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Michael & Mercy
Learning to Fly
Sun Sep 17, 2006 11:43
71.33.60.170

The first half hour was the worst.

Michael remained on the couch for most of that period, wavering between looking miserable and not looking miserable. His father had arrived shortly after, accompanied by Ben, which meant he couldn’t even approach the older gentleman at this point, even to make sure he was alright. It just wasn’t worth the probability of causing any more rifts between the couple.

At least the tea kept his stomach from fully rebelling. Every sip drained away a tiny portion of his stress, until only a knot in the pit of his stomach remained when the cup was finally empty. After noting most of the guests were family, one at least the size of Simon, though much younger, Michael opted to hide in the kitchen – where Lucy put him to work.

Who knew the family ate so much rabbit food?

Celery, cream cheese, carrot slices. And don’t forget the applesauce for James, Jr. It was the infant who calmed Michael down the most, just the latest surprise in a day full of them (or week, rather, but who was counting?). Falling helplessly under Lucy’s spell, he found himself perched just across from the baby’s highchair, carefully spooning apple puree into Jamie’s mouth.

It had seemed only natural after that to clean the little nipper up and spend quality time with the heir to the Holmes legacy by racing around on the floor to make him giggle, or letting tiny fingers grab his prominent nose.

Hugh found him in the dining room, pretending to be an overly large cat, stalking on all fours around the table, which James was masterfully hiding underneath – giggling like a loon.

“You seem to be holding up well.”

His father’s voice startled Michael, sending him careening into a chair easily avoided in less stressful circumstances. Little Jamie thought it was even more of a hoot and crawled out from under the table to stake a seat right on Michael’s currently-easy-to-reach chest.

“Dad…”

There were so many things he’d wanted to say since that brunch gone horrible awry, but he couldn’t seem to remember any of them. Not with Hugh standing there, his arm still in a sling. Pain, all the more terrible for its recent disappearance, spread inside his chest, daring the forger to breathe properly.

“I’m so sorry—“

“There you are!”

Lucy chose that moment to arrive, leaning down to rescue the shorter kid from the bigger kid. “Thank you for watching him, Michael.” Again, there was little but kindness in her eyes and voice, reminding him just how much he owed Caleb’s wife. Of them all, she seemed the only one capable of understanding his place in the world, though he’d never tried to explain it and she’d never asked.

“I never meant—“

“How are you hold—“

They spoke at the same time, attempted conversation dissolving into a tangle of words, rendered meaningless. Michael remained silent, allowing his father to regain a measure of dignity.

“Michael, you’re my son. I love you.”

It was unexpected, and brought tears to the son’s eyes. It was all he could do to choke out something suitable when his dad gave him a one-armed hug. “I love you too, Dad. I swear, I never meant to hurt you—“

And found his attempts at sincere apology negated a second time when Ben roughly tugged him away and pinned him against the wall.

“But you did. What if that shot had landed five or six inches closer. He’d been breathing through a tube!” The mustache twitched in fury. In horror, Michael watched a balled fist come right at him, though it was only proper that Ben indulge his anger on the only surviving member of the gang that had caused this family so many problems.

The impact was painful, but not the worst Michael had ever endured. He bore the assault in silence; after all, what were a few bruises compared to what might have been his father’s death? When Ben was finished, he let the Brit slide to the floor and walked away. Hugh looked upset, his gaze flickered from Michael to Ben and back.

Michael waved him off. They were blood, nothing would severe that until one died. But Hugh had a very stable relationship, and the last thing his son wanted to do was destroy that too. “Go calm him down.”

He turned away to hide the disappointment when his father did, in fact, depart in search of his angry lover.

“That was grownup of you.”

John was suddenly crouched in front of him, holding an icepack against the worst of the bruises, a punch that had almost broken his nose. The ex-agent looked downright sympathetic, and Michael wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. Apparently it was beside the point as he found himself hauled to his feet and dragged out onto the back patio.

Sean arrived shortly after, playing waiter with a rum and coke (heavy on the rum). He laid a proprietary kiss on John’s mouth, even though Michael couldn’t imagine sleeping with either of them. No, Devon was the only body that he wanted, though a physical ache soon forced him to squelch thoughts of that.

Who knew if they were even … together anymore?

“Nice night.” John leaned against a post, idly chewing on a cigar. They stood there, exchanging inane chatter for god knew how long, until the faint shrill of the phone had conversation halting across the house. Something had alarmed the inside guests, but Michael barely had time to register the excitement before Lucy arrived on the porch, holding out a set of keys.

“Devon’s awake and wants to see Michael. Will you drive him?”




It took almost an hour to get to the army base, through heavy traffic that never seemed to let up. Michael figured he must have smoked at least three Players before they finally drove through into the visitor’s parking lot. He submitted to being patted down for weapons at the entrance to the hospital, producing his id with ill-concealed impatience.

Devon was awake! Nothing else mattered.

Michael sprinted down to the nurses’ station, practically tossing his ID at them in order to be let through the double doors – John only a few minutes behind him. Both names were marked on the official visit list and Michael resumed his race towards Devon’s room.

He didn’t quite make it, however. James, Sr was waiting for him. Despite being in his seventies, or eighties (an educated guess on Michael’s part), the Holmes patriarch grabbed a handful of Michael’s shirt and hauled him against the wall. This was beginning to become a bad habit.

“I’m Sherlock’s son, you son of a bitch!”

BAM!

Michael’s sight wavered, not because James had just insulted his mother, but because a fist had plowed into his face for the second time that night. This time, however, the assailant had landed just one punch, but he’d aimed it well.

Blood spurted out of his nose, the patrician appendage now sporting a wound. It wasn’t completely broken, but slightly askew. Blinking his eyes rapidly to dispel the sense of surrealism, Michael stared straight at James.

“You get a free pass this time, since you belong to Devon.” Michael paused when John stepped forward, separating them. It took most of the energy he had left to shrug the jolly green giant away, but somehow he managed, moving forward to face this most senior of adversaries.

“I will retaliate next time, Holmes …as only a Moriarty can.”

And then he was moving away from James, detouring around Caleb to finally enter the sacred ground of Devon’s room. It just about killed him to see the man confined to bed, tubes inserted through nostrils to help him breathe fully. There seemed to be too many IVs inserted, and the feeb’s skin was nearly as white as the bed sheets.

“Mick…”

Oh, but his voice still sent a thrill through Michael’s frame, drawing him over to the chair he’d vacated only that morning. Everything else was forgotten as he sat down, drawing one of Devon’s hands into his own with the utmost care.

“Don’t speak. Just conserve your strength, ok?”

“What… what … your nose.”

Huh? Oh, that. “I ran into a wall. I’ll just go clean up.”

Michael had actually forgotten about the sting, so happy to see Devon somewhat alert. Well, awake anyway. His eyes kept unfocusing, thanks to the drugs the Brit was quite sure they kept his almost-lover liberally supplied with. But that was fine, it meant his body could begin to heal. Easing away from the cot, Michael retreated back into the hallway and spent several minutes reacquainting himself with the public restroom on this section of floor.

It took almost ten minutes to clean up the blood and partially halt some of the tissue swelling with some extremely cold water. About the blood on his shirt there was little to be done, hopefully Devon’s father would behave himself accordingly. If not, Michael would not begrudge the loss of a shirt in the noble effort of defending himself.

He must have looked marginally better, for Devon didn’t wince when he returned to the injured man’s side. Perching on the edge of the chair, Michael busied himself with straightening the hospital gown, the blanket, anything at all to ignore the blatant image of his love confined to a cot. Easier to waltz back and forth across the line between sanity and madness, else he would compose violent thoughts about men already dead.

Devon drifted off to sleep again, soothed by Michael’s fingertips stroking his forehead. But once the man was verifiably unconscious, the first thing the Brit did was wing his way outside for a smoke or three, inquiring about the location of the base’s PX. His supply of nicotine was beginning to run low, and Michael expected to be there far past the demise of his current pack.




She’d been right.

Mercy padded around her apartment, still aching from the double shift she’d worked the day before to make up for her absence the day before that. Yesterday, the brass had taken her boss in for questioning for a recent string of homicides in the area. It was routine, really, he’d been through it before according to Franco, but apparently one of the interviewers had asked a couple of questions about her.

The dancer still wasn’t sure what to make of that, but her boss had been significantly angry when he returned. She sported a bruise on her hip from where he’d shoved her against the counter – it was the most physical he’d ever gotten in the two years she’d worked for him. Maybe it was time to find another club. Unlike most of the other dancers, Mercury didn’t owe him anything … except two weeks notice if she ever left.

Donning the New Yorker’s requisite uniform of jeans and a tee-shirt, Mercy hopped a bus that would take her into the city. Mass transit was the best thing about living on the east coast. And the lack of below-freezing temperatures on a regular basis. Today was the only day off she’d have for the week, and the blonde meant to make the most of it.

She’d thought about invading Central Park, but with the emergence of warm weather, every tourist in the five Boroughs would be there. Same with the Zoo, though that was one of her favorite places, so she opted for choice number three: become a tourist and visit the places she still hadn’t gotten around to seeing.

Two hours later, she was clutching the rail on top of the Empire State building and trying to figure out when this fear of heights had snuck up on her. Elevator hadn’t bothered her at all on the way up, even though it had been crammed with businesspeople and tourists alike. Not until she’d found herself peering over the edge had this sense of panic gripped her like a springing tiger.

Christ, there were mountains taller than this she’d hiked and stood on the edge of cliffs overlooking vast expanses of wilderness. Nothing had ever produced the queasy feeling in her stomach. Fingers clutched the steel barrier like a lifeline, and Mercy began to wonder if she’d be stuck there until the building shut down approximately twelve hours from now.

“Is something the matter, Miss Elfman?”

The precisely modulated tone wasn’t recognizable at first through her fear, but after the phrase was repeated, Mercy forced herself to look away from the long drop towards the man suddenly standing next to her. Impeccably dressed, as he had been at their first (and only) meeting two days before, Robert Fowler wore one of those inscrutable expressions on his face – the kind you couldn’t get around.

“I ..ah..” Mercy made the mistake of glancing down again, and what little color had been in her cheeks drained away completely. Oh dear. Surely she would tip over the railing down and plummet to her untimely death.

“Why don’t we adjourn to the interior, Miss Elfman. I suspect you would be more comfortable there.” His fingers were warm and insistent, gently prying her hands away from the chilly steel and guiding her across the ‘patio’ to the doors that now represented safety. It was humiliating, to say the least. Why, the federal agent was almost treating her like a ten year old. And Mercy couldn’t blame him.

“Thank you,” she spoke once they were enveloped inside, warm air beginning to thaw her frozen hands. It was easier to stare at them and watch the color begin to return than Robert’s face.

“Have you always been afraid of heights?” He inquired casually, reaching forward to add his assistance by rubbing her hands between his own. The effect was mildly jolting, to say the least. Mercy knew she was blushing, but the blonde hair and light epidermus did very little to hide her emotions on any given day – unless she tried really hard.

“Not … not until I came up here.” Was her voice really that shaky? Mercy wanted to sink into the floor. A twenty-seven year old woman shouldn’t sound so breathless after visiting a national tourist attraction. The Chrysler building had been next on her list, followed by lunch, but apparently that was out of the question. She fell silent for a handful of seconds, biting her bottom lip in embarrassment. It took a while to notice that he was still rubbing warmth into her hands, which only made the blush deepen. Damn her fair skin!

“I’d better be going. Thank you again, Mister Fowler.”

It took a great deal of courage to extract her hands from his grip, though she ruined the solemn moment by placing a kiss against his cheek before that courage deserted her. Slipping away, she turned to the elevators and made it inside one already beginning to close; the shouts of other visitors obscuring the words flying from his mouth – all she heard was her name before the doors closed.

Sinking against the side, and now bottled in with fifteen grade-schoolers, Mercy decided that the best thing she could do would be to catch a bus bound for the Holland tunnel when she got to the ground floor, go home and hide for the rest of the day.


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                  • Yellow Bellied G-MenHolmes | Fowler, Wed Sep 27 01:21
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