Backstory -- Working Things Out [Mickey, Bach]
[Fourth of Mickey's backstory posts. Follows Mickey's Grandfather Dies, Bach Meets Mickey and Mickey Gets Hurt.]
Almost three hours later, Mickey's settled in the spare bedroom right next to Bach's. They'd stopped at a pharmacy and filled his prescription; Bach's never had a broken bone, but judging by the strength of the stuff they'd been dripping into Mickey's veins at the hospital, he's probably going to need some sort of booster before morning. Or, well, it's already morning. Before noon, then.
For right now, though, the kid's zonked and snoring and Bach's kicked back in the living room with a decaf, contemplating bed. On the one hand, it's getting light out and he's exhausted. On the other hand, it's getting light out and maybe decaf hadn't been such a great choice. When he'd been Mickey's age, going a night without sleep wouldn't have been a major problem. A hot shower, steak and eggs for breakfast, a couple mugs of high-octane coffee and he'd have been ready to go for the rest of the day. But he wasn't twenty-something anymore and last time he'd tried to pull an all-nighter without actual drugs, something stronger than caffeine, he'd gotten groggy on a stake-out twelve hours later and almost missed the target leaving the building he'd been staring at.
Of course, they have stuff for that these days. He thinks about getting a Provigil out of his stash and staying up, but decides against it. Mickey isn't going anywhere -- hell, with both arms in casts it'll probably take him a while to figure out how to work a doorknob -- and unless Bach's wrong, he'll be hurting enough when he finally wakes up that Bach'll hear him, even from the room next door.
That settles it; Bach rinses out his mug and heads to bed.
A thud and a yelp from the next room jolts Bach awake a little before ten. He slides out of bed and jogs to the next room to find Mickey on the floor, gasping and hissing in pain. And no wonder -- he's on his stomach next to the bed, where he obviously fell. One cast is wedged under him and the other is splayed out on the carpet and he's struggling to get up or roll over or something that'll take pressure off his broken arms.
Bach wraps his arms around the kid's middle and hauls him up, then sits down on the bed with Mickey practically in his lap.
"Relax, babe, easy. It's all right, hang on, I've got your pills right here."
He reaches over to the nightstand where the prescription bottle sits next to a glass of water. He opens it up and shakes two out, then puts the bottle down and picks up the glass.
"All right, here we go, come on, babe, this'll help." Coaxing like he would to a little kid, he gets the pills into Mickey's mouth, then holds up the water glass. "There you go, that'll do it. Just hang on, give 'em a chance to work."
Bach puts the glass back on the nightstand, puts the cap back on the pill bottle, then settles down as well as he can with his arms around Mickey, whispering and rocking slightly. Sitting sideways on the bed like this, there's no back support and before long his spine is protesting. He reminds it how Mickey feels and tells it to shut the fuck up.
After an agonizingly long wait, Mickey quiets down. His breathing is still quicker than normal and Bach can feel his heart thumping, but he's not sobbing with pain anymore, so he figures that's an improvement.
Mickey manages a jerky nod, his hair brushing Bach's nose.
"Great. How about if we get dressed and get something to eat?" That gets him another nod. He gives the kid a quick hug and rolls out from behind him. "I've got a bag with your stuff in it, that's where I got the shorts last night," he says. The big, plastic garbage bag is sitting on a chair and Bach roots through it, pulling out a pair of soft, faded jeans. "Here we go. We won't worry about a shirt for a while -- good thing it's still September, you know?"
Mickey nods and lifts one foot and then the other into the pantslegs. Bach helps him to his feet, grasping him around the middle again, then does up the button and zipper.
"Now I'll go throw some clothes on and then we'll get some food. You like pancakes?"
Mickey nods, then follows Bach to his own room. He leans in the doorway, his casts held awkwardly, while Bach slips into a pair of khaki shorts and a polo shirt.
"Here, sit at the table -- maybe resting your arms will feel a little better than having them just hanging there."
Mickey nods again and sits, resting his casts gingerly on the tabletop as he sinks slowly into the chair. Bach's keeping an eye on him while pulling pancake ingredients out and sees the kid wince at first, then relax slightly. He mixes up the batter and puts the skillet on to heat, then while setting up the coffee pot he asks casually, "So, what happened last night? No one actually said -- we were just worried about getting you to the hospital and I never heard anything about how your arms got busted."
Only silence answers him at first, and he keeps his attention focused on pouring the batter in four circles on the hot skillet. Finally, though, Mickey mumbles, "It was an accident."
"Well, yeah. I didn't figure the guy'd set out to deliberately break your arms. I mean, I'm hoping he gets banned from the Tank as it is, but if he'd done it deliberately he'd be banned and in jail. I heard Jolene say the guy'd just been stupid and I'm willing to buy that. But what happened?"
"He just... he was holding me down, you know? Making me suck him and he had both hands in my hair so he was kneeling on my arms to hold me down." There was a pause and Bach imagined a shrug. "It wasn't so bad at first, kind of hurt but not too much. But then he was really getting into it and he started sort of bouncing, like pushing with his legs so he could thrust harder, and the left one just snapped. I yelled and jerked and he was surprised and jerked away and all his weight went onto the other leg and that broke the other one." Another pause. "And that was it. It was just a stupid accident."
Stupid? No shit stupid! Bach's gripping the flipper so hard his fingers are aching and only the sight of bubbles hardening on top of the pancakes reminds him to turn them over.
"Well, he'll be taken care of, don't worry about that." Mickey is silent at that. Bach glances over his shoulder but the kid's just staring down at the tabletop. He looks tired and dazed and hurt, none of which are any kind of surprise.
Bach gets two dishes out of the cupboard, then changes his mind and puts one back. He throws some pre-cooked microwave bacon in, stacks up the pancakes with butter and syrup -- the good stuff -- and adds the bacon to the plate when it's done. He takes it over to the table with one set of silverware and puts it down between where Mickey's sitting and the chair next to it. He gets two mugs of coffee and brings them too, along with sugar and milk.
"How do you like your coffee?" he asks while sitting down.
"Just sugar," Mickey mumbles.
Bach nods and adds a teaspoon of sugar to one mug, sugar and milk to the other. He holds Mickey's mug up for him and lets him drink till he stops, then cuts a bite out of the pancake stack with the edge of the fork and holds it up for the kid.
Mickey just stares at it for a few seconds, then closes his eyes hard. He takes a deep breath and Bach can practically see him forcing relaxation while he lets it out. When he opens his eyes again, he takes the bite of pancakes and chews without a fuss.
Bach takes a bite for himself without commenting. It's clearly just hitting the kid just how helpless he is right now, how completely dependent he is on a guy who's essentially still a stranger, some guy who's been fucking him for a while, someone he knows absolutely nothing else about except that he likes to dish it out rough. Yeah, that's gotta be reassuring.
They eat and drink coffee without speaking for a while. When they've finshed the pancakes, Bach makes more without asking Mickey if he's still hungry. There's more batter and Bach's hungry. If Mickey wants more too, that's fine, and if not, well, that's fine too.
Turns out Mickey is still hungry and finishes his half of the second round of pancakes without protest, along with another mug of coffee. It isn't until it's time to head to the bathroom that Mickey stops short, his eyes going huge and round and then squinching closed as though he can shut out what he knows is coming.
"Come on, babe," Bach says. "Might as well. The casts are on for five weeks and you can't hold it all that time."
Mickey's head whips around in a way that had to jar his arms painfully and he stares at Bach, an accusation in his eyes. His head shakes but he doesn't say anything, although his mouth is slightly open.
"I'm sorry. I know it's not funny. But it has to be done, right? No sense being squeamish about it."
The kid takes a step forward, then another.
"And seriously," Bach adds, "I've had my tongue there, right? This is just my hand. Not a problem."
Mickey shoots him a dirty look, but at least he's not caught up in horrified shock anymore. Good enough.
Mickey calls his job later that morning -- or anyway, he has Bach call and then hold the phone up to his ear -- and by the time they hang up he's unemployed. Bach's pissed off but Mickey just shrugs.
"I'm casual," he says. "If I can't work there are fifty more guys hanging around out back who can. I'm not in the records so who am I going to complain to, even if I wanted to?"
"Why don't you get a regular job?" Bach asks, his voice still sharp with anger although none of it at Mickey. Well, maybe a little.
"I can't," says Mickey, and that's apparently the end of that conversation.
They fall into a routine over the next few days. Bach has to do pretty much everything for Mickey. Mickey clearly hates it, but he submits to the inevitable without a lot of resistance and complaints. In a way Bach's not too surprised; his experience is that people who are as submissive as Mickey is sexually are either just as submissive about most things, or are hyper-aggro most of the time and sub sexually as a breather.
In a way it's convenient -- Mickey's quiet and agreeable, and isn't whiney or demanding even when he's clearly in pain. Bach couldn't have done other than he did, especially once he'd found out Mickey had no one at home to help him, but he's well aware the he's seriously lucked out; this could've been a lot more miserable than it has.
By the time Mickey's been there a week, though, Bach's getting a little frustrated. All right, a lot frustrated. Seven days of having constant access to the kid has gotten him nothing but his last name, and he's even wondering about that. With the blond hair and fair skin the kid hardly looks Italian, although he supposes his mother might've been something else. The occasional hint in his speech says he grew up in New England, but he'd figured that out months ago.
He's quiet and polite. Small verbal courtesies come naturally to him and Bach's willing to bet that when the casts come off his table manners will be just as polished. His teeth are white and straight and he doesn't have so much as an acne scar; the only marks on him are the sort Bach recognizes as the kind one gets from rough subbing. On the whole he's been carefully looked after and well brought up, which makes Bach lean toward an upper-middle-class family. Which in turn suggests that the kid's a runaway.
Or was -- at twenty-one he's too old to still be considered one. Assuming he actually is twenty-one, of course, and that his ID isn't a fake. Bach resolves to get a good look at it some time soon. But even if it's fake, he can't imagine the kid's under eighteen, just looking at him, which would still put him in the too-old-to-be-a-runaway category so Bach's probably safe from being prosecuted for debauching a minor.
Probably. Now that's a scary thought.
He's been sitting at his computer, theoretically working at home even though he's taken vacation days but in actuality staring out the window and thinking about Mickey. He opens a new browser window and goes looking for Mickey Fontana, something he should've done a long time ago, and would have if he didn't consider it a breach of privacy when it's not work-related. Anything that might land him in prison, though, he's willing to call technically work-related for the purpose, since he'd find it pretty damn tough to do any work from behind bars.
The obvious first. Google turns up the brother of an elderly jazz musician and a guy who does pretty good at bass fishing tournaments. Neither one sounds like Mickey.
All right, so, now we get serious. With a mental crack of his knuckles, he heads for some of the less "open" sites and pokes around.
No likely birth certificate. There are quite a few Michael Fontanas within the right age range, but none born in New England. Two went to school there and three got driver's licenses. Luckily the two are included in the three and the DMV takes its photos digitally these days; none of the three are Mickey.
While he's there he looks up the DMV records for New York and finds that yeah, Mickey's ID is a fake. No shock there; they're easy enough to get. But it means the kid could be anyone.
Before he takes the next step online, into areas where he has to tread more lightly, he's going to go for the obvious. He steps quietly out of the study and looks for Mickey. He's still on the couch watching TV, something on one of the Discovery channels about Mars. The kid can stand up and move around pretty easily by himself now, manage doornobs and drawers and cupboards, although picking up anything small, or anything that's not between about waist- and shoulder-high is still difficult, but he's hooked on educational shows the way most guys his age are hooked on porn and Bach's pretty sure he won't be getting off the couch any time soon.
He heads down the hall and into Mickey's room. The kid's wallet is still in the black plastic garbage bag; he pulls it out and flips through it. Which doesn't take very long because the only card in it is his (bogus) driver's license. That's it. No social security card. No student body card. No health insurance card, no library card, no video rental card, none of the normal cards people accumulate. There aren't even any of those buy-ten-get-one-free cards from Starbuck's or Subway or any of those places. Just the license and... a shitload of cash.
He blinks at the pile of bills in the wallet. He's seen more, sure, but for someone who dresses like Mickey it's a lot. He counts it quickly -- almost eight hundred.
On a hunch he searches quickly through the rest of the stuff in the bag. The pockets of both shirts are empty and the extra jeans have nothing interesting, just a key (only one?) on a cheap Yankees keychain, a subway token and some change.
The shoes are clean -- well, not clean, but there's nothing hidden in them -- and, halfway convinced at this point that he's going to find only negative clues, Bach gives the belt a cursory going-over and almost misses the slit on the inside. He peers in. Jackpot!
Literally. He pulls out another pile of cash and counts it. Holy fuck, almost three thousand! Added to what's in the wallet the kid's walking around with like thirty-five hundred dollars.
All right, maybe he could have paid his own hospital bill.
He replaces everything and heads back to the computer to sit and think some more.
That much cash usually means drugs. Or numbers or something illegal but he can't believe it, not of Mickey. Bach's a decent judge of character and he just can't imagine Mickey involved in anything like that. It's possible the kid's a total con artist, good enough to put one over on Bach, but he'll save that one for later.
So, how does someone working casual labor, and spending at least a hundred of it every week at the Holding Tank, accumulate thirty-five hundred bucks? He doesn't, that's how, so there's a flawed premise somewhere.
How does someone whose only income is casual labor...? Right, that has to be the flaw; the kid has another source of cash. But if so, and if so to the tune of thousands of dollars, then why's he working casual? It can't be as a cover to keep the IRS off his ass for whatever else he's got coming in, since if he's being paid under the table he's probably not declaring it. The lack of a social security card supports that, although he might have it stashed at home. Wherever "home" is -- Bach's wondering about that too at this point.
Maybe it was a one-time thing? Maybe he did one big job for someone (and what the job was might or might not bear up under scrutiny) or maybe he played the numbers and got lucky or maybe he found a wallet on the sidewalk.
While he's thinking about all that he runs a check for warrants, arrests and convictions, but it's no surprise when it comes up blank for his kid. He's pretty much convinced at this point that he's got a bogus name and without a SSN or prints or DNA or something he's pretty much at a dead end as far as anything available on the computer is concerned.
That's all right. It's a puzzle and Bach lives for puzzles. He'll consider the opportunity to work this one out Mickey's rent.
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