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Fic - Sword of Damocles (LoM)

TITLE: Sword of Damocles
AUTHOR: Andromeda
FANDOM: Life on Mars
SUMMARY: Five ways in which Sam Tyler didn’t die (in the series), and one which he did - Spoilers for both series
RATING: Red Cortina for Character Death (That's with a capital "C" and capital "D" - I did warn you...)
WORD COUNT: 1,200 words
EMAIL: fiandyfic@livejournal.com
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I started this straight after I watched the end of series two for the second time. What can I say? It was tremendously cathartic at the time... With many thanks to my beta jantalaimon and special thanks to kirsteena.
DISCLAIMER: Life on Mars is copyright Kudos and the BBC. All Rights Reserved. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made.

Sword of Damocles

1. Time Gentlemen, Please

It's almost two o'clock and a hush descends on the room as Sam kneels in the centre, Reg's service pistol jammed against his temple.

Annie's eyes are wide, her face pale, but Gene notes with approval that she's keeping her head. Scared she may be, but out-of-her-wits she certainly isn't.

He's not so sure about Sam. The boy may have balls of steel; he's certainly shown that in his wilful disobedience of his Guv, but Gene knows his DI is crazy. Who knows what the lad might do in the crunch?

He watches, scenarios running through his head, solutions invented and discarded as Sam flicks his gaze to Annie and smiles.

Then Sam looks at him and Gene can't take this. He redirects his gaze to Reg. "When you're done with me, you'd better turn on me quick, Cole, or I'll kill you."

But Reg isn't listening. He's muttering. "Two o'clock. Two o'clock."

Time's up and Gene knows he has to do something. "Reg, wait!"

Reg looks up, finger poised on the trigger, and at that same moment there's a crash and roar as Litton, Chris, Ray and Litton's team comes bursting into the room.

The sound startles Reg, whose finger jerks against the trigger, firing the gun straight into Sam's right temple. Sam's eyes are wide, round, still staring at Gene, as the force of the bullet knocks him sideways.

At the sound of the shot, Litton empties his gun into Reg, the blood blossoming on his shirt, the body crumpling to the floor.

But all Gene can see is his DI, his fixed, sightless eyes staring at Gene as half his brains are sprayed over the room.

2. The Last Word

It’s a lovely morning, sun through the trees, but Ray’s focus is on the car opposite. The kids have all been cleared from the area, but Ray is still worried that someone will get hurt.

Tyler, of course, is being usual pain in the arse, whinging about the fact that there can't be a bomb under the car.

Ray smirks. "Well, if you're so sure, boss, why don't you go over and check it out?"

Tyler looks at the car and then back at Ray. "All right, then, I will." He turns and starts walking towards the car.

Ray leans closer to Annie and opens his mouth to twist the knife in a little more, then shakes his head and closes his mouth without speaking. Tyler's an idiot and a poncy git, and anything Ray says will only make Ray himself look more like an idiot. Better that Sam makes himself look an idiot when he chickens out. Ray leans onto the top of the Cortina, content to watch from a distance.

Tyler, in the meantime, has reached the car. Ray can tell he's nervous, despite his blustering, and he grins under his moustache. That'll be well worth pointing out at some point in the future. But for now, all Ray does is draw himself up and nod once as the ponce glances back.

Tyler has a hand on the roof of the car and he's just bending down to check under it as the whole world explodes in a deafening roar and a brilliant orange flash of light. He vanishes into the fireball for a moment, only to be thrown out a heartbeat later, landing the middle of the road with a sickening splat.

Even from this distance Ray can tell that Tyler is most likely dead. The body is twisted, charred, even still smouldering.

There is a strange smell of cooking meat, almost appetising until Ray realises what it actually means.

For once in his life, he doesn't feel like a wimp when he chucks up at the side of the road.

3. For the Want of a Nail

Annie looks at the waiting car and has an idea, she goes to the boot to get out the new piece of equipment. But it's empty.

"Ray, where's the stringer?"


"The stringer. You know, that spiky metal rope DI Tyler showed us?"

"Took it out, didn't I? Didn't want it to rip up the boot with those spikes."

Annie stares in disbelief for a second before whipping round at the sound of a revving engine. The green GT6 is on the move. She turns back round to acknowledge its destination and stares in shock as Sam, pale and sweating, falls to his knees in the path of the speeding car, hand holding up his badge like a talisman.

Ray gives a snort of amusement, "Dozy bugger. That's not going to stop the car is it?"

Annie looks at Ray, eyes wide. "No, it isn't..."

A sickening crunch drowns out anything else she has to say. A scream is cut off and everything goes still for a moment. Absolute quiet as everyone focuses on the two piles of twisted metal that were once cars, and the broken body still sandwiched between them.

4. Chamber Piece

Vic takes the gun from the idiotic copper in front of him and looks away. The stupid bastard trusts him. He smirks inwardly and looks up, knowing that this is going to be a pleasure. Bringing up the gun he sights it on DI Tyler's chest. He's a man in a desperate position, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Without a second thought, he pulls the trigger.

The copper's face is a picture as the bullet rips into his chest. The silly bugger is surprised. After all that has happened, the idiot didn't think that he would do it. But as the man falls to the ground, his hand opens up, spilling bullets out onto the ground.

Vic grins, DI Tyler as good as killed himself, forgetting about the bullet still in the chamber. He casts his eye over the fallen man, the eyes wide and staring at nothing, as he pockets the gun. But there is no time to stand and gloat, the other coppers will have heard the shot and will appear shortly.

He turns and runs, leaving the body of the crazy copper sprawled dead behind him.

5. As Good As A Mile

Chris stares at the tableau Ray and himself have burst in on. Big Bird and Toolbox Terry are holding the guns, trained on the Guv and the Boss. Ravi is still on the floor, blood pooling from a shot to the head. Annie is nowhere to be seen and he has to believe that she is somewhere, somewhere safe. He has just one shot, one chance, to make sure that everyone else is too.

At an unspoken gesture from Ray he sights on Big Bird as Ray sights on Toolbox. He pulls the trigger, the explosion from the gun deafening in the old cinema. For a moment, nothing happens and, with shock, he realises he's missed. Ray shoots a second later, but at the same time both Toolbox and Big Bird fire, Toolbox is wide, clipping the Guv on the arm, but Big Bird's aim is true and Sam falls backwards in a spray of blood. Ray's bullet hits his mark, Toolbox crumples to the floor.

But all eyes are on the Boss, his eyes staring fixed at the ceiling as he breathes his last breath, the blood pouring out of the gaping hole in his chest.

Broken Promise

The gravestone is fresh and white, no time for moss to grow yet. Every Sunday, regular, she comes to put fresh flowers on the grave, comes to visit her beautiful boy.

Guilt is easy to come by these days. Just like when Vic left. If she could’ve done something different, said something different, perhaps Sam would’ve stayed.

Understanding is not so easy to come by. Sam has seemed distracted, distant, since waking from the coma. But things were looking up. The tumour was in remission, the course of chemotherapy, though painful, was finished. The lasting effects of the coma were slight and waning. Sam had been finally cleared for work and he had seemed to be happy to be back doing the job he loved so well.

And then this. Sam had talked about promises, but he didn’t keep his promise to her.



( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2009 09:00 am (UTC)
Ummmm, I think what you meant to say is "Five ways in which Sam Tyler dies, and one which he didn't."? Or just "Five ways in which Sam Tyler dies, and one in which he's already dead."? Somehow" Five ways in which Sam Tyler didn’t die, and one which he did" gives one the impression that only one of the stories is going to end in death, so yeah, you did warn us, but it isn't quite sufficient warning really. ;)

That said, powerful stuff, and all reasonable if certain things just happened to go a little differently. Dang, I could go on and on with this theme really. So many times when Sam nearly bit it. ;)
Sep. 1st, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
I had the same thought, but it is technically correct. The first five stories are about ways Sam didn't die on the show, and the last one is the way he did die on the show. I expect Andy phrased it this way because she's a bit cruel.
Sep. 1st, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
Doh, you're totally right - I was just parsing it wrong. But I bet I'm not the only one to do so. >;) Fortunately I don't mind death fics, though this was a bit more than I was expecting. *sniff*
Sep. 1st, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC)
Me? Cruel? Never!

(Actually, I'm so used to people flinching when they see "fiandyfic", I completely forgot that the name isn't so much currency now!!)
Sep. 1st, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
Eeep! Sorry - I've changed the warnings - hopefully it indicates a bit more that there really *is* a lot of character death in this one...

Sep. 1st, 2009 09:53 am (UTC)
The last line echoes my main objection from the beginning, really; what had Sam promised Ruth?

I liked this. The scary thing is that I could have thought of a couple more ways in which Sam almost died in the show, so it's not like you were lacking source material. I especially enjoyed the different people's perspectives on each death.
Sep. 1st, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, I was definitely spoiled for choice with the different scenarios. I didn't even mention him mis-stepping off the top of the police station at the end of 1.01, not persuading the Hungarians to let him have a ciggie near the end of 2.01...

Not sure your gist of your first comment - are you talking about the fic or the series? If the former, then I do remember that I based that comment on something, but I can't remember what at the moment (that bit was written in about June 2007) - I shall have to dig it out and let you know!
Sep. 1st, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Getting shot instead of June in 1.02. Getting shot in 1.03. There's the iron in 2.06 as well, of course (that would have been an incredibly grisly one.) Kind of makes me wonder why I was surprised Sam didn't survive the series, to be honest.

And my comment was about the series, yes, not the fic. I whinged a little bit about Ruth not giving her consent to Sam's actions because she had no idea what he had planned, and that 'you always keep your promises' wasn't her condoning what he was about to do; what had Sam promised Ruth?

Sep. 1st, 2009 10:42 am (UTC)
Wow. I'm torn between awe and horror at the moment (though it's most likely a mixture of both) nice work :D
Sep. 1st, 2009 12:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 1st, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
Very chilling and powerful. But the summary is a little bit misleading. Or did you mean the five times Sam didn't die because it was all a dream/coma-induced hallucination anyway?
Sep. 11th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
(Summary changed - apologies for being misleading!)

And thanks for reading!
Sep. 1st, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
Wonderful. Like Loz says, you had a whole lot of source material to choose from, and the choices you made and the way you adapted them were beautifully deft.

(I'm a little ashamed to say the third one made me giggle. Clearly my anti-heartlessness drugs haven't kicked in yet!)

And oh YES the last part brings it all flooding back.

It's a joy to see fic from you again. I swear I got a little frisson when I saw this pop up. :D
Sep. 11th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks chuck!

It's been far too long since I posted anything up, I know. I've been shamelessly neglecting the fandom!

(And yes, 3 made me giggle in particular as well!!!)
Sep. 1st, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
I thought this was great, loves all the different scenarios and how it highlighted what could have happened to Sam, how many times he actually escaped death and how that makes his final choice that much more chilling.

Wonderfully descriptive and very moving, the last one really packs a punch (especially the last line). Thanks luv ♥
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
I must admit, I was beginning to wonder if this would ever see the light of day! XD

The broken promise one breaks my heart every time. And makes me think I need a series rewatch, stat. I might even attempt the last episode...depending on whether I feel like breaking things or not. ;)
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Ahh, this was just great! I'm feeling like doing evil things to Sam these days (blame the Ficathon) and you've just satisfied my need for a bit of Sam-whumping... to the extreme! :)
Sep. 1st, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Argh, so much blood... a bit sickening* tbh but very well written nonetheless (*that wasn't meant to be a criticism btw!. The last one made me sad all over again...

Re what had Sam promised Ruth... I don't think he did, did he? I've always interpreted it that he made a promise to Annie to go back, and that's what he's referring to. And Ruth knows that her son is an honourable man and always keeps his promises... ah, but wait, doh - the question refers to the fic and not the show doesn't it. So yes, c'mon - what did Ruth think that Sammy had promised her?!? lol.

To sum up I'm not entirely sure I could say that I 'enjoyed' the fics exactly but they certainly pushed all the right buttons and it was great the way you used a different character each time to show the reaction.

Sam-whumping... hmm, I have to confess that I relish a bit of that too, mainly because JS suffers so well, doesn't he?! I do sometimes wonder if there's something wrong w/me that I like those kind of fics (particularly the angst that goes with it) but have decided that if there is, well I guess I'm in good company, lol!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
First Mikey brings us new fic and then you? Has Christmas come early this year?

I love all of these. The descriptions are just perfect, not too vague but not overly graphic. (If saying this like "half his brains sprayed over the room" isn't considered overly graphic. To me it isn't, but then I may be a little desensitized to these sorts of things...)

I also love how they're all rooted in canon with just minor twists. Because in my favorite, #1, that could have so easily happened and I nearly expected it to the first time I watched the episode.

And I don't know if you've watched any of the US LoM (it did have its moments), but in the Vic Tyler episode, Vic does shoot Jason O'Mara Sam in the gut (multiple times, I think?) and leaves him for dead.

Anyway, I absolutely adored this. It seems like forever since such horrible things were done to Sam. I really need to get cracking on my ficathon prompt now... *watches for men in white coats*
Sep. 2nd, 2009 09:40 am (UTC)
Ah, Life on Mars. Whenever I feel sadistic, I come back to you. :D
Sep. 3rd, 2009 05:37 am (UTC)
This is absolutely brilliant! The man does have a habit of finding himself in near-death experiences, doesn't he?

The scenes you have chosen to elaborate upon are perfect. There are many other scenarios that could have been twisted, but every one of these packed such an emotional punch that it just feels as though these were the right scenes to choose.

It's been too long since so many horrible things have happened for to Sam, and for this, as well as the brilliant descriptions of each "death", I thank you.
Sep. 7th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
near-death experiences
>The man does have a habit of finding himself in near-death experiences, doesn't he?

Well... technically nearly the entire show is one prolonged near-death experience, isn't it? ;-)
Sep. 7th, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
I just spent an evening composing a list of arguments for Killing Sam (I have an ongoing project of making Mikey kill Sam), and here you are killing him not once, but five times! You spoil me. *veg*

(Yes, I'm easing back into the fandom, and I think - I *hope*! - I'll get a chance to go on the big, repeatedly postponed LoM fic reading spree soon...)

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )