Mike Donovan had hidden himself away inside one of the sleeping cars. This time of day it was empty, so he could have some privacy to think about what he was doing. Not that there was anything to think about; he’d done what he had to do.
He rested his arm on the top bunk and looked out the window at the wide open desert beyond the train. He tried not to think about what might happen to him once he was in Diana’s clutches, and just concentrated on the fact that by turning himself over to the Visitors he could save his son. That was the most important thing.
“We have to talk.”
Mike didn’t jump, but it was a close thing, even though he’d been expecting someone to come and try to talk him out of it. Had even been pretty sure it would be Ham Tyler.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Mike said firmly.
He was willing to do anything to get Sean back, even if it meant giving himself up to the Visitors and whatever nefarious plans they had for him. Maybe Julie had been right, maybe he was a danger to the resistance because he couldn’t think of anything else when it came to rescuing his son.
“The hell there isn’t,” Ham growled.
Ham spun Mike around so he could see the determination he’d heard in the other man’s voice on his face. Normally Mike would’ve lashed out in response, but he knew that Ham’s frustration was borne out of concern for him, rather than any coldheartedness or ‘good of the many’ bullshit. But Ham didn’t know what it was like to lose a child; couldn’t know that it ate at your soul, and that you’d do anything to get them back.
“It’s too late, anyway,” Mike told him, not wanting to have the argument he knew was coming. “The message has already been sent.”
“No, it hasn’t.”
Mike glanced over Ham’s shoulder in the direction of the saloon, where they’d set up their headquarters.
“They’re waiting to see if I can talk some sense into you,” Ham explained.
“Why would they do that? Damn it, I told them . . . .”
“Because they’re your friends, and they don’t want you throwing your life away.”
“I’m not throwing my life away! He’s my son,” Mike snarled.
“He’s not your son anymore,” Ham said.
The words were spoken matter-of-factly, no meanness in them, but Mike couldn’t stand hearing them.
“Don’t say that!”
“You know it’s true. You think they’re giving him back out of the goodness of their cold lizard hearts?”
“They’re giving him back because they want me,” Mike insisted feebly.
“Yes. But they’re not going to pass up the opportunity to plant a spy in the resistance. Hell, that bitch Diana would do it just to stick it to you.”
“He’s my son,” Mike repeated brokenly.
“He was your son. He’s just a little boy,” Ham said. “He wouldn’t have stood a chance against them.”
“It doesn’t matter; I have to do this.”
It didn’t matter if Sean had been converted – and Mike knew, deep down in his gut, that he had been, no matter how much he didn’t want to believe it was true. What mattered was getting him back, getting him away from Diana. They’d figure out the rest later.
“I know. But we don’t have to lose you,” Ham said. “We can set up an ambush . . . .”
Mike shook his head ‘no’ before Ham had even finished. “No. I’ve thought of that, but it won’t work.”
“Why not?” Ham said, his frustration showing. “Diana might even be there; she certainly seems the type that likes to gloat. We could choose the time and place, get there early and scout it out, set up the ambush.”
“Because I can’t take the chance that something might happen to Sean,” Mike said. “I know that’s selfish, but I can’t . . . .”
They weren’t just words, Mike knew, because Ham didn’t say anything unless he meant it.
“Thank you. And besides,” Mike added, “we’re a thorn in Diana’s side now, but if we don’t hold up our end of the bargain, she’s just as likely to blast LA off the face of the planet to get rid of us.”
“She does seem the vindictive type,” Ham agreed.
“Yeah. Listen,” Mike said, not knowing how to broach the subject, but not having the time to wait any longer. “I need to ask a favor of you.”
“Asking me to let you walk to your certain death isn’t enough?” Ham said wryly, but Mike could see how much this was eating at him.
“Yeah, I guess that’s a pretty big favor, too.”
“You think?” Ham raised both eyebrows. “What is it? The other favor,” he clarified.
“I need you to take care of my boy.”
Ham was gruff, and acted like he didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything, but Mike trusted him more than anyone to keep Sean alive.
Ham looked like he’d been gut punched. “Look, Donovan,” he said, distancing himself from Mike.
“You’re the only one I trust,” Mike said. It might be fighting dirty, but it was true.
“Fine,” Ham said, biting off the word. “But you owe me for this.”
“I’ll pay you back,” Mike said, trying to dredge up a smile.
“Just . . . come back.”
“You know I have to do this, right?”
Ham nodded. “But I don’t have to like it.”
“I don’t like it much, either,” Mike admitted.
Mike wasn’t looking forward to anything that Diana might conceive of to put him through. He was certain that she’d been dreaming about this moment for a while now, and he didn’t doubt that she’d come up with some pretty effective interrogation techniques.
“Damn you, Gooder,” Ham growled.
Ham grabbed a handful of Mike’s jacket and pushed Mike back against the bunk. Another time Mike would have prepared himself for a fight, but he knew that Ham didn’t have fighting on his mind. Not that he wouldn’t probably like to punch Mike’s lights out right now for putting him in this position.
Ham buried his fingers in Mike’s hair and dragged his head down, and Mike went willingly. Ham crushed their lips together, and Mike opened to him, inviting Ham’s tongue into his mouth. The kiss was fierce and desperate, as much punishment as pleasure. A reminder of what they might have had, if things had been different.
Ham took his fear and anger out on Mike’s mouth, and Mike knew that his lips would be swollen and bruised. He’d remember this kiss for as long as Diana kept him alive. Remember how much it had hurt to say goodbye.
Ham broke the kiss and stepped back, but he kept one hand on Mike’s arm, as if he couldn’t bring himself to let go completely. “We should let the others know.”
“Yeah. Ham . . . .”
“I don’t need words, Donovan,” Ham spat.
“Well, that’s good, because I’m not sure I have any,” Mike admitted. So many things he wanted to say to Ham, but the words got all jumbled up and made no sense.
Ham squeezed Mike’s arm, and then let go. He turned and led the way out of the train car, then waited for Mike so they could walk to the saloon together.
Everyone’s eyes turned on them when they pushed the doors open and stepped inside the saloon. They each looked equal parts hopeful and fearful.
“Make the call,” Mike said softly.
Julie glanced at Ham to double check the demand, and Mike thought he should be angry, but he knew that they cared about him and were worried about him. Ham grimaced, looked like he’d smelled something bad, but he nodded. Julie’s face fell, but she passed on the order to Caleb.
Mike turned to Ham and waited the interminably long minute before Ham relented and turned to meet his gaze.
‘Thank you,’ Mike mouthed.
Ham pressed his lips together, and Mike knew he was forcing himself to bite his tongue. “Call me when you hear something,” Ham told Julie, and then he left without sparing another glance for Mike.
Mike thought that maybe he should go after Ham, but there was nothing he could say that would make him feel better. What Ham wanted – for Mike to stay – Mike couldn’t give him. The decision had been made, and nothing Ham, or Julie, or anyone else could say would change his mind. He had to do this; Sean was more important to him than his own life.
Still, Mike couldn’t be blamed if there was the tiniest hint of regret in his heart when he thought about leaving the others to fend for themselves. Leaving Ham. That’s what he got for allowing himself to imagine that maybe there could be a future for him and Ham after this whole thing was over.
Maybe Julie had been right about that too; maybe it was a mistake to make plans for a future they might never see. And yet Mike couldn’t bring himself to let go of that dream completely.