Never stray, never break
by Te
February 3, 2005

Disclaimers: The Ultraviolet universe belongs to many cool
people who are not me.

Spoilers/Timeline: Major ones for the last three episodes.
Takes place at least a year or so after the series.

Summary: Mike hasn't drunk enough for this.

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: Written for Sheila-Day. I love you, baby. :D

Acknowledgments: To Jamjar for inspiration and many
helpful suggestions.


Vaughan's something of a twitchy bastard, once you get to
know him.
More now, of course, but even then...
Then. Time gets weird (has gotten, is, was) in this... this
*business* of theirs. There've been months of research
and investigation that got compressed into an hour, less,
once Angie came running, brisk and awkward out of the

Once Harman stopped being pale and ominous and started
vomiting, discreetly, in one of the toilets.

And then there's this.
The pub is gallantly pretending, all around them, that it isn't
just another bit of post-Thatcher nostalgia, lights dim
enough to hide the gleam of new wood and all the plastic.
The people are what they are. For this neighborhood, for
this week, this year.
There's football on, and no one and nothing seems out of
place. Not even Vaughan.
Not even himself.
Vaughan, drumming broad dark fingers on their sticky little
table, tilting his chair back to the wall, down to the floor
again, back. Twitchy. His teeth are showing, but there's
nothing wrong with that. It's an ex-smoker sneer, and Mike's
jacket has a small box of toothpicks in the pocket. Still.

He supposes he ought to get a packet of fags to replace it,
now. After all...
After all. Vaughan snorts, chair legs banging against the
floor for emphasis. Or maybe just another tic.
Mike hadn't really had time to get familiar with *all* of
them --
"You're the acknowledged master of *brooding*, mate. I
already gave you the crown --"
"Don't." He hadn't meant to say it, or anything else. Not
really. But it's just too fucking nasty when they *reminisce*
at you.
The smile on Vaughan's face at least has the decency to be
a little off. A little different. 'Sardonic' is probably the word
for it, but it just looks smug to him.
Like some lazy animal sprawled across the man's face, soft
and vicious. Like --
"Fine," Vaughan says. "But I can't actually have a
conversation by myself. Mate."
"You were supposed to kill yourself," Mike says, and it feels
like he should be able to watch them. The words, that is,
and the way they just fall out of his mouth. He hasn't drunk
enough for this.

Vaughan's eyebrow goes up. That's the part he's supposed
to be paying attention to. As opposed to the way the
smirk -- *twitches* -- at the edges of Vaughan's mouth, or
the way one finger circles round and round the edge of the
man's -- round the edge of his glass.
"I *distinctly* remember --" And he has it in him to be
surprised at how easily the rhythms of their casual friendship
return, just not *very*. "-- you saying something about the
taste of your own gun in your mouth."
Another snort.
"*You* said -- and I'm quoting --" And shuddering, and
hating, and -- and *loathing* -- "-- it was 'the best thing I
ever tasted, mate. The sweetest.'" His impression of
Vaughan's voice and tone isn't the best. Just enough to
make the man laugh.
When he was a man.
"*You* said..." But he doesn't have anything left. Not really.
The 'you *promised*' that wants to come out wouldn't taste
half as good as machine oil.

Vaughan shrugs, and it's one Mike knows. The one which
always meant 'look in my eyes, if you want something like
the truth.'
It still does. It's just that the truth is different now. Mike's
watch beeps the hour at him, and the fact that they've only
been here, together, for about twenty minutes is pathetic
and meaningless.
His body -- his fucking *soul* -- knows they've been here
forever, and everything else is just another attractive lie. He
swallows back a sigh, viscerally grateful for the lack of
actual bile, and stands, kicking back carefully and reflexively
so the chair won't scream back across the floor.
Vaughan watches him do it, utterly still. For once.
"I don't have to say it, do I?" He does. "We're done."

Another circle round the edge of the glass, another chair tilt.
Calculated. He should be walking out. He should be afraid to
give... this *thing* his back. He should be doing *anything*
but just standing here, waiting --
"The only reason I'm --" Another smile. "-- *alive*, as
opposed to food, is..." The smile gets wider. "Do *I* have
to say it, mate?"

Jack, of course. Jack's the only one of them who'd do this.
Who'd *bother* with Vaughan.
He could go a little crazy trying to figure out the whys,
piecing together ten years of nearly transparent friendship
with the past two years of something else entirely, until he
had something that made sense.
As opposed to Vaughan, watchful and amused. Mike isn't
fast enough to reach his gun before -- anything.
He doesn't try. "You told me there were no friends in this
business, *mate*. You were right."
It's an exit line for the movie he's not actually in -- the
American one with the explosions and the cool soundtrack,
with the hero who doesn't shake in his leather jacket, or
vomit in alleys, or know -- *know* -- that the eyes on him
don't want anything easy, like his death.
But he's walking.
And he's alive.