The Way It Should Be
Disclaimer:

(Date written: 5/13/2000) "Now and Again" and all related indicia is property of Glenn Gordon Caron, CBS (unfortunately) and Picturemaker Productions. No permission, no profit, no lawyers. This was inspired by three things: the season finale that sparked so much debate, the question of why Michael ran, and an acute case of I-don't-want-to-work-on-my-paper syndrome. I wrote it in one sitting.

This is dedicated to all the fans who have been trying their hardest to get "Now and Again" back on the air.

Spoilers: "Lizzard's Tale" (first two scenes), "The Eggman Cometh" (last scene)

The Way It Should Be
by Amanda Ohlin

His head hurt.

"Mr. Wiseman?"

Okay, now it hurt more. Opening his eyes a crack did no good, since it let some light in.

"Mr. Wiseman, it's 6 am. Time to go to work."

Michael moaned and rolled to one side, turning his face away from the sunlight streaming in the window. At least the Doc wasn't singing.

Wait a minute. Sunlight. 6 am. The Doc.

Despite the pain that it caused, Michael somehow forced himself to sit up, groggily taking in his surroundings. The last thing he remembered was Lizzard sticking that needle in his neck and saying something about a rhinoceros before the world had melted away. At first, Michael wondered if he'd dreamed the whole thing. But, he realized as the room finally came into focus, the look on the Doc's face said otherwise.

"What happened?" he managed once the room stopped fuzzing in and out.

"I think you know what happened, Mr. Wiseman."

Oh, great. He was in no shape to get scolded. Not now. "Doc, look, he made it sound like you were having a heart attack, I didn't know what else to do. I mean--"

Morris cleared his throat, and Michael stopped, seeing the expression on the Doc's face soften. "Never mind. I've seen the security tape. How are you feeling?"

The fog was rapidly clearing from his brain. "Like I've had one too many, but it's getting better." Realizing what the unspoken question was, he added, "Although I'm not sure you should let me operate any heavy equipment, or heavy weights, or heavy anything."

"Mr. Wiseman." The Doc saw right through him.

Michael sighed. "Yeah, I'll be fine in a minute or two." As Morris nodded and turned away, something else occurred to him. "What about Dr. Lizzard?"

Dr. Morris stopped, but did not turn back. "What about him?"

"Is he-- did he-- did you--" Michael couldn't find the words.

"Everything is the way it should be, Mr. Wiseman. That's all you need to know."

"But--"

The Doc did not move, his back still turned to Michael. "Mr. Wiseman, it is now 6:15 a.m. We are behind schedule, and I have plans for today that involve us leaving the confines of this townhouse. Now unless you would like me to cancel them, I suggest you hit the shower."

"All right, all right, I'm going." Groaning, Michael hauled himself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, grabbing a clean towel and shutting the door behind him when it was clear Morris was not about to stand guard. It was probably better not knowing, he decided. After all, this way he would get some privacy for once.

*****

"...seems like this is taking forever..."

The voice floated in and out, sometimes clear, sometimes muffled by the grayness that was suffocating him. Michael tried to open his eyes, to identify the speaker, but he could barely move. His whole body felt like a lead weight, and his eyelids felt like they weighed tons. He had a sense of being only half there, separated from his body and drowning in nothing.

The prick of the needle that had let the voice in was dulled, dimmed, and he could barely feel the table he was lying on or the sheet that was covering him. Was there even a sheet? Dimly, he realized that he might have been embarrassed if he were awake. He thought he heard a beep, but he couldn't be sure. Someone muttered something about company.

Exhausted, Michael started to slide back into darkness again when he thought he heard a familiar voice. Michael struggled to hear through the fog, to pick out words from the mumbling sound. Suddenly, words forced themselves into his consciousness, piercing through his drug-induced stupor.

"I want him off the table."

Doc? Michael tried to shout to Dr. Morris, to warn him, to just make a crack about how long it took him. But no sound came from his mouth.

He was vaguely aware of another voice babbling incessantly, the words smashing together into unintelligible static. If he could just get the buzzing out of his ears...

"What are you going to do? Kill me?"

Sound was starting to penetrate again. Michael struggled to stay afloat, just to hear what was going on. A shrill, grating whirring broke in, incessantly working its way through the suffocating fog. Then the cries started, following by choking and gasping.

No! He wanted to launch himself off the table, to stop the strangled sounds of death that were only a few feet away. But his body would not move, and the steady whirring went on. No, no, no...

Only when he allowed himself to fall back into oblivion did the noise fade away...

The first thing Michael saw when his eyes flew open was the dull red glow of his alarm clock. 3:26 a.m. He lay there, staring numbly at the LED display, replaying the events of the dream over in his mind. But he knew that it was no dream.

"You know what happened, Mr. Wiseman."

Oh, yes, he did.

Michael rolled over onto his side, clutching a pillow to his chest tightly. Curling up into a ball, he silently wished that he didn't.

*****

"Whenever you're ready, we'll go over to the truck," Dr. Morris said casually. "I'll give you an injection, and you'll black out."

Injection. Not gas. Injection. Like the needle Lizzard had shoved into his neck.

"And then?" Michael prompted, waiting for the punchline. Dread was slithering up his back and spreading across the rest of his body.

The Doc was infuriatingly calm. "And then... we'll get this little chore over with and everything will be the way it's supposed to be."

Everything is the way it should be.

"Because I'll have the tracking device in my head. Right?" The Doc did not, would not answer. "And my wife?"

"What about your wife?"

What about Dr. Lizzard?

"I don't know," Michael managed. "I just..."

"You've assured me that she remains in the dark. If that's truly the case, you have nothing to fear."

What are you going to do? Kill me?

"Right," Michael answered, but there was no conviction in his words. "Right." Morris nodded, and they headed towards the door.

What are you going to do?

Nothing. Not a thing. How could you when you could barely twitch, let alone move to stop a man from committing murder?

What are you going to do?

Yes, he knew what was going to happen.

Michael barely thought about it as his elbow made contact with the Doc's stomach. "Sorry," he muttered as he punched Morris and ran.

The door went down like tinfoil, and the armed agents weren't expecting the blows to the head. Michael was vaguely aware of knocking them out and running down the street at full speed. He didn't know how he would get there before the Doc did. But he had to try. Dammit, the Doc knew! He knew! And he hadn't said a word.

Everything was not going to be the way it should be.

Not if he had anything to say about it.

The End