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Now that they're older, they live an older kind of life.

Which is funny, really, because Mitchell's been older and he's been older some more and that never seemed to call for anything much. When George was twenty five, and Mitchell looked twenty five, they lived a twenty five year old life; and that wasn't about George, Mitchell doesn't think -- at least, not any more than it was about himself. He knows himself well enough to know that this is still true, even if he doesn't entirely understand why.

"How is this different, anyway?" George wants to know. His voice is sleepy, a little slurred.

Mitchell snorts. "How's it different from back when we lived with Annie? You want a demonstration?" He bites a shoulder, very lightly, just to make his point.

George makes a sound very much like a vague sort of protest, and very much not like the kind of sound anyone's supposed to make when there's a naked vampire in their bed. George's always been a little weird, though, and, as his breathing deepens and starts shading towards a light snore, Mitchell thinks that habit makes a lot of things different.

He isn't really surprised that he kind of likes that.

***

In Mitchell's current fifty three year old life, which is his just as much as George's, he lives in a nicer part of town with a better garden, and he still works a dead end job where no one notices him much, but he drops George off on his way in now.

Sometimes he wishes they could have bought Annie's house, stayed there forever. He could dye his hair silver and practice adding lines to his face by George's grimaces while he drew. It would have been a little like still having her there.

In this new grown up life, they don't take unnecessary risks.

***

The city is nice, the same mix of intimacy and anonymity he's been looking for in every stop, ever since he got tired of lurking in shadows.

It's got a Herrick, too, and a community, but everything is different now, and no one gets too close to him. They're afraid. They've heard the stories -- mostly the ones that didn't actually have anything to do with him. Even the ones that didn't have a thing to do with George and Annie. They know he's trouble.

He doesn't feel like trouble while they sit on the outside balcony of a small cafe and drink tea, passing the paper back and forth. He doesn't feel like trouble when they take vacations by the beach, swimming alone while the sun sets around them.

Only then George looks up and smiles some particular way, or he swims closer, right up close, and Mitchell does feel like trouble then; he thinks about the tourists watching them from the shore, a young man with slicked-back hair and a middle aged man with a werewolf-metabolism body, bobbing together in the waves, faces just almost touching, and he thinks about all the things they don't know, and wants to laugh. The first stars come out, the world dark around them, the tourists leave, and they swim in circles and in lines; it's four days to the full moon, and George doesn't say a word about keeping up. They slide hands over skin inside the cooling water, move bodies closer together than physics allow. He feels alive.

***

He has a banker now, and an accountant, and a boy who comes once every two weeks to take care of the garden. He has a pharmacy he goes by to pick up whatever medications the conditions that pass by the werewolf demand, as well as medications for the ones the werewolf brings along with it. He has a family doctor he goes to when George pushes him, hand firm on his back, to listen to, who tells him things she doesn't really know she's saying, about how a human heart isn't really meant to change its shape every month for thirty years, to die and be reborn again.

He has shelves on shelves of books instead of a library card. He has more things that use electricity than he can really cope with. He talks about going to Italy for the summer.

***

The neighbors greet him readily enough, though a lot of them are a little unsure, furtive. He's learned his lesson since that first time, warm but low key, friendly but bellow the radar, but he lost it too, because every year that passes brings the radar closer in all the ways that matter least.

There's others, too -- the old lady down the street who still thinks he's George's son, the girl across the road who looks him over, searching, almost concerned, the man who lives by the bakery who stares too long and smiles like he knows something important, like they're in on a dirty little secret together.

The nice thing about having your own personal banker is that there's one person at least who knows what things aren't like, even if she doesn't know how they are. George has never really been willing to get too close and personal with what he still considers to be Mitchell's money.

"So tell me," she says, leaning over her desk at him when they're done discussing investment venues, and Mitchell stares back, warm, friendly, low key, and calculates the degree at which she's leaning, the line of her blouse. "I don't want to seem unprofessional, but – do you ever go dancing?"

The line of her blouse is professional but flattering, the lean turning it more flattering still. Her voice is nice, a posh accent, a light in her eyes that he remembers, the hunt that comes before the hunt. She's a little too thin, but a good kind of thin; he can almost see her blood moving under her skin, feel the beat raising it up, pushing relentlessly. She has a lovely throat, long and tan, and she swallows under his gaze, just a little, but doesn't look away. She wouldn't realize what was happening until he bit her, would die quickly, her blood warm in his throat.

"Not really," he says, smiling openly, no hidden messages, just enough that she can back up gracefully, so she doesn't even have to pretend she forgot about his joint account. "Usually we just stay in."

"Oh," she says, laughing a little, not quite awkward, professional again even while she's leaning back, one hand coming up to check her hair. "Of course, I suppose it's --" trails off; I wouldn't go clubbing at fifty with a boytoy half my age, either, she doesn't say, and he doesn't tell her she just doesn't go to the right clubs.

He feels a sudden urge to tell her something, though, anything, because she only knows the first explanation is the wrong one, doesn't know that even the question isn't right. He wants to say that he found his solution, the thing he could have, almost all the way through, the thing that was at his doorstep and laying on his couch watching television, salvation and life; that the fight is done and his battles are too, that something is easy, finally, finally easy, something he doesn't have to watch over, something he can't break.

He knows himself enough to hate that this is true, though, to hate that he needs to wonder if it's enough, if need begets want and want becomes peace. He knows enough to hate that he sleeps just fine at night, whatever the answer might be, and if George turns over, mutters in his ear, there is nothing in his gut stopping him from stretching an arm over his chest, settling again, cheek pressed against his shoulder, nose buried in that most familiar spot just over his pulse.