Title: Working Around the Crazy
Universe: Burn Notice/Supernatural
Character/Pairing/s: Michael and Lucifer (haha), with appearances by Sam (Ax), and Fiona.
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers through Season 3 of Burn Notice and 5x15 of Supernatural (I think?); probably lots of OOC. And crack. There's that too. Unbetaed.
Word Count: 4,045
Summary: Lucifer needs another meat suit. Michael has more important things to do.
Dedication: Christine. Yeah I've fallen.
A/N: So I was driving myself crazy over my script today and wrote this as a quick break. And then it was midnight. I might be half out of my mind, but at least it's out of my system. I swear I'm working on fic I owe next. I swear it. Ignore this in the meantime. Haha…
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.
Generally, being a spy isn't the kind of career you can expect to have in the long term. It's a job you almost always go into young and that you almost always come out of young and most of the time, it doesn't end simply because you decided you wanted to retire from it one day. You don't get a gold watch or a pat on the back from your superiors in the end either. In fact, usually, you don't even get a say as to when the end is. That pretty much gets decided for you by a long list of occupational hazards, things like getting shot, stabbed, tortured to death, blown up, lit on fire, arrested, poisoned, drowned, flayed, decapitated, asphyxiated, gassed, and in some cases (one case in particular actually, Russian in nature) a well-timed grand piano from two stories up.
There are other ways to stop being a spy of course, things not as readily apparent as stuff like occupational hazards, though these cases are rarer and usually end the same way anyway. There's the occasional spy gone rogue for example (who technically ends his career as a spy before the occupational hazards come calling, as they inevitably do; those are, for the types of people who like to get extra technical, called post occupational hazards in the reports that tag along with the ex-spy's new toe tags). There are also those who decide to go mercenary instead of rogue (but freelance work is never stable and employers tend to cut costs with things like security and life support in those instances and really, it only makes dying even easier when you think about it). There's also getting burned of course, which is probably one of the nicer ways to retire, but even then, if you decide to play nice and follow the rules, you're probably going to be stuck doing delivery jobs or bouncer work for the rest of your life and at that point you might as well be dead anyway. And if you don't play nice, well, then it's probably the occupational hazards (or post occupational hazards if you want to get technical again) that will get you in the end anyway.
So with the obvious things like betrayal and death aside, the only other real way out of the job is kind of embarrassing and a little bit lame, for lack of better term.
There are, on occasion, instances where you'd have to quit the business because it drives you crazy.
For the record, we're not talking about drive you crazy like that secretary in the next cubicle over who pops her gum all day or the neighbor who comes over every Thursday morning like clockwork to borrow a cup of sugar instead of just buying his own damn bag crazy. This is genuinely, certifiably nuts crazy.
For some people, the constant paranoia that comes with being a spy just gets to them after a while.
But because this is the most embarrassing way to end your career as a spy, most spies learn how to hide or ignore the crazy—for the most part— at least in the more critical situations. Some even start to use it as an advantage.
Being crazy makes you unpredictable, after all, and once your enemies can't predict what you're going to do next, it usually means it's time for them to retire first.
It's on Thursday afternoon while they're in the middle of a fire fight with some Cubans and some Columbians when Michael first starts seeing things. Hallucinating.
He doesn't stop firing though, because that would be stupid.
"Fi," he starts instead, calmly clipping a Columbian in the arm while he and Fiona systematically make their way back to where Sam has parked the Charger, "this might sound weird, but do you see a river of blood flowing out of the warehouse behind the Columbians?"
Fiona gives him a strange look (but luckily doesn't stop firing either; she hits a Cuban in the kneecap, which makes her smile and Michael wince). "No," she answers sweetly, after she looks at the warehouse.
Michael blinks once and the river of blood is gone, like it was never there.
It probably wasn't.
"Great, me neither," he says, and pops a fresh magazine into his weapon.
He keeps firing like this until both gangs are a little bit closer to each other, and once they are, he coolly detonates the C-4 he might have stashed alongside the narcotics shipment they thought he was returning to them.
Everything goes boom.
On Friday night, Michael is in the loft routinely cleaning and checking his weapons when he looks down and sees the blade of the knife he'd just finished sharpening turn copper orange with dried blood. He studies it in confusion and as he does, it looks like it's melting away in his hands in a mess of red and black and taking his fingers with it. In the distance, he thinks he can hear the faint sound of gunfire and the familiar boom of military bombs hitting the ground, of weeping women and screaming injured and "KILL THE INFIDELS!"
It is very weird.
He stops for a second, takes a deep breath, and closes his eyes. He counts backwards from five.
When he opens his eyes again the knife is clean, metal blade glinting back spotlessly against his (intact) fingertips. The steady bump bump bump of the club next door is all the sound he hears in the background.
Michael pauses to make a quick mental note. He might be going crazy.
He slowly puts down the knife.
And then he picks up his shotgun and cleans it next.
On Saturday, Michael dreams of Victor.
"You couldn't save me," Victor tells him.
Michael blinks and looks around and wonders when the world became tones of blue and gray. "Yeah, I couldn't. I'm not that broken up about it," he admits to Victor, after a beat. "You know, since you tried to kill me first."
Victor laughs, a harsh, accusatory sound. "It wasn't fair."
"Yeah life sucks," Michael tells him dispassionately. "Aren't you glad yours is over?"
Victor looks like wants to say something, but then Michael goes to his dream fridge to get some dream yogurt.
When he looks up again, Victor is gone.
The peach yogurt is still in hues of blue and gray.
Michael eats it anyway, and wonders when he'll wake up. He's got things to do today.
On Sunday, Michael finds Gilroy in his bed.
The world is back to those strange hues of blue and gray and his windows are wide open, letting gray streams of sunlight filter in. He's pretty sure that isn't tactically sound.
"Not this dream again," he sighs, and grabs the gun from under his pillow anyway.
"It's not a dream, Michael," Gilroy says, only it doesn't really sound like Gilroy. He's way too detached from the proceedings, despite the fact that Michael is shirtless and in bed and kind of vulnerable right now. Usually Gilroy eats that kind of stuff up and then tries to molest him.
Michael points his gun at Gilroy's face and wishes he'd stop having this nightmare.
"I need you, Michael," Gilroy says.
Michael tries not to shudder visibly; it's not really becoming of a spy (or ex-spy). He makes a suitably disgusted expression instead, while vaguely wondering if this is another one of his I'm-going-crazy symptoms manifesting. He was never worried about how dead psychopaths perceived his reactions to their come-ons in his nightmares before.
"You're special, Michael," Gilroy insists in the meantime. "I need your help."
"The last time I helped you, you got shot and blown up," Michael feels the need to point out, rationally. "So if I were you, I'd probably look somewhere else first. Try craigslist."
Gilroy laughs and studies Michael carefully. "You've been so calm about everything I throw at you," he begins, after a beat. "I thought you'd be easier, all things considered. What, with all the awful things you've seen, the awful things you've done. You surprise me. I like that."
Michael studies him for a moment.
"You're not Gilroy," Michael says, as he realizes it.
Not!Gilroy smiles. "How'd you know?"
"He didn't like surprises," Michael answers blithely, and doesn't elaborate how the real Gilroy would also probably have a bad case of wandering hands while they talked like this. "So who are you?"
"Lucifer," Not!Gilroy answers, without missing a beat.
Michael blinks. Definitely going crazy, he thinks.
"You're not," Gilroy who is Lucifer assures him, eyes deceptively warm.
He's lying, Michael thinks.
"I don't lie," Gilroy assures him.
Michael glares a little. "I wish you'd stop that."
"Reading your mind? It's just a thing. I can't help it."
Michael thinks some uncharitable things.
Gilroy laughs. "I knew we were compatible for a reason."
"Now you sound like Gilroy," Michael tells him.
A smirk. "Does it bother you?"
"All things considered, I probably have bigger problems to worry about," Michael says.
"You do," Gilroy agrees. "The Apocalypse is on. I'm here."
Michael hadn't meant that; he doesn't have time for the Apocalypse either. He has to help take down a dog fighting ring tomorrow, and he has to do it before lunch because he has a lunch date with his mother promptly at noon. It's the anniversary of his father's death and she wants to do something to celebrate. She hadn't elaborated on how she'd meant that statement.
In either case, it means he has to save those dogs and get the bad guys dead or arrested very quickly so he'll have time to come back and change into something nice. Luckily he has a plan.
"Yes, please save those poor dogs," Gilroy sighs, reading his mind again. "It's unjust, how they're being used by their owners, isn't it?"
Michael isn't sure how to respond to that. "So the devil's a dog person?" he asks, cautiously.
"I'm a justice person," Gilroy who is Lucifer assures him. "I don't like it when anyone is being used like that."
Michael raises an eyebrow. "That's not what I heard."
The other man smiles. "You can't believe everything you hear."
Michael considers that good advice and starts ignoring Lucifer with Gilroy's face. He wonders if he can go back to getting some semblance of restful sleep instead. He can probably muddle through tomorrow's operation half-conscious, but he's pretty sure he'll need to be on his toes with his mom.
"So I'm waging war on heaven," Gilroy who is Lucifer tells him without any prompting after a moment, and fluffs the pillows before lying back on them, as comfortable as all that. "I need your help."
Michael watches him. "Is sleeping in my bed a strategy? Heaven hates wrinkly sheets?"
"No," he admits. "You're a strategy. You see, I need you. I need your help. I need your body."
Michael shrugs. "Sorry, all booked up. Dog fighting ring tomorrow, lunch with my mom, and then I need to wash the Charger."
"I'll raze that ring to the ground if you want me to. I can do that for you. Your mom and the Charger too, if you'd like. I could fix it all. All you'd need to do is let me have you."
Michael smiles. "That's sweet, but I've got my own plan. It's good." Pause. "Thanks, though?"
Lucifer laughs again. "I really do like you a lot," he says, and then does a thing with Gilroy's eyes that is very in character and makes Michael feel very wronged.
But thankfully, luckily, there's suddenly a sound in Michael's periphery interrupting them— a rattle and a thud— and Michael feels himself starting to wake up right then, because even when he's out of his mind, it's good to know that at least his body is still trained to respond instinctively to all the noises that the real world makes even when he's insane.
Lucifer sighs when he hears the noises too. "Until next time, then."
Michael frowns. "What do you mean next time?"
"What, you think I'm just going to leave you alone if you keep saying no? That's cute."
Michael wants to protest, but then he wakes up instead, his gun pointed directly in Sam's face.
His friend scowls at him, hands up and irritable. "Damn, you're still in bed? Hurry up and get dressed Mikey, or we're going to be late."
Michael blinks at him.
Sam makes an impatient cyclical gesture with one hand. "Dog fighting? Lunch with your mom?"
Michael puts the gun down and groans. "Right. Dog fighting. Mom."
He gets up and gets dressed, and to his credit, when everyone and their pit bulls looks like they're walking around with bleeding eyes and frothing mouths in the arena later that morning, Michael is able to play it all off like it's the most normal thing in the world.
"You don't hear a bunch of children screaming, do you?" Michael asks Sam later that afternoon, as he works on the Charger.
Sam pauses to listen. "Nope. I think those are birds. Probably some South American thing they let loose over here on accident. Annoying, huh?"
Michael starts scrubbing the rims.
On Monday night, Michael closes his eyes with the intent to sleep and finds himself in Lucifer's blue-gray world all over again.
Luckily he's not dressed up as Gilroy this time, and is not in Michael's bed with him.
There's another man there in instead, light-haired and empty-looking as he gazes down fondly at Michael. There are gaping holes of missing skin all along the sides of his face and arms, like he's melting from the inside out.
Michael sighs and goes to his fridge and gets a blueberry yogurt. At least it looks how it's supposed to in this world.
"This vessel is at its limit," the man says eventually, and Michael supposes it must be Lucifer again.
"Yeah, you might want to get that looked at." Michael gestures with his spoon to the guy's face.
"That's what I need you for," Lucifer tells him. "This body can't hold me anymore. It was never meant to last this long."
Michael looks skeptical. "That's what you want my body for?"
Michael snorts. "So I'm the one that's meant to last?"
Lucifer hesitates. "Not the one. A one."
"What, like that guy?" Michael stirs his yogurt and looks at the man's melting skin critically. "No thanks." Pause. "And you should really work on your sales pitch."
Lucifer chuckles. "Like I said, I don't lie."
Michael eats his yogurt. Lucifer starts talking about how he can make the world a better place. It really is a good spiel, but the thing about professional liars is that they can't lie to professional liars. "God lets horrible things happen," Lucifer sighs, looking tragic.
"What, like you?" Michael asks, after he finishes eating and washes the spoon.
Lucifer blinks. "That's unfair."
Michael shrugs. "It's kind of annoying when you make me see blood and maggots everywhere. That is you, right?"
A grin. "Guilty."
Michael smiles back. "Thanks for that last one by the way. Lunch with my mom was great."
"I could make them stop, if you said yes," Lucifer says.
Michael finishes his yogurt. "They're not that distracting."
In the background there's a sudden and familiar buzzing noise that means time's up for tonight; Michael thinks it's his cell phone.
He waves at the devil as he feels himself start to wake. "See you tomorrow. We're still on for tomorrow, right?"
He opens his eyes a few seconds later, to Fiona's phone call, and the hallucination of his father's angry ghost screaming obscenities at him from his bed side.
"Yeah, Fi, what's up?" he says, walking through the ghost as he gets up to get a real yogurt.
Michael is pretty sure that what holds true in wars with people should hold true for wars with evil incarnate as well. The principles shouldn't be any different anyway, not if you want to win. Michael knows that if the cost of getting something is more than its worth or more than it could potentially earn as a result, then it's not worth spending the time and energy to get it.
"I can hear your thoughts. I know your plan," Lucifer says in response, even as the skin on his cheeks is peeling away.
Michael smiles. "Great, then I don't have to explain it."
He sits back in his arm chair with the Tuesday edition newspaper he'd purposefully left on his nightstand before going to sleep tonight. He starts on the crossword puzzle, because he's learning that this whole thing with his going crazy and dreams of Lucifer is going to take a while, kind of like waiting for the all clear signal from an underground cave after an aerial bombing. The clock ticks on in the background, seconds into minutes into hours as Lucifer's vessel slowly falls to pieces just a little bit more.
"Just say yes," Lucifer tells him.
"No," Michael answers simply, and starts on the sudoku puzzle after he finishes with the crossword.
Lucifer makes a sound that Michael thinks sounds a lot like argh.
"Is something wrong, Mikey?" Sam asks on Wednesday evening, turning to his younger friend in concern when he sees Michael pause and squint off into the distance for a moment, before wordlessly turning his attention back to the trussed and gagged bodyguard they currently have in their custody, the two of them in the middle of dangling the poor guy's chair over the edge of a third story window. "You seem kind of distracted."
"Nope, everything's fine," Michael answers, and nudges the hired muscle with his foot, making him spin a little in the air. "Just thought I saw something." He gets back to work then, turning to smile at their hostage sweetly. "So, you wanna tell me where Gregor is? You don't have to if you don't want to. I mean, it's a free country." He nudges the chair a little bit again, and starts the spinning anew.
The bodyguard whimpers and promises he'll tell them everything they want to know a few seconds later, and as long as Sam doesn't say anything first, Michael doesn't pay any attention whatsoever to the army of zombies currently marching its way down the darkened streets of the warehouse district towards them.
"You're a hard nut to crack," Lucifer tells him that night, wearing his dad's face again. Michael wonders if Lucifer knows that spies aren't afraid of dead people. It's the live ones they worry about, mostly. It just makes sense.
"Maybe you should move on to other nuts," Michael suggests after a beat, and picks up today's edition of the newspapers. "I have more important things to do than let you wear me," he adds brusquely, and fills in three across with a grin. "Oh yeah."
On Thursday, an army of locusts hits Miami.
Michael stops at the hardware store to pick up some bug spray.
"Mikey, I'm worried that you've been seeing and hearing weird things," Sam begins, more than a week after Michael's first hallucination. "Are you okay?"
"I'm great," Michael assures him with his most charming Michael Westen smile. "I've got kind of a pest problem at the loft that's making it hard to sleep, but I'm working on it."
"I know a good exterminator," Sam offers.
"I got it, Sam."
"You sure?" Sam opens a bottle of beer on the end of their table and Michael calmly watches him drink down what looks to be an entire bottle of angry black smoke.
Michael buys him another beer. "I'm sure."
"How about I promise to stop bothering you once you say yes?" Lucifer asks that night, sounding hopeful. "You hate being bothered, don't you?"
Michael rolls his eyes. "You'd be in my body if I said yes, so that wouldn't really work so much as do the opposite."
"You wouldn't notice," Lucifer assures him. "You wouldn't feel anything at all."
"Again," Michael begins, and thinks he's getting really good at sudoku, "fix your sales pitch."
Lucifer scowls; some of the skin melts off his face and falls on the floor.
"Clean that up," Michael tells him. "That's disgusting."
Michael buys a whole stack of different newspapers (some in different languages) to last him through the next few days while Lucifer stomps around trying to convince him God is unfair and the world needs to end. God is the reason why Michael's been burned, and why he had to deal with his father all those years, and the reason why people like Simon and the Management exist.
"What's a six letter word for container?" Michael asks absently, interrupting Lucifer mid-speech. Then he pauses and grins when he figures it out on his own. "That's neat, did you do that?" He gestures to the newspaper. "Demon magic?"
Lucifer's eye rolls out of its socket.
The last time they meet is around the time Lucifer's nose finally falls off and Michael is seeing demonic winged beasts breathing fire in the skies over the beach in the middle of the day.
The blue and gray dream world is back and Michael is already halfway through the sudoku book he bought at a Borders bargain bin for just these occasions.
This time, the dream starts when he gets hit in the face with a towel. It's white, even in Lucifer's two-tone universe. That has to mean something.
He grins and picks up the towel, looking up to see the ghastly features of his own personal Satanic delusion. "What, you're giving up? So soon?" he asks, as Lucifer scowls at him (he thinks Lucifer's scowling anyway, the sinews in his face seem to suggest he's scowling, but then again Michael's never been an expert in that sort of thing and it's hard to tell when there's no skin left).
"I don't have time for this anymore," Lucifer says, and his patience is apparently all gone.
"Yeah, looks…" Michael trails off, gesturing with his hand to his face. "That doesn't look so good." Then he pauses, thoughtful. "So where you going?"
"Detroit," Lucifer answers darkly, and has to push his eye back into its socket before it rolls out again. "Unbelievably, the easier target is there."
For the first time since this whole thing began, Michael actually believes him. He grins. "Bye then."
"I'll see you again, Michael Westen," Lucifer promises, ominously.
"I'll save the rest of the sudoku for your visit," Michael promises in return, and stops filling in numbers.
When he looks up again, the devil is already gone.
"You look like you slept well," Fiona remarks, when he arrives to their tactical breakfast meeting the next morning. Sam has his eyes glued to the TV, expression horribly amused.
"What's going on?" Michael asks.
Sam turns around and laughs. "Apparently it's raining frogs in Detroit. Weird, right?"
Michael takes a seat and opens up the menu. "Trust me, I've seen weirder."
"They've got a bunch of guys saying it's the end of the world," Sam adds, cheerfully. "Love it when the crazies make it on TV."
Michael's eyes scan the menu. "Even if it is the end of the world, we still have work to do." That corruption problem won't fix itself, after all.
Sam raises his glass to that. "Try the chorizo. It's amazing."
After that, he spends the rest of the afternoon exposing three dirty cops with a federal judge in their pocket, and as such, is too busy to hear about it when the fist-sized locusts start to descend on Michigan as well.
That night Michael doesn't dream about dead people or angels or devils or the end of the world. He doesn't worry about his apparent bout of insanity either, doesn't think about whether or not it will come back, or if it'll keep him from working ever again or if it'll make him the best damned spy that ever was.
He's busy with more important things. He's got a job regarding some missing diamonds and an angry Italian crime lord to take care of in the morning.
He figures he can always worry about that other stuff once he's retired.