Trust The Ground You Stand OnAuthor: bergann Fandom:
3 414Summary: "You won't get made at all if I come," Victor says. "I'm part of the team now, Michael, remember? Teams trust the individual members. Sam's doing his thing, Fiona's being a distraction, and we'll have a better chance of success if you let me come with."Warning:
Spoilers for the end of season 2. You should probably read the prequel first.Author’s Note:
, who bought me in the Sweet Charity auction and wanted a sequel to There’s No Going Back
and a kiss between Michael and Victor.
Their client is a young garage owner named Kari Littlefield, someone who had heard about them through a long and complicated line of ‘a friend of a friend’, and who had unknowingly started fixing cars for the wrong people.
"Once I realized what they were using the cars I fixed for, I - I tried to tell them I didn't want their business anymore," Kari says, "It's not like - I do good, even without them. I don't need their money to live. All the money they paid me I put aside for the future, since I want to expand and hire some new mechanics."
"Right," Michael interrupts, bringing them back on topic, "And you told them you wouldn't fix their cars anymore?"
"Yeah," Kari says, nodding her head, "I know I should've told the police, but I didn't want trouble and I don't have evidence. If they don't find any, Tinch'll know it was me and when he gets released I'll have a bulls eye on my back. I just want out. So when Tinch's guys came in with their new cars, I told them to find another garage, I wouldn't have any of my mechanics fixing their cars."
"I take it that didn't go well."
"They took my youngest mechanic and told me they'd kill her if I didn't fix their car," Kari's hands curl into fists. "I got all of us working on the cars at once to get her back as fast as possible. My mechanics and me, we're like family so no one's quit yet. They didn't hurt her, but what about next time? They won't stick around if it keeps happening. My business will be ruined. I don't know what exactly it is you do, all my friend said was that you could help me, but if you could just get me something to ensure he can't walk away after."
Michael glances at Victor, Sam and Fiona. At their nods, he turns to Kari and smiles. "Kari, I think we can help." *
"So, from what I can find out," Sam says as he gets a beer out of Michael's fridge. "Tinch works mainly out of the club Pinch. He's got a few other clubs in the area he goes to, but Pinch seems to be the main place of operation. Visits to the others look to be more pleasurable in nature."
"Pinch?" Fiona asks, "As in the hottest gay club in town?"
"That's the one," Sam confirms, "Turns out Tinch's the owner."
"Well," Fiona says brightly, reaching for her purse, "Looks like you're on your own with this one, boys. Now, I've got a date--"
"Hold on, Fi," Michael says and looks back at Sam. "The other clubs he went to - gay bars?"
"No, our man Tinch seems to like the ladies," Sam says, "Sometimes too much - he got thrown out of two clubs for getting a little bit too handsy, against the ladies' wishes."
"Fi, I want you to --"
"I got it Michael," Fiona says, "Catch his interest and keep him away from the office - oh, say Friday?"
"Friday would be good, Fi," Michael nods.
"Well, I guess I have to go cancel my date tonight," Fiona sighs, fishing her cell phone out of her purse. "Hi, Harry, this is Fiona. Listen, my brother--"
Once Fiona's outside, Michael continues, "And while Tinch is with Fi, I'll see if there's anything in his office we can use to build a case."
"We," Victor corrects absently, not looking up from the magazine he'd been reading. From where Michael's sitting, it looks like the specs for a new gun. "You're not going in alone."
"No." Michael says and now Victor does look up.
"Right," Sam says slowly, finishing off his beer. "I'll go call some more friends, see if there's anything else to learn before you -- two go barging into the office."
"No," Michael says firmly. "I'm going in alone."
"Play nice now, children."
The door closing sounds suddenly very loud in the silence. Victor narrows his eyes. "I'm sorry, Michael, you must've misunderstood when I said 'you're not going in alone'. Let me rephrase it for you: I'm coming with you."
"No," Michael repeats. "On the off chance I get made, we need a face they won't recognize later on - that's you. You're not coming with."
"You won't get made at all if I come," Victor says. "I'm part of the team now, Michael, remember? Teams trust the individual members. Sam's doing his thing, Fiona's being a distraction, and we'll
have a better chance of success if you let me come with."
"No," Michael repeats. "You're still injured. It'd be a risk."
Victor had been healing fine, until one mark turned out to have more goons than they'd thought, and one managed to land in a couple of stomach kicks to Victor before Sam and Michael could get to him.
"Really, Michael, you should know a little setback injury like this doesn't stop me from being able to do a small B&E with
a partner," Victor smiles the smile Michael's pretty sure has no other meaning than to fuck with him. "Carla made me read up on you. You'd be insisting on going in alone as soon as you could walk again, and I've been walking for a week now. Don't be hypocritical, Michael, it's not flattering on anyone."
Fiona sticks her head back in before Michael can reply. "Sam's got a call from Kari - apparently Tinch's men called ahead this time. They've got a new car that needs fixing."
"Time for work," Victor says brightly and is out the door before Michael can do something stupid like ask him to wait.*
Victor is in mechanic overalls in the front seat of a Jaguar XR with Kari leaning over the engine when Tinch's men roll into the garage in a Chrysler 300C.
Michael and Sam are on the other side of the road, watching as the Chrysler blocks Victor from view.
"You sure this is a good idea, letting Victor be the one in there?" Sam asks, "Because he's part of the team alright, but Mikey, the guy's not exactly predictable."
"He won't jeopardize us," Michael says, "You know as well as I do, he's only crazy if it doesn't matter."
The microphone in the garage starts picking up noises that isn't the sound of Kari and Victor working on the Jag.
"You're still here," one of the guys stepping out from the Chrysler says. "Good. Our boss was afraid you'd run."
"I am not letting Tinch ruin my business," Kari says and there's the sound of the hood being closed. "I've got other people expecting their car to be fixed."
"Well today you've got only Tinch to focus on," a new voice says. "Other customers can wait until tomorrow."
"No," Kari says, "You can't just keep coming in here expecting for me to put my business on hold! Tinch, he's supposed to be rich, can't he just hire his own mechanics?"
"He's hired you, Littlefield," the first voice says, and there's the sound of a gun being cocked. "Now, since you seem to be short-staffed today, we're not taking anyone. But if either of you reach for a cell phone or do anything to this car that isn't what we ask, and we'll shoot your little helper here."
Victor squeaks. If Michael didn't know him better, he'd think the guy actually was terrified.
"Fine," Kari says, after a few tense moments. "Don't shoot him! He's the only one who showed up to work after your last visit, I will be backlogged for weeks quick if I'm the only one left."
"Just get to work," the second voice says and another gun is cocked. "The faster the car is fixed, the sooner you'll be able to return to your other customers, lady."
"C'mon, Mark," Kari says, "Let's get to work."
"I'm not - uh - I'm not real comfortable with guns?" Victor says slowly and there's a clang as he - Michael assumes - drops something on the floor. "They make - uhm - they make me really nervous?"
"Get over it," the first guy says, "You fix the car, and you'll have nothing to worry about."
"Just focus on the car, Mark," Kari says, "Idiots don't deserve to be acknowledged, especially if they're idiots with guns."
"That Kari..." Sam says slowly, "She's really something, isn't she?"
"Yeah," Michael agrees, "Let's not go there, Sam."*
Michael orders bourbon on the rocks once he manages to make his way to the bar in the overcrowded club. "That's on me," a voice to his right tells the bartender, and Michael closes his eyes briefly. He knows that voice. "I'm Daniel," Victor says and smiles smugly as he holds his hand out. "Hi."
"William," Michael says, squeezing Victor's hand harder than necessary as he draws Victor slightly closer and lowers his voice. "What are you doing here? I told you to not follow me, Daniel
"I didn't. I've been here for an hour," Victor says cheerfully and sips his drink. It's pink. "I'm doing you a favor here, William
. You're not getting into the office without me."
Michael smiles as the bartender returns, shifting closer to Victor to make room for a guy covered in enough glitter to leave a trail around the room. "What do you mean?"
"Tinch's office is at the end of a corridor lined with rooms used for more pleasure than business," Victor touches Michael's elbow and smiles. "You'll be suspicious going in alone."
"And if someone catches us?"
, in these pants, no one is going to even look at my face," Victor slips his hand past Michael's elbow to his waist. "Place yourself strategically and no one will look at yours either. Now, can I call you Will?"
"If you want to sleep on the floor," Michael says, placing his hand on top of Victor's and sliding it up his arm, and grins with all his teeth. "Go right ahead."
Victor laughs, the same laugh he uses when they're handling explosives, and downs the rest of his drink.*
"Find anything?" Michael asks, once he's done looking through the drawers and file cabinets.
"Well," Victor says, drawing the word out. "I haven't done this as often as you, so I'm no expert, but to me this monthly bill he's paying a storage facility on the other side of town might be worth checking into. From the amount of cash he's putting into it, I'd say he needs to hide something pretty big."
"Get the address and log out, so we can get out of here," Michael says, "I found nothing."
"Guess I'm a bit useful after all, huh?" Victor grins. "Now, I want you to say 'thank you V--'"
"Shut up for a second," Michael hisses and listens, "I think someone's coming."
The room goes suddenly dark without the light from the computer, but Michael can hear Victor's steps as he moves out from behind it, and the two footsteps coming towards them - probably the guards from the door to the corridor. Then Victor's got one hand on Michael's waist and one on his chest, pushing him onto the desk.
"Fuck," Michael swears, not just because the move took him completely by surprise but because he has a stapler digging into his back. "Vic--"
"I've been wanting to do this for a while now," Victor says conversationally, "Under different circumstances of course, but I think the fact that it's about to save our lives will add a little something."
The kiss is not gentle or hesitant or anything like that. But considering the people involved, considering it is Victor kissing him, Michael's not really that surprised. What is surprising is that Michael doesn't push him away, not just because he gets the plan, but because he's been waiting for this for a while now. They both have, so he leans up into it, giving as good as he gets.
Victor growls out something - can't just be acting, Michael thinks, as Victor uses the hand still on his chest to push him harder onto the desk, using his hips to pin Michael completely. The stapler is still digging into Michael's back, but the feeling is being drowned out as Michael's brain processes instead Victor's body pressed against his, Victor's tongue in his mouth.
Michael reaches down with one hand, squeezes Victor's ass hard - not just because he wants to, but in warning that the security guys are probably going to open the door any second. Victor laughs into his mouth - the same laugh from earlier, the one that makes him sound dangerous and insane - and moves his head down to Michael's neck, biting hard.
The loud gasp is entirely unintentional, but it coincides nicely with the door being shoved open, so Victor doesn't need to know that.
"Hey! You're not supposed to be in here!" One of the guards shout, and a hand lands on Victor's shoulder hard enough to press him agonizingly closer to Michael for a moment before he's wrenched back.
"Fuck," Victor says, "Easy, man, do you mind? This is what the rooms in this corridor are used for, isn't it? 'Cause that's what my friend told me and it sure beats the bathrooms. That's so - so unsanitary, y'know?"
"Shut up," the other guard grabs hold of Michael and scowls at both of them. "This room is not like the others, it's supposed to be locked, how'd you get in?"
"We turned the handle," Michael says, but doesn't take his eyes off Victor, who's looking back and grinning, "We sure didn't use any kind of key. How are we supposed to know we're not allowed to use the room if it's not locked? It's not like anyone told
us not to, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd get off a little more on the office look of it."
"Jesus, Frank," the security guard holding onto Victor says, "Maybe the boss just forgot to lock up. It's happened before. These two don't look like they'd be doing anything but each other."
"Alright," Frank says, "Just...IDs, in case the boss wants to have a word with you."
Michael scowls but hands the ID over, and Victor does the same, at the same time wrenching out of his security guard's grasp and stepping closer to Michael. "Daniel Wagner and William Marshall." Frank reads, letting go of Michael.
He hesitates for a second once he's released before he steps further into Victor's space and puts his arm around his waist. "Can we go now? We were kind of in the middle of something."
"Jesus Christ," Frank says, handing the IDs back over. "Go on, go."
Michael turns his head, bites once on Victor's earlobe and goes.*
"I need a beer," Michael decides once they walk through the door to find Sam and Fiona sitting on the kitchen chairs.
"Good idea," Victor agrees, "Get me one too, won't you?"
Fiona raises an eyebrow at him as he walks past her, which he pretends not to see. "Sam," he says instead once he's opened the refrigerator, "Why are there suddenly four Tupperware containers in here?"
"Oh, right," Sam nods, "Your mom stopped by while you were out. She said you hadn't been by recently and were avoiding her calls."
"I'm not," Michael says and actually means it. Mostly. His mom just calls at bad moments.
"Right, so I told her you were out with Victor and wouldn't be back for a while, and she asked why there was only one bed in the apartment, and left." Sam lists them off, and Michael can tell without looking at him he's trying hard not to laugh. "Oh, and we're all invited for dinner on Sunday."
"What, Mikey, I couldn't say no!" Sam says, "Besides, we're close to finished, aren't we? What did you find?"
"Storage facility he's using downtown," Michael says and hands a beer over to Victor. "We'll go in the morning."
"Fiona, how was your date?" Victor asks, taking a long swallow from his bottle. Michael doesn't watch.
"He's a pig," Fiona huffs. "But enough of one that my slap was justified. I don't think he's expecting my call again."
"Fiona, you slapped
him? What if we needed a new distraction?"
"Then you could date him, Michael." Fiona huffs. "There are lines."
"Alright, alright," Michael gives. "Luckily it looks like the storage facility might be what we need. There didn't seem to be much of anything else in the office. You sure he doesn't have another office anywhere, Sam?"
"Yeah, Mikey, I'm sure." Sam nods. "All my sources say the same thing - he operates out of Pinch."
"Tomorrow then," Fiona says and gets to her feet. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm exhausted." Sam and Fiona both head for the door, but Fiona stops just short of the door and turns around. "Oh, and by the way, Michael, you've got a little something on your neck." She taps the side of her neck with a wink and slips out.
Michael's hand goes up to his neck, the same spot Fiona had tapped and the same place Victor had bit him earlier.
Victor grins. "What can I say? I'm a biter."*
The storage room Tinch is paying for has no other security than the cameras. It makes sense. In a storage facility like this, guards would stand out. No doubt Tinch is the only one who knows it even exist.
"So dinner with the parent tomorrow, huh?" Victor says while they're waiting for Sam to show up.
"You've already met my mother, and yes," Michael replies. "Apparently we're all invited. It'll go fine."
"I haven't met her after she's implied things about her sleeping arrangements." Victor says, and turns his head to watch as Sam pulls up. "But then again, I'm surprised no one's brought it up until now."
"Not with you," Michael corrects, and smiles at Sam. "How's it going, Sam?"
"Fiona forgot to mention she slipped a slow-working sedative into his drink last night," Sam replies as they start heading for the storage room. "So Tinch won't show up for a bit."
"Good, we might need some time depending on what's in here," Michael says as he shakes out the lock picks. The lock is advanced, but with Victor and Sam blocking the view from the camera nicely, it slides open in no time at all.
Sam and Victor both whistle at the contents of the room. "Wow," Victor says, "I knew we were expecting stolen goods, but nothing like this."
The room is lined from floor to ceiling with paintings, statues, jewelry boxes - basically, everything that makes thieves happy. "Don't take anything," Michael reminds unnecessarily and tosses a camera to Sam. "Take photographs of as many of the individual items as you can. We're leaving in a minute."
While Sam goes around taking pictures, Michael keeps an eye on the road and Victor looks, but doesn't touch. "Time's up," Victor says, appearing at Michael's elbow and Sam pockets the camera before they pull the door closed, lock it and walk calmly back to the cars.
"I'll make sure to drop this in a patrol car," Sam says, patting his pocket.
"When you do," Michael says, bringing out a folded up piece of paper and handing it over. "Make sure this is with it."
Sam opens it and arches his eyebrows. "Mikey, this looks like a list of houses in some very rich neighborhoods."
"Yeah, I did a little digging," Victor says, "Turns out, two days after the cars stopped by the garage, some very rich people were suddenly without some very nice possessions."
"Well, if this doesn't get the guy arrested, nothing will." Sam says, and carefully pockets the paper with the camera.
"Oh, and Sam," Michael adds, "Make sure they prioritize it. Maybe shoot one of the tires."
Sam grins. "Will do, Mikey, will do."
Once Sam's gone, Michael tosses the car keys to Victor and slides into the passenger seat. Victor keys the ignition and looks sideways at him. "Now what? Want to go buy me a bed, since the situation has been brought up?"
Michael looks back at him. "Nah," he says, leaning comfortably back in his seat. "I'd rather go play some chess."