This has all been done for love.
Vaughan looked at Michael through his whisky glass, tipping the liquid to reflect the light. He sat staring into the distance, lying back into the chair, his face closed and troubled. They’d been talking about Angie and her family and Vaughan hoped that he’d managed to hide how he felt about her. He didn’t get the impression that Michael was in a very perceptive mood, what he’d wanted to understand was Angie’s husband motive in taking their then, five year old daughter. Vaughan had dismissed any attempt of his to ascribe human emotions to a Leech, and had finally got irritated by Michael’s questioning telling him to shut the fuck up.
“Leeches are inhumane, unfeeling monsters Mike, for God’s sake stop seeing them in any other light.” he’d said, and Michael had shrugged his shoulders and stopped talking.
They’d sat like this for some time now, Vaughan was feeling pleasantly warmed by the whisky and not yet ready to make a move. Michael had told him he could kip on the sofa if he wanted to and despite the silence he felt reasonable comfortable and relaxed.
He looked at Michael again and considered how he felt about him. He’d been ready to kill him after the debacle on the bridge. Pearse had insisted that Michael take some time to consider his position and after a few days Michael had returned a little more hostile than previously, but quieter and less liable to mouth off. They’d slowly reclaimed their previous relationship, and Vaughan had begun to find Michael’s muttered asides about Pearse amusing rather than irritating. His ‘Witch finder General’ tag had stuck and even Pearse had been known to smile at it.
Although Michael had never admitted it they knew he’d seen Jack some time after his ‘resurrection’. Michael had seemed even more troubled one week and when Vaughan had taken him target shooting and had put Jack’s silhouette up as target, Michael had gone very pale. They’d talked to him about keeping away from Jack, and Michael had agreed but Vaughan noticed that he kept his eyes lowered the whole time and seemed unable to look at them. Vaughan thought he understood, but he was impatient with Michael. Okay, he’d lost a good mate, but surely he could get his act together and leave him behind. Michael had tried to explain his feelings about Jack, how’d they been best mates for years, done practically everything together and how he now felt his absence even more acutely now he was ‘alive’.
Vaughan had finally snapped, “God you’re pitiful,” he’d sneered. “It sounds like you’re talking about your fucking lover rather than a mate. I seem to remember you fancied his fiancée didn’t you? Not very matey, I also remember dear Jack was pulling a scam that didn’t seem to take account of you, and despite all that lovey dovey matiness you were the one who killed him.”
Michael had looked close to tears at this point and kept rubbing his hands across his face. He’d remained silent for some minutes, Vaughan had been about to speak when Pearse had caught his eye and shook his head. Vaughan had been amused by the look of priestly concern he’d glimpsed in Pearce’s face, and had turned back to Michael.
Michael had swallowed, looked up at them then returned his gaze to the table.
“Jack was far too arrogant in his assumption of my unquestioning loyalty,” he said slowly. “I didn’t go there to kill him, god all I thought I’d wanted was to understand, but you lot had really spooked me.”
He took a deep breath before continuing, his gaze firmly fixed on the surface of the polished table surface.
“This was my friend Jack in front of me and suddenly he scared me. When he calmly told me I would help willingly or unwillingly and also threatened Kirsty I saw red.”
“Kirsty?” prompted Pearse. “I don’t think you’ve ever managed to explain that cosy threesome.”
Vaughan saw Michael’s involuntary flinch at the repetition of her name, watching fascinated, as he traced a pattern on the table, glanced up at Pearse, then shrugged his shoulders in apparent resignation.
“Jack was a smooth talking bastard who was at it like a rabbit with anyone that took his fancy,” he said quietly. “He calmed down a lot after he’d met Kirsty but not before I’d fallen for her myself, and despite the fact that he was my best mate, I felt strongly that she deserved better from Jack.”
“You mentioned this to Jack?” Vaughan asked, fascinated despite himself.
Michael laughed somewhat bitterly, “Jack always called me his annoying little conscience.” .
The subject has been allowed to drop although Michael had enquired sarcastically if everyone was to undergo these little confessionals and had been even more of a pain in the arse than usual for a couple of days. Vaughan often felt like dropping Michael off the top of a tall building when he got really shitty, but generally managed to ignore his moodiness.
What was very clear to them all was that they worked better with someone of Michael’s ability alongside. Pearse had further suggested that Michael’s unwillingness to see Leech involvement in everything, and his constant questioning of the squads motives, made them a better and more focused team.
The squad had been rubbing along better in the past few weeks. Angie’s look of anguished loss had lessened. Pearse’s medication was being sorted out and Michael had seemed more relaxed and less angry and had taken up with Frances again.
Vaughan had been pleased when Michael had started seeing Frances, he liked and approved of her. He’d thought that she might knock some sense into Michael and stop him brooding so much. He knew Michael was angry with Pearse for trying to get her to join the squad, but as he’d told him, that was his fault for involving her in the first place. Frances had seriously considered it, but it had eventually been agreed that she could be could be just as effective where she was, so she was staying put for the time being.
He’d asked Michael why they’d separated, Michael had thought for some time and said possibly because she disapproved of Jack, disliked Kirsty and it had become too much of a strain on their relationship. Vaughan had hardly managed to hide his irritation at the mention of Jack, and had finally asked Michael how the hell he and Jack had ever been friends. Michael had looked at him thoughtfully, and nodded as if he understood.
“It was the difference that made us a great pair,” he’d answered.
Vaughan didn’t understand and said so.
“He led I’d follow, but slowly so that he have to wait for me to catch up, and in doing so sometimes I could make him think again.”
Michael had gone quiet for a second, and Vaughan was just about to irritably tell him that he was talking bullshit, when he continued.
“You should have seen him with the ladies,” he’d chuckled softly. “He charmed the pants off them, I dried their tears, held their hands, listened to their woes and fell in love with them. God it was fun.”
Vaughan sighed, returning slowly to the present and brought the glass up to his eyes again, he glanced at the motionless Michael, looked at the clock and deciding that sofa or not, it was too late, and he was too drunk to leave, settled further into the armchair allowing his thoughts to drift…
He awoke with a start, cold and uncomfortable. Michael was still on the sofa, his eyes closed breathing slowly. Vaughan shivered and rubbed his arms and was about to get up when he suddenly sensed danger. He froze, and listened, hearing nothing but Michael’s steady breathing. Slowly he reached for his gun, but just as he touched its reassuring surface he was grabbed around the throat and lifted off the ground. Clawing helplessly at the hands around his neck he felt everything go black, but just as he was about to loose consciousness, the hands slackened and he was thrown back in the chair. He tried to resist as his hands and feet were bound, nearly choking on the gag thrust deep into his mouth.
A voice whispered in his ear, “Consider yourself lucky soldier, if Mike wasn’t present I’d have killed you without a thought.” and knew with a sickening certainty who it was.
Vaughan watched Jack walk towards the sofa; Michael had been roused by the noise of the struggle and was rubbing sleep from his eyes when he caught sight of Jack. Vaughan saw him gasp and grab frantically at his gun, pointing it, with two very shaky hands, towards Jack, his eyes flicking to Vaughan and back to Jack.
Jack stopped and opened his arms towards Michael.
“Mike, you disappoint me, I thought we’d agreed last time that you weren’t going ot kill me.”
Vaughan watched in angry incomprehension, as Jack walked towards Michael, pulling the gun out of his unresisting hands, and disdainful tossing it aside. His frustration and anger increased as he watched Michael stand passively, his head bowed and his eyes closed, as Jack placed his jacket around his shoulders, cuffed his arms behind his back and pulled him into an embrace.
Vaughan shut his eyes in despair, slowly opening them to find Jack’s eyes on him; a triumphant smile on his lips as he slowly bent to Michael’s bared neck and gently bit him. Michael shuddered but made no sound. Jack looked again at Vaughan, and then cupped Michael’s face in his hands.
“Mike and I have a lot of talking to do and some friends to meet, haven’t we Mike?” he said addressing his remarks to Vaughan, “but before we go I have a few words for you to pass on.”
He gently pushed Michael down onto the sofa arm, and walked towards Vaughan. Vaughan tensed with fear and loathing, flinching as Jack leant towards him.
“You murdering bastards lost Mike the moment he brought me back,” he murmured. “Mike’s mine, where I lead he follows. You lot did you’re best to poison him against me, but we have too much history going for us for him to stop caring.”
He was silent for a second then with passion in his voice, continued.
“You can tell that priest of yours that we monsters can love, and more to the point we can hate.”
He looked long and hard at Vaughan, then lowered his eyes to Vaughan’s neck and licked his lips hungrily.
“I hope I give you nightmares,” he said with a laugh, moving back to Michael.
Vaughan watched Jack lead Michael to the door, Michael turned to him and Vaughan looked back hoping his eyes conveyed the contempt he felt.
Michael smiled sadly, his eyes sunken and defeated, but worse to Vaughan was the look of acceptance in them.
“Tell Pearse I’m sorry, I tried but …” he faltered then started again. “I’m truly sorry,” he repeated quietly, turned and left.
Continued in Part 3, The Prisoner