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Muscles Better and Nerves More

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Sam was a very physical little creature.

You wouldn’t think it, the amount of time he spent spouting off about charts and forensics and bloody surveillance legal guidelines that didn’t even bloody exist, but Sam lived in his body as much as anyone Gene had ever really known.

He liked to run. He’d mentioned running in the mornings before work and he was impressively fast, had run down Trent like it was nothing. Gene knew he’d been lolling around on the grass afterwards for the hell of it, not cause he was too knackered to get back up after the effort.

He danced like a much younger man, arms and legs movin in time to that rubbish everyone insisted was music now, endless amount of energy for it. Most of them looked like idiots dancing, Gene included (though Chris, bless the lad, was much worse). But that rubbish was what dancing passed for these days. Sam made it look graceful; heads turned his way no matter who he was dancing with.

Scrawny as he looked at first glance, Sam liked his food. After the first couple weeks, once he’d proved he could pull off some ruddy decent work even with several screws fallen out, Gene had heard him yammering away with Nelson about ingredients for dishes Gene had never even heard of. Then there was all that whingeing about needing coriander and olive oil, like there was something wrong with frying things in drippings like everyone else. Then the never-ending prattle Gene had been subjected to about why the Taj Mahal didn’t serve ‘real curry’ and how this dingy little place in Rusholme had ‘real curry’ and how curry wasn’t even the right name for the dish even though all these dishes looked exactly the same, until Gene had changed the subject to police procedures on bloody purpose.

Sam was always up for a fight, whether he meant to be or not. For all his mincing around about things like suspect treatment and needing to be whiter than white all the ruddy time, that left hook he’d thrown in Gene’s face had been a surprisingly mean one. The footwork to go with it wasn’t there, though Sam kept his feet well enough. He hadn’t hesitated to knock that useless hippie out while Gene had been catching his breath. He’d kicked the shit outta Ray, which wasn’t at all surprising to Gene. Those two had been spoiling for a punch up since day one, though Ray with his height and broader chest had probably assumed he’d win it. The amount of scrapes and bruises showed they’d both put in a decent effort. But Gene could kick the shit outta Ray if he ever wanted to. Ray didn’t have the endurance.

And as Gene Hunt was occasionally a bettin man, he was willing to put good money on Tyler being just as keen on overly energetic and ambitious shagging. Was obvious to anyone with eyes he was desperately in need of some too. That mess with Warren couldn’t have possibly scratched the right itch.

Without much thought put into it, Gene found himself indulging the picky pain in the arse whenever he had the chance. Sam was spoiling for a fight, wasn’t hard to drag him off by the collar like getting hold of a puppy by the scruff, and still Sam never seemed to realize Gene rarely used his full advantage of strength and size against him. Sam wanted to spend his lunch hour kicking a ball about with Chris outside while it was pissing down rain instead of doing anything sensible, Gene pretended not to notice. When Sam had done well that week and the pub was quiet, Gene didn’t mind shelling out for a glass of Nelson’s best scotch, watching Sam roll every sip around in his mouth with his eyes half closed like he might drop off any moment. And Gene knew every place in his city that served real food, had let himself laugh at the sound Sammy made when he’d finally dragged him out to the north side for the best fish n chips in all of Manchester.

Unfortunately, Gene was pretty sure he’d end up indulging Sam in scratching whatever other sort of itch he showed an interest in as well and that was more of a mess than he'd ever meant to get into.

*

Sam said more worth listening to with his body than he ever did with his mouth.

Not that he couldn’t manage to say sweet things sometimes, when he wasn’t going on about ‘Hyde’ or implying she was fat. (Which she did know had been an accident, she did, but Sam was a grown man and should be able to watch his mouth.) They’d always been able to talk about all sorts of stuff, cases and cooking, music and whatever happened to be in the papers that day, and he listened, really listened to what she was saying. Most of the time. He didn’t listen about ‘Hyde’. But his hands had always done much better talking on his behalf than his words.

When he’d reached out towards her that first time, she’d been so startled by the whole situation she’d honestly just waited to see if he was really going to cop a feel of her breast right then and there, first day on the job. When he’d rested his hand over her heart like it was the only real thing in the world, warm fingers over her shirt and the heel of his hand held back away from actually touching her breast, well.

Well, all her more practical sensibilities had probably been a lost cause from that point forward.

She never would have put up with such nonsense from anyone she’d dated before, and they weren’t even dating at first. Not really. He seemed to fancy her well enough most of the time, and she knew she was interested. Lots of the girls were, at first, before some of the stranger rumors had gone round. He cut a lovely figure.

Sam wasn’t at all stable, was sometimes rude and sometimes even a little frightening, but his hands were always kind. That was the sort of thing that stuck with a person, even when everything else about the situation went off in a handbasket, and a copper had to have instincts about that sort of thing.

Sam had very nice hands. She had been too frightened to notice it up on the roof, when she’d been so sure he would jump to his death there in front of her, that she’d say the wrong things. They weren’t particularly broad, his fingers not particularly long. In fact, his hands were about the same size as her own, but his fingertips tapered nicely, the nails clean and pink. His grip was warm and strong.

She ended up noticing his damn hands far too much, the way he held a pen or a fork, the way the sleeve hems of the jacket that shouldn’t suit him so well fell across them, the way they looked when he held the door for her as an absentminded sort of courtesy and not the way a Man made a Pointed Gesture at someone.

By far the worst bit for a while there was how his hand had felt on her back through the thin fabric of her red dress, hot and familiar.

But then he’d kissed her so shyly, when they were pretending to be married at the Twilling’s stupid party, like she might recoil from him. It wasn’t like they hadn’t almost kissed three times already. She’d even seen him in nothing but his skin before for God’s sake, though that had hardly been the best circumstances. Still, she’d felt him hold his breath when he kissed the corner of her mouth, warm and soft and sweet, heard him murmur darling like he wasn’t quite sure it’s what he wanted to say.

It was hard to lie with your hands, with your body. Even if you could keep the right expression on your face, a blink or a fidget or a tick could give the whole thing away. When he’d asked her to hold him he’d been shaking like a leaf. When she’d struck him with everything she had there hadn’t been even a twitch of anger.

When Phyllis had seen him square off with Morgan afterwards in the station, in front of everyone not at the train station or the hospital and with the Guv’s blood still on his hands, that had been a different story entirely.

Annie was rather glad she hadn’t seen it.

When they’d finally kissed, right there on the pavement in broad daylight, it had felt like relief, release, comfort, a settling in. That tension in him that had kept them apart for so long had gone. His hands were warm and tender on her face, skimming firmly down her arms. He kissed so sweetly. She smoothed one hand down along his side underneath that leather jacket and felt his faint shiver.

When she pulled him by the hand into his own flat that weekend and he kicked the door closed behind them it wasn’t sweet or careful at all and was all the better for it.

*

Sam had never spent too much time fretting about his body.

He kept it healthy and clean. He kept his clothes neat, either picking outfits off of mannequins or from catalogs or letting friends point things out to him, because he knew he was rubbish at putting together things that looked right from a collection of pieces.

But he’d been too skinny with too big a nose and weird hair as a kid, and too skinny with too big a nose and weird hair as a young man, and now he was a grown man still on the skinny side of things with too big a nose and weird hair, so what exactly was the point of wasting time thinking about it? At least with age he’d become able to keep enough flesh on to hide his bloody ribcage.

He ran until his lungs and legs burned whenever he had the time, danced until his feet ached bad enough to make him limp home whenever the opportunity came along. His knuckles were scarred from fights over the years, from schoolyard bullying to skirmishes on the job to frequent scuffles with Gene, all noise and pulled punches. He splurged on nice wine and top shelf scotch whenever he had the time and the cash to enjoy it, had a few dozen favorite dinners he could cook for himself with his hands almost on autopilot, once he’d tracked down all the ingredients in this time.

Though he really preferred to cook for at least two, and not just to show off.  It was always a nice feeling, feeding someone he liked.

Most people seemed to like his eyes for some reason. Always had. Apparently his best feature, but he’d never really understood that. They were just a perfectly normal brown, weren’t they? Annie told him to look at her sometimes before she’d kiss him, nuzzled close to his face other times, nose to nose with their eyes open. Annie’s eyes were gorgeous, starry blue, warm and clear like a summer sky, so it was hardly a chore. Even Gene had said his eyes were pretty once, though Sam was sure Gene didn’t know he’d heard, had at the time been trying to rouse from having his skull knocked into a rundown fence while in pursuit. Show me those pretty eyes of yours Tyler. And Gene had nice eyes himself when it came down to it, a distinctive teal colour, harsh and clear. It was the second thing he’d ever had occasion to notice about the man, somewhere between losing his temper and getting the breath knocked out of him by an unforgiving filing cabinet and Gene’s warm bulk.

He might not get it, the apparent appeal, much as he knew he’d never, ever left a partner unsatisfied, but it was nice to be liked. It was so nice that they liked him.

It was still just a body and he lived in it and it was his, only one he was going to get. But it was hardly who he was, what made him him. His mind, his beliefs, his memories and skills, those were all far more important things. But his body had always felt so alive here.

There was no scar on his thumb.