?

Log in

quenta_elenion

Fic: When the Day is Done (Life on Mars)

« previous entry |
Apr. 9th, 2006 | 02:28 am
mood: sleepysleepy
posted by: elen_ancalima in quenta_elenion

My first Life on Mars fic ...

Title: When the Day is Done
Author: elen_ancalima
Fandom: Life on Mars
Pairing: Sam/Annie gen fic
Rating: 15
Word count: 3,500 words
Summary: Sam finds Annie in 2006
Warnings: Reference to character death

Notes: Many thanks to my wonderful betas clarey_h and soulstar for their help!



When the day is done

Sam gazed up at the old redbrick house, squinting in the bright morning sunlight. A fresh breeze blew in his face, and the air was filled with the sounds of chirping birds and children shouting and laughing on their way to school. Every now and then a car drove by, but most of the time the street seemed almost deserted.

He stared at the crumpled slip of paper in his hand. It was a simple note; just a name and an address, hastily scribbled down the night before.

Annie Smith
56 Higher Hillgate
Stockport
SK1 3PA


He had finally found her.

He leaned on his crutch to relieve the dull pain in his left leg; it hadn’t fully recovered from the accident and was hurting more than usual. Sam cursed under his breath. All he had to do was walk up to the front door and ring the bell, and he would know. It was as simple as that, and yet he couldn’t bring himself to move from the spot.

What if it wasn’t her?

It was ironic in a way – back in 1973 he’d been convinced that nothing was real, that his comatose mind was playing tricks on him. But now that he had returned to 2006, he really wasn’t sure anymore. He couldn’t even begin to imagine how what he’d been through was possible. But no matter how fantastical it sounded, how impossible it was, deep down he felt certain that it had all been real.

All he needed was proof.

But now, as proof lay at his fingertips, he was afraid to take the necessary step. What if it wasn’t her? What if it was her but she had never seen him before? What if he was wrong?

“Enough of this,” he told himself. With a sudden burst of determination he crumpled the paper and stuffed it back into the pocket of his jeans. Gripping his crutch tightly he hobbled over to the front door. He stood there for a moment, reached out, and pushed the button.

The sound of the doorbell was followed by an ominous silence. Sam strained his ears to catch any noise coming from inside the house. He heard nothing for what seemed like ages, and with every second his doubts grew. Then suddenly he heard footsteps and the sound of a key being turned in a lock. His heart skipped a beat. The door opened in front of him, and there she was.

Sam blinked, unsure if he could believe his eyes. It was really her; thirty-three years older since the last time he’d seen her, but it was still her. Her curly dark hair was now streaked with grey and her face showed the years, but her eyes were as blue and smiling as ever.

“Yes?”

Her voice had changed. It was lower now, huskier, but the way she said that one word, the melody of the simple question was so much alike to Sam’s memories that it sent a chill down his spine.

“Annie,” he said in a hoarse whisper.

“That’s me. But who-”

She stopped short, and her eyes went wide with surprise. The letter-opener she’d been holding slid out of her hand and landed on the stone floor with a clatter. “My God,” she said. “It’s you. It’s really you.”

“Yeah.” Sam cleared his throat nervously. “It’s me. You ... remember me.”

Annie just stared at him. “Sam Tyler.” She covered her mouth with her hand shook her head in amazement. “I can’t believe it’s really you. After all this time -.” Her voice trailed off, and she took a hesitant step towards him. She reached out and softly touched his cheek with her fingertips.

Sam stood completely still, his heart racing in his chest.

“I’m not dreaming then,” she murmured.

Sam shook his head. “You’re not dreaming.”

“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this.” Annie slowly pulled her hand back. “You know, I’d forgotten just how young you were.”

Sam glanced down at his shoes.

“So ... you want to come in?” she asked.

“If you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind,” Annie answered with the smile Sam knew so well that he couldn’t surprises a small grin as he followed her into the house.

***

“Tea?”

Sam glanced up and saw Annie standing in the doorway. “Yes, please,” he answered, and she disappeared into the kitchen. He smiled to himself as he turned back to the open fireplace, where the family photos were neatly displayed on the mantelpiece. He leaned forward to take a closer look. There she was - Annie as a baby (or at least he thought it was her). Annie in a school uniform, a wide grin showing two front teeth that still seemed much too big. Annie the graduate, her arms wrapped around a young man with a ginger beard and glasses. Annie the WPC. Annie and another man, who was a bit older but ruggedly handsome at the same time. Annie in a beautiful white wedding dress. Annie with two children on her lap, a pretty blonde girl and a dark haired boy with his mother’s smile.

Sam’s eyes wandered from one picture to the next, and with every photograph what he had known from the moment Annie opened the door became clearer and clearer. She was real. She wasn’t some figment of his imagination. She was a real woman with a real childhood, a real family, a real life.

“Time has flown, hasn’t it?”

Sam jumped, abruptly torn out of his thoughts. He hadn’t heard her enter. He nodded and watched her set the tray down on the old wooden table that stood in the middle of the living room. She pulled up a chair and sat down, and Sam did the same, leaning his crutch against an empty chair.

“Milk and sugar?” she asked as she poured up a cup of tea.

“Yes please.” He took the steaming cup from her, and for a moment their hands touched.

“Tea solves all kinds of problems nowadays, did you know that?” She took a sip of her own cup. “Even saved the Doctor.”

Sam looked up, confused. “Sorry – what Doctor?”

“You know. Doctor Who. Christmas Invasion? Didn’t you see it?”

He shook his head. “I was – tied up.”

“Oh.” Annie’s gaze flitted to the crutch at his side. “You were in a coma, weren’t you?”

“No; working.” Sam shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I mean, I was in a coma, but not until after Christmas.”

“I see.” She began to twirl a streak of her hair absent-mindedly. “So how long have you been awake then?” she asked after a pause.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Almost two months I guess.”

“But you’re okay now?”

“Yeah. I was pretty out of it at first, but I’m a lot better. Almost fully recovered.”

“That’s good then.”

“Yeah.” Sam took a sip of his tea. “So tell me – you’re watching Doctor Who now?”

Annie smiled. “Yeah. Started watching it at Christmas with my son and his kids. They always come to visit at Christmas, you see.”

Sam thought he sensed a note of loneliness. “You don’t see them much, do you?”

“Not really.” Annie sighed. “They’ve got their own lives now, I understand that. It’s just- it’s been a bit lonely ever since Matthew passed away. Never realised this house was quite so big.”

Matthew. That must have been the man on the photograph. Her husband.

“I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what else to say.

Annie smiled bravely. “Yeah, me too. He was a wonderful man. Her gaze drifted across the room to the photos on the mantelpiece. “But I’ve still got Jennie; she comes to visit me as often as she can find the time. And Sam and his kids.”

Sam looked up at Annie in surprise and caught a twinkle in her eyes.

“Yes. Sam. Named after a man I once knew.”

Sam glanced down at his teacup, honoured and yet strangely awkward at the same time. She had named her child after him when he hadn’t even believed she was real.

“So how did you find me?” Annie asked.

Sam looked up again. “A friend of mine did - the address anyway. I’ve got this mate at the police station; he’s amazing. He’ll track down anybody if you give him enough time. Didn’t tell him why I was looking for you, though. Didn’t really fancy a trip to the loony bin.”

Annie smiled. “Wouldn’t have believed you, would he?”

Sam shook his head. “Not likely.” He caught Annie’s gaze. “So what about you? Did you ever start believing me?”

“Yeah, I did.” She cocked her head. “I don’t know when it happened, really. It just, I don’t know, crept up on me. Little things suddenly sounded familiar, like someone had told me about them. Songs, names of movies and the like. I wasn’t sure for a very long time. What if it was just me imagining things?”

“But you could have checked the notes I gave you,” Sam put in. “There were loads of names and stuff in those.”

Annie hung her head. “No, I couldn’t.”

“Why not?”

Annie evaded Sam’s gaze. “I burned them,” she said.

Sam blinked, taken aback. “You did what?”

“You don’t understand!” The sudden vigour in Annie’s voice took him by surprise. “You just left us. Not a word, no goodbye, nothing. I was worried sick about you. And after what happened to the Guv-” Her voice trailed off.

Sam jerked his head up. “What about the Guv?”

Annie looked at him, her eyes filled with a mixture of sadness and pity. “So you don’t know?”

“No, I don’t know. What happened, Annie?” he asked, a bit more forcefully than he had intended.

Tears began to fill her eyes. She blinked and took a deep breath. “The Guv was shot.”

Sam felt as if someone had punched him hard in the stomach.

He thought he’d prepared himself for this. He had been realistic enough to know that even if the people he’d met in 1973 had actually been real it was still very possible that they were no longer alive. Thirty-three years was a long time after all.

But nothing could have quite prepared him for this, not really. He swallowed hard. “When?”

“About a week after you disappeared.”

Oh God. Sam covered his mouth with his right hand and closed his eyes.

Annie continued, her voice shaky but determined. “We didn’t know what had happened to you. We thought you might have been kidnapped, or worse. Things like that were known to happen, especially to coppers who didn’t play along. Coppers like you. Ray kept saying that you’d finally cracked and had run off to the woods to live with the squirrels.”

Sam felt a smile creep onto his face at the mental image, and when he opened his eyes he saw that Annie’s face had also brightened a little.

“But I didn’t believe it, and neither did the Guv. He knew something was wrong. You know, I never really realised how much he cared for you until you went missing. I didn’t think he could be bothered, really. But he went ballistic when you disappeared. Started asking unpopular questions, mixing things up. He rocked the boat. And you know what happens to people who rock the boat.”

Sam thought he could guess, but he didn’t answer.

Annie let out shuddering breath. “I was with him when it happened. We were on our way to the pub to meet Chris and the others. It was dark out, so we couldn’t see much. I remember we were talking about you. He was saying how much of a pain in the arse you were, and I had to smile because I could tell how worried he was. And then suddenly – bang. Two shots. The first one hit me in the leg, and I fell. I heard another second shot just before I blacked out. But when I woke up-”

Her voice hitched, and she brushed away tears that were now streaming down her face.

Sam sat completely still.

“When I woke up in the hospital they told me that Gene had been hit. He was dead when the ambulance arrived. They said he must have died on the spot, no pain or anything. Not much of a comfort at the time. I was so angry. Angry at everybody and everything really. And angry at you for not being there when I needed you.” She looked up at Sam. “And that’s when I burned the notes.”

Sam didn’t answer. He felt the sudden urge to get up and pace back and forth, but the pain in his leg convinced him not to. Instead he stared at the table in front of him, a turmoil of emotions raging within.

He felt selfish and stupid. He’d been so involved with his own situation, so busy worrying whether his experiences in 1973 had been real or not that he hadn’t even once thought about what had happened to those he’d left behind; how his disappearance might have affected them. He thought of Annie, losing him and then Gene in a matter of days, being shot at herself. His stomach clenched. “I’m sorry," he finally muttered. He felt awkward saying it, but he was at a loss for any other words.

Annie got up from her chair and placed her hands on his tense shoulders. “I know this must be difficult for you,” she said softly.

Sam turned his head to look her. He took her left hand into his and squeezed it. “You are a remarkable woman, do you know that?”

Annie blushed. “Here, let me show you something.” She pulled away from him and walked over to the fireplace. “I wasn’t angry with you forever, you know,” she said as she started looking behind various photographs. “And I know it wasn’t your fault. I don’t know if I ever really believed it was your fault. I just didn’t know what to believe back then.” She took another picture and carefully wiped it off with her sleeve. “I was so sorry later that I’d burned your notes. It was the only thing to remind me of you, and I’d destroyed it. But then-”

She set the photograph back down and reached behind a big black and white picture of what looked like her parents. Sam’s heart skipped a beat as he saw her reveal an old washed out photo of a young boy wearing a police helmet that nearly covered his entire face.

“So you recognise it,” Annie asked with a smile.

Sam nodded.

“I took it from your flat when they emptied it. Didn’t think you’d miss it.” She handed it to him. “I wasn’t really sure who the boy was at first; I just wanted something to remind me of you. It was only later that I realised who it was.”

Sam stared at the photograph, and tears began to sting in his eyes. He tried to think of something to say, but he couldn’t find the words.

Annie sat back down at the table, and for a long time neither of them spoke. The only sounds that filled the room were the birds outside and the ancient grandfather clock ticking away at the far side of the living room.

“Where is he buried?” Sam finally asked to break the silence. “The Guv.”

“A cemetery over in Tameside .” Annie answered. “I could go there with you, if you want to. It’s not all that far from here.”

Sam nodded and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “I think so. If you don’t mind that is.”

“Not at all. I haven’t been there myself in over twenty years. Just let me get my coat.”

***

They drove most of the way in silence. Every now and then Sam asked about somebody he’d known back in 1973, and Annie would tell him as much as she could remember, which wasn’t always all that much. It struck Sam just how strange the whole situation was. To him, 1973 felt like yesterday, but for everybody else it was the distant past.

“You wouldn’t believe how weird it is to drive this kind of car again,” Sam said as they turned onto the motorway. “It’s like gliding. And power steering! It’s not like you’re driving a lorry with the bloody handbrake on.”

Annie laughed. “I suppose. I really can’t remember.”

“And plus, automatic transmission,” Sam added. “At least until my leg is better.”

Suddenly Annie sat up straight. “Left! Turn left!”

Sam shot a quick glance into the rear mirror, slammed on the breaks and just barely managed to take the exit. “See, power steering,” he said with a smug grin.

Annie rolled her eyes and bent down to pick up the flower bouquet off the floor of the car. “Just don’t get yourself into another accident. God knows where you’d end up. Or when.”

***

“This is it.”

Sam approached the grave Annie was standing at. The stone was grey and plain, with Gene’s name written on it in faded white letters. He stared at it blankly.

It seemed like yesterday that he had seen the Guv alive, a fag in his hand and the familiar scowl on his face, spewing comments that were so outrageous at times that Sam dared not believe his ears. You could say what you wanted, but Gene Hunt was one of a kind.

Sam turned to Annie. “Remember that time we thought he’d been shot?”

“I remember,” she answered. “The hostage situation.”

“Yeah.” Sam rubbed his chin with the back of his hand. “My God - I was so gutted; I thought I’d got him killed. And then he just wakes up like nothing’s happened.”

Annie chuckled. “And starts pulling flasks out of his jacket. I remember. Protective gear, Gene Hunt style.”

Sam nodded. “Yeah.” He stared at the gravestone again and read Gene’s name, over and over, and it slowly began to sink in. Gene Hunt was really gone; he’d been gone for over thirty years. Tears began to sting Sam’s eyes again, and he tried to blink them away. He felt Annie take his hand into hers, and they stood together in silence.

“He was such a good man,” Annie finally said.

Sam shot her a look, and her face broke into a smile. “Yeah, ok, he was a right evil bastard sometimes. But a loveable one.”

“That he was.” Sam crouched down in front of the gravestone. Annie handed him the bouquet, and he laid it carefully onto the grave. “Cheers Guv,” he said. “Hope you like the flowers,” he added. He looked up at Annie, squinting in the bright sunlight. “He’ll probably hate them, don’t you think? He’ll think they’re for sissies.”

Annie shook her head. “I don’t think so. They’re the first ones he’s got from you in all this time, so he’d better be pleased.”

“True.” Sam stood up. “So this is goodbye, I guess. Thanks, Gene. For ... you know. Everything.” He took Annie’s hand again, and they started walking back towards the main entrance.

“So where’re you going now?” Annie asked. “You working again?”

Sam shook his head. “No, not yet. It’ll still be a while before they let me come back. But it's going to be weird when I do. Things won’t be the same. Things will never be the same,” he added quietly, almost as an afterthought. Annie gave his hand a squeeze.

“I used to think about looking for you, you know?” she said.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Yeah. I don’t know what I was more afraid of, though – not finding you or finding you. But you would have been too young anyway, too young to know me I mean.”

“That would have weird, yes.” Sam couldn’t help grinning at the thought. “But now I found you,” he said.

“That you did.” Annie smiled. “Do you know what - you could come around again sometime. If you have time, that is. And want to spend time with a boring old lady like me.”

“You’re not a boring old lady.” Sam stopped walking and turned to her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked deeply into her big blue eyes. “You are as you always have been, Annie,” he said. “A remarkable woman. And I would like to see you again.”

She blushed and dropped her gaze.

Sam released her shoulders. “I’m free Saturday,” he said.

Annie’s face brightened. “Yeah. We could even watch Doctor Who together! More time travelling Tyler.”

Sam laughed. “Yeah, why not. Got to check if they’ve got it right, after all,” he added with a wink.

Annie rolled her eyes but failed to keep a straight face. She took his hand again. “I’m glad you’re finally back, Sam Tyler,” she said.

Sam smiled. “Me too, Annie. Me too.”


Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {3}

(no subject)

from: ch1pper
date: Apr. 17th, 2006 07:46 am (UTC)
Link

Guvvvvvvvvvvv!!!

Lovely, really feels like Annie and Sam. So sweet.

Reply | Thread

bluesky56

When the Day is Done

from: bluesky56
date: Dec. 3rd, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
Link

Really sweet.
I enjoy these "Back to the Future" tales and although sad the Sam and Annie moments are comforting.

Reply | Thread

(Deleted comment)