Lie By Me


felix_icon.gif leland_icon.gif

Except, you know—
Not really.

Scene Title Lie By me
Synopsis Felix awakens from his deathbed to a dream.
Date September 29, 2009


The next time Felix awakens, he is in the hospital. Not for the first time, perhaps not even for the last, but it's the present that holds one's attention not its contused edges or the irregular segments of time shoved up before it or to come.

There is a ridiculous stuffed crab perched on the arm of one chair, new irises in their vase, a small, luminous forest of well-wishes in card format, a yellow shaft of sunlight delineating glassy angels into the wall filtered through the pane of the window. The EEG machine welcomes him in a series of musical monosyllables. Beep. Deep. Meep. Woven green blankets retain the Russian's body heat, hugs it close to the sepulchral gap and glare of his bones through waxpaper skin.

He's still too thin. Weak. Something flops in his stomach that is neither acid nor food, perhaps only a kinesthetic sensation, or nausea itself. Tubes taped to his wrists, but bandages discarded from his torso. The heavy-shouldered frame of another cop casts its blocky shape over him, a vague impression of a sleep-rumpled suit, brown hair.

Who else could it be? Even if days of unconsciousness blears his vision. Fel's smile is…beatific, if a little weak and watery. It seems weirdly out of place, a crown on a subway token taker. "Lee," he says, and then repeats himself, the insistent peep of a hatchling. "Lee," Too weak to lift his hands. The smile will have to be offering enough.

The smile that answers, reflexive across Leland's face is as awkward as the button-bit assembly of mirth on a snowman's head, and as displaced as snow on the sandy surface of a desert.

Not exactly the most expressive of all characters. Nor the most demonstrative, and even now, after everything, there's a glance toward the door, marking the small square window recessed into it and the figures in their white coats and pastel scrubs walking outside. "Morning, Ivanov." There's a lifetime of worry engraved in the crows' feet and haggard lines around Leland's face. "—Noon." A beat, an awkward hand making its way to the younger man's arm. "I should get your doctor."

Many of which are Fel's responsibility exactly. And as much as he might long to smooth them away with his own hands, well, that'll be a little. "Lee," he reiterates, and makes a feeble motion with his hands, fingers curling, beckoning the cop closer. There's no one else here that Fel can see, not in the immediate room. "I love you." There's no art, it's delivered with the awkward and sprawling affection of a toddler presenting his most recent crayon masterpiece. But it has to be said, and it wasn't before.

Different pain engraves itself in Leland's face this time. His line of sight threatens to shudder away, retreat, but the absurdity of that stuffed crab stops him before he winds up doing something really preadolescently dumb like melt his feet off with his Death Stare. When he lifts his gaze again, it's slow, from a hybrid of any number of things, human in their complexity and frustrating for all of his simplicity. Skepticism, sympathy. Relief, reciprocation. An unsated winter of rage, still, but for now the sun's coming through in translucent rays. "Okay.

"Do you wanna go home?" The man's accent makes one word out of what should have been two. He picks himself up, off the chair with a creak of its bolted rivets and padded parts.

"As soon as they'll let me," Fel says, gently. He didn't really expect a reply. He hasn't found the key that unlocks Leland's tongue. Likely never shall - it's all been communicated through the heliograph of the body before, or the mute semapore of gesture. He still can't banish the smile, though it's dimmed its wattage abit.

It took more effort than you think for Lee to stay here and say these things. As much because Felix is, indeed, responsible for much of the damage and its signs left on his face and form as because it's taking considerable willpower and physical discipline to keep the sheen of tears to only that. He coughs. Yanks the blanket up closer under Felix's chin, and then his fingers dart up to the bony point where jawbones meet, thumb the curve of chin and the cleft of his lower lip. His hand doesn't shake. Not quite. "Glad you're back." Close enough. "I already started a smoke cure for when you're back and don't have to eat baby food."

Fel does his best to kiss the thumb there, and smiles up at him. "I'm sure it'll be good." All is not forgiven, and there will no doubt be some riproaring fights when he's strong enough to bear Lee's lion's roar again. But it's enough, enough to know. He's tired, still so tired, but it's mere sleep he's fading back to. "Dorogoi," he murmurs, drowsily.

There's a grunt. It's closer to Felix's face than he remembers Lee's face being but a moment ago, a warm gruff of air wiping the clean antiseptic hospital chill off the curve of the Russian's gaunt cheek. There's a kiss. Maybe. Skin compressed on skin, the motion of a mouth that can't be a syllable, all of it fuzzed in, compressed within the safe confines of mere sleep, a rolling tide of brilliant warmth and easy air pushed through the slackening fabric of Felix's blankets.

Just as quickly retracted, and then Lee's straightened, a tall, dignified blur moving toward the door, straightening his tie with hands that would swear they'd never learned anything except the closed fist or empty hand. "We'll talk at home."

And it's—

It's how Felix remembers it, give or take a few details blurred or receded out of importance by the flaws in, the shortcomings of somebody else's memory. The handsomely outfitted kitchen, spice rack and cast-iron, coffee table, endtable, dining table, everything else— pristine, the way Felix had left it, despite the residual evidence that it had suffered in the absence of the Russian and his share of domestic responsibility. Television screen's streaky. Some errant object— perhaps a slipper— peeking out from underneath the couch.

Felix is in the bed. Theirs, his breath already tanked after the briefest of walks between the front door and the bedchamber. It smells of hickory smoke one moment, limey detergent and aftershave the next. Leland closes the blinds, rough fingers loosing them with two deft pulls of the cord, his shadow uneven blue across the floor.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. But Fel's still happy, deliriously so. The sensation of the cotton jersey under him, the scent of his darling on the pillows, dinner cooking in the kitchen. Even the mundane and ordinary pierces like a knife, when they've stayed the executioner. Everything has that preternatural clarity. "Come here," he calls, imperious, disliking the residual tremor of his voice. "Please," he tacks on.

And Leland does, after a moment's hesitation. Doesn't crawl across the bed, as might have been his way of inviting Felix onto his share; he comes around to the Russian's side of it instead, sets himself down on the edge, his hip propped up against the side of the other man's thigh.

It probably wasn't the 'please' which got him here, in the end. Got him here— distance, the dimensions of space suffer a little for conversion artefacts, but it's almost realer than the real thing when his fingers close around Felix's hand. Fatigue isn't fatigue, even weakness a watercolor experimental representation of itself, feeling and sensation preserved at its most intimate, core definition. "I'm here," he answers. Only two words, monosyllables both of them, but cracked.

"Lie by me," Fel says. A little more energy, a little more healing, it would've been a different demand entirely. "Just for a little bit. I know you're busy." He's gaunt, in his pajamas, but he squeezes the hand holding his, scoots himself over to make room. "I missed you so," And now it's his own voice gone ripply and uneven with emotion.

Acquiescence comes with a creak of quality bedsprings. Leland lays himself down. Lets go of Felix's hand to do it, but when they're back together that's easy enough to remedy again.

I missed you too.

The ceiling regards them with blank, matte-painted serenity, not quite indifference; the lights in here have always been a warm shade of incandescence, and the sunlight is a good quality before sunset, sliced in through the slats of the window blinds. For a moment, the wood the bed is made of smells newer than it should, resiny and young like neither man is, but it's right again, adjusted down with a moment's thought, the gremlins that keep the house hastening moving things back to their proper places with tiny, competent hands.

"I did think about leaving you to do this by yourself." Leland's voice sounds distant, stretched over the mesas of comforter or else by 'mere' thought, gravelly— almost grudging from the effort of pushing it all the way over to where Felix lies, a wan and pillowed block of thin limbs and enervated muscle. "But I'm not going to do that. Yes, you're an asshole. And the truth is, I think I've lost the mission ever since you jumped in the back of that motherfucking van, or since I came to New York. I'm done saving people. I can't stay with the Force or I'll do it for the wrong reasons: I'm pissed off. Always. I can't even see straight, I'm so fuckin' pissed." And as ever, he remains immune to the vulgar humor of the words out of his own mouth.

"But I think I can help you. If there's anything you want to do now— outside fighting the good fight, with me. We can do it now, or tomorrow— next month; I think we have enough time. Just tell me everything you want to do. Anywhere you want to go." Halted by nothing worse than simple conclusion, Lee looks over, glances at Felix through irises that don't have quite enough green in them, one instant, but recover the next. He isn't Leland, not exactly, and that makes this a lie, but he means every word he says.

The Russian's smile dissolves into worry and perplexity. He's always been fairly transparent, but he's been reduced to a child's utter lack of ability to dissemble or conceal. He blinks at her. "I don't think I understand," he says, humbly. "'Want to do? I mean, we meant to take that trip. I'd like that…." Fel trails off, plucking weakly at the bedcovers with his hand, rather than reaching out to Lee with Further demands. "I….I'm sorry," he says, awkwardly. "About all of it."

Though the apology means nothing to the man behind the curtain, Leland on the stage allows his face to change fractionally. The apology belongs to neither he nor Lee, of course; just as the words puppeteered out of the big cop's mouth were only superficially costumed in the context of the man's life, NYPD, love and regret, travel plans. In truth, there's a hospital room sitting chalky gray and empty beyond the elegant masculinity of this one, travel's only on the wings of imagination and afforded by mercy, and it's someone-else's affection and rue; someone-else who's given up.

Blue-green eyes— enough green in them, this time— acknowledge Felix's words with a slow and steady blink. His accent thickens: "All right."

Heavy pause, a rough weight in the fabric of conversation like a stone. "Doesn't matter." Not a lie, merely a placeholder, replacing simple forgiveness or reassurance, the original problem dismissed temporarily out of hand instead of the solution held up to the light, squeezed for promises, and demanded to show transparency. "I'm just tired," he says, as if that mere 'tired' doesn't reach past lined skin and lactose-burnt muscle, pry bones apart by the molecule and scrub away at the stuff of his soul. "I should finish dinner. I bought a bed tray; you can have it in here. But we'll take the trip. Week after the next, maybe. Doctor Steinberg said you'd be okay to travel soon."

The week after the next, or the circular rainbow of one sleep cycle's pinwheel turn later, they do. They go.

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