Shadow of the Templar: Shock To The System, pt. 2

On timeline: somewhere around chapter 48 of High Fidelity
Spoilers for: most of the series' generalities and overall themes, but nothing specific
Warnings: cussin' and light violence

Mike belatedly reacts.



      Mike didn't say a word about it on the drive home. He just paid the exorbitant airport parking fees without even trying to get an 'official FBI business' discount and then drove back to Sandra's, settled low in his seat, one hand on the steering wheel and the other arm cocked out the open window, five to ten miles per hour under the speed limit all the way home. He still wore that foolish, stunned expression, much like the one he developed when Sandra punched him in the forehead.

      Frankly, it was kind of funny to watch, but still Sandra could only put up with it for so long. "Okay," she finally said, when Mike was easing his car into the parking garage. "What?"

      "What do you mean, 'what'?" Mike said, peeved. "Shit, you gotta ask what I'm thinking about?"

      "No, I really don't," Sandra said, and because she was so relieved to be home and safe (and because her car was parked in the very next spot over) she waited until Mike had his car safely slotted into its space to add, "But, seriously: you didn't know?"

      Mike's startled spasm slammed his foot down on the brake and made the car lurch to a halt. He came within a hair's breadth of clocking his forehead on the wheel; the noise he made was, basically, "Buh?"

      "I've known for years," Sandra said primly, and then, because she wasn't totally mean, she added, "Well, I suspected, anyway. I've only flat-out known for a little while. Seriously, you didn't know?"

      "How was I supposed to know?" Mike slapped the car into park and shut off the engine. "They've only both been lying to us for years—"

      "So? It was obvious!"

      "How was it obvious?"

      Sandra sighed and patted Mike's leg. "Honey. Trust me. Obvious. Glaringly." And believe me, I've worked with you for years, I know from obvious, she didn't add.

      "It was obvious that Simon's gay?" There it was. Mike had said it with only a little flailing. "Fuck, I could believe that shit from Archer, maybe, but Simon? After you and—" Mike choked off the rest of that sentence in a hurry.

      "Yes. Well," Sandra said brightly. "As I was about to say, just because he occasionally sleeps with men doesn't necessarily make him gay, period, full stop. Get out of the car."

      Mike heaved out an irritated breath. "Yeah, okay," he said, and slammed out of the car, remembering at the last moment to pop the trunk. Sandra followed him at a slightly more sedate pace; they met up again behind the car. "All's I know is that there are some pillows being bitten at the Drake residence," Mike said, heaving his duffel out of the trunk.

      Sandra winced. "Gosh, thanks, that was a mental image I was valiantly trying not to have."

      "So you've known for years, and you didn't tell—" Mike broke off there, cleanly, and hauled both of Sandra's suitcases out of the trunk, stacking them one on top of the other and dropping his duffel on top. "No, never mind," he said. "None of my fuckin' business if Simon's a fag, been doing Archer up the butt or whatever for a couple of years now—it's just, shit, doesn't change that he's been doing a criminal, you know?" Ever chivalrous, Mike grabbed the pullman handle and set off towards the elevators, leaving Sandra with nothing to carry but her purse. "A guy criminal," Mike added, constitutionally unable to get over that part.

      "This is the part where I should be all virtuous and not remind you about Diana Fontaine, isn't it," Sandra said sweetly.

      Mike hunched his shoulders and lengthened his pace, like he was trying to get away from her. "And Simon's so big on trust and team-building and shit and he's still been lying to us for years," he added, firmly changing the subject.

      "Funny, I don't remember you ever asking him if he was screwing Archer and his saying no," Sandra said.

      "You know what I mean!"

      Sandra sighed. "Yes, I know what you mean," she admitted. "But... look. We're still doing our jobs, aren't we? Simon's choice in partners hasn't led us over to the dark side, has it? I mean, have we stopped upholding the law and started breaking it?"

      "Rich did," Mike muttered, jabbing his thumb at the elevator call button.

      Sandra stopped dead in the middle of the garage. "You did not just blame Simon for Rich," she said, well and truly shocked, too shocked to even be angry. "You did not."

      "I'm just saying it's no good keeping secrets from each other!" Mike spun the pile of suitcases around until it was between them.

      The elevator dinged and the doors slid open; Sandra got herself moving again. "... yes. All right. I agree with that," she said, joining Mike in the elevator; it was just the two of them, fortunately. "But when was he supposed to tell us? I mean, how do you bring that up? 'Okay, you two hit the front door, you two hit the back, and by the way, I'm sleeping with our pet criminal'?"

      "That doesn't mean he couldn't have said something," Mike said angrily. "Because, I mean, apparently he had years to do it in. It's like I don't even know him any more, you know what I mean?"

      "He's still Simon, Mike. He didn't change." Actual anger from Mike was pretty rare; in an effort to get things even somewhat back to normal, Sandra said, "I mean, you're still the same insensitive ass you were before we started dating, right?"

      It won a small, token snort of laughter from Mike, although he was still staring down at his hands, crossed on the handle of the suitcase. "Yeah, and you're still totally the same ball-busting biaaaaghgh—"

      "Say that again, honey~?" Sandra half-sang, flexing her fingers.

      Mike choked, his face going pink. "—bi-eautiful woman I adore?" he wheezed.

      "Nice save," Sandra said, letting go.

      "Thank you, I try," Mike said, grabbing the waistband of his jeans and giving them a ferocious yank to resettle them. "I guess... I dunno. All's I'm saying is that there'd better be one big-ass rainbow flag on Simon's desk when he gets off suspension."

      "That's more like it," Sandra said, as the elevator arrived at her floor.



In the interests of full disclosure, I mention that large chunks of this story first saw life as a conversation between myself and my erstwhile SotT co-conspirator; I dusted it off, cleaned it up, adjusted it as necessary, and wrote it.