Michael doesn't like funerals. Granted, that's not a terribly unique sentiment. It's not like most people love a good funeral.
But he hates wakes.
And the wake for Nate is trying to kill him.
The only good thing about it is that his mom is talking to Fi. At least, he hopes that's a good sign, 'cause she certainly isn't talking to him.
Apparently, Nate had a rather large cohort of buddies who think the point of a wake is to get free drinks. They're circling the bar, sucking down booze like it's the day before Prohibition went into effect.
They're loud, drunk, and laughing. And for some god-forsaken reason they keep coming over to him, patting him on the back, and wanting to tell him stories about Nate in action. Most of these stories involve gambling, stealing cars, hookers or cocktail waitresses, and getting really drunk. Two of them have involved all four.
He's trying to hide. There's a booth in the back of the bar his mom rented for this, where he can see her and Fi. His mom is crying and drinking, probably not a good combination. Fi's petting her hand, and pouring her more to drink.
Whiskey and tea, the Irish remedy for heartache.
He sees Sam and Jesse head his way, and while he's much happier with them nearby than a random collection of Nate's drunk friends, what he really wants is to leave here and be alone. Or maybe with Fi. But, really, alone sounds awfully good right now.
Sam's holding a bottle of scotch. It's not cheap stuff. But it's not the good stuff, either. It is, however, Nate's favorite.
Michael realizes this is probably the best scotch Nate ever had. Best he could ever afford.
Sam and Jesse sit down. Jesse puts down four glasses. Michael's wondering if the fourth is for Fi, but it doesn't look like she's about to join them anytime soon.
Sam pours. And gestures for all three of them to drink.
He does, feeling it slide down. Not liquid fire, but not hot silk either. Not much flavor one way or another. It's just sort of there.
"To Nate." Sam holds up the fourth glass to the sky, and then puts it back on the table. He refills the glasses, and they drink again.
Sam looks at Jesse, and Michael can see Jesse doesn't want to talk, but feels like he has to.
"Look, Mike, I want you to know, this wasn't your fault."
He can understand why Jesse doesn't want to say that. Lying to a friend is never fun. Of course it was his fault. He brought Nate along. He ordered him away. And he told him to go find Anson.
"Stop that." Sam knows him well enough to know what he's thinking, has been thinking since he got home. "Mikey, it was not your fault. Look, we all love Nate, you know that. But you also know he didn't do what you told him to. If he had just kept his eyes on Anson and, like you told him to, not approached him, he'd be fine."
"I was there Mike, and it was not your fault. Yeah, you were hard on him, and I know you wish you could take that back, but you didn't pull the trigger, and you weren't the one who got him in position to get shot. He did that himself."
"And brother," Sam says, pouring another drink for them. He downs it fast, not really tasting it. "If you keep blaming yourself, then you take away the last thing Nate ever did. Either he owns that moment, it's entirely his, his decision, his love for you and Fi, and his desire to be the hero shining through, or he's not really a person. He becomes just a thing, bounced around by fate and luck. And Mike, no matter what else Nate might have been, he wasn't just some helpless thing.
"Now, one last drink, and then I want you to get off your ass, stop blaming yourself, and put everything into finding Nate's killer, because we owe him that."
Sam pours one more round. "To burying the son of a bitch who killed Nate!"
Michael takes a deep breath, downs his fourth shot in ten minutes, and remembers why he loves Sam.
An hour later, when he's in the men's room, throwing up because four shots on top of the double scotch he been nursing through the first hour of the wake is way more alcohol than anyone his size should try to ingest in two hours, he remembers that Sam outweighs him by at least fifty pounds, and letting the guy with the cast-iron liver pour the drinks is an awfully bad idea.