Friday, October 26, 2012

Elvis on the Jukebox

A/N: Click the link for story soundtrack.

Spies know it's a bad idea to fall in love.

Michael Westen knows it's an especially bad idea for him to fall in love. For one thing, he's engaged, and not to the woman who he's falling in love with. For another thing, the woman he is engaged to is capable of making his life beyond a living hell if she feels jilted. On top of that, he's pretending to be someone else. This new woman will never know his real name, real job. There's no future for them, nothing beyond lies and pain.

He's aware of the fact that the first rush of love is chemically similar to a hit of coke, and he's more than aware enough to know that high as a kite and good decision making don't go hand and hand.

He's certain he's about to make a record-breakingly bad decision.

And he doesn't care.

If he was home, Michael would call the Black Sand Pub a dive bar. But he's not home, and he's not Michael Westen, not today.

Today, and three weeks of yesterdays, and since this is a long-term, deep-cover mission, a whole lot of tomorrows, he's Michael McBride, formerly of Kilkenny, currently in Belfast, and looking to use his rather unique skills as a safe-cracker and demolition expert for the betterment of the IRA.

Terrorists organizations tend to attract two sorts of people. A. True believers who are fighting for a cause. Right now, in Ireland, they aren't much of an issue. For the most part, they're fairly willing to see about developing some sort of peace. B. Sociopaths who get off on chaos and pain. Michael McBride is part of group B.  

While he pretends to be McBride, his job is to engage in minor, and not so minor, mayhem, and keep track of where the real bad apples go when they get bored with the current, reduced, style of activities the IRA has on offer.  And if he were to suggest certain groups to those sociopaths, his bosses will be even happier. 

Neither the US nor the UK minds if he robs a few banks and blows up a few low-level targets as long as no civilians get killed, and when he's done certain people decide to join terrorist organizations that are actually one way tickets to very long stints in prison. Everyone knows there are organizations in the Middle East, and a few more in Columbia that are starting to scout people who have gotten bored with the IRA and the Basques. And if the CIA happens to run a few of them, to turn the not so bad terrorists into assets and bust the worse ones, all the better.

Since Michael doesn't speak Spanish or Euskara, he's in Ireland.

In a dingy pub.

Playing darts with Sean and Pat Glenanne, waiting for, of all people, their little sister, to show up. Supposedly she's the one who'll be checking to see if he's the real deal when it comes to safe-cracking and demolitions.   

The Glenanne lads are whipping darts at the board, and laughing about what "Our Fiona" will do with Michael. They seem to be under the impression that she's going to break him into tiny pieces and then eat the pieces for breakfast.

And they also seem to think it's the funniest thing that's ever going to happen.

So, he's expecting the kind of girl who usually runs in these sorts of circles. Tough, boyish, big with lots of muscles and short hair. The sort of girl who's Daddy never wanted a girl, and who makes up for it by being more dangerous than her brothers ever were. What Sam calls a Battle Lesbian. And he's already got his approach planned. Whatever she can throw at him, he's ready to deflect.

Then she walked in.

It's his turn with the darts, and he's just gotten two of them into green seventeen.  He's aiming for the third when she passes through his peripheral vision.

His mom would call it moonstruck. He's not sure he's got a word for it, but he sure as hell knows Battle Lesbian isn't the right term.

She's tiny. That's the first thing that really hits him. As she hangs her coat on the rack by the door, the fact that she's wearing a miniskirt, gray leggings, high-heeled boots, a bulky cable-knit sweater, and a scarf filters through rapidly. From there he sees her face, sharp, angled, striking. Her hair is black and falls in a long braid, contrasting beautifully with creamy skin and the cloud-colored wool of her sweater.

The Glenannes are smirking.

All thoughts of going over and having a 'I'll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours' pissing contest have skittered out of his mind.

He hands his dart to whichever Glenanne takes it, smiles at her, and walks over.

"I was wonderin', Ms. Glenanne, if you'd like to dance?"

She grins and pulls a gun on him. He's not sure where she was hiding it. Probably under the sweater, it's pretty large. The boots are fairly high; it could have been tucked in there. Either way, she's holding it, steady, aimed at his face, and still smiling.

"I assume that means yes?"

She shakes her head and tucks the gun away.

"My brothers didn't say you were daft. There's no music."

There's also no dance floor. But she doesn't mention that. He scans the room and sees the juke box. He walks over to it, and spends a moment staring. Deep cover means he's filled with information about Ireland. He's a walking encyclopedia of Kilkenny. He's not, unfortunately, particularly well-versed on popular Irish music.

Which means he's got no idea which of the songs facing him are good dance songs or not.

He's about to gesture for her, and say, 'Lady's choice' when he sees Elvis.

Even Michael Westen knows "Can't Help Falling In Love" is slow enough to dance to. 

He puts a few coins in, and holds out his hand to her. She joins him, and he feels electricity shoot up his arm as her fingers meet his.

This might be the most prophetic song in the history of music. He's tottering on the edge of the most foolish thing he's ever done. But he doesn't care. Her hand is in his, and he's pulled her close as they sway in front of the juke box.

They don't speak. He spends the two minutes watching her, memorizing her face, burning her eyes and smile into his mind. He feels her body next to his, close but not close enough, and for the first time ever wishes he really was his cover ID, and wonders what would be involved in actually becoming Michael McBride. It wouldn't be the first time an agent defected, nor the last. And right that second it's the most appealing thing he can think of, 'cause he can see where this ends, and he doesn't want that.

The song wraps, and she reaches up, gives him a quick peck on the cheek and says, "There's a bomb in the pocket of my coat. You've got," she checks her watch, "two and half minutes to deactivate it."

Michael looks around and for the first time notices they're the only ones in the pub. He looks back to where she was and sees her step out the door.

Two minutes then. Time to get to work.

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