Michael woke and found himself alone in bed. And, while waking in the middle of the night isn't unusual for him, finding himself alone in bed is.
He can see dim light from under the door, which means Fi must be in the living room. He doesn't hear anything and eases the door open gently. Sure, there's probably nothing scarier than Fi getting a midnight snack on the other side of that door, but still, he's not about to advertise what he's doing.
She's kneeling on the floor, the top half of her resting against the exercise ball, rocking back and forth. Blue-white light flickers off the TV. He can't hear it, so either she's got it on mute or has earbuds in.
Relieved to see she's okay, he goes to take care of what woke him up in the first place.
A minute later, he joins her.
She turns her head toward him as soon as one of his feet hits the kitchen floor, obviously no earbuds.
"Not really." She's still rocking slowly, and he sees her face tighten. Contractions. According to the doctor having them on and off like this is normal.
"Can I help?"
"I wouldn't mind a back rub."
"No problem." He slides his hands over her back and hips. She's got on a tank top and a pair of his pajama pants. He pushes the tank top up, and the pants down, so his hands can glide over skin. He kisses her tattoo, gently pressing his thumbs into the flesh on both sides of it.
"How often are they?"
"So, not time to go to the hospital, then?"
"I don't think so. I'll have three little ones in ten minutes, and then go twenty minutes with nothing, then another one in fifteen minutes, then a few quick ones. Beyond making sure I don't sleep, there's no pattern to it."
"Okay." He rubs gently for a while, feeling her skin tight and warm under his fingers. "What are you watching?"
"No idea. It's just on."
He nods, rubbing over the crest of her hip, fingers pressing firmly into her sacrum. "So, what is this tattoo?"
"Mandarin for fire."
He smiles at that. "When did you get it?" She hadn't had it, or any of the tattoos, when they were in Ireland. He knows she got the little one of the harp on her foot after he got outed as a spy and she couldn't go back. And he knows the one on her wrist was a memento of a lost fight in New York and turning her life to a new path. But somehow he's never asked about this one before.
"2003. I didn't have any of them back then, and I wanted something cute, but still me."
He kisses the tattoo again. "It is cute, and it's very much you."
"Did you ever think of getting one?"
"Back when I was in the Rangers, sure. Most of the guys had at least one, if not more, and all of the sharp-shooters had one."
"Why didn't you?"
"Don't know. Never got around to it? Spending hours having someone inject ink into my skin didn't sound fun? Turned out to have been a good thing. The fewer identifying marks the better."
She smiles at that. "You should get one."
"Not this second. But I remember looking at your death certificate, and there was one mistake on it. Jason Bly apparently didn't remember what your eye color was and had it listed as hazel-brown. Anyway, get a tattoo, quietly, and that'll be another clue as to if the papers I'm looking at are legit or not."
"I'll keep that in mind. He really thought my eyes were hazel?"
"It was on the certificate. And, I guess, in some light, if you're wearing the right shirt, they look that color."
"And, it's not like he was spending too long gazing into my eyes."
They sit, quietly. Fi's no longer rocking on the exercise ball; she's just using it as something to rest the top half of her body against. He feels her muscles tense under his hands, and works on soothing them. Though there isn't a clock within easy view, he counts the seconds to see how long this one lasts.
"Not too bad. I'm not really looking forward to the ones that come later."
She laughs when he says that and turns her head toward him. "Yeah, I know, those men's contractions are a real bastard."
He laughs, as well. "What would you like to see me tattoo onto myself?"
"You've actually thought about this?"
"Not really, it's just the first thing that comes to mind. But you are a chameleon, and your hip is one of the few bits of you that never sees the light of day. I'd know about it, the guy who did it would, and no one else."
"I'm not gay."
"I've never thought you were gay."
"Good. Straight guys don't get cute little lizards tattooed onto their hips."
"Okay, a big, fire-breathing dragon with swords, guns, fire, and bombs standing over a naked woman."
He laughs. "I'm not a pirate, either."
"What would you do, then?" She asks. He spends a moment looking at himself. She's right, his pelvis and hips are pretty much the only parts of him that never see the light of day. And he just cannot see putting a tattoo of any sort on any of those parts of him.
"No idea. Probably another reason why I never got one. There hasn't been anything I wanted to burn into my skin." As he says that he notices something, his wedding band is fairly wide, and these days he's always wearing it. Sure, he'll take it off for future jobs, but he's got other rings, there's no reason why that bit of him should need to see the light of day again.
"How about this: 4, 2, 97, and whatever day Elise shows up, 13, around my ring finger, under the ring?"
"I know we met in April of '97, but how do you know the exact date?"
He smiles. "That's the day my whole life changed, why wouldn't I remember it?"
She laughs at that. "Liar."
He shrugs. "I wrote a report about meeting you, and the day stuck in my mind."
"Better. So, the day we met and the day our daughter is born?"
"Yeah. You'll know it's there, and that can be a test. Someone claims to have me, and you ask for proof. They can't come up with the right numbers, and you know they don't actually have me."
"I like that."
"How about you go get some sleep? There's no need for both of us to be tired tomorrow."
"It already is tomorrow, and there'll be time for sleep later."