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Life Support
Tue Sep 12, 2006 13:17

He wasn’t sure how long he remained on the floor, only that eventually his tears ceased. People moved around his position, rushing back and forth in search of things he really didn’t care about at this point. What Michael did care about was Devon, who’d lapsed pretty quickly into unconsciousness. He snarled every time someone leaned down in an attempt to ascertain the feeb’s condition. Having already done that, it was pretty easy to growl out, “He’s hurt and I’ll kill you if you touch him,” which didn’t endear him to anyone.

It was John who finally coaxed Michael out of his stupor when the helicopter arrived with the medics, helping him lift Devon onto a stretcher and onto the chopper (no small feat for something almost the size of an Apache to land in the industrial portion of Newark), and sat with him all the way to the hospital. And it wasn’t just any old hospital either, this one sat on the middle of an army base. Michael didn’t seem to pay much attention until the er crew arrived to take custody of the injured agent. He would have followed them right into the operating room if John hadn’t physically forced him into a chair.

The raven-haired man sat there for eight hours, through surgery (they weren’t very forthcoming on the full extent of injuries) and post-op, at which time the still unconscious man was carted into a private room on the first floor – just in case something went wrong. By that time, most of the Holmes clan had been allowed in for a quick peek and then escorted right back off the premise. James, Sr and Caleb were the only two left by midnight. John had been persuaded to leave only after being assured no one was going to kill Michael, and had been “kind” enough to leave the whole mess in Caleb’s hands.

Michael settled himself in the lone chair by Devon’s back and refused to leave it (but for minor events like going to the bathroom) over the next fifteen hours. He’d closed up again after his initial breakdown, barely grunted when addressed, and focused all of his attention on his lover. Not even the nurses wanted to approach the surly Brit for fear of – something. Honestly, the time spent on the base was mostly a blur for Michael, punctuated by Devon’s occasional lapses into awareness. He’d sit up screaming and try to dislodge phantoms from his back. It took both Michael and Caleb to settle him down and then the long wait would begin all over again.

On the second mid-morning, the staff decided they would have to use physical force to remove Michael from the private room. Surely the brig would fit his current temperament, and none of the on-duty nurses would have to worry about being threatened again. James voiced his approval for the plan, Caleb didn’t look at all happy about it …

… and Michael’s saving grace sauntered gracefully down the corridor, her red hair shorn into a becoming bob style, and wearing her signature elegant attire (if the 60’s hippie look could be called elegant). “My darlings, I came as soon as I could.” Offering the men one of her brilliant smiles, Isabel swept past the mutinous group to deposit a large flower basket on the room’s miniscule table.


“Michael, darling. How is he?”

“Alive.” He glanced up at her, then refocused on the figure in the bed. “It’s my fault he’s here.” That was the most he’d said in days. Absently, Michael shifted in his chair and tried to resume his mental zoning. Apparently his sister’s mother wasn’t going to let him.

“Shit happens, darling. Life happens. We all adjust accordingly. Now stand up. You need a shower,” her nose wrinkled, “clean clothes and a place to stay. We can find all of that at home.”

“Don’t ‘ave one.” His accent thickened automatically, resolved to stay at Devon’s side until the man woke up without screaming.

“Oh, that’s just a load of bullcrap, Michael. Get out of that chair and come on!” To everyone’s surprise, including his own, Michael found himself stumbling up out of the chair and numbly following the irritated redhead out. A soldier escorted them to the car, no doubt afraid that their resident rabid wolf would take the lady’s head off, but eventually they were settled in a taxi and heading back towards downtown Manhattan.

From taxi to penthouse, Michael said little else, allowing Isabel to guide him along as she would. It just wasn’t worth fighting over, and she’d been decent to him in the past. Laws of hospitality demanded that he at least pretend to be human. It wasn’t until he’d showered and climbed into a pair of jeans that he realized he was standing in Sonnet’s old room.

Too much to bear.

Isabel found him curled on the floor sobbing, and instead of giving him wide berth as everyone else had done, she settled down and cradled him like a damn baby until the wails gave way to sniffling an undetermined amount of time later. Twas a gesture that not even his own mother would offer, and allowed just a sliver of his attitude to mellow. But just a little, he was Moriarty after all.

They spent the rest of the day going through old albums and sharing several pots of tea. And then the phone rang, bearing a strongly voiced invitation to adjourn at Caleb’s house so that everyone involved in the whole debacle could be found in case Devon’s condition changed.

A far different Michael walked through the now-familiar door, gray shirt and jeans more suited to his currently subdued mood. Lucy, the bravest one in the family, was the first to approach Michael, to welcome him firmly into her home with a hug, and guided both him and Isabel over to one of the couches in the living room. She set a teacup in his hands after a few minutes and then disappeared to perform hostess for another arrival.

But that small kindness earned her the steadfast loyalty of her husband’s nemesis.

Mercy glanced up at the clock for the billionth time, wondering how long they were going to keep her incarcerated with the gorillas before remembering that there was a perfectly innocent civilian being held captive in the catacombs of the CIA building.

Probably never.

With a sigh, she rose from the uncomfortable chair and sauntered out into the little smoking area – at least they were civilized enough for such a place. Her purse was almost an oxymoron of the term, too small for anything other than her wallet and a tube of lipstick. And the condom she kept there just in case she came across a willing body.

There was another agent smoking and she smiled winningly until he grudgingly handed over a couple of the cancer sticks. Mercy borrowed his lighter, her nerves soothed after a few drags. Nicotine. Despite the surgeon general’s warning, she’d never been able to kick the habit. Some addictions were just too strong an attraction. Or a curse, but she carefully detoured away from that road.

The second cigarette was smoked a couple hours later, which made her incarceration here at nine hours and still counting. One could only hope she had a job when they finally let her out. Mobster or no, the guy paid her well, and her customers tipped even better. The last thing Mercy wanted to do was seem like some sort of stoolie. Great, now she was starting to sound like a cheap detective novel.

With little else to do, the blonde finally curled up as best she could in her chair and tried to get some sleep – it was better than staring at agents, checking the clock every five minutes, reapplying lipstick … hell, a game of poker would have been nice, but none of the men around her looked really approachable.

Really, this would be the very last time Mercy would try and be a good citizen.

A hand gently shook her awake sometime later, the man speaking in an accent melded of London elite and Bah-ston comfort. “Miss Elfman, wake up. I’m going to drive you home, should you care to divulge that information.”

He was in his fifties, or maybe late forties, muscled underneath his business suit, his head sporting an admirable lack of hair. The dancer blinked, yawning, and eyed the clock. It read 10:38 pm. Christ. “You did a very good thing today, ma’am.” And he was cryptic, too. Sorta.

Still muddle-headed, Mercy eased off the chair, wincing at the kinks now prevalent in her back, grabbed her purse and followed the senior official through a dizzying array of corridors and up two flights of stairs into a vast garage. He led the way to a small but expensive sedan and held the passenger door open for her.

It was not behavior she normally encountered in her line of work, but the display made her smile all the same. Back over the bridge, past the airport and through a tangle of neighborhoods until they reached a street just on the outskirts of Newark, some ten miles away from the strip club. It was a run-down apartment building, but the rent was decent and no one dealt drugs (always a plus!).

The agent actually escorted her all the way to her front door and waited patiently while she fumbled with the lock, feet killing her after being confined in high heels all day, and didn’t leave until she was safely locked in.

“Good night, Miss Elfman.”

“Good night, Mister Fowler.”

And that was that. Mercy rang up her boss to let him know she was home, then spent an ungodly amount of time scrubbing the memories of her day away in the shower. Her absence would have cost the club money, so it was an easy bet she’d be expected to show up and give her best in the morning. With that thought, and a kind prayer for the agent who’d given her a safe ride home, Mercury Elfman drifted off to sleep somewhere around midnight, assured of never dealing with the government again.

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