The Mistake You Can't Live Without
Summery- With an IQ of well above one hundred and eighty, Mick Rawson was considered a genius. Genius hadn't always served him well when the subject came to social skills.
Rated teen for themes. Nothing particularly explicit. The only pairings, even in the slightest, are Mick and Gina. There are plenty of spoilers for my previous works. You might want to read those if you haven't yet. No one beta reads my work, although I wouldn't refuse, so any grammar and spelling mistakes are my own. Please don't verbally kill me for a typo. Sadly I do not own anything involving Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior. The only things I can claim are my characters, story lines, and imagination.
Now, to the story!
'The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.' - Albert Einstein
Mick Rawson was a genius.
Genius, unfortunately, always has a flaw.
For Mick, that flaw involved people and personal relationships. They never ended well for him. It wasn't for lack of trying, obviously, but the problem was never set in stone. He could never truly understand why the relationships he had over the years always ended in failure and heartbreak, no matter how hard he tried to keep them together.
Just as he could never truly understand himself.
Honestly, he blamed it on the antisocial tendencies he had since youth. He blamed it on everything antisocial his damned brilliance created. The PTSD was only a small portion of such, and that had only been a problem since he returned from Iraq years ago. His awkwardness around others he wasn't comfortable with, his hyper vigilance to every situation around him, his hatred of confined spaces and large crowds, all of that was present when he was young. He adapted to it through the years, made the symptoms less noticeable with help from Cooper and Liam, but he couldn't diminish them completely.
Because of that, people took notice.
In his youth, girlfriends at school chose to mock him like everyone else. They didn't care that he was a good person beneath the antisocial behavior. Nor did they care that he did actually try to be good to them. They felt pity towards him because he was the strange and brilliant little Welsh foster child that didn't work well with people, so they agreed to date him in spite of their own reputations. It never lasted long enough for Mick to claim that he liked them. And in reality, he found it rather insulting that they only agreed due to pity or a ridiculous dare from a schoolmate.
The years of rejection had made him callous, and therefore he grew careless towards women. It wasn't a matter of sexism. He didn't find women inadequate or believe he was better than they were as far as mentality. Jenna would kill him if he ever thought such a ludicrous thing, his father would surely rise from his grave to slap him, and he still loved his mother too much to disgrace her name with that pathetic attitude. No, it stemmed more from the fact that women had always been cruel to him.
Therefore, Mick grew callous towards them.
One night stands with women he couldn't remember names of, only when corpus amounts of alcohol were involved to dull his senses so he didn't have to remember in the morning, didn't amount to anything in the scope of relationships. If anything, it angered the women and placed him at risk of one finding who he really was. They never meant anything on a personal level to him. He knew it was wrong, that his parents would have been ashamed of his actions towards women, but he had control with them. When his mind was ailed after three quarters of a bottle of scotch, control seemed like the best drug in the world. It helped him forget life for a few short hours, made him relatively normal until the morning came and all he was left with was a woman he didn't remember next to him and a hangover from hell grinding in his skull.
The number of one night stands decreased after the events in Iraq. After he realized that Abigail Patel sold him and his team to a terrorist cell out of revenge because he cheated on her, he couldn't bring himself to so much as look at another woman in the eyes for quite a long time. It was shameful and disgusting on his part, and after he killed her in self defense, he swore to change.
Change was the equivalent of climbing Everest without any gear.
It took years to break him of the habit. For the first several years after he returned from Iraq, he didn't even bother with nameless women and temporary pleasures. His wounds were still healing, both physically and mentally, and he had no desire to answer the inevitable questions they would have in regards to the scars.
In 2007, he had mustered enough self confidence again. The woman was a prostitute he hired in an off month after an Interpol case. He didn't remember the details due to the bottle of scotch he downed before. But in the morning, when he awoke in an empty motel room in the slums of London with his wallet missing and his dog tags once strung around his neck gone as well as a nasty hangover that made him violently ill for two days, he came to the epiphany that he was making the wrong decisions again.
He was reverting backwards, to the person he fought not to be, to a disgraceful excuse for a human being. The antisocial flaw was ruining his life again, just as it had always done.
So he changed. The problem with change was finding where to begin.
In 2009, Cooper pointed him in the right direction.
In August of 2009, Sam Cooper introduced Mick to Gina LaSalle.
At the time, he was still becoming accustomed to the differences between his life in England and the new life Cooper had given him in the United States. There were plenty differences to keep his mind occupied, some of which he found difficult to understand because they made very little logical sense to him. The city air of DC felt and smelled different than London. People were always shooting him curious glances whenever he spoke, as if it was unusual for a Welshman to announce that he worked with the FBI. The flat he was given after he moved out of Cooper's home was just big enough for him and his belongings, which wasn't entirely different than what he had rented in London, but his neighbors were far more curious than he felt comfortable with.
One night stands were less frequent than what he boasted about. There had only been two over the course of the months, despite what he had led everyone else to believe. It was an excuse, an alibi, to fool everyone who dared to question his rugged appearance in the mornings. Truthfully, nightmares kept him awake at night. Sometimes they were too intense to sleep after he awoke, and the only way to find rest was to run himself into exhaustion on the dark streets of DC. Other times, he did everything in his power to avoid sleep completely because he knew what would happen. No one else needed to know about the insomnia or the nightmares, so he lied to protect himself from the nagging questions.
Aside from the acute variances between the two countries, he was slowly adjusting to life as a civilian again. It had been months since he left the battle grounds of Afghanistan, since he nearly died with the rest of his teammates in an IED explosion that destroyed their armored transport humvee and he trekked the desert for a day before he was found because he was too confused by the piece of shrapnel embedded into the back of his skull to navigate sensible thought.
It was a slow progression unlike any other he had endured before. The nightmares every night were worse, keeping him awake for hours and draining him of energy. Bags under his eyes seemed to paint a story that contradicted his age on his features, and the dull ache in his scarred muscles due to fatigue gave him little reason to get out of bed, or off the couch, in the mornings. In hindsight, the symptoms of his PTSD had been worse when he was in London. It was strange and unexplainable, really, because he did love his family and he knew they were only trying to help him.
But he didn't want the help. He wanted to recover himself, just to prove that he wasn't like so many others that had returned from war broken. He didn't need people announcing what was wrong with him on a mental level as the psychologist had done in London. Nor did he need someone to listen to his depressing life story because they thought it would have made him feel better if he spoke about it. In reality, the only thing he needed was time and rest and someone to talk with that wasn't going to judge him.
Gina LaSalle had done that and so much more without even realizing it.
When they met in the park as scheduled, Mick didn't know what to expect. He was given Gina's FBI file for review by Cooper so he knew what she looked like. Slightly dirty blond hair just below her shoulders, bright and eager blue eyes that he found himself staring at unwillingly, and a smart and witty grin on her thin features. Her reputation was small but effective, admirable because it stood in contrast to the dozens of others he had read over that week. She was someone important, someone who had potential to be amazing given the right environment to thrive in.
Moreover, she had a record of uniqueness and unorthodox methods that always ended in her favor. She, and Mick didn't have to read the IQ test to confirm, was brilliant in a similar manner as he was. She saw the world differently too, like no one else Mick had ever met, and that was one of the key reasons why Cooper chose her for the team.
Admittedly, Mick was a bit nervous when they first met. However, after twenty minutes of conversation, he felt at ease with her. He felt as though he could talk with her for hours and never be able to say anything to scare her away. Her smile was infectious, her laugh drawing a toothy and childish grin to his face, and the tone of her voice alone sounded like the perfect melody.
After an hour of football, which Mick was pressed to call it such and not rugby because it was certainly not foot-ball, Cooper called the game to an end with the opposing team buying lunch at a pub down the street. Gina and Mick ignored the others around them though. They were too captivated with each other, too enthralled with just chatting to really care about anything else.
It wasn't until five hours had passed and Cooper returned to check on them that Mick realized the time. He hesitated when he finally looked at the watch strapped against his wrist, silently debating whether he should leave to finish the paperwork he had promised to finish before the next morning or stay and continue his conversation with Gina. Ultimately his curiosity won again and he slid back into the seat with an apology to Cooper, stating that he would finish the paperwork later that night when he got the time.
The only bad thing about the entire day was that he didn't arrive at his flat until midnight, and the paperwork had to be rushed in the morning.
But he slept that night. For the first time in years, he was actually able to sleep.
Mick's relationship with Gina was unprecedented to anything he had ever experienced.
She was brilliant in her own way, caring in a manner he had never experienced, sophisticated enough to keep him guessing, and independent and witty to make him see an entirely new perspective of life when she refused to fall for his charm.
Everything she did drew his attention in fascination. The sound of her voice alone captivated him, made his heart sputter when she talked with him like a shy schoolboy talking to the most popular girl in school. It was absurd because both were adults, but he couldn't stop the reaction even if he tried. She became the only reason behind his actions, the one person he felt absolutely comfortable around despite the butterflies in his stomach, the one person who drove away the nightmares he had been experiencing since he returned from Iraq, and the only person he had to protect with every ounce of soul he had left.
When she mentioned that she wanted chocolate ice cream one afternoon whilst working a cold case, he disappeared for an hour to find the best ice cream money could buy for her.
When she mentioned a paper cut from the stack of files she had been sorting, he insisted on a disinfectant bandage and completed the rest of her paperwork until the cut healed.
When she mentioned a nightmare the night before, he gave her a bag of his favorite tea that he had brought from home and advised her to use it, seeing as it usually helped with the restless nights.
When an unsub almost shot her during a case in South Carolina months after she joined the team, he gladly stepped in front of the gun to allow his own bulletproof vest to take the bullets.
Mick couldn't explain it. He felt compelled to protect her, to ensure she was always safe, and there was no logical reason for it. True, they were partners, but that didn't warrant his actions. He considered her a friend, one of the very few he had ever acquired throughout his lifetime, meaning she was priceless. Still, the fact that they had grown to be friends in such a short time and they were partners didn't excuse his actions towards her. It didn't excuse the paranoia for her safety or the feeling of absolute content when around her.
Others had noticed the behavior too. Prophet mocked him childishly, similar to the manner Liam used to tease him when they were in school and Mick fancied Isabella Beaumont but didn't have the courage to admit it. Cooper had made it very clear that the FBI didn't tolerate personal relationships within teams, unlike Interpol, and the Red Cell team he was running was already on thin ice with the director.
Technically, they couldn't be involved more than just close friends and teammates. Not without risking their jobs and Mick's access in the country.
While his older teammates took notice because they worked with him every day, it was actually Jenna who bothered to approach the subject.
Mick had a habit of calling her once a day every morning to chat for a bit before work. So when he called her mobile a week before Christmas that same year, he felt comfortable with the familiarity of her voice through the receiver of his own phone. He was spread on the couch in his flat, watching the news while his phone remained pressed against his ear and a steaming mug of coffee wrapped in his opposite hand. There was still thirty minutes before he had to leave for work, and another ten before Gina knocked on his door to accompany him for the walk as usual.
Jenna had been talking about her days in school whilst he was away, how she planned to attend the University of London when the new year started and Cassie was more excited than she was, when she stopped abruptly and whistled into the phone to gather his attention. "Thinking about Gina again, eh?"
Mick almost chocked on the hot coffee he had just sipped, swallowing it down with effort before pulling his phone away for a minute second to glare at it. Sometimes he believed Jenna could read his thoughts, even when he knew she was just perceptive enough to read his silence. "No." He lied quickly, biting his tongue when she laughed at him through the receiver. "You were just going to tell me what you sent for Christmas. It's another Doctor Who keychain, isn't it? Or another box of tea? I've already drank most of what you sent…"
The youngest Rawson interrupted with a sigh, "Nice try, but I'm not daft like you. I know you were thinking about her again. She's the only person you've talked about for the past few months. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're smitten by her."
Mick rolled his eyes subconsciously. "Bollocks. You're talking shite again."
"Am I? Just think about it, Mickey. All you talk about now is her. What the two of you did the day before, what she wore, what was said. You hang onto every word she says and everything she does like she's royalty." She paused for a moment, shifting the phone against her ear as she dropped her tone cautiously. "Liam used to act the same way when he first met Fiona. He was absolutely head-over-heels for her and he didn't even realize it until he saw her with another guy…"
Mick set the coffee mug on the coffee table harder than intended, a tight frown crossing his features as he groped for the remote to the television beside him and muted the daily weather report. "It isn't like that."
"You can deny it all you want, but you're only lying to yourself. Everyone else can see it. Liam and Fiona loved each other, and Liam acted the same way you are now when they first met. That's got to mean something."
Yes, it meant everything. Mick knew he was in denial because it felt better than acceptance. The problem was that he didn't know how to admit it, or if Gina would even be willing to listen.
An epiphany is a sudden intuitive leap of understanding through a striking occurrence.
For Mick, the epiphany seemed to come in stages.
Certain events throughout his life had made him reconsider his outlook of the world. Those events were rarely ever positive, and more often than not left him emotionally weary of people. The night his parents died, the day he found Isabella Beaumont hanging by her ceiling fan, the day he tried to kill the bastard responsible for her suicide, the events in Iraq and hellish recovery afterwards. All of which painted the worst kind of impression for mankind in his mind. He didn't see the world as he did during his time in Wales, through innocence and clarity only a child could understand, but as something dangerous and evil. People had hurt others without just cause, had hurt him with reason as to why, and Mick found it impossible to forgive.
Then he met Cooper and Gina.
The stages were more positive with them. Cooper helped him start a new life after the mess he endured overseas. Gina found a way to patch the holes in his morality without realizing it. Both had been the cause for his change in perspective again. He began to see hope for people, for himself, with them. They prompted change for the better and he gladly fell for the trap.
Thinking back, one of the main events that sold the idea occurred during the period of months Jenna was presumed dead.
Mick had studied the common stages of grief during psychology classes at the FBI academy as well as during school in his youth. They never occurred in a single order because no one grieved the same exact way.
During the six months the world thought Jenna Rawson died in a plane crash over the Atlantic, depression was Mick's enemy. Depression had worsened his PTSD to almost be unbearable, isolating him from people as much as possible, restricting sleep night after night, making him irritable and impossible to work with on a daily basis. He tried to push it away. Alcohol did nothing but leave him buzzed for most of those months, which he didn't argue about because it meant that his mind couldn't focus on his supposedly dead baby sister. One night stands with nameless women didn't help him sleep at night.
And no amount of talking brought his sister back from the grave any faster.
Despite his attitude and the awful manner in which he treated his teammates during his grieving, Gina was a constant reminder of hope. She gave him enough space to grieve on his own, just as she knew he needed, but tried to stay close to him when necessary. Why she stayed when he pushed her away never occurred to him. He didn't understand why she cared enough to tolerate him, why she didn't just abandon him like everyone else always did.
Gina fell into a routine of her own making during those months. Mick wasn't allowed room to argue when she spent her evenings in his flat with him. When she arrived with dinner, she ensured he ate everything in the take-out box before he could leave the dinning table. Every time he argued that he wasn't hungry, just to spite the world because he hadn't actually eaten anything else during the day, she threatened to have him committed to the local hospital because he was starving himself. They spent the night watching movies together on the couch until he fell asleep. And when he awoke in the morning, he was surprised to find a pillow and blanket from his bedroom wrapped around himself and a note beneath a plate of eggs and toast in the kitchen. The food was stored in the refrigerator indefinitely and he spent the rest of the day waiting for her or someone else to arrive.
Even after he was allowed back to work, their cases were relatively local. His teammates alternated to spend time with him, but he remained distant. Gina, however, kept a routine that was actually appreciated for its familiarity.
Months later, after he had been played for a fool again and had his heart metaphorically ripped out of his chest in early November, she was there for him just like the first time.
The entire year had been hell from start to finish, and after the memories of his days in Iraq were drudged to the surface rather violently again, he had enough.
So he tried to drink himself to death. Realistically, drinking three fourths a bottle of forty year old scotch within two hours probably should have killed him. With the state of his former health, he should have been unconscious for the entirety of the night and Cooper should have contacted the local emergency services because he could have been suffering from alcohol poisoning. It certainly made him ill for a week afterwards, but once the alcohol left his system, he recovered fairly quickly. He didn't want Gina or anyone else to see him as the nervous mess he had turned into. Hence why he did his best to hide in his flat. Depression had overtaken him again and this time, he didn't know how to cope. He hated himself for multiple reason, each one just as ridiculous as the previous, and the breakdown in the flat was never meant to be witnessed by anyone.
But Gina knew something was wrong from their conversation on the plane ride home.
Gina found him in the flat, a nervous wreck from start to finish, and she never once left his side. She didn't judge him during the week he spent in her flat while he was recovering from potential alcohol poisoning. Nor did she hide her worry and fear for him any longer. Instead, she became his stability, his reason for maintaining a somewhat healthy life.
Because of her, he found somewhere to rest his head and someone protect him from himself.
He found family and a home, even if it was temporary, and someone he couldn't live without.
Mick's epiphany came in stages.
It was still a work in progress.
Mick couldn't say without a shadow of doubt that he loved Gina LaSalle. He didn't know what to label the feeling. She meant the world to him and that was never questioned. But he hadn't come to that stage of the epiphany yet. He hadn't realized that the feeling could have been mutual, that she may have developed the same unspeakable feelings for him, and therefore he couldn't admit it.
There was evidence to support the idea that it was mutual.
Aside from everything she had done over the past few years, she had become more open towards him after his last dance with scotch. She openly fussed and worried around him, practically glued herself to his side, and became the only person in the United States Mick had ever met that liked watching Doctor Who in the middle of the night after a nightmare as he did. Gina found a way to ease his troubles over the course of months using gentle and caring tactics that often caused Beth and Prophet to tease them.
She found what was important to him and carved herself into the mix.
After the events in Alaska at the end of 2011, their relationship changed once more.
Gina and Mick knew each other well enough to understand when one should concede with the other. Like most practical relationships, it was a measure of give and take that fell into rhythm with time. More often than not, Mick was the one conceding for her benefit, even if he didn't always agree with her decisions. What he lacked in mental stamina and social skills, she made up for with rationalized and logical reasons that worked well with his natural desire for perfection. Likewise, he countered her cautiousness with his brash attitude.
They had an agreement of sorts since the nightmare in Alaska revealed his past tortures in Iraq to everyone. He wasn't allowed to lie to her. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't have been a problem. Mick only lied to her when necessary anyways, and the lies themselves were the hardest to sell because she seemed to have a natural instinct for discerning what was true. Gina had been very specific when the rule was set in place between them, and she simply would not take no as an answer.
She began to fuss over him more than he actually appreciated. It was a sign of something unspoken between the two, something Mick didn't have the heart to confront yet, and the implications seemed to speak volumes. Gina didn't view Mick as incompetent and Mick understood that. However, her constant worries towards him was unnerving. Her intentions were sound and justifiable, but Mick had always been the lone wolf type.
He never appreciated people fussing over him, even when he was recovering from his wounds with family in London.
In early February, Gina had taken her worries to a new level as she manipulated him to see a dentist because she feared the worst.
Mick argued that there was no need for it. The area where he had lost a tooth during the mess in Alaska was horribly infected and he could barely move his jaw to talk or eat, but he had experienced worse in the past. In the past, he had almost half his teeth ripped out with pliers over the course of a month, so an infection of that level was considered nothing to worry about. It would ebb away on its own, just as it had done before. He tried to excuse it as expected, and had even gone as far as asking her to punch him in the jaw to break the abscess. The penicillin Flores had given him did help tremendously and he reasoned that was the best option given the likelihood of the doctor giving him the same kind of prescription for a week anyways. Even if it was potentially deadly. Naturally, she smashed his toe with her heel instead and chastised him for his carelessness.
It wasn't until he awoke with a pounding headache in morning of the sixth, with his temple throbbing mercilessly and his thoughts skewed by the pain, that he finally agreed with Gina.
Once at the dentist office two hours later, he almost regretted his decision. It had been over a year and a half since he last visit to the dentist, seeing as the prospect of being held down whilst someone stuck metal instruments in his mouth drew uncontrollable panic, and he was admittedly nervous. He was sure the doctor would lecture him about his lack of annual visits, as well as ask questions as to why his records were redacted with the exception of what was needed to complete the job at hand. One look at the scars left in his jaw and the amount of false implanted teeth would have painted a rather vivid picture.
Thankfully the waiting room was scarcely full and strangely calm, and those awaiting treatment paid them little attention. Mick kept his hands busy with a shell casing while he subconsciously profiled everyone in the room. Beside him in another chair, Gina messaged Cooper on her phone while simultaneously patting his bouncing knee every few minutes to temporarily calm him.
After fifteen minutes with the x-ray machine and another fifteen waiting for the doctor to enter the room with the results, Mick was ready to leave. The room was too small with its stocked counters lining the walls and no window to speak of, the reclining chair in the center too familiar to that he had been strapped in during a few interrogation sessions in Iraq while they removed his teeth, and there was virtually only one exit.
Mick wasn't normally claustrophobic, but at that moment, he felt that he had to get out or he was going to go mad.
"Mick, just sit down. He'll come in once he has the results. Besides, I'm sure pacing isn't making your headache any better." Gina tried to coax him to the chair in the center of the room, gently grasping his forearm with a tug in emphasis. "For me?" She added with a sincere and pleading expression Mick couldn't deny.
Truthfully, the headache had eased considerably with the pacing. Mick could think somewhat more clearly, and the actions aided him to control his nerves. He was hesitant to listen at first, studying the closed door and the area cautiously for a long moment, but settled for sitting on the end as Gina took residence beside him.
Minutes had passed in silence before the doctor arrived. He was an elderly Asian man with years of experience, slightly short and thin in stature but intimidating in the way he wordlessly demanded attention when he stepped in a room. The x-rays taken were pinned to a light screen on the wall for all to see while he explained the procedure. Mick was surprised when he didn't ask about the false teeth or question his lack of previous visits. He ignored the scars visible along the jaw through the x-rays and clarified what he had to do to ensure that Mick would leave the office better than when he entered.
He explained how a piece of tooth, the same tooth that had been forcefully knocked out of his jaw months before, remained embedded in the gum. It restricted the gum from healing properly and the infection was a direct result. All that was needed was to remove the fragment and maintain a two week regiment of heavy antibiotics to combat the infection. Unfortunately, it required cutting into the gum to remove it, and he wouldn't have been conscious for that. The procedure was scheduled to only last two hours. It was simple, really, and the doctor had ensured him that had done a thousand of them over the last ten years. There were rarely any complications.
Mick wasn't convinced until Gina brought to light a startling realization. The infection could, if not taken care of soon, break through the jaw and into the bloodstream. Which would have traveled to the brain or heart and killed him within a matter of days. He couldn't refuse when she sounded so afraid for him, so pleading and desperate in a manner that tugged at his heart just to see the worry in her eyes.
He couldn't refuse because she played him, because she knew he would do anything for her if she just pleaded hard enough.
Gina stayed with him while they prepared for the procedure. They didn't strap him to the chair as he feared. But they did follow standard procedure and monitored him closely whilst administering the Nitrous Oxide and oxygen. He wasn't agreeable for the first thirty minutes into the preparations. The monitoring equipment taped against his chest beneath his shirt annoyed him to the point of frustration, and the clip on his finger was a bit too tight for his liking. The mask for the gas was situated against his face, and for the first few minutes, he didn't feel any change.
He was still nervous and jittery, glancing at the only exit longingly while his fingers scraped against the armrests of the chair. It was too uncomfortable to relax, even with the gas he was breathing, and he couldn't sit still long enough for the gas to take full effect. The doctor was still fussing with the machine, the nurse preparing the utensils needed on a nearby counter, and the sight of a scalpel being pulled from a sanitized package by the nurse began to create panic. It wasn't a justifiable panic. They were professionals hired to help him. There was no reason to be afraid of the sharp instruments being splayed on a tray, of the gas being pumped into his system or the IV needle being prepared to administer the sedative into the back of his hand.
No matter how much Mick tried to find comfort in Gina's fingers intertwined with his own, he couldn't separate irrational fear from reality.
The panic was too real, too consuming as it gnawed at his senses like an angry animal, and Mick found himself sitting up within a matter of seconds. He yanked the mask off his face, his arms getting tangled in the wires of the monitoring equipment, and fought to free himself from the small confines of the chair. The tubes of the mask wrapped itself around his neck and settled the mask against his mouth as the wires taped against his chest knotted with the dog tags beneath his shirt. For all his seemingly useless fighting, he couldn't seem to free himself of the equipment or the panic. It was almost tangible, the frantic beat of his heart in his chest and the overwhelming desire to stand on his own two feet again.
If he didn't find a way to free himself soon, he was undoubtedly and unwillingly going to hurt someone.
He could feel the effects of the Nitrous Oxide begin to muddle his thoughts with every breath he took. The panic quickened his breathing, which in turn caused him to breath the gas more rapidly than what was usually recommended. After a few deep breaths, he felt the tension from his muscles begin to dissipate. He couldn't fight Gina's hands on his shoulders as she gently pushed him back into a reclined position. Nor could he stop the doctor from readjusting the mask back over his face correctly. His limbs began to feel heavy and lethargic, warmth spreading from the tips of his toes to the ends of his fingers, and the panic started to fade as the world around him became blurry.
Mick didn't feel the prick of the needle entering the back of his hand. Even if he did, he doubted he would have cared. The room and the inhabitants became impossible to focus on. He knew the sedation was mingling with the Nitrous Oxide and it was only a matter of seconds before sleep won over his desire to remain alert.
None of it mattered though. All he could care about, all he could focus on, was Gina standing beside him. She promised to be there when he awoke after the procedure and he believed her.
Unlike Mick, Gina rarely ever lied blatantly. So Mick knew she would be waiting for him. He knew she would be the one to make sure he returned home safely and shadowed the procedure to ensure nothing could go wrong.
He trusted her to be there for him without reason, and he had no doubts that she would.
The epiphany came in stages.
When Mick did awake an hour after the procedure was finished, Gina and Prophet bought him home.
In actuality, home was Gina's flat. Home was the small two bedroom flat he shared with a teammate he grew to adore, with a bed he could safely call his own and a kitten they raised as if he were a child. Home was with Gina and Nikola and friends who cared for him unconditionally. For the longest time he could have argued that home was with family in London or Wales, but the longer he stayed with his new family, the less he believed that.
Mick didn't remember arriving home. He vaguely recalled waking to Gina smiling over him, gently easing him to his feet with Prophet on his opposite side, and the two carefully walked him out of the building and to the awaiting car. They discussed something between them and the doctor, but Mick wasn't entirely sure what the subject involved due to the fact that his hearing was still as patchy as any prospect of rational thought. He did recall mumbling something close to a thank you before Prophet left the flat. Mick was sure it was slurred by the gauze still clamped into his gum though. Gina eased him into an old tee shirt and shorts and tucked him back into bed to sleep away the rest of the medication in his system.
When he awoke completely in early evening, the pressure in his jaw that had been a painful constant for the past several days had reduced drastically. He felt better, comfortable even, and that was quite an improvement. The sedatives he had been given as well as the Nitrous Oxide had left him fairly groggy, but the feeling was fading with the minutes he remained conscious. Standing was still out of the question, seeing as his first attempt caused the room to twist and his stomach to flip.
That was the last time he ever agreed to Nitrous Oxide for any kind of medical procedure.
Gina must have sensed him, just as she always did, because she entered the room within a few minutes. A grin slipped onto her features as she set a glass of water on the nightstand and retrieved a paper bag given by the doctor from the dresser top. She gracefully turned her head as she propped the room trash bin in his hands for him to remove the bloodied gauze, then offered a new folded square to take its place after a few sips of water. Once the bin was on the floor, she sat on the edge of the bed and whistled expectantly towards the open doorway.
"Someone was worried about you." She stated as Nikola bounded into the room excitedly.
His short stub of a tail wagged enthusiastically, the black and gray fur blending into the dark carpet as his legs carried him in galloping leaps, and his gaze fixated on the bed in determination. He stopped abruptly at the edge of the bed, seemingly to calculate how high he had to jump, and sat back on his hind legs. Nikola had a tendency to miss when he jumped due to the chunk of his tail that had been cut off months before Mick and Gina adopted him. Therefore Gina scooped him into her arms, despite his squeaks of disapproval, and placed him on the bed with a gentle sweep of her fingers against his fur.
"He wasn't the only one, eh?" Mick winced at the slur to his tone, his accent thicker as he had to talk over the gauze still in his mouth. Nikola had rolled onto his side to stretch, and Mick used that as a distraction from just how strange his own voice sounded to him.
"Yes, I was worried too." Gina admitted with a half-hearted shrug. Mick didn't miss the way she adverted her eyes from him, or the way she was hesitant to not fuss with her necklace around her neck. Both of which were a clear sign that she was trying to hide something. "You say the damnedest things when you're high as a kite." She grinned slightly, and Mick felt himself frown in curiosity.
"You can't hold anything against me, darling. Not in any court of law, anyways. Whatever was said was a product of my imagination. Therefore it has no relevance to the here and now." He defended himself quickly, pulling his hand away from Nikola as the kitten began to clean his fingers with his tongue. "Just to refresh my memory, what was said exactly?"
She folded her hands in her lap as her grin faded, and Mick knew in an instant that those weren't the words she was looking for. Whatever he said must have been uncharacteristically honest and sincere. Otherwise, she probably wouldn't have given too much thought towards it.
"Well, you rambled about anything for half an hour during the ride home. The people on the street must have been pretty funny for some reason, because you just kept profiling them for most of the ride. You promised to buy Prophet a round of drinks at our favorite bar this weekend. By the way, I think you may have to postpone that." She paused hesitantly, fingers twisting her necklace anxiously as she studied the blanket between them.
"And? I didn't confess anything embarrassing, right? No youthful misadventures or absurd fun-facts?"
Gina chewed on her bottom lip as a smirk drifted to her face. "I wish it were that simple. Let's just say that I always knew you had a heart. But I like my job with you and Cooper and the rest of our teammates. We can't afford to lose everything we've worked for in the FBI because of a mistake like falling for each other."
She didn't need to explain any further. Mick read between the lines, between what wasn't spoken, and it felt as though she had ripped his heart out of his chest. He understood in those few words what he had inadvertently admitted earlier. In his muddle state of mind, he had confessed just enough to frighten her. He had told her how much she meant to him, and how much he had grown to care for her in a way he could barely describe.
He came to realize that she wasn't ready to hear it. She still valued her position at the FBI too much and wasn't willing to risk it yet. It wasn't matter of if the feeling was mutual, it was a matter of how they could make it work successfully. They couldn't, she couldn't, and that warranted distance from her. She was afraid of commitment just as much as he was. But Mick had learned how to set that fear aside when necessary. Gina had been the one to teach him, and she didn't even know it.
Mick knew she was only protecting herself from betrayal. He had done the same for the majority of his life. But her words stung straight to his soul, and he didn't know whether to be angry or heartbroken by them. So he settled for a mask of chivalry because that was the best he could do at the moment. "So this conversation can never leave this room. I get it, darling, really. Can't have a relationship with a mistake, can you." His last words were undeniably bitter, and he could have slapped himself for the slip had Nikola not kept his hand busy.
Gina shook her head slowly, analyzing him as she replied defensively, "That's not what I meant. I meant that we can't become something more. Not without consequences. And for the record, I don't think anything we've done so far is a mistake and I'd like to keep it that way."
His epiphany came in stages.
Mick understood, as he nodded in agreement reluctantly, that there was only one option to change her views. She didn't necessarily mean that he was a mistake, that living together under one roof with a cat they were raising together and a clear unspoken bond between them, but Mick couldn't help the thought that she didn't quite believe it herself.
Somehow he had to prove that he was worth the risk.
The problem was finding how to accomplish such a thing covertly.
Note- Ta-da! Hello people! I'm back!
This was an idea I had for a while and it's been nagging at me to finally write it. The format is different than what I've done before. It felt more like a writing exercise, to be honest. I love challenges when it comes to writing so this is, more or less, testing myself with a new format. Personally, I think it worked well. There's a lot of spoilers for my previous works. Some of which will probably get expanded on later. Particularly, the second half plays into the current main story. I wanted to do a little more with Mick's relationship with Gina through his eyes and this just kind of wrote itself.
I think that's all for now. Unfortunately I lost my seventeen year old cat today (On my dad's birthday which wasn't a great birthday present for him) due to a severe stroke. So I'm admittedly a bit distracted from writing. Reviews have always made me feel better. Leave a review if you can. I really appreciate all of the support from everyone.