was finally going to happen. All the boys and girls had gone quiet. Miss Skelton had led them into a messy room. Shouldn't someone make these police officers clean up? Maybe their mothers, or maybe the big man. He seemed to be able to order people around, at least.

Then DI Tyler had come into the room and told everyone to sit down in front of a big blackboard. Just like in school, only now they had to sit on the floor. Now he started to explain things about how the detectives worked out who did the crimes. Sam was all ears, and eyes too. Here was a detective named Tyler, just like Sam. But the rest of the class wasn't listening so well. The story DI Tyler was telling did have a lot of difficult words in it, yes, and he couldn't tell stories as well as Miss Skelton could. This was important though, they should listen.

Then DI Tyler looked in Sam's direction, and Sam sat up straighter. That got a very odd reaction from DI Tyler. He suddenly started stammering, and he turned very pale. Then he asked Miss Skelton's brother to take over and left. Maybe he was sick?

DC Skelton wasn't very good at explaining about police work at all.

Sam slammed the door to the toilets shut and braced himself against it. When his heart had calmed a bit so it was merely racing, he stepped up to the sink and splashed his face with water. Then he rested his head in his hands, listening intently for any sounds that didn't belong here to filter into his consciousness. Nothing.

Why did the boy have to be here? After all the trouble Sam had gone through to avoid his young self seeing him, to just parade in front of the kid. Worse, even introduce himself. The most that could be said was that he at least hadn't introduced himself as Sam Tyler. What sort of consequences would that have had? There were too many variables, and things could only get worse if he started meddling in his own life. The experience with Vic Tyler had certainly proved that.

Footsteps approached the door. Sam locked himself in one of the cubicles. The door to the toilets squeaked open, then slammed shut. "Sam?"

What was Gene doing here? Hadn't he gone out? Sam kept quiet. If he just waited long enough, the class would be gone and he would be safe.

"I know you're in here, Tyler." Under the door, Sam could see cream loafers stalking along the stalls. They halted alongside the one he was occupying. "Zip up and open up."

Again, Sam didn't respond. Internally, he was cursing Gene and wishing he would just go away. Not that the guv was ever likely to oblige those sentiments.

After a few heartbeats of silence, Gene sighed. "Fine, have it your way. Don't blame me if I catch you with your trousers down."

The lock on the cubicle door rattled, then the flat of a hand was bashed against it and the door swung open. It revealed Gene Hunt, facing Sam with his arms folded.

"Okay, Sunshine, what is it this time? I get back here for a refill and I find the whole department entertaining school kids, except the man I left in charge. Him, I find moping in the toilets. Why?"

Where to start? For once, it was in absolutely no way, however tangential, related to policing. Nothing for Sam to object to. Try the truth? And get locked up as insane, sure. Then again, Gene had tolerated some very strange comments and actions from him in the past as well. It was worth a try. "The kids."

"The kids? What's so scary about a bunch of four-year olds? Didn't take you as that weak, Sammy-boy." Gene pulled out a hip-flask and took a swig from the contents. "Chris couldn't deal with them. I'd expected you to have more backbone than that."

"It's not that... It's just... Sam Tyler's in there."

"Who? Oh, your little namesake. Feeling guilty you let his dad go, are you?" At Sam's headshake, Gene tilted his head in consideration. After a short pause, he asked: "This isn't about that business Cartwright was on about before we tried to arrest Vic Tyler, is it?"

Sam looked up, surprised. He thought Gene hadn't known anything about that. The guv'd certainly never said anything before now. "What did she tell you?"

"That you still hadn't recovered from that accident the day you got here. You thought Vic Tyler really was your dad." There was a hint of jokiness in Gene's voice, but his gaze remained focused on Sam and his expression betrayed no amusement. "She seemed to think you were having delusions that you were from the future."

Sam nodded. "That sounds about right, yeah," he said wryly.

"You what?"

Sam leaned back against the toilet he'd taken a seat on. He closed his eyes. No going back now. Get the words out and check for a reaction later. "Unless I managed to travel in time, I'm having delusions about /something/. Either I'm hallucinating that I'm from 2006 and I really am here, or I'm imagining all of this," Sam tried to spread his arms in a grand gesture, but they hit the stall halfway through, "while lying in a hospital bed in a coma." There. He'd said it. He opened his eyes to gauge Gene's reaction.

The guv was still leaning against the stall, but now looking away from Sam. His expression was unreadable. "Red Rum."

"Famous for winning the Grand National several times. I remember the last time he did. I was eight. I used to have a jigsaw puzzle with him on it."

"I'll keep that in mind." Gene took another swig of whiskey. "Okay. So you believe that kid in there is you, yeah?"

Sam nodded again, bracing himself for the tirade that was sure to break out.

"Hmm. And he's already seen you. So even if you're right, hiding in here gets you what, exactly?"

Huh? This wasn't at all the reaction Sam had been expecting. At the very least he'd expected Gene to restate Annie's conclusion in slightly less scientific terms. "That's it? You're not even considering calling the men in the white coats?"

"Sam, I don't bloody care if you think you've got the TARDIS parked 'round the corner. You're a good policeman. As long as you catch the villains, you can think you're from Mars in the dark ages as far as I'm concerned. You do your job. Right now, your job is telling those kids about being a policeman. So get out there, and do it." Gene held out his hand to help Sam up. "Here's a thought, Herbert." Sam could hear the sarcasm in the epithet. "You're here, the kid's here. You might as well talk to him. Relive your childhood."

Gene was missing the point, but Sam didn't get a chance to argue. Gene pulled him out of the cubicle and through the doors into the hallway. From there, they could be overheard too easily. To push things even further, Gene stayed close behind him all the way into the office, as if to catch him if he tried to run again.

When they came to the office, Sam was surprised to see it in relative peace and order. Small groups of children were gathered round various tables. Each table had at least one officer with them, telling stories or helping with activities.

It hadn't started so well, but the ending of the day was just about perfect for Sam. After DC Skelton had finished the talk about police work Miss Skelton had split the class up in groups. They were all going to learn about different ways of finding criminals. First the group Sam was in got to play with a book that had a lot of bits of faces in it. You could use it to make a face of a criminal. They had a lot of fun trying to make all sorts of silly faces.

Just when they were about to go do something else, the big man came back. Sam had been a little afraid that he might start shouting again. He hadn't. He'd just talked a bit with some of the police officers and the nice policewoman. Miss Cartwright. Sam heard him ask about DI Tyler. Then he walked off, in the same direction that DI Tyler had gone.

The next thing they'd learned about was fingerprints. Miss Cartwright had let them all put their fingers on an inkpad and then onto paper. They'd all made pretty pictures, although it was a pity there was only blue ink. Then she'd given them some magnifying glasses, told the kids to be careful with them and let them study the pictures they'd made. There were all sorts of funny lines in them, but it was really hard to find out what lines matched up with the lines on their fingers. Everything was sort of smudged. It was much more fun to make more pictures.

While they were busy playing with the ink, DI Tyler had come back. He'd come to sit next to Sam and said hello. Sam had not been sure what to say at first, but in the end he whispered a reply. "Hello." Then, because he felt sorry that DI Tyler had gotten sick: "Are you better now, sir?"

DI Tyler had looked just as surprised as Sam felt. Then he'd smiled, and it looked just like mum's smile. "Yeah, I'm okay. Are you having fun?" When Sam nodded enthusiastically, DI Tyler asked something else. "I hear you want to be a detective someday. Is that true?"

"Oh yes," Sam had replied. "And I'm going to be the best ever."

DI Tyler had smiled again. "I'm sure you will." He'd softly patted Sam on the shoulder. "Just keep using your head, and I'm sure you'll get very far."

Those were the words still in Sammy's head. And when he fell asleep, he dreamt of being a detective just like DI Tyler. Maybe he could even find his dad.
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