last01standing: (Default)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
Rating: PG-13 (In LOM land I believe you call it blue cortina)
Word Count: 2,600
Spoilers: Through 2x08
Notes: With my complete and sincerest apologies to Kurt Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse Five, but it had to be done.
Caution: 19-year-old American attempting to write a show based in Manchester, 1973 while simultaneously bastardizing beloved literary classic! Plus, time travel! Clearly this is a fantastic plan.
Summary: Listen. Sam Tyler has come unstuck in time.

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning


Sam Tyler has come unstuck in time.

Sam Tyler is lying on the pavement in 2006. Sam Tyler has a collapsed lung, severe cranial trauma and a broken leg, product of a speeding car’s negligent driving. Sam Tyler has been lying unconscious in the street for fifteen minutes before the ambulance is finally called.

And then Sam Tyler isn’t there at all anymore. He’s---

---sitting in The Railway Arms across from a not-yet-inebriated Gene Hunt. Sam blinks blearily at his scotch, disoriented by the sudden shift in scenery. He tries to remember where he is. He tries to remember when he is.

“So let’s have it, Sammy-boy,” Gene says.

“I dunno what you’re talking about,” Sam mumbles, raising his eyes. He is wearing a leather jacket. Might even still be the leather jacket or it might be the one two down the line. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference.

“Year after year you go off on your little ‘Hyde’ spells shouting at nothing and I half think I ought to send you to the funny farm because your stark raving mad. But it doesn’t mean I don’t listen.”

The television mounted on the wall is talking about the Watergate scandal. Sam frowns and remembers six different references to Nixon he’d made years to early. “Oh,” Sam says faintly.

“Oh is right you nancy-arsed fairy boy. And the Gene Genie isn’t going to take lucky guess or coincidence for an answer. What I want to know is why my DI makes like he can see the bleeding future.”

“Gene,” Sam snorts, trying to stifle a sudden fit of giggles. “Gene, s’about where I come from.”

“What? Hyde?”

Sam shakes his head. “No, where I really---

---come from we’d never...” A fist collides with Sam’s face and he staggers back a few steps until his back is pressed up against the wall in CID. “What the hell was that for, Gene?”

“Gene is it?” Hunt snarls. “Last I heard, it was only me friends who got to call me Gene. Not some useless tosser masquerading as me DI.”

“Guv?” Sam tries, genuinely at a loss.

Gene grounds out a cigarette with the heel of his boot. “Get the hell out of my office, Williams.”

Dumbfounded, Sam can’t help but obey. The name keeps ringing in his head, over and over in Morgan’s smug, all-knowing voice. Sam Williams. Sam Williams. Sam—


Sam blinks.

“Are you all right, Sam?”

The world around him seems greyer somehow. Cold and wet and fully optimized for minimum personality. “I think I’m lost,” Sam says. “Sometimes I look around and I’m not sure where I am.”

An arm loops almost playfully around his shoulder and Maya Roy kisses him on the cheek. “If it makes you feel better, I can tell you exactly where we’re going.”

Sam turns toward her. “Yeah?”

She kisses him again. Longer, deeper. “How about we take this to my flat.”

“Yeah.” Sam feels a smile creeping across his face. “Yeah, all right.” He leans toward her and---

---he is kissing Annie and fumbling with the old-fashioned 1973 brassiere. He turns away, blinking rapidly.

“Sam,” Annie moans. “What’s the matter now? I thought we were finally getting to the good bits.”

He wants to stay here: In this moment, this time. Just once he wants to finish what he started when he started it. “Annie,” he says. “Annie, I...”

Annie sits up, pulling the bed sheets up with her. Her hair is a wreck. There is an odd shine to her eyes. She looks like she did that day, the first day when she’d talked him down from the roof. She sighs. The moment is gone. “Is this another Hyde thing, Sam?”

There was something about this. Something scripted. Something that feels like---

---charging, 200 joules.”

A body lies motionless on the operating table.


The body jerks, fingers---

---twitching like mad while he tried to tell this story to the psychiatrist. He couldn’t do it, couldn’t put his experiences into words having to watch that blank face silently judging his sanity. Now there is a tape recorder in his hand and he feels almost calm. “I had an accident,” he says, “and I woke up in 1973. I had no idea if I was mad or if I was in a coma, or if I’d gone back in---

---time,” the test card girl taunts. “There’s only so much time, Sam.”

It is getting worse. He used to think it was bad when he had to pick reality from 2006 or 1973. Oh, those were lovely days. Simple. Easy. This is worse. This is everything; his whole life spanning him front of him and he’s never sure which part he’s going to have to live next. He suspects it isn’t up to him. The die has been cast.

“Listen,” the test card girl says smugly. “Sam Tyler has come unstuck in time.”

“Stick me back and be done with it then,” Sam moans. “Just leave me alone,”

“Nothing to do,” says the test card girl. “What do birds sing in times of peace? Same as in times of war. They sit and watch and ask, ‘poo-tee-weet?’”

“I can’t bloody do this!” Sam roars. “It was bad enough know I was four in 1973 without knowing I could blink and actually be---

---four-year-old Sam Tyler fidgets in his suit. His daddy is missing. He’d said he would only be gone a minute but that was ages and ages ago. He has to find his daddy. His daddy had said he might leave again but Sam can’t let him. There is a man outside the reception wearing a leather jacket and staring off into the woods. Sam walks toward him. He is sure his daddy had come this way. Hesitantly he tugs on the man’s jacket and asks, “Excuse me. Have you seen my daddy?”

The man goes all stiff. Sam sniffs. “I need to find my daddy.”

“Go back inside,” the man says. “I’m going to go get him.”

Sam believes him but---

---the car is filling up with water and oddly, Sam’s first thought is, this will ruin my coat. He is perfectly calm. He has seen the safety instructions for this precise situation. He has to let the car fill completely before attempting to open the door. He unfastens his safety harness. He’s seen what comes after this. This isn’t the end. His life has several endings and even more beginnings and he doesn’t---

---fucking think when he’s pissed. He just slams down his glass and stares defiantly across the table at Gene. “You’re not real,” he says. “And I’m not really here.”

“Do I bloody look fictitious to you, Tyler?” Gene downs a shot, slams the glass. Sam can feel the vibrations resonating through the table. “And of course you’re bloody well here. Where else could you be?”

“I’m from the future,” Sam slurs.

“Now you’re just having me on.”

“S’true,” Sam says. “You’re going to believe me someday. Some days---

---he feels like jumping. He looks at his neat, clean apartment and his neat, clean desk at CID and his neat, clean life, he wants to fling himself off the tallest building in sight. There’s nothing suicidal about it. The tumour, Morgan had told him, is still there. Benign, but still there.

But this isn’t about the tumour. This is about Gene Hunt and Annie Cartwright and 1973. He’d looked it up once he’d gathered the courage to do so. He’d looked up the entire team and the impossible knowledge and the impossible proof had been tucked in his pocket ever since. A picture of the team with Annie and Gene and Chris and Ray standing there just as real and alive as he’d imagined them. Then, impossibly, at the left end of the picture, smirking at Gene with crossed arms is Sam Tyler.

And it is real. It’s impossible but it’s real.

It’s not until he’s falling, staring at the oncoming ground with trepidation that he can finally see. Can see his life spread out in front of him like pictures in a storybook, all perfectly contained, all happening at the same time but in different places.

The impact of the ground knocks it all out of sort. If---

---only you had listened, Sammy,” the test card girl mocks in her even-keeled monotone. “If only you had stayed, you might understand. Time isn’t real. It’s like a rope all tangled up on itself. Careful now, Sam. Can see it caught around your neck. Can---

---see for miles from up here on a day like today. Can see the whole of Manchester, the living breathing Manchester of the past. Not the cold impersonal one of 2006.

“Feel like jumping again, sir?”

Annie Cartwright stands behind him, a joke in her tone but worry in her face. Sam smiles. “Not today, Annie. Feels---

---like he was bloody run over by a truck. But the pain, his screaming muscles, not of it matters. It’s raining and his hair is slicked down to his scalp and it doesn’t matter where he is or when he is as long as he can unleash the violence bottled up inside him.

He’d get kicked of the force for something like this in 2006. In 1973, Gene would roll his eyes and say it was about time Sam went for his fists. It could be either of those times or it could be one completely different. He doesn’t care either way. That’s not what this is about. It’s about the way his fist hits flesh, the way the sweat mingles with the blood and the rain. It’s about what it feels like to be---

---alive. It’s 1973 and he feels alive and it’s good and it’s right or at least it would be if it weren’t for Gene ignoring him. Sam blinks, forgets where he is.

Remembers again.

“Somewhere to be, Williams?” Gene says.

“Name’s Tyler, Guv,” Sam says. “And Guv, I need you to know that wasn’t me back there.”

Gene sneers. “Really, Tyler because if it looks, sounds and talks like it’s selling me out to Morgan, then it’s probably selling me out to Morgan.”

“Forget who I was,” Sam says. “Who I’m supposed to be. I’ve got a handle on it now. And Gene, I’m on your side.”

Gene hesitates for a long moment and then snatches a file off his desk and hands it to Sam. “Get out of my sight, Tyler. I don’t want to here a word out of you unless you’re the man buying the next round at the pub.”

Sam stares at the file in his hand and sees the acceptance it’s meant to be. He walks out of the office slowly, trying to hold onto this time. This is one of his favourite parts. The lights seem somehow---

---brighter then they should be. Sam doesn’t know the place for a moment. It’s loud and noisy and there’s someone not five feet in front of him belting out the lyrics to an old Stones song. There’s a guitar strapped to his chest but he suddenly can’t remember how to play. He freezes, his fingers hovering inches about the frets. The lights are too bright and the room is too warm. After a few bars without the guitar, the whole place is staring at him: haunting shadows peaking out from behind the blinding light. But he still can’t make himself move. It’s like watching a bloody coach---

---crash isn’t something he remembers, but sitting under a blanket, holding his arm as still as he can, while the pretty female detective sits and waits for the ambulance with him isn’t something he’s going to forget in a hurry.

“You’re a very brave young man,” the detective tells him. “My name is DI Drake.”

Sam knows the name but can’t think of why with the dull roar of pain screaming in his ears.

“What’s your name?”

“Sam Tyler,” he says. He winces as he shifts his injured arm completely misses the look of utter shock on DI Drake’s---

---face when it gets down to something like this. All Sam’s cards are on the table, the whole fantastic, mad story. Gene looks at him for a long moment and then leaves to get them both a drink. Sam can’t seem to stop fidgeting in his seat. He runs his hands through his hair. He checks over his shoulder to make sure no one has been listening in. He bounces his knee. He needs Gene to believe him because if he doesn’ to the psychiatric facility for him. In 1979, he’d be lucky if they didn’t attempt a lobotomy instead of traditional therapy. He needs none of it. He is not mad. He knows this now.

Gene slides a scotch toward him.

“Guv,” he starts.

“You know what kills me about this whole bloody mess,” Gene says, staring at his own glass. “Thirty three years of future knowledge and you don’t once go ‘round to make a wager.”

“A what?” Sam says, taken aback.

“A wager,” Gene repeats, resolutely taking a sip from his whiskey. “Could have made a bloody fortune off the World Cup last year.”

A smile steals across Sam’s face. He feels---

---like he’s lived this before. He probably has, but it’s not the same as the rest of it. It looks like the road where he had his accident, but the car, the vantage point, it’s all wrong.

And then he spots the other car. The jeep with the slim, well-dressed figure leaning against it. Now that’s familiar. Way too familiar. He knows this road, this time, this place and he knows what he is expected to do.

For a second he considers inaction. Considers sitting here until the other Sam Tyler pulls himself together and gets back in the car. Considers letting his life play out some other way. But then he thinks of 1973 and Gene and Annie and the team he loves and the time he wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. And he punches the accelerator, speeding toward that same inevitable---

---conclusion is that I’m not supposed to be here.”

It’s almost closing times at The Railway Arms, only himself and Neilson left at the bar. Sam nursing one last drink as Neilson cleans the glasses with a dish rag. “Lighten up, mon brave. I’m going to let you in on life’s biggest secret. No matter what you do, ain’t nothing in the world that can stop you from being where you’re meant to be.”

Sam considers this for a moment. Then he smiles, raises his glass, tosses his head back and swallows---

---the lump building in his throat. He hesitates on the doorstep, caught in a rare moment of indecision. The door swings open before he drums up the courage to knock. Gene stands in the doorway, looking at him in a mute state of shock. Sam thinks it may be the single quietest moment of the Guv’s entire existence. After an eternity, he breathes, “Sam.”

Sam tries to smile. “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

It’s 1983 and Sam is supposed to be more then two years dead. Or maybe he’s supposed to be fourteen, getting the tar beaten out of him three days a week in school. His life has so many starts and so many endings, he’s lost track of which ones happen when. He follows the threads of his life, not knowing when or if the thread ends. He’s just---

---little Sammy Tyler, tangled up in the threads of time,” the test card girl says. She’s got her clown doll, her red dress and her impish smirk. “You’ve gone mad you know.”

Sam rolls over in bed, shuts his eyes and mutters, “So it goes.”


Lest it slip my mind: It should be noted that several lines are nicked straight from the next of Slaughterhouse Five. They are: "Listen. Sam Tyler (Er, Billy Pilgrim) has come unstuck in time.' and 'So it goes.'

(no subject)

8/1/09 02:54 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
*points to icon* I agree with it.

That was just...amazing. I felt so lost and confused the whole fic, and then there was clarity at the end, and I smiled.

It was all so discombobulated, yet seamless, and I enjoyed it more than words can really say.

(no subject)

10/1/09 16:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

If it had any clarity at all, I'm actually quite stunned. I wasn't expecting that.

Thank you so much for reading!

(no subject)

8/1/09 06:01 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Lovely, tangled and confusing(yay! Slaughterhouse Five!), but that ending was grounding.

*I liked that part where he could have avoided the whole time-traveling mess and doesn't.*

Your choice of words really involved me, and I can't thank you enough. :D

(no subject)

10/1/09 16:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
(OMG I *heart* Kurt Vonnegut like crazy!)

Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm glad you liked it.

(no subject)

8/1/09 09:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Interesting writing, indeed. Loved the way the fic tangles and disentangles every few sentences. Well done!

(no subject)

10/1/09 16:49 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Thanks so much. It was definitely a fun format to play with.

(and on a completely unrelated note, I adore your icon)

(no subject)

8/1/09 10:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
19-year-old American attempting to write a show based in Manchester, 1973 while simultaneously bastardizing beloved literary classic! Plus, time travel! Clearly this is a fantastic plan.

And hey - turns out it was! Welcome to the fandom. :D

I love the interconnectedness and chaos of this, which I'm going to have to read several more times to properly get. You've managed to bind such an amazing amount together in a truly nightmarish way - and Sam's kind of cynical resignation throughout is great (and slightly terrifying).

(And I just adore that Sam would know the proper procedure for what to do when trapped in a sinking car! :D )

(no subject)

10/1/09 16:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Welcome to the fandom. :D

Glad to be here! I'm been lurking for a few months, but this is much better. Also glad the punchline to the story wasn't tries to write fic. Fails epicly..

Thanks so much for commenting!

(Of course Sam knows the proper procedure for the sinking car. He also knows exactly how to use his seat as a floatation device on airplanes.)

(no subject)

8/1/09 10:38 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Oh, wow. Oh, wow. This really works for me. I've never read Slaughterhouse Five so I have no idea how much of the style is yours and how much is down to Vonnegut, but I really, really like this. Excellent writing, inspired cutting and linking, wonderful use of canon - a totally believable look at how it feels to be Sam Tyler, completely untethered.

I think, to be honest - sap that I am - one of the things I like most about it is the way Sam is coping. He's confused and rather irritated by it all, but it's not hugely angsty, and I like it that way.

It was all so discombobulated, yet seamless, and I enjoyed it more than words can really say.

What she said. Fantastic. Thank you.

(no subject)

10/1/09 17:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I stole a few thing from Vonnegut. Notably 'so it goes,' 'poo-tee-weet' and the first line (Though in Slaughterhouse Five it goes: Listen. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.) But most of the madness is my work. This was definitely a fun on to work on the quick cuts are harder then they look (especially when you decide to add a scene. That was murder.)

He's confused and rather irritated by it all, but it's not hugely angsty, and I like it that way.
I am convinced that Sam is nowhere near as emo as he seems. =)

Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback.

(Also, I highly, highly, highly recommend Slaughterhouse Five. In terms of time travel type novels, it's the best.)

(no subject)

8/1/09 12:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This was amazing. Confusing and disorientating but just amazing. You fit so much into substance into this and it just worked beautifully. Chracterisations were brilliant too, every character voice was spot on.

Thank you! *Runs off to mem*

(no subject)

10/1/09 17:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
No, thank you!

It's great to know I got the voices right. That's one of the reasons I don't write much in British fandoms. I have issues with speech patterns, but it's comforting to know it wasn't too off.

(no subject)

8/1/09 13:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Really great stuff. Loved the disconnected glimpses we see of Sam's lives and the way you've woven it all together - superb.

(no subject)

10/1/09 17:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.

(no subject)

8/1/09 22:10 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This is really great. I love the style you use as it evokes a disjointed atmosphere that perfectly fits with Sam's mental state.

(no subject)

10/1/09 17:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Thanks! That was just the thing I was aiming for.

(no subject)

10/1/09 12:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
*is completely gobsmacked*

I- I can't think of anything more to say, other than this is absolutely superb. The disjointed nature is absolutely perfect for Sam and the disparate fragments of his mind, and I... I think I'm still gobsmacked.

Definitely memming.

(no subject)

10/1/09 17:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Thank you so much for reading!

(Gobsmacked is such a lovely word to see in feedback)

(no subject)

12/1/09 20:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This is a great premise and the rapid shifting from time to time and reality to reality works well as we, like Sam, have no idea where he is going to end up next. Thank you and welcome.

(no subject)

19/1/09 02:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
THanks for reading!

(no subject)

22/2/12 22:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I really enjoyed this - thank you!

(no subject)

8/3/12 02:53 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
You're quite welcome!


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