Title: In Medias Res

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.

Rating: PG-13/T

Spoilers: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Summary: Ben closed his eyes, breathing deep as Mike's fingers kneaded the stress out of tense muscles. 1000 words.

Notes: Written for jenab's prompt: "Olympus Has Fallen, Mike/Ben, determination". Title is Latin for "in the middle of things". Part of the Duty 'verse. Probably the last chapter for awhile.

Ben sighed, flipping another page in the stack of briefing papers he had to read every evening to prepare for the following day's meetings, and absently rubbed at his forehead.

"Working yourself up to another stress headache?" a warm voice asked behind him, and Ben groaned as a pair of strong, capable hands came down on his shoulders. The chairs in his study had been chosen more for style than comfort, but at that familiar touch he relaxed as if he'd been sitting on his favorite couch back home.

He closed his eyes, breathing deep as Mike's fingers kneaded the stress out of tense muscles. "Yeah. God, this is one thing I won't miss when I leave this place. Keeping up with the schedule- and all the preparatory material that comes with it, just so I know who the hell I'm talking to and what they want to talk to me about. Like taking a test every day. You'd think I'd be used to it by now."

Mike chuckled under his breath, circling over a particularly stubborn knot and then pressing on it until Ben swore under his breath. "Better you than me."

The knot released, and Ben relaxed again, tilting his head back to look up at his Secret Service agent. "And how much time, exactly, have you spent circulating in the background while I do my job? You probably know it at least as well as I do by now."

"Yeah, but no one wants to hear my opinions on most of this bullshit," Mike smirked down at him. "Even the best speechwriter couldn't keep me from telling the wrong guy to stick it in his pipe and smoke it, and then where would we be?"

Ben could picture that, too. He'd been raised speaking diplomatese, and even he found it stultifying sometimes. "Oh, I don't know. Might shake things up around here. Do the rookies still talk about that time you told Trumbull to go fuck himself?"

Mike's eyebrows flew up. "And who told you that? Sir. For the record, the Vice President and I have a very amicable working relationship."

"Yeah, and butter wouldn't melt in your mouth," Ben observed, amused.

Mike looked wounded at that, though he also quit feigning innocence. "He had my back when I needed it. I think we understand each other, now."

Ben had reviewed the tapes of that night's feed from the Pentagon Situation Room; he'd insisted on doing so in addition to reading the summary report his advisors had prepared, the better to get a complete picture of the parts of the attack he hadn't been intimately involved in. He didn't think he'd ever forget the way Trumbull had sent the Army Chief of Staff to the quiet corner on Mike's behalf.

"You rub my back, I'll rub yours?" he concluded.

It took Mike a minute to reply to that, though there was a smile in his voice when he did. "I don't know about that; I'm a one back kind of guy," he said, digging into another knot with a vicious thumb.

Ben sucked in a sharp breath, then groaned again, eyes sliding shut against the pain. But by the time he blinked them open again, Mike's hands were still on his shoulders and his expression had shifted from wry humor to something a little... hungrier.

"You sure about that?" Ben couldn't resist. "I would have thought two would hold a certain amount of... appeal."

It was Mike's turn to bite off a curse, and Ben decided not to resist another very appealing impulse. He chucked the papers he held toward the nearest table, then reached up to wrap his fingers around Mike's tie, pulling him down for a little nonverbal persuasion.

A long few minutes passed before they broke apart again, resting their foreheads together as they recovered their equilibrium.

"Beast with two backs. Who even says that anymore?" Mike chuckled roughly, picking the conversation up where they'd left off.

"If it was good enough for Shakespeare..." Ben defended himself.

Mike snorted, then leaned back, tugging his tie free from Ben's fingers. "Wasn't he also the one who said, 'all the world's a stage'...?"

"And all the men and women merely players," Ben finished the quote, then shot a wry look up at him. "Subtle."

"I try," Mike replied, straightening his tie and taking a step back.

"No you don't," Ben corrected him warmly, reaching for the papers again- more to keep his hands busy than for any other reason. "But I prefer to think of that as a feature, not a bug."

He didn't think he'd know what to do with a subservient partner, actually; Maggie had been just as determined, if in different ways, to keep him on his toes. Quite frankly, if it had been up to his self control, he would have had a much more difficult time keeping his eye on the prize.

"See if you still feel the same way six months from now," Mike chuckled, turning to head for the door.

"Mike, if I'm not tired of your mouth yet, I somehow doubt I ever will be," Ben commented, dryly. There was a definite appeal to having one person in his life he didn't have to censor himself for.

The look Mike shot him in return was not fit for polite description. "You do have a way with words, Mr. President," he murmured, then let himself out of the room. "Don't forget, Connor wanted to eat with you tonight."

Ben sighed again, the sound almost an echo of the moment before Mike had announced his presence- but the tension in his spine and neck had been replaced with a different type altogether, sending adrenaline and endorphins zinging through his system.

A smile curved his mouth as he turned back to his work. The quicker he finished, the more time he could spend with Connor; and after Connor went to bed...

Then, it would be his turn to track Mike down.