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A Couple of Comedians
Nobody Here But Us Chickens
Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:12

The love of his life was a very angry grump.

Michael slouched in his chair, watching Devon pretend to do a cross-word puzzle. One of the doctors had suggested it as a way to challenge brain cells towards full recovery, as if all you had to do was figure out 43-across, which read ‘part of a hammerhead’. He’d thought about suggesting teeth but figured that the paper wasn’t talking about fish.

The conman yawned quietly, eying the clock before shifting in his seat. He’d been absent for two bloody days, and been back for three now, yet Devon hadn’t opened his mouth but to start an argument or request a heavier pair of hand weights. Michael was sure he was going to injure himself – but Devon, blast him, was acting as if he didn’t exist at all.

Presumably this was in retaliation for the missing forty-eight hours.

Tomorrow was D-Day. Check out time. For Michael, it couldn’t come soon enough, time had all been stopped for the last week, minus those two days that he couldn’t account for yet. Fowler was a sadistic bastard, though that only raised Michael’s opinion of him. Of course, all that might change when everyone returned to work – including Devon.

He still wasn’t sure how to tell the raving loon that he’d be staying in New York. How did one go about broaching this sort of thing with a boyfriend. Fine, almost boyfriend. Michael reached up and idly tugged a lock of hair, wondering if he’d have the fortitude to hack off his hair until it resembled one of the nightmares that all the military types around them wore.

Another glance at the clock produced a razor thin sense of relief, accompanied by another layer of discomfort. James was due to arrive for his daily visit in the extremely near future. Since his nose was on the road to recovery, Michael was wary of getting anywhere near the older man and simply chose to remove himself from view until the coast was clear.

“I’ll see you later.”

Unwilling to glance towards Devon and see if he even reacted to his voice, or the impending visit, Michael rose to his feet and quietly walked out of the room. Staying with Devon was exhausting, both mentally and physically, so he made a beeline for the nearest exit. There was an MP standing outside, along with one of the nurses, the former sneaking drags from a cigarette.

Grand. Misery loved company.

Fishing one of the Players out, he bummed a lighter just for the chance to talk to a human being that wouldn’t ignore him, and spent a few minutes remembering what it was to be just a regular person. Chest tightening, Michael allowed himself to wonder, just for a moment, what it might have been like to meet Devon under different circumstances – where the spectre of a deceased sister did not cast a long shadow over his feelings for another human being.

He was in love with Devon.

That much was obvious, why else would he keep returning, day after day, to lend support to a man who had all but forgotten—Michael derailed that thought immediately. He’d lost many material possessions and a few people in his life, but the suggestion that events partially of his own making could render Devon’s heart against him forever was almost too much to bear.

Tossing down the remains of his third cigarette, the lanky forger made his way back into the building, deliberating choosing the direction that lay opposite of Devon’s room. It was the cafeteria he wanted, where people talked and laughed and refused to ignore each other. Right now he needed that contact.

After paying for a cup of coffee that tasted suspiciously like helicopter fuel, Michael found himself a seat against one of the drably painted walls and settled down to sip at the foul liquid. Green eyes darted here and there, drinking in the various groups of military personnel in their uniforms, offset by the smaller groupings of hospital staff in variously colored scrubs. No one approached him, which was more of a relief than anything else, Michael wasn’t sure he could behave himself anyway.

Time expanded and shrank away, leaving the man suspended in a mental landscape of recriminations against himself and everyone involved in the whole debacle. Michael sat there, unmoving, for God knew how long before someone roused him away from idly contemplating a robbery of the Federal Reserve.

“You look like hell.”

John sat down in the seat across from him without asking, his bulk an oddly comforting presence. Another reminder of what he’d done to an old friend, and what that old friend had forced Devon to endure. Someday soon he would have to make himself face those memories instead of tucking them away.

“Good. I feel like it too.”

But Michael managed a small smile, trying to fend off any attempt the ex-agent might make regarding lectures. To his relief, John made no mention of anything but the weather, getting up to fetch himself a cup of the tar-coffee.

The actor forced himself to relax in the interim, not quite expecting John to return, set down his drink, and draw the thinner man into a great big bearhug. But that’s exactly what happened.

“You are a right bastard,” Michael hissed, trying desperately to prevent moisture from trickling down his cheeks, but there it was. No way around it now. Disengaging himself from John’s attempts at squeezing the life out of him, he leaned across the table and rescued some napkins from the small, metal container to dry his face.

“I know. Just came to tell you that James is leaving with Sean, so its safe to go back.”

Michael shrugged, which only resulted in being physically dragged up from his seat and paraded like a nancy-boy through the ground floor of the hospital until they arrived back in Devon’s room. There were faint suggestions of reddened skin around his eyes, which was a stark contrast to the cold mask he’d been wearing for days. Of course, the patient was also heavily asleep …

John just patted Michael on the shoulder before wandering out, muttering something about finding the gift shop, and left the two alone. It took two heartbeats to cross the room and settle carefully at the edge of the bed.

Asleep, Devon still managed to provoke a slew of erotic visions, which just added to Michael’s discomfort. Nevertheless, he leaned over and planted a gentle kiss against the man’s mouth, knowing better than to wake him up. All he wanted to do was curl up right next to him and keep away the nightmares that still plagued his friend. Instead, he settled into his chair and tried to catch a few minutes of unconsciousness as well.

This was a really bad idea.

Really, really bad.

Trussed up in a modest skirt-blouse-and jacket ensemble that her mother had purchased during her last visit, Mercy strode through the lobby of the CIA building with outward confidence. This trip had been her mother’s suggestion, of all things, after the dancer had called just days before.

She’d wanted to know if having sexy dreams of a man around her father’s age was normal, because forcing herself to stop thinking about Robert Fowler had just led to a couple of very tiring nights. Add her schedule to that, and it was a wonder she’d kept most of her sanity intact.

“Can I see your ID, miss?”

Another checkpoint, this one just in front of the row of elevators, of which there were three. Retrieving her wallet from the matronly purse slung over a shoulder, Mercy submitted to another casual patdown, knowing full well she resembled nothing so much as a whore in a business suit.

Somebody had to be wondering who was getting the striptease.

Waved through after getting back her license, the stripper stepped boldly into one of the rectangle boxes and spent the next few minutes reevaluating her sanity. Why was she doing this again? Oh, right. Because her mother had confirmed that this enigmatic federal agent very definitely had designs on her, else he would not have staked out her favored grocery store … or brought flowers to her workplace.

He looked green around the gills, Mom Mercy had admitted, recalling the hasty exit with no small amount of amusement. Carol Elfman had been a treasure of information about the bouquet arrangement, Mercy’s grandmother had once owned a flower shop, so describing the physical attributes had led to speculation about his intentions.

Well, as her father was fond of saying, you had to confront the bear in his den if you wanted an honest reaction. Which, naturally, explained her conservative costume and the fact she was wearing heels offstage. Really.

When the doors opened onto Robert’s floor, Mercy was once again the epitome of ‘cool, calm and collected’. After inquiring the location of her quarry’s office, and the fact that he was residing there right now, she strode purposefully through a maze of desks and partial cubicles, idly noting that it looked very little like the sets you saw in those action movies.

But speaking of action …

Robert was sitting in his office, flipping through a folder of printed sheets and occasionally punching information into a computer squatting on the slab of expensive wood. Apparently he owned a secretary, for her desk was situated about three feet from the door, but the chair was empty.

Mercy had planned this visit for the lunch hour deliberately. And, it was now or never. Taking a low breath, she sailed into the room-with-a-corner-view.

“Hello, Mister Fowler.”

Her voice was not the one he expected, to judge by the way his head snapped towards the sound, file trying to slide from surprised hands. He recovered quickly, she had to give him that, and rose from his chair.

“Miss Elfman.” A hand automatically stretched out to shake her own. It had to be an ingrained male response, because her dad did the exact same thing. “What a surprise.”

Oh, she really did like his accent. It spoke of elite universities and libraries with millions of big, thick books. “I know I probably should have called before coming down here, but I figured that you’d find someplace else to be if I gave advance warning.”

She grinned when his eyes narrowed, knowing she’d hit the nail right on the head. Robert Fowler would have tucked himself away. So she invaded his space just a little more by placing her purse down on his desk.

“Did you know that Lisianthus flowers are given to a person to convey that you think about them?”

It was fascinating to watch his eyes widen, mouth pursing in an attempt to …well, perhaps he wanted to yell at her. Most men did when confronted by something outside their comfort zone. However, it was completely unfair on his part to cause her pulse to quicken when Robert’s tongue snaked out to wet dry lips.

“Yes, I seem to recall hearing that somewhere. Is this visit related to official business, Miss Elfman?”

He seemed determined to regain some sense of dignity in his own office, now frowning at her like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. It was endearing, though Mercy rather thought telling him so would only cause more barriers to appear.

“Nope. I just came to give you these,” she reached into her jacket and extracted the two flowers she’d been overly careful to keep concealed until now, placing an orchid and a tulip right on top of the file he’d been reading. “And this,” she leaned forward and appropriated a small notepad from next to the phone, then really invaded his personal space by sliding a pen from his shirt pocket to scribble down her phone number.

“Now you have no excuse to call me.”

Finally stepping back, and having completed what she set out to do, Mercy scooped up her purse and slung the strap over one shoulder. It should have ended there, but a tiny, invisible demon sprawled on the opposing shoulder, whispering wicked suggestions.

She gave in, choosing one of the more tame ideas.

“Would you like to join me for lunch, Robert Fowler? There’s a wonderful Chinese place just a few blocks away…”

  • Visits & RosesHolmes | Fowler, Wed Sep 20 14:39
    The last week had been hell. Devon hadn't wanted to go back into surgery for that damned plate in his head. Or, more aptly, on his skull. But the doctors assured him that this was practically... more
    • Nobody Here But Us Chickens — A Couple of Comedians, Sun Sep 24 10:12
      • Yellow Bellied G-MenHolmes | Fowler, Wed Sep 27 01:21
        D-Day! If Devon thought he could actually handle it, he would have climbed right up on the little cot that was a poor excuse for a hospital bed, and done the happy dance in his skivvies. Seeing as... more
        • Insert Clever Title HereMick | Mercy, Sun Oct 8 01:51
          Devon was whining. Again. Michael glanced up from his copy of War and Peace , limbs sprawled insolently across the couch, and speared his roommate with one of his looks . The invalid dangled his... more
          • Something | Rob, Wed Oct 18 14:56
            Holmes men did not whine. All right, maybe a little. Devon was going absolutely insane here! For the first day, he was fairly out of it and ended up sprawling on the bed after getting some help from... more
            • Singers, Dancers and ... FedsSome People, Thu Oct 19 10:54
              Michael didn’t wake up until he rolled over, attempting to burrow against Devon just a little bit more and found the man’s bed empty. Eyes snapped open, panic replacing sleep as quickly as he’d... more
              • Playing Catch UpDevon Holmes, Fri Oct 27 11:03
                Jesus, what the hell was he thinking? Devon stared down at the breakfast, picking at the food, dutifully eating. Sitting here in the kitchen, with his leg propped up on one of the stools, reminded... more
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