|The City of Lights
Author: Jada115 PM
Chapters one and two. Alan and Denny go on vacation, Denny in Hawaii and Alan in Paris, with their respective women. Story focuses on Alan and Miranda. All BL characters belong to DE Kelley, all others mine. Romance. No slash/flash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Friendship - Chapters: 2 - Words: 12,067 - Reviews: 3 - Published: 01-15-11 - id: 6655099
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The City of Lights
(The story of Alan's marriage (in chapter 2) comes from Alynwa's story "Cathy," with a little of my own stamp on it—because I liked it so much. And to ASuDC, who likes it on the balcony.)
Alan was relaxing on the balcony of his Parisian hotel, in an untucked white button up shirt and khaki pants. When Miranda had fallen asleep during the news, he decided to wait for Denny's call on the balcony. He prepared his scotch and cigar and looked out across the city, lost in his thoughts, when his phone rang.
"Denny Crane!" Denny sat on his balcony in his robe and pajamas, looking out across the beach.
Alan chuckled. "Hey, Denny."
"You got your cigar and scotch?"
"Isn't seven in the morning a little early for cigar and scotch?"
"But it isn't our special time without cigar and scotch."
"Granted. I'm not interrupting your time with Joan am I?"
"Nonsense. Flamingos first. Besides she's still asleep. She usually doesn't wake up until around nine anyway. Where's Miranda?"
"Taking a nap."
"You using that Bluetooth I got for you?"
"I am." Alan sipped his scotch.
"Aren't these Bluetooth things wonderful? I swear it's the best invention in the last twenty years. I can talk on the phone and still have both of my hands free for…whatever."
"Indeed," Alan chuckled. "But I would appreciate it if you keep your hands only on cigars or scotch."
Denny chuckled. "So what time is it there?" He puffed his cigar.
"So what's your balcony like?"
"I'm in the heart of Paris, looking out on the Eiffel Tower in the sunset, the sounds of the street below me, the scent of restaurants mingling with the scent of a fresh spring rain and a cool breeze drifting over the city—and a beautiful woman curled up in my bed.
"Sounds nice…" he swirled his cigar in the air as he searched for the right phrase. "Except for the whole Paris thing…Frenchies, you know. Aren't they an Axis power?"
Alan chuckled. "Not yet. What about your balcony?" He took a deep draw on his cigar.
"Pure, unadulterated Hawaiian beach: white sands, clear waters, the sun rising over the ocean, warm weather—paradise, my friend, utter paradise! And Joan," he growled lewdly, "Hot Tamale Joan. She pumps my chubby let me tell you." He stuck his cigar between his teeth.
Alan chuckled. "Good Lord, Denny," he said, releasing his smoke.
"So what did you do today?"
"We went to see the Palace at Versailles."
"That's a matter of perspective I think. I had a very nice time. So what are your plans for today?"
"Deep sea fishing!" Denny moved to the edge of his seat. "The whole day on the water; it's going to be great. Someday, I'll take you."
"No thank you. I'll take Versailles any day." Alan sipped his scotch.
Miranda stretched her arm out across the bed. Alan's place was empty. She lifted her head, sleepily. "Alan?" She sat up, head groggy. She slid out of bed. She looked around the room. One day and it was already wrecked with discarded clothes and remnants of food on room service trays. She picked up one of Alan's t-shirts crumpled in the floor and put it on. His spicy-sweet scent wafted up to her from the shirt. She flipped her dark hair from under the shirt and stepped toward the balcony. She peeked out the door to see the back of Alan's head and a stream of cigar smoke swirling around him.
"What are you talking about?" Denny said.
"I get sea sick and the thought of sticking my hand in the bucket of slimy chum." He rolled his eyes and grimaced in disgust. "Not exactly my cup of tea, Denny."
Miranda opened the door and stepped out on the balcony. Alan turned to look at her. He ran his eyes over her disheveled hair and her bare legs peeking out from under his rumpled t-shirt. She never looked better, he thought. She stood close to him and ran her fingers through his hair. He closed his eyes, his head getting a little light. He trailed his hand up the back of her leg.
"I bet Miranda would like to go deep sea fishing; she's less of a girl than you are," Denny said. "I'll take her. You can sit on the shore and sip your cup of tea." He sat back in his chair.
Alan chuckled. "She probably would." He looked up at her. She smiled down at him and placed a kiss on his forehead. She turned and went back into the room with a glance over her shoulder at him. He turned in his seat to watch her. "So tell me Denny, does Joan like deep sea fishing?" he asked Denny.
She blew Alan a kiss and stepped inside, closing the door quietly.
The line went quiet for a moment. Denny said, bewildered, "I don't know."
Alan laughed. "Don't you think you should have asked her?" He sipped his scotch.
"Nah!" Denny said, gnawing his cigar. "She'll be all right."
"I'm not sure, Denny," Alan said amused. "Joan doesn't exactly strike me as the type of woman who would enjoy handling chum."
"Well, if she doesn't like it, I've got something else she can handle."
"Good God, Denny," Alan laughed.
"That's what she said last night."
Alan shook his head, looking up at the sky as he puffed his cigar.
"Let me ask you something Alan, did you see that ridiculous game last night?"
Alan removed the cigar from his mouth and released his smoke. "We don't get American baseball here, Denny."
"I'm about to give up on the Sox. I've had it, Alan."
"They lost—again! To the Tampa Bay Devil Rays." He sat on the edge of his seat. "When I get back to Boston I'm going to sue Terry Francona."
"I don't know if there's any case law that would support lawsuits against a team manager just because the team loses games." Alan sipped his scotch.
"Still there's got to be something, Alan. I can't stand all this losing." Denny
"You could always switch teams."
"Never! That would be like turning my back on America and going off to be Candanian or something." Denny waved his cigar in the air fervently.
"Or French." Alan said calmly.
Alan chuckled. "I miss you, Denny."
"But I'm right here."
"Still…it's just not the same."
"We'll be back in Boston soon enough, my friend and then we're going to find a way to get Francona."
After his conversation with Denny, Alan returned to the room to find Miranda lying on her stomach on the bed, reading a book. She was still in his t-shirt and her panties.
Alan sauntered over to her and sat on the edge of the bed, rubbing her back. "What are you reading?"
"Biography of Napoleon."
"I thought so." She turned a page. "He's an incredibly fascinating man—second only to you." She glanced up at him, grinning.
He chuckled. "Flattery will get you everywhere with me; though I never really considered myself in the company of tyrants."
She rolled her eyes. "You're putting words in my mouth. I don't mean it that way and you know it." She rolled over on her side, facing him. "This is the third time I've read this book, but I learn something new about him every time." She shook her head. "Simply fascinating."
"How so?" He placed his hand on her hip.
"The vigor, the intellect, the courage, the audacity, the tenacity—all those wonderful adjectives. He was…completely fearless…an absolute force to be reckoned with. How does one person gain so much power? I can't even imagine that level of power; it's unfathomable."
"You sound rather…fervent…in your appreciation of Napoleon."
She shrugged and said with a sigh. "I suppose I just can't help myself." She placed her bookmark and shut her book. She sat up on the bed, cross legged. "Did you have a good conversation with Denny?"
"I assume he's doing well."
"He is. He's taking Joan, much without her knowledge, deep sea fishing today."
She chuckled. "Poor Joan. She doesn't really seem like the fishing type what with her finely manicured nails and diamond rings. I like her, but she strikes me as rather…prissy."
"That's what I said. Denny seems to think you'd like it though."
"I do. My father and I used to go every summer."
"You're close to your father, aren't you?"
She smiled wanly and glanced down at the down comforter. "I was."
"He's no longer…" She pursed her lips.
He frowned. "I see," he said gravely. "I'm sorry." He paused and ran his hand over her upper back. He looked at her but his eyes were distant. "I've often wondered what it would be like to be…close…with a father. I have to admit I envy you that."
She edged closer to him and put her hands on his thigh. "So do you want to go out for dinner or should we get room service?"
He looked at her tenderly. "You go from your dead father to supper…just like that?"
She said matter of factly, "Yes…just like that. It's called deflecting. And I'm hungry. I want to eat."
He looked at her quizzically and nodded. "Understood. Then let's go out. How about you get dressed and I'll call the concierge about potential restaurants?"
"Let's do semi-casual."
"Give me thirty minutes." She kissed his cheek and jumped up. She pulled some clothes out of her side of the closet and disappeared into the bathroom.
After he hung up with the concierge, Alan tucked in his shirt and donned a blazer. He sat on the edge of the bed concentrating on the local news while he waited for Miranda.
She soon emerged in a black wrap dress, knee-length, and peep-toe slings. She left her hair long and straight and her makeup natural. He stood when she walked in, her perfume wafted around him. He sniffed the air. She grabbed a Pashmina shawl and wrapped it around her shoulders. He lifted her hair out from under it and smoothed it down for her. They caught the elevator to the first floor and stepped out into the city. The air was crisp, damp. Cars swished along the wet streets and pedestrians stepped around puddles. The sun had already set and the city was lit up with a variety of lights from lamp posts, buildings, street lights, neon signs and cars.
Alan said, "The concierge recommended a place just a couple blocks from here—across the street."
She took his hand and they waited for the crossing light. When it turned they dashed across the street and walked toward their destination. They soon arrived at a small, dimly lit restaurant.
They ordered their meal and wine. They ate quietly until Alan broke the silence.
Alan said, "You seem quiet this evening. Is something wrong?"
"No," she smiled, shaking her head. "Why?"
"I don't know when I asked about your father…" He wavered.
"I don't really want to talk about it."
"Fine." He pursued his dinner quietly.
But Miranda picked up on something in his tone that indicated it wasn't really fine. She knew he wouldn't pry, he was too considerate for that, but she also knew that he really wasn't okay with it either. She leaned back in her chair and picked up her wine glass, pensively putting her lips to the rim, but not actually drinking. What would be the harm in telling him? But then she didn't really want to cast a pall over dinner, possibly the whole trip. He would need to know someday right? And isn't this what they came here for—intimacy, getting to know each other better? She rolled her eyes and sat up. She told herself, Okay here goes:
She launched into her story in a very matter of fact manner. "My father and I were extremely close. I was the boy he never had, but I was also the daughter he cherished."
He gazed at her steadily, directing his full focus on her—something she found both titillating and unnerving.
"We did all the typical father-son things together: fishing, shooting guns, smoking cigars, camping, sports—all that stuff. But I was also his "baby girl"—coddled, spoiled, put on a pedestal. Boys who wanted to date me were terrified of him. He was a lot like Denny—boisterous, mischievous, fun. I've told you I was a military brat…"
"He was an officer in Desert Storm. He didn't want to go, but he did his duty." She paused and sipped her wine, looking into her glass.
"Was he killed in battle?"
She smiled bitterly. "Hardly—though he may as well have been."
"He was a leader of a not-too-well-known battalion that was ordered to massacre thousand of unarmed, Iraqi troops as they surrendered to US Forces. But it wasn't just soldiers. There were civilians, including women and children in the fray."
"Dear God," he said hoarsely.
"Later they used tanks outfitted with plows to bury alive Iraqi troops with sand as they sat in their trenches—buried alive Alan. Can you possibly imagine?"
He stared at her horrified. "No."
"He came home he was a shell of a man—a ghost. He wasn't the same. The nightmares…he had them both day and night. He couldn't escape the screaming voices, pleading, crying—the images of unarmed people, waving white flags, slaughtered before his eyes by machine guns on the ground and in helicopters. Much worse was the extreme soul-shattering guilt and shame." She sighed deeply.
He frowned, deeply moved, shaking his head. He took a drink of his wine.
She continued. "So when he could no longer endure the voices, the nightmares, the images and the medications that could not erase those things, one summer day he walked out across our yard to this giant oak tree that stands at the back of our property, sat down underneath it, pulled out his service pistol and…" Her eyes grew cold, distant.
He frowned, swallowed hard and reached across the table to squeeze her hand.
"You can imagine the rest," she said quietly. She dropped her eyes, lifted her wine glass and down the rest of her wine. "I was the one to find him."
Alan's eyes had grown moist. "I'm sorry, Miranda. I had no idea." His voice quivered.
"Of course you didn't." She sighed deeply, refilling her wine glass. She leaned back in her chair, running her hands through her hair and added flippantly. "I suppose that answers a lot of questions you might have had about me, right?"
"It happens more often in our country than people care to recognize, Alan. Our troops, regardless of how much moral support we give them, come back tattered and fractured versions of themselves—if they come back at all. My father came back in body, but the man I knew and loved never came back. And that, I fear, is the norm for troops who have seen battle—and their families."
He shook his head disappointedly. "Yet another reason to despise war."
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, right?"
"The 'great lie," he said, looking into his wine. "I believe Wilfred Owen had it right." He lifted his glass to his lips.
She sighed again, downed her wine and locked eyes with him. "So now you know and I don't really like talking about it. I've done my time—lots of therapy and medication of both the prescribed and self-prescribed sort. I've reached a place where I've been able to…move on. Forgive me for casting a pall over dinner."
"Nothing to forgive."
She smiled half-heartedly and leaned on the table, "That's in part why I like Denny so much. He's a lot like him, my dad—though a bit more…" She searched for the right word. "…exuberant," she said carefully.
Alan frowned and worked his jaw, searching for the right words. "Thank you for telling me, Miranda. It couldn't have been easy." He squeezed her hand again.
She nodded contemplatively, watching the candlelight flicker. "Did you know Napoleon loved to take long baths? During his exile he sometimes took as many as three baths a day. Sometimes a bath could last several hours and during this time he would often he would read books or just sit and think."
Alan tightened his jaw then looked at her tenderly. "I did not know that."
"I'm a big fan of baths," she said looking at him. "There's nothing I like better sometimes than to just sit in a tub full of hot water with a book. It's one of the great pleasures in life, as simple as it is."
"Yes," he said somberly, looking at the table.
She leaned over the table and said in a low voice. "Alan, I won't tolerate your or anyone else's pity. So…" She sat up and poured another glass of wine and topped off Alan's glass. "Let's move on." She added in a mock bright voice, "We'll get dessert—something chocolate and then let's go to the Moulin Rouge; it will be silly, kitschy." She hailed the server. "Soufflé au chocolate…deux… s'il vous plait. Merci." She looked at Alan, smiling, though her eyes filled with pain. "I'd like to offer a toast." She held up her glass. "To moving on."
He touched his glass to hers and smiled half-heartedly. "To moving on."
They chatted idly about Denny and Joan until the dessert arrived.
Alan took one bite of his soufflé then pushed it away.
Miranda took a bite and moaned sensuously. "This is the best…it's almost…orgasmic." She took another bite.
He blinked, raising his eyebrows.
"You aren't going to eat yours?"
She took a bite from his plate. "No sense in wasting it."
He watched her enjoy her dessert, and his, with vigor. He ordered a scotch, needing something stronger than wine.
After finishing both desserts she leaned back in her chair, head swimming in wine and said, "I feel tons better now. Ready to go to the Moulin Rouge?"
He smiled sadly. "Let's go."
After the show, and a stroll through the Quartier Pigalle, Alan and Miranda returned to their hotel room. She ordered a bottle of wine from room service and immediately left her clothes in a puddle on the floor. She rummaged around in her dresser drawer and pulled out a nightie. She put it on and threw her plush terry robe from the hotel over it. She took off her jewelry and tried to take off her shoes, but she lost her balance and fell back on the bed, giggling.
A crooked smile crossed Alan's face. "I think you may be drunk." He tossed the room keycard on the dresser and removed his blazer, flinging it in a nearby chair.
He chuckled. "Do you need help with the shoes?"
"Maybe," she sighed, relaxing into the bed, enjoying the spinning sensation she felt when she closed her eyes. "The women at the Moulin Rouge were beautiful weren't they?"
"I just loved the sparkly costumes—all the feathers."
"Yes." Alan sat on the edge of the bed and carefully removed each shoe, setting them on the floor near the bed.
"Thank you," she cooed.
Alan changed into his pajama bottoms and his t-shirt, which still had a little of her scent on it.
She knelt in the bed. "Alan, tonight I want you to…ravage me." She giggled, releasing the belt on her robe and pulling it off. Her nightie was on backwards.
Alan chuckled, shaking his head. "Hold up your arms." She held up her arms and he pulled up the nightie and adjusted it for her. He threaded her arms through the thin silk straps and pulled it down over her. "There."
With amusement in his eyes, he smoothed her hair back, kissed her forehead tenderly and looked deep into her eyes. "Miranda, that is an incredibly appealing offer, and I assure you, any other night I would be more than happy to…accommodate you."
"Talkie, talkie, talkie…" she whispered, her eyes half closed. "No more talkie."
He laughed. "No more talkie? Very well…" He got in bed and crawled under the covers. "I will stop talking and will take you to bed. Come here." He motioned for her. She crawled toward him. He held the covers up for her and she snuggled underneath. He lay down on his side and patted the bed. "Let's spoon with me." She pressed her back into his belly and laid her head on the pillow. Alan propped himself on one arm and stroked her hair until she fell asleep.