Of all the worries going through Michael's mind, the most selfish was that Terry might not be speaking to him. He figured he might just about deserve it too, so once they got Terry buckled in shotgun he climbed in the back and gave him space.
He knew Buddy tried to make the drive to the hospital as smooth as he could, but there was only so much a man could do on these roads and Michael found himself wincing at every bump. He'd give anything to reach forward and put a hand on Terry's good shoulder.
After a particularly rough one, Buddy asked, "You hanging in there, Bam Bam?"
"Yeah." It was strangled at the start and clipped at the end and Michael'd never in his life heard Terry sound so bad. God, he must be hurting.
When they finally got to the ER, Buddy was right around to the driver's side door helping Terry get down without jarring his poor arm too much while Michael hung back and hovered. He kept right on hovering all the way until they got Terry checked in and sent up to trauma. Then the nurse told Michael and Buddy they had to leave so they went back down to wait for him.
"C'mon, Michael," said Buddy, "I saw a bar on the way. They won't even have Terry in the X-ray machine for hours."
"He's got a broken fucking arm!"
Buddy got an arm around him before he could storm back up there and start anything. "And nobody ever died of one, so he's gonna be at the back of the line. They'll dope him up good and keep him in fresh ice packs, he's gonna be just fine, brother, he'll be comfortable, he's gonna be fine."
Grudgingly, Michael let himself be led to the van. "You think they'd let Sunshine in to sit if she said she's his wife? That way he wouldn't be alone. Terry don't like-"
"We'll give her a call from the bar." Buddy gave him a squeeze before heading around to the driver's side. "Terry's just gonna be sleeping anyways."
Buddy was right, of course. Michael relented and got in the van.
"I would've thought you'd be mother-henning him the whole way over too," Buddy said casually, sliding into the driver's seat.
Michael fiddled with his seatbelt to put off answering. "Didn't think he'd want me to. Thought I'd do him that courtesy, seeing as I already got his arm broke and cost him the universal title today."
"You want me to tell you how you're wrong now or save it for later?"
"I'd prefer later."
"Okay. Let's get drunk."
They did, as soon as Michael had called Sunshine and she'd given her word she'd get in to Terry's hospital room if she had to pick the goddamn lock with a hairpin so stop fussing, Michael, Christ.
By the time they stumbled back to their apartment, Michael had just about talked himself into staying home to look after Terry. Buddy Jack had singles dates, but his TV title wouldn't be on the line again until next week and who knew if Savannah Jack would even give him the rematch.
"Terry's sleeping. They got his arm in a cast and gave him some painkillers." Sunshine was lying on the couch with a book, which she attempted to wave at them before giving up. Thing was too heavy. "Doctor said he shouldn't need to get pins and I've been reading up, it looks like that's right."
Not a real trusting lady, Sunshine, and Michael sure appreciated that in a manager, especially with his brother's arm on the line.
"You staying with Bam Bam, Michael?"
"Yeah." He supposed it wasn't hard to guess.
"Okay." Sunshine stretched, sat herself up, and set her medical book on the arm of the couch. "I left the papers on the kitchen counter - all the usual stuff. Keep the arm still, keep the cast dry. He's got a scrip for pain and he's supposed to get looked at again next week, but that ortho doc they got here hates us, so I don't want you going to her. I made some calls and got an appointment up at Wayne State in Detroit for Terry Mecca, it's a drive, but they liked him up in Big Time when he was a kid and I don't want some fucking Junkyard Dog fan club nut clipping his wing." She stood up and yawned, running a hand through her hair. "What a day."
"Fuckin'-A. And what a manager." Michael shook his head, smiling for the first time since Dr. Death came off that turnbuckle. "You think Skandor Akbar finds his boys a hospital that don't want them dead?"
"I think not," said Buddy.
"And don't you ever say I don't earn my fee."
"I never will," swore Michael, raising three fingers, "Scout's honor."
"That's Girl Scouts, honey. Boy Scouts salute." Michael cocked his head in mock confusion and gave her the Mr. Spock hand. She laughed.
"Looks like it's just you and me, kid," said Buddy, bumping knuckles with Sunshine.
"That's right. Pour yourself back in the car, Buddy Jack, we got a long drive to the next town." Sunshine looked up at Michael apparaisingly and shook her head. "Get some sleep, Michael, you look like hell."
"You do." Buddy patted him on the shoulder.
"And give Terry a kiss for me," said Sunshine, going up on tiptoes to kiss Michael on the cheek. "He's a real trooper."
"Don't I know it. And I will."
The three of them shared a somewhat bedraggled hug in the middle of the living room. Then Sunshine and Buddy grabbed their kit and headed out, leaving Michael all alone.
He dawdled around the apartment, reading over the papers and looking at the X-ray pictures, drinking water and pissing it back out again. By the time he'd left himself no excuses, he was sober enough to really dread going to bed. If Terry didn't want to see him come morning, he didn't know what he'd do.
But he was damned if he was going to go all night without checking on Terry, so he dragged the overstuffed chair from the living room back into the bedroom and planted it down facing the bed.
Instead of sitting down, Michael hovered, looking at Terry for the first time. He was still in his jeans, with his hair pulled back. Sunshine must have done that for him. He always looked so young when he was sleeping. A little pale - strain and pain, Michael thought - but he was well and truly out, snoring heavily. Bam Bam had a snore only true love could make endearing at the best of times, but tonight was above and beyond. Michael took a peek at the bottle on the bedside table. Yeah, percs would do that.
Maybe he should just get in bed. Put an arm around Terry and hold him like he wanted to. Bam Bam hated sleeping alone, and Michael didn't want him to wake up all by himself, disoriented and in pain. He planted a hand on the bed beside Terry, preparing to climb in beside him.
The bed shifted under his weight and Terry's soft grunt of pain made Michael freeze. Fuck, haven't you done enough today? He drew back slowly, careful not to jostle Terry any more, and parked himself in the chair instead.
It was a long night. He'd watch and worry, doze off, dream something, wake up in the dark with a crick in his neck or pins and needles up one leg. The worst time was when he either woke up and fell back asleep without realizing or just dreamed he woke up. Either way, he kept thinking he'd get up to go take a piss, and he'd slowly get on his way but then he'd wake up, or dream he did, right where he was. That shit was weird enough, but then he realized he hadn't been hearing Terry snoring and panicked. He woke up for real then with his heart pounding. Terry was snoring away in the bed in front of him and after a little while he could tell this was real, the whole world was clearing up and he could move and think faster, but goddamn that scared the shit out of him. He got up and fucked around in the kitchen with all the lights on after that, just to have some different scenery in his brain before he tried to sleep again.
Finally, one of the times he nodded off he woke up to Terry's drowsy voice. "Michael?"
Michael rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and saw Terry gingerly scooting his way to a sitting position. Maybe nobody else would notice, but he could see the little pauses in his movement and in his breathing, and he knew just how tough Terry was. He wouldn't be seeing anything if the pain wasn't really something else. Michael got to his feet. "Fuck, I'll get you some breakfast, you ain't supposed to take those on an empty stomach and I imagine you need one right about now."
Couple pieces of toast and a banana, he decided after he took stock of the kitchen, easy enough on the stomach and it'd keep the mail moving despite the percs. He loaded up the toaster and grabbed a few of the jam and butter packets they'd stockpiled from various Waffle Houses and a clean plate. He deliberated over the bananas, trying to pick which one Bam Bam'd like best. This one's too ripe, that one's too green, okay, Goldilocks, toaster's popped, stop stalling.
He remembered at the last minute he had to peel the damn thing, since Terry only had one working hand, then he brought Terry the plate in bed and a glass of water.
"Of course. I'm gonna make some coffee, you shout if you need anything, brother." He retreated to the kitchen again to fire up the percolator.
First he watched it brew, then he grabbed a cup and paced back and forth in the living room, trying to pull himself together.
He didn't know how long it was, but he was on cup number two when he heard Terry's footsteps, a little slower and heavier than normal. He set his coffee on the windowsill and turned around. Time to face the music.
Terry was standing in the middle of the living room, looking about as happy with him as Michael figured he would be.
"Michael," Terry said, feet planted like he was fixing to face down the One Man Gang. "You can't be mad at me." His face was twisted up like he was trying not to cry but he set his jaw stubbornly. "I hate being mad at you so I'm trying not to be, but you can't be mad at me." Terry's lip quivered.
Michael P. S. Hayes, that P. S. stands for Pond Scum, Lower Than.
"Oh, fuck, Terry, I ain't mad." Michael crossed the living room in two strides and put his hands on Terry's hips, then realized it was the first time he'd touched him since they'd left the studio. Fuck, what kind of man was he? Terry let himself be guided to the couch and Michael knelt at his feet, hands planted on Terry's thighs. "What would I be mad at you for?"
Terry looked at a spot above his head, blinking. "'Cause I embarrassed you. Lost the gold without even fighting for it."
"Hey." He reached up and cupped Terry's cheeks in his hands, drawing his face down and pressing their foreheads together. "First off, nothing you did yesterday, today, or any other day ever embarrased me, brother. I been proud of you since before you won that belt and proud after that the rest of the world can see what I already known a long time - that Terry Gordy is the roughest, toughest, best damn wrestler in the world today." Michael did what he resisted the urge to do when they were cutting promos in the studio, and that was to lay a deep, sweet kiss on Terry.
Terry kissed back like his life depended on it and by the time they pulled apart they were both in dire need of oxygen. Micheal leaned his forehead against Terry's while they caught their breath, running his fingers along Terry's hairline and playing with the stray curls that had escaped his ponytail.
"And, second of all," Michael told him, "I know you, Bam Bam, and I know the only reason you didn't go in there fighting with a broken arm is because I took that choice away from you." He swallowed hard, nerving himself up to say what he had to say. "And if I've been cold to you, it's because a part of me's been scared you'd hate me for that."
This time it was Terry who leaned in to kiss Michael. "I wouldn't," he said. "I know I- When-" He gave up and kissed Michael again. Michael knew what he was thinking, it was what had been in the back of his own mind this whole time, that Terry'd walked out on him once off the back of feeling unappreciated and now, when he'd finally won himself a globally recognized singles championship that everyone had to respect, it was Michael who took it away from him.
When it'd been picking away at Michael's heart, he'd let it, but now that Terry was thinking it of himself all Michael wanted was to sweep it away and keep its sharp little teeth off his brother.
"Of course you wouldn't, and I know." He kissed Terry high on the cheek. "I know, brother. I-" He thought deep, trying to understand himself what had been in his head, why he'd been so fucking dumb. He wasn't going to let Terry think he wasn't trusted or wasn't forgiven. "I guess I was feeling like, man, with everything I was pissed at myself for, if you were even half so pissed at me you'd never want to speak to me again." He slid his fingers into Terry's hair, taking comfort in getting as close as he could. "You were trying to help me. If it wasn't for me, you never would have been in that position."
With uncharacteristic clumsiness, Terry reached out with his left and tried to put his arm around Michael's shoulders. He hissed in pain and Michael eased him back into the couch, scooting up to sit beside him. "Easy, brother."
Terry set his jaw looked Michael dead in the eye, full of fierce devotion. "I'd do it again."
He slung an arm around Terry's waist and kissed his temple, leaning his face there. "I know." He felt the need to confess, "I wouldn't let you wrestle. I'd do that again. Even knowing they'd take your belt."
"That's okay." Terry leaned against Michael, closing his eyes for a little, then turned to look at him. "Did you know it was broken?"
His arm tightened around Terry. He couldn't help it. "I heard the fucking snap."
Terry nodded like this was normal shit they were discussing. "Yeah. Me too."
"Fuck, Bam Bam. Sometimes I forget you can lie. 'Naw, Mr. Watts, it feels like a sprain to me.' Fuck."
He cuddled Bam Bam to him like a giant teddy-bear. Maybe he couldn't stop him from doing crazy shit like that ever again but he could by-God keep him wrapped up and safe from blind-ass athletic commission doctors and Skandor's monster army for a couple minutes.
Michael was practically dozing off, more comfortable than he had been all night, when Terry said, "Michael?"
"Mm-hm?" He kissed Terry on the ear.
"I gotta take a piss."
Reluctantly, Michael let go of him. He stood up, reaching a hand out for Terry. "You want a hand up?"
"Thanks, brother." Terry grabbed ahold to steady himself and got to his feet. "Can you help me with the button too?" It hadn't even crossed Michael's mind, but of course Terry was still in his jeans from yesterday, and of course it'd be hard to undo them just using his stupid hand. Goddamn, the little shit you didn't think of when you'd never broken an arm.
"I think I can manage that. Won't be the first time," he said, pulling Terry in for a kiss. "We can get you in some fresh clothes too. You want me to wash your hair?" Now he knew it was welcome, all he wanted to do was fuss over Terry.
"Thanks, brother." Terry grinned and it struck Michael how much heathier he looked, just being happy, with a mischevious sparkle in his eyes. "It's kinda like a vacation, for me at least."
Michael laughed. "That's right, brother, you have checked in to an all expenses paid luxury experience at P. S.'s Spa Fantasia, where our friendly staff-" he slid his hands in the back pockets of Terry's jeans and gave him a squeeze "-will take care of all your needs."
Terry leaned in to kiss him and they got themselves a little distracted for a minute, having a real careful makeout session with Terry's cast between them. Finally, Terry pulled back, looking rueful.
"Okay," Michael said, extracting his hands from Terry's pockets, "let's get this show on the road."
Michael kept his arm around Terry's waist on their way. "Man, I'm not taking my hands off you until we go back to work," he declared, giving his love handles a squeeze, "so you better get used to it."
"Guess I better," said Terry, beaming. "Won't be hard."