Disclaimer: AU, so no. Sad, but true. :(
Many thanks indeed go to GallowsHumor for the beta and the flailing. Anything that is still wrong is totally my fault because I can't help but tweak before posting.
Written for a prompt by huffydoo on suits_meme on LJ (which I will put at the end to keep from spoiling all y'all).
Mike has read a great many books in his life. Some of them he's even read more than once, though with an eidetic memory that's not really necessary.
But he likes the feeling of the paper under his fingers and he likes the look of the black stark against the white page, the orderly lines of text contrasting with the uneven blocks of paragraph. Those are parts of the aesthetic appeal of books that are dictated by practicality over intention, but, like the ridges left by a brush in oil paint, it adds a dimension of texture to the work.
Sometimes reading for him is more about the physical act than the words themselves: the smell of a book, sharp and new or old and poignant; the texture of the paper, slick and cool or warm and rough; even the sounds of reading, the swish of pages turning, the faint murmur of his fingers sliding across the paper, the creaks and cracks of the spine as he opens or closes it.
Sometimes he's not even looking at the words as vehicles for meaning so much as parts of a visually artistic whole like the tiny dots of paint in a Van Gogh pointilistic composition. Serifs are especially intriguing to him, the curlicues that give a word a little bit of class just by being what could easily be mistaken as a stray blot of ink or a smear.
(He likes the serif fonts better than the sans serif because, given his own penmanship skills, he can appreciate the extra work required to add those little bits of flair.)
Mike has read a great many books in his life and, while sometimes he does love the visceral, tangible act of holding a book in his hands more than the message, it is mostly about the stories contained in those tiny lines and swoops and swirls. From a distance, where the letters merge and blur until they lose their individual significance, all books look the same, but whatever they may look like from that distance, up close, where you can distinguish and interpret each of those tiny blots of ink into works of art, where meaning crosses over into imagination, they become even more spectacular—they become everything.
Mike has read a great many books in his life about love and war, about science and religion, about the meaning of the universe and the pointlessness of existence and he's never failed to find the magnificent vistas hiding behind the screen of letters absolutely entrancing.
(Even when the books are dry and boring recitations of things like crop yields over a decade, because behind those facts were lives lived, fortunes lost, and virtues won, all amidst the tangled up emotions of humanity, even if the author was unable to include them in this account. Mike has a really vivid imagination and has become an expert at reading between the lines on a page, a talent he desperately wishes he could transfer to reality and apply to the people he interacts with every day.)
Outer space and inner mind, deserts and forests and oceans and glaciers, all are never too far away. Ancient history and distant futures, sparkling palaces and filthy hovels, bustling metropolises and solitary hermitages... Books are mankind's pinnacle of achievement in the realm of travel: You can go anywhere, see anything, meet anyone, and visit anytime in the whole of history that was and history that wasn't.
Mike has read books and read books and read books until it felt like words were leaking out of his ears, sliding down his face, and then slipping down his spine like an ice cube on a particularly brutal summer's day, making him shiver with the sweet torture.
And in his truly masochistic moments when he is in need of some good pride-cleansing mockery, he thinks of confessing to someone—anyone—that his impossible dream is to write one of these books, that others might read it and see the pictures he sees in his mind, hear the tales hiding his heart.
But then, he can't even write a damn grocery list, so making it to the top of the New York Times' Bestsellers' List is pretty unlikely.
There are three more chapters and an epilogue coming, so while I go get those, if you enjoyed it, please leave a note. :)