Anyway, the number you see at the start of each post is the season number, episode number, and the story number. So, 5.9.1 means season five, episode nine, story one.
Some grown up language and explicit sex in this, so not for the kiddies.
This series was kicked off by Fiona saying, at the end of season five eppi nine, "Grand gestures are great. Sometimes I think it's the day to day stuff that's the hard work."
Okay... Enough of that, fiction time.
Grand Gestures and Day to Day Life
"We'll talk later."
More chilling words no man has ever heard. At least, that's how Michael usually reacts to something like that. But, as he's driving home, ignoring Sam plowing through his sixth donut of the day, he's realizing that lately, he's been doing an even worse than usual job as a boyfriend, and that's not exactly a skill he's going to be winning awards for when he's doing well at it.
So, threading his way through traffic, feeling the adrenaline that goes with an attack wearing off, he tries to get some ideas straight in his head. He tries to have something to actually say to Fi, something that might be... Useful? Honest? Important?
Hopefully all of the above.
He gets the home earlier than he expected. A few miles from Elsa's, Sam tells him to pull over. He does, and Sam changes into clothing that is not covered in junk food crumbs and reeking of cordite and smoke. He brushes his hair, makes sure all the powdered sugar is gone from his whiskers, and pops a piece of gum.
"Gotta look good when I get home," he says by way of explanation.
Michael tries to think about when he last did something like that for Fi. Some sort of basic, every day courtesy that she'd appreciate. The fact that he can't remember a time in the last year is a very damning answer.
At least he doesn't sneak around behind Fi's back doing things she doesn't like. Usually. No, he usually does them right out in the open and drags her into them as well. It occurs to him that this is not necessarily any better than hiding and pretending he's not doing them.
He waves absentmindedly to Sam as he drops him off at Elsa's.
He's been to fifteen different cities in six countries in the last six months. And yes, that's a lot of travel. And yes, he's been doing important things. But he could have at least picked up a snow globe for her from one of those places.
He deflates a little. They were in a tourist trap in Tampa, getting gas, and he didn't get her anything.
He trudges up the steps to their home. When he get in, she's finishing up her dinner, sitting on what he now considers her side of the table, a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other.
She looks up. "How'd it go?"
He gets a little closer before starting to answer, and sees her nostrils flare. She's caught the scent of bullets and smoke.
"Not as well as I would have liked. Nikolai was a trap. But, it was a trap that didn't work out the way Lucien thought it would. He's dead. He did tell me what the next step is though."
"So, one for the win column?"
"I guess." He gets a yogurt out of the fridge, and begins eating it. Quickly. He's hungry, and hungry and emotional heart to hearts are never a good combination. Emotional heart to hearts and pretty much anything aren't a good combination, not for Michael, but he might as well not be distracted.
After a minute, he's wrapped up the food, and Fi is staring at him, trying to figure out why he's working on setting a record for fastest yogurt eaten.
She's still sitting on her stool, and he drags his a little closer. So he can lean against it and comfortably hold her hands.
"I'd like to say something to you, and I know if I don't get it all out in one piece, I'll never get it finished. So, would you just listen to this? I promise, I'll listen to whatever you want to say to me after, I promise I'll answer questions, and I promise this will be a conversation, not just a monologue, but I know if there's any chance of not saying all of this, I'll take it."
Fi nods at him. She can see there's something very unlike Michael going on right now, and she's not sure if this is going to be good or bad. He's not sure either.
He closes his eyes, pulls in a deep breath, opens them, and takes both of her hands in his.
"I'm not good at everyday life. You know that. But it's not just that I'm not good at it, but that I can't do it.
"I don't mean I get too bored, or that I just don't like it, but that I need the kind of life that forces grand gestures and makes everyday life almost impossible.
"And I know that I'm bad at everyday life. And I know I can do better. I know I spend too much time focused on me, and that's something I can work at.
"But, we're never going to be Nate and Ruth." Her eyes go wide and perplexed at that, and he can feel she wants to say something, probably along the lines of 'Are you insane?' "No. I know that's not what you want, either, it's just an example. I already know that a settled life with you and kids in the 'burbs somewhere is something that's never going to happen for us.
"I can barely be Robin Hood. I know you and Sam think that just being a freelance-go-in-and-save-the-day-guy should be enough. But it's not.
"It's not that I don't like helping people. I do. But I need the big picture. I need the puzzle. I have to have the seventeen layers of tangle and information that's never quite what it seems to be and plans within plans within plans because that keeps my mind occupied. That keeps the fear away." He says the last bit quietly.
"You saw that week where we thought everything was done. With no bigger picture, I was a wreck. I start to shake and see ghosts where there are none and end up assaulting a guy trying to buy a teddy bear for his kids, or wake up shooting at shadows.
"Anyway. I know that I'm bad at this. And I promise I will do better at it. But, if what you want is a guy who can make dinner reservations and actually be able to show up for them, say, more than three quarters of the time, I don't think I can be that guy for you.
"I can work on putting you first, but it's not going to happen overnight. Because, at least for now, we're in the middle of more puzzles and layers of hidden plans, and I have a feeling that's not going to go away anytime soon. And I'm afraid I might not be the kind of guy who can stop chasing the puzzles, even when this one gets solved."
He stops for a second and thinks about it. She's about to speak, but he holds up a hand to let her know he's not done, hasn't gotten to what he's really hoping to talk about.
"Fi, I want a life with you. And you know, that no matter what, I will always be there with the grand gesture. I'll crawl through broken glass and set myself on fire if it means you'll get away, clean. As long as I'm alive, I will always be your white knight, ready to ride in, no matter how many dragons might be between us. Bullets and bombs and running in to save the day, and I will always be there.
"Bullets and bombs and running in to save the day keeps me functional. They keep fear away. They keep rage away. I can focus my mind on what matters and do something no one else can. I can do it better than anyone else. I can make whatever it is right. I can..." He closes his eyes, aware that this is part of what he wants to say to her but not the heart of it.
"My earliest memory is from about the time I was four. My mom was pregnant, so I couldn't have been more than five. I was hiding in my room, hearing my father curse at her, and the sound of his fists hitting her. I can remember peeking out, seeing him slam a clenched fist into her shoulder, and the sound of her sobbing, with her hand shoved into her mouth, trying to stop the sound.
"I was nine when I realized that if he was hitting me, he wasn't hitting her or Nate. So I made sure he was always hitting me.
"I was fourteen the first time I hit back. I was as tall as I am now, but probably 140 pounds. Gangly. And he was bigger than Sam, and I saw it in his eyes the first time I pulled back and punched him; he liked it. He didn't want to just pound on someone; he wanted to fight.
"And I was seventeen, staring at him, passed out drunk on the sofa, knowing that I'd kill him. Knowing that I didn't know how to do it, not so I could get away with it. I wanted him dead, and I wanted to be the man who did it, but I wasn't about to go to jail for it. I went to the army recruiter the next day. Three weeks later I was in basic training.
"By the time I knew I could get away with it cold, by the time I had every move planned out, every weapon picked, every alibi set, I was on the other side of the world, and the fucking son of a bitch died before I got the chance to do it." Fi looks very startled when he says that. Michael curses when and as needed, but he never says fuck because it reminds him of his father, drunk and out of control, screaming at whomever got near.
"I like to think, that if I had done it, the fear would be gone. I'd have slain the monster, saved my mother and brother, and the need for all of this, for the constant push to keep myself active to the edge of endurance would be gone.
"But I'm not the one who did it. The boogey-man won."
He shakes his head. "It's stupid, isn't it? He's been dead for almost fifteen years, and I'm still running away, pushing myself farther and harder to keep his ghost, and all the other ghosts I've piled up over the years, because that's another thing about this job, it keeps fear away, while you're doing it, but each new day adds new enemies, new fears, more horror that needs to be driven away by more work.
"For a long time, the CIA was the way to keep the fear away. Add new fear, sure, but it worked. And now... Pearce told me about her fiancée getting killed, and that could have been you. So easily, Fi. Probably would have been if I had been a few hours later on getting out of Ireland. And Sam... Those two bastards would have just let him die, and probably would have laughed about it later.
"I don't know what would happen if something happened to you." He stops for a second, touching her face, thinking about it. He shudders a little, then takes her hand in his again.
"Actually, I do. I'd go cold for as long as it took to kill them all, and then I'd go insane. When Strickler said you were my past, I killed him without a second thought, because you are not my past, and if he was going to do anything to you, he had to die. And I saw you floating there, unsure if you were dead or alive, and I could feel it, my grasp of real life, my grasp of sane starting to ravel away from me.
"I need you. I'm bad at everyday life. I know it, you know it, but even as bad as I am at this, you make me better at it. You make me want to be better at it.
"And I don't do this emotional stuff very often, because it makes me feel out of control, makes my stomach clench up and my ability to do what I need to feel like it's slipping away. It's too much like being a child and seeing him looming, bigger than anything in the world, ready to lay down pain and hate in ringing bruised flesh.
"And I'm aware enough to know that this is a grand gesture, too. That everyday life would have been me remembering to pick up a snow globe for you, or actually make a dinner reservation and keep it, or stop on the way home and get some flowers or something, and then keep on doing it every damn day so that one day you don't decide you want a life with a guy who's not constantly chasing something bigger and more dangerous, who has a job with normal hours and the ability to put you first in his life because he's not trapped fighting ghosts that can never be defeated because the damn things are dead.
"I'm never going to be good at this Fi. I might, with work, eventually get to mediocre. But I can't put the big picture down, and I can't stop chasing the danger, not now at least, and I don't know what I'm going to do if the CIA doesn't pan out, because I'll be lost again." He goes quiet, done for now.
She stands up, her hands still in his, reaches up on her tip toes, and kisses his forehead. "Normal hours would bore me senseless in a few days. Come to bed with me, this kind of conversation should be had in the dark, lying down, naked."