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Actus Reus

 


Acknowledgements: tinnny for hooking me up, elishavah, murron, rez_lo, bimo and auburnnothenna for bouncing ideas, gabby_silang for prodding for fic in the first place, everyone on LJ who answered my question about the various states of drunkenness: Thank you!
Feedback: Is, especially in this fandom, cherished as much as an old, good, expensive wine or a cup of pure, unblended, one-plantation Assam


In a thousand drunken dreams I sunk in
(Angela McCluskey - A thousand drunken dreams)

***

Pub-crawl. He can’t remember how many he’s been in, only that as the night grew darker, he stopped caring about the quality. The smaller, dirtier, smokier the better.

Make him forget, drink the events out of his system.

Beer, several pints. Whisky. A handful of nuts and crisps now and then, and another whisky to wash down the stale taste. It’s blended, low quality, but it does its job well enough. The smoke burns his lungs like a wildfire and he’s chain-smoking again, doesn’t care about the cancer-warnings on the package, only cares about the nicotine rush, mingling with the alcohol in his brain.

”It is peace they are after Michael, final peace."

He’s torn between raging at his own stupidity and opposing Pearse’s fanatic crusade. Who tells them that this really is true? Where’s the proof that the leeches are evil?

But the evidence Angie’s shown him earlier that night is suffocating, and Pearse is right. Vaughan’s right, has always been. His attitude has been correct all along. It’s himself who’s been the soft-hearted, easily manipulated fool. Too straight, Frances had said. Damn her for being right, too.

He needs more alcohol, needs to forget, needs to wash this away. He doesn’t need memories, doesn’t need his thoughts drifting toward his former best friend and his fiancée.

Doesn’t need the burning ache in his chest when he remembers the look in Kirsty’s eyes and the smile on Jack’s face and damn it, why are those images still there?

The memory of her eyes stays with him. The questions, the accusation. Why Jack? It could have been anyone from the stock of freeze-dried leeches. Anyone at all. But he had chosen Jack.

To punish her? Christ knows. It had been a punishment for him more than for her. But she hates him now, maybe even fears him.

He’s the fool who believed that maybe Jack would thank him for resurrecting him. That maybe it would change his best friend. That there’d be a chance to get over the choking guilt of neutralising him in the first place. Bringing Jack back wasn’t only for Kirsty. Christ, no. But he’s the arse in the end, easily used. His guilt doesn’t help him.

He downs another drink, feels it burning all the way down to his stomach. Sucks on the cigarette almost desperately. The rush doesn’t come strong enough.

“He was going to come after you.”

“And maybe I would have liked him to. You ever think of that?”

He can’t say what’s worse: That his former best mate is back from the undead with plans to nuke the world, or the fact that Kirsty will most likely never be able to look past today’s revelation: That Michael first killed her fiancée and then raised him from the dead. He wonders if he himself will ever get over what Kirsty told him on that bridge. Over what he saw in her eyes.

Is there enough whisky to drink this away, just for one night? To wipe the memories away? He has to try, has to stop the memories from invading his carefully errected wall of oblivion.

Things are piling: There’s Kirsty - Christ, Kirsty - ; a resurrected Jack he didn’t have the strength to take out again, even when he had him at gunpoint. There’s Vaughan’s accusatory and suspicious scowl, Angela’s insufficiently masked pain and anger, the discovery of the leeches plan … and Frances. He hasn’t spoken to her since Angela and Vaughan took her to see the Code V incident that was Paul Hoyle. He doesn’t know if she understands what she’s been shown, the implications it’ll have on her life. A life he’s not a part of anymore after his last visit to her place.

Another whisky, and he can’t stand quite straight anymore, is wavering behind the bar.

“How about you call it a night, mate?” the barman asks, interrupting the onslaught of unwanted memories, all suspicion about a sudden fit of nausea on Michael’s side written over his doughy face. His greasy hair needs trimming and he’s sweating and Michael suddenly feels repulsed by this place.

“Not going to projectile vomit on your bar, don’t worry, ” he slurs, half-surprised that he’s still able to form an actual sentence.

The face in front of him moves, but in strange, halting motions, like pictures in an old movie, on picture at a time, no connection between them.

“One for the road,” he orders and pushes five quid over the sticky top of the bar. He won’t get any change back and doesn’t care that the barman is ripping him off.

Kirsty would have hated this place. Jack would have loved it, would have loved to shine among the ordinary people, flashing his perfect smile at the scowling punters.

“Last order!” the barman’s voice is unnaturally loud and Michael flinches. His wristwatch swims into focus when his arm rises in slow motion. Almost 11 p.m..

He wonders if he can find a corner shop somewhere around here for another bottle to kill outside the dingy cosiness and the company in the pub.

If he moves now, he realises as the room around him starts to spin, he’ll fall flat on his face. Inevitably he does when he turns around, slipping forward in what seems like slow-motion and he thinks how this isn’t so bad, how it’s almost like flying until he’s stopped by the harsh reality of the oxblood coloured linoleum floor meeting his face. His eyes water at the pain and he feels a hot stream dripping over his lips and chin and wonders if he broke his nose. The sounds of the pub have dimmed back to a dull murmur, his body succumbs to gravity and refuses to act in accordance with his brain so he doesn’t even try to get up. Lies on the floor, his nose bleeding profusely.

The scent of his own blood is alluring, like copper and salty sea-air, another rush, like the alcohol and the nicotine. He touches the sticky liquid with his tongue, runs it gingerly over his lips, actually tasting for the first time, lingering. Hates the taste and wonders how the leeches can crave it. The thought that Jack had tasted his blood, too, makes him sick.

“Oi.”

It takes him a while to notice that someone is crouching next to him. It’s not the barman. The face that hovers above him is haggard, and grey from too many cigarettes.

“You all right there?” The Cockney is heavy in the gruff voice.

“Enjoying the view,” Michael slurs and props his head on his arm, pointedly staring at the whirling mass of legs and chairs and burn marks in the linoleum, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world to lie on the filthy floor of a pub with a bleeding nose.

The face breaks into a toothy grin.

“Not much to see here, guv.” A hand comes out of nowhere and presses rough toilet paper to his nose. Michael winces.

“How about we hail you a cab?”

Michael tries to shake his head when the nausea hits him with full force. A dry heave wracks his body; the pork-pie he’s eaten earlier swirling dangerously in his stomach. The last thing he hears is the barman yelling: “Oi, not in here!”, then the hands belonging to the face grab him and hoist him to his feet, shove him out the door and lead him to the street where he empties his stomach completely.

‘Pork-pie looks interesting like this,’ is the last thing he thinks, blurrily, before he passes out.


***

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