azombiewrites: (The Equalizer)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Conversations
Fandom: The Equalizer
Genre: Missing Scenes, Angst.
Rating: PG
Main Characters: Robert McCall and Mickey Kostmayer.
Disclaimers: Based on the characters created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
Spoilers: 4x6 Splinters
Chapter Word Count: 2,295
Status: Work in Progress

Summary: A series of conversations between Mickey and McCall set after the episode 'Splinters'.



Conversations


Breath caught in his throat, McCall struggled to free himself from the images flashing through his mind, the nightmare keeping a tenacious grip on his mind and soul. A single gunshot, the sound too loud, too close, jerked him awake. Pain, sharp and hot, tore through his shoulder. Heart pounding in his chest, he surveyed his surroundings, blurred vision taking too long to adjust, McCall unsure of his location.

He blinked, focus becoming sharp, familiar furniture telling him he was safe, he was home. McCall glanced at the clock on the bedside table. It was still early, not yet midnight. He lay back and closed his eyes. The bad dream lingered, the gunshot still echoing in his mind, giving him a reminder he could do without.

A week of uncertainty, of pain and too much sleep had gone by and still no word from Control or Mickey. Not that McCall had expected to hear from Mickey, his young friend recovering from an ordeal that would end most men. McCall had thought, had hoped Control would have enough decency to call, to let him know Mickey was recovering. Control had stayed silent, keeping McCall in the dark. Shaking his head, McCall wondered why he still called Control his friend. They argued more than they conversed . . . and now this. Control knew how McCall felt about Mickey. He wanted . . . needed to know that Mickey hadn’t fallen beneath the wheels of a botched attempt to brainwash the young agent.

They had chosen Mickey as a guinea pig, his friendship with McCall useful. If they could break Mickey Kostmayer, force him to kill a friend . . . they could break anyone. It hadn’t worked, Mickey too strong minded, too stubborn . . . well trained. Their friendship, the one thing they tried to break had been their downfall, an entire KGB subdivision hidden within the Company destroyed in the process.

McCall had tried to make contact, to assure himself Mickey was okay but his calls had gone unanswered by Control and the Company. If he had knowledge of Mickey’s location, McCall would make a special appearance, a heart-felt request to speak to his friend, a forced entrance if the Company lacked co-operation.

He hoped Mickey was safe, protected from any threat but hope wasn’t enough, McCall’s knowledge of the Company’s tactics causing him concern, the anxiety keeping his appetite at bay. If they pushed too hard, asked too much . . . Mickey’s emotional status already hanging on a thin thread; easily broken. A simple debriefing, a required psychological evaluation would cause more damage if not done correctly. It was something the Company did all the time, hundreds of debriefings, of evaluations, McCall not satisfied, his worry pushing the small amount of confidence he had in the Company aside.

His thoughts began to drift, sleep pulling him downward . . .

A loud knock at his door, someone seeking his company.

Mickey.

Throwing the bed covers off, McCall stood up, balance stumbling as he made his way to the chair in the corner of his room. Pain pulled at his shoulder, the wound still tender, as he dressed; the thick robe the only thing to keep him warm on a cold night. McCall made his way to the front door, his progress quick, worried that Mickey would turn away . . . walk away.

Without looking through the peephole, McCall opened the door. Before him stood Control. Behind Control was Mickey, face still bruised, eyes haunted, wearing an expression McCall couldn’t read. In his right hand, Mickey carried a small duffel bag. McCall understood the intention, the silent request.

Stepping aside, McCall said, “Come in, Mickey. Make yourself at home.”

Mickey, expression unchanged, voice silent, stepped into the apartment, moving past McCall, brushing against his shoulder. Followed by McCall’s gaze, Mickey dropped his bag on the floor and fell onto the couch, a deep sigh escaping as he made himself comfortable, head back, eyes closing.

McCall smiled, grateful to have his friend back, the knowledge Mickey was okay pushing the anxiety away. Turning back to the open doorway, to Control, McCall allowed his smile to fall, not happy with the man standing in front of him.

“Control,” said McCall.

“He wanted to come here,” said Control, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“Thank you for keeping me informed,” said McCall, slamming the door shut.

He was in no mood for Control’s excuses, the man’s reasons for keeping him away from Mickey. He didn’t want Control throwing the Company’s procedures in his face. At this moment, McCall had no understanding as to why protocol was more important than friendship. A short phone call wouldn’t have broken the rules; a few words telling McCall his friend was all right.

McCall hesitated a moment, expecting Control to say something, do something but the man on the other side of the door stayed silent, just like he had for the last seven days . . . seven very long days. McCall would forgive Control for his actions. He had on other occasions, for worse discrepancies . . . it was only a matter of time.

Preparing himself, McCall took a deep breath and turned away from the door, moving back into the apartment. He stopped and looked at his friend. Bruises on a face that was too pale were healing. The cut above Mickey’s right eyebrow held a small row of stitches. McCall knew there was more, the other injuries hidden beneath a thin veil of clothing.

“You must be cold,” said McCall, walking away, giving himself an excuse to take a moment, to gather his thoughts.

When Mickey was no longer within sight, McCall stopped in the middle of the small hallway. Leaning back against the wall, McCall let his head fall back and closed his eyes. Mickey was yet to speak, the silence unnerving McCall. Knowing Mickey would talk when he was ready, McCall decided he wasn’t going to push his young friend into a conversation. Mickey needed time and space, something McCall was willing to give.

McCall removed a couple of blankets from the linen cupboard and returned to the small living room. Mickey was still in the same position, McCall wondering if his friend had fallen asleep. McCall paused in his movements, not wanting to wake Mickey, unsure of how much sleep the agent had had in the last week. When Mickey shivered, a small tremor wracking his body, McCall lost all hesitation. Covering Mickey with both blankets, McCall stepped back and sat down in a chair to watch and wait.

It wasn’t a long wait.

Mickey opened his eyes and sat up, the blankets falling in a heap over his lap. Body slumped forward, head down, his body language showing that he felt uncomfortable with the situation, Mickey said, “Are you okay, Robert?”

Surprised by a question he didn’t expect, McCall hesitated, taking too long to answer. Mickey turned his head, his gaze searching. McCall knew what Mickey was looking for: assurance, forgiveness, trust.

“I’m fine, Mickey,” said McCall. “The bullet didn’t cause any serious damage. Time and physical therapy is all I need.”

Mickey nodded, accepting the answer. He grew quiet once more, looking away from McCall.

“I asked but they wouldn’t tell me,” said Mickey.

“You weren’t the only one kept in the dark. What about you, Mickey? How are you?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I was hoping you would give me a little more than that,” said McCall, the subject of Mickey's health the only thing he was willing to push.

Mickey sighed, the sound long and deep, and said, “That’s about all I can give you right now, McCall.”

McCall shifted in his seat, making himself more comfortable. He watched Mickey for a moment, searching his friend’s face for deception, unsure if Mickey was trying to hide the truth from him. He saw no deceit . . . the Company.

“Did Control tell you not to talk to me about what happened? Wait. He ordered you not to talk didn’t he?”

Mickey didn’t answer. McCall felt his anger growing. He slammed his hand against the arm of the chair, slapping the emotion away. He couldn’t help but notice Mickey flinching away, a reaction McCall had never seen before. McCall was sure it was a sign of instability, Mickey still recovering from his ordeal. It would take more than a week for Mickey to be okay. He may never fully recover; the emotional baggage a heavy burden to carry. But with help, it was a burden McCall was sure Mickey could carry.

Ready to apologise, Mickey cut him off.

“I’ve done nothing but talk about if for the last three days,” said Mickey, staring back at McCall. “Right now, I just want something normal, something familiar. I want to feel safe. I need someone to watch my back so I don’t have to. I need to be here, Robert. Just give me some time. When I feel right, I’ll talk to you about it. Just . . . please, I don’t want to leave.”

“I’m sorry, Mickey. My intention wasn’t to force you into a conversation you aren’t ready to take part in. I just want to know that you’re okay. The rest can come later, if you’re willing. Stay, Mickey. As long as you need to. As long as you want to.”

“Thanks, McCall.”

“Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee? Alcohol?”

“No alcohol,” said Mickey. “And no caffeine. Doctor’s orders.”

“Since when do you follow the orders of a doctor?”

Mickey looked away, gaze hovering, direction unsure, and said, “The drugs they used aren’t out of my system yet. “

McCall frowned, his anxiety shifting to a new level. He wasn’t going to ask, abiding Mickey’s request to give him time. Instead, he waited, hoping Mickey would say more. If he didn’t, then McCall would put the thought aside, asking for more information when given the opportunity.

“It was new drug. Something they hadn’t seen before. A new hallucinogenic drug. It’s taking a bit longer . . .”

Mickey didn't finish, falling silent, his expression dark, the anger at what had happened to him growing. He needed an outlet; a physical exercise that would allow him to express his emotion in a positive way but now wasn’t the time. Tomorrow, McCall would arrange something that would help, but for now, for this moment, he would distract with something more simple.

“Herbal tea it is then,” said McCall.

Mickey scowled at him, the offer not verbally refused.

McCall smiled, stood up and made his way into the kitchen. He could hear Mickey behind him, following him. Sure, that Mickey didn’t want to be alone, McCall didn’t discourage him. After checking the jug had enough water, he turned it on. He turned toward the cupboard, opening the door . . .

“Robert.”

McCall thought it would take longer. Much longer. But it seemed Mickey was ready to make a start.

Turning around, he found Mickey, the younger man’s body language still awkward, embarrassed. He could see the decision playing over Mickey’s features.

“I will not judge you, Mickey.”

Mickey nodded in acceptance.

“I’m sorry, Robert.”

Unsure of the direction the conversation was heading, McCall said, “Why?”

Putting his hands in his pockets, Mickey looked down at his feet. He shook his head, inner turmoil struggling to gain some sort of control. He looked lost, fragile.

“I should have broken through it before I shot you.”

Guilt.

McCall stepped forward, closer to Mickey, and said, “You did, Mickey. You didn’t shoot to kill.”

Mickey shook his head again, this time with more force.

“Mickey--”

“No. I’ve been over it so many times. I keep seeing it . . . My aim was off.”

“Mickey. What matters is that you broke through the conditioning. A weaker man wouldn’t have been able to . . . You saved my life.”

“I don’t see it that way. I can’t see it that way.”

“Not yet. It’s only been a week, Mickey,” said McCall. “You went through hell and back. Of course, you doubt yourself. You doubt what you did. You think you should have done more. Fought harder. Right now, you’re a victim. Give yourself time. You’ll start seeing it differently. You’ll understand that you did the best you could in a very difficult situation.”

A shift in Mickey’s body language told McCall he had said the right thing, his words were breaking through Mickey’s feelings of guilt.

“I don’t blame you, Mickey and I still trust you with my life.”

Words his friend needed to hear.

Mickey looked up, his eyes damp, and said, “I wasn’t sure--”

McCall reached for him, pulling Mickey into a strong embrace. Through the thin clothes, McCall could feel the chill shivering through Mickey’s body. He held on, the embrace keeping Mickey safe, assuring his young friend that everything was okay. His voice a whisper, McCall said, “It wasn’t your fault, Mickey. They tried to take the choice away from you but they didn’t succeed. You’ll be fine, I’m sure of that.”

Letting go, McCall stepped back. He waited, hoping Mickey would say something, anything to reassure McCall’s confidence that his friend would be okay.

“Thanks, Robert. For coming after me . . . For everything.”

“You’re welcome, Mickey,” said McCall. “Did you really want herbal tea?”

“I need to sleep.”

“Go,” said McCall, pointing toward the spare room. “I’ll bring it in when it’s ready.”

Mickey turned and with feet shuffling, he walked away.

McCall watched him go, grateful Mickey had opened up to him. He knew it was a start, that there was more to come. So much more.


The End



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