catch22girl: (T/M-reaching by softeranswer)
[personal profile] catch22girl
Title: A Contender
Author: catch22girl
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Tony/Michelle
Spoilers: Up to 4x20
Summary: The morning after.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to FOX and Real Time Productions, just borrowing them.

Note: Completely un-betaed. Birthday Fic for Steph - Probably AU after 4x20. Happy birthday dear!!

Yesterday morning, Tony had stumbled into the house and collapsed on the couch. Jen had made him promise that if he came home late again he wouldn't wake her up. But more than that, lately being around her had only reminded him of everything he could never have again. It was frustrating beyond words to go from a life that meant something, to one where he looked out into the future and only saw a endless road of existence, not living.

Jen had taken away his DVD of On the Waterfront he'd watched it so many times. "You're not Brando," she'd said, trying to sit next to him. But he'd moved away to get another drink so that he could forget that although he was only in his mid-30s, his life was over.

They were together because Jen, under her layers of cynicism and false confidence, wanted to save people and Tony needed help. But he only grew to resent her for trying to help him because he hated the way she sometimes looked at him.

Tony had a need to feel helpful, useful, wanted, and Jen could only make him feel dependent and weak.

He'd been awoken five hours later by a panicked call and after that things moved quickly and Tony could feel some of his old purpose returning.

When Michelle asked if he loved Jen, he'd been almost surprised by the question, but it had taken an almost superhuman effort not to lean in and press his lips against hers. What did it say about him that although there was a nuclear warhead poised to kill millions of people the only thing he could think about for half a minute was the way Michelle gasped and looked at him, letting him see for the first time that day that she was still the same woman he fell in love with years ago. She'd just gotten better at hiding.

Yesterday morning, Tony was unable to find a reason to go on living and 24 hours later, he was in a shower trying to scrub off the day.

Water flowed down pink off his body. No, that was just his imagination, there was no blood on his hands, or in his hair, or caught under his nails, or slipping down his skin from open wounds.

He just needed to wake up enough to drive and coffee wasn't working anymore.

Michelle had gone to Division for a debrief and he wasn't sure he wanted to still be here when she got back. Because she just wanted to be friends and he wanted to turn the sadness in her eyes to passion. It probably wasn't a good combination.

"Tony?" Michelle's voice called to him and he debated about answering. He heard her heels tapping against the floor.

"I'll be out in a second," he said and the intimacy of the moment didn't escape him. It was the first time he'd been naked near her in months but instead of feeling aroused he just felt weary.

"I was hoping you hadn't left yet."

He realized she was only a few feet away and hearing that she hadn't wanted him to leave made his heart beat a little faster.


"Division wasn't happy about what happened. I don't think Bill's report is going to cast any of us in a very favorable light."

"Not even you?" He hated the jealousy in his voice. But oh he could not handle her being mad or yelling at him right now.

"Especially not me. He had some things to say to me about the insubordination of my team and how I wasn't doing my job and that I should keep some people on a tighter leash..."

His muscles tensed and he leaned his palms against the wall of the shower. "Did you come in here to tell me that you weren't happy with the way I performed my job? Because if you did I'm leaving soon and you won't have to worry about my 'insubordination' anymore." He laughed a little at his own romantic fantasies. "For a few moments there I almost forgot that you'd become one of them. I thought that the woman I knew was back but apparently she's been replaced by someone who doesn't care about anything other than the rules."

Tony heard nothing but the water, which meant that Michelle had left. But he tried not to be upset because he'd allowed himself to forget that time had passed and regardless of what he saw in her eyes she wasn't the woman he loved, not anymore.

He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall. He tried to convince himself that it was best that she hated him, but truthfully a small part of him had been hoping that she'd see the way he handled the day and what...fall for him again? 'You're delusional,' he thought.

He heard a noise and opened his eyes to discover that a naked Michelle was standing in front of him.

"I don't think this is allowed in any rule book," she said, looking at him. But her arms were crossed in front of her and although she was trying to appear like she was sure of his response he could see the tension in her neck and the nervousness in her expression.

If he said anything she would bolt and he'd never get this chance again.

He touched her face, almost convinced that this was a daydream or a hallucination. But her skin felt real enough and his imagination wasn't that strong.

"Watching Paul and Audrey, I saw us, and I don't want to end up like her, mourning someone who had no idea how much I still loved them."

And he was pulling her into the shower and kissing her before he could think if it was a good idea or future consequences.

She slid her arms around him and he pressed her against the wall before he forced himself to slow down, not to just push into her, because he knew that when she was really upset, this was how she released tension.

"Michelle?" He whispered against her skin, his lips near her ear.

"Do you still love me?" she breathed.

He pulled back to look at her and didn't want her to mistake his answer for anything else. "Yeah,"

She leaned her head against his shoulder and the water was running cold and Tony realized that although his heart was telling him to kiss her again his body was a few moments away from collapse.

He glanced down to see that her eyes were closed and when she opened them she looked more tired than anything else.

"Do you wanna get that breakfast?"

She nodded and he brushed her now wet hair off her forehead. A few strands had already started curling.

But she wasn't letting go and he didn't want her to leave because holding her made him feel like life had meaning.
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December 2011

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