Sam lifted his face up to the sky – the night was cool, but dry – and the soft breeze felt good on his hot face.
He was alone outside the hall, just taking a few moments on his own, but could still hear the music from inside clearly. It was Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, and out of the crime against taste that had been a lot of the music from the seventies, not too bad.
Sam swayed a little to the music.
“A bride shouldn’t be dancing alone at her wedding, Mrs Cartwright.”
Sam sighed. Mrs Cartwright had trumped Gladys as Gene’s favourite name for him in the six months since he and Annie had announced their engagement. He didn’t see Gene tiring of it any time soon now he and Annie were actually married.
Gene came to stand beside him. He smelled of Old Spice, smoke and booze, and it should have been a fairly disgusting smell to Sam’s modern sensibilities, but it wasn’t. It was... comforting.
“You want to lay off the sherbets,” Gene said, sounding amused as suddenly one strong hand grabbed Sam’s wrist and the other went firmly round his waist, “or the wedding night will be a bit of a disappointment.”
It was only when Sam’s nose landed on Gene’s shoulder that he realised he’d swayed towards him... and probably the floor if Gene hadn’t intervened.
“I’m not drunk,” he said, even though the fact he was saying it into Gene’s jacket made that statement a clear lie.
Gene was warm, and his smell was stronger there. Sam rubbed his nose into Gene’s arm.
Sam turned his head. Gene was wearing a tux, and his shirt was open at the neck and his bowtie hanging loose. The shirt was salmon coloured and ruffled.
“That’s a bloody awful shirt, Guv,” Sam said, grinning.
“This is the height of fashion and sophistication, Gladys...” Gene said, “and two quid from Fancy Nicky’s where the stuff’s so hot it’ll burn your fingers off.”
Sam snorted. “Glad you made an effort for my wedding, Guv.”
“Only the best for you, Sammy-boy.”
Gene was mocking, but in a way that was true.
A-Division were the only people he knew in the 1970s, unless the test-card girl had turned up (happily, she had not), and he’d had no one else to invite to his wedding.
Having no family or friends hadn’t exactly endeared him to Annie’s family. Sam couldn’t even invite his mum, which, when he’d seen Annie dancing happily with every single member of her large extended family, had perhaps contributed to the amount of alcohol Sam had taken.
Still, though, Gene had given as much of A-Division as possible the time off to come, and his best man speech had barely been a five on the Gene Hunt humiliation scale when Sam had been expecting a solid ten.
‘Your Song’ was still playing, and somewhere in there Annie was dancing with one of her family. Gene’s arm was warm and solid around his waist, and Sam pushed more into him, moving in time to the music.
Gene made a startled sound and gripped Sam more tightly, as Sam’s questionable balance made the move a little precarious.
“You havin’ a fit there, Sam?”
“Fuck off,” Sam said companionably, but he moved into a more recognisably ‘dancing’ position, putting one arm around Gene’s shoulders. “Dancing.”
Perhaps if he’d been more sober Sam would have worried about Gene dropping him like a hot brick at that, and perhaps Gene would have done, if he had been, but Gene only laughed softly, and kept a hold of him.
“Twinkle-Toes Tyler, eh? Didn’t know you were a Rudolph Nureyev.”
“Not,” Sam said. “But you dance with your family at your wedding, don’t you?”
Gene huffed, and Sam felt it against his ear becoming aware suddenly of how close they were; Sam’s mouth was nearly pressed into Gene’s throat.
“Yeah,” Gene’s voice was low – a sigh. “I suppose you do.” Gene’s arm tightened around Sam’s back and he pressed his face into Sam’s hair.
The swayed for a minute in something that could only very generously be called dancing, Gene’s mouth pressed gently against Sam’s forehead, and Sam could hear him sing along with Elton softly for a few moments 'how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world', before Sam felt dizzy and pulled back.
Gene kept hold of his hips, keeping him steady.
He could still smell smoke and Gene’s aftershave now; it had transferred to Sam’s own clothes.
He pulled a face. “I smell like you now. Annie’ll love that.”
Gene’s face twisted into some kind of smile.
“Don’t worry, love, it’ll wash off,” he shook his head. “Yeah. It’ll wash off, just like the bruises fade,” Gene’s hands tightened on his hips. “I never even made a mark, did I?”
Sam blinked at him in confusion.
“Come on, Gladys,” Gene said, pulling one hand over his shoulder and supporting Sam back towards the door to the hall. “Let’s get you back to Mr Cartwright. One last dance and you can finally lose that cherry. It’ll be a beautiful thing – I’m sure she’ll hold you through your girly tears.”
Sam smiled, leaning hard on Gene’s shoulder, as Gene held him tightly around the waist and took him back inside.