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Beyond the Gate - Part III - Abyss

Chapter Text

II

Michael was more than ready to go home.

He had made it through the panel, which had been a weird mix of strange questions, hilarious moments – most of them involving Rick and jokes about shrimps, go figure – and the constant awkwardness of sitting beside Rick and having flashbacks to last night and the night before that. Michael had forced himself to live in the moment, to go with Rick’s wacky humor and Amanda’s charming way of story telling. He had been in stitches over the two of them, because they just made him laugh.

And sometimes laughter was a great stress reliever, too.

So, despite everything it had been fun. Mostly. Jay and Sueanne - who had been part of this big SG-1 panel - probably thought they were totally nuts, but then they knew what working with Rick and Michael had been like, so...

In the beginning Rick had chosen to sit beside Sueanne, as far away from Michael as possible, but after only ten minutes into it he had taken his chair and sidled up to Michael, claiming he didn’t ‘get’ any of the questions because he had trouble hearing or something. Michael couldn’t decide if he’d been amused or annoyed, but there hadn’t been much time to make up his mind, so he’d just laughed along with everyone else and made space for Rick.

In the middle of all the mayham about Hathor’s hot tub and getting all the shrimps out of it Rick had the nerve to lean into him and ask him if he was mad. Seriously? On stage? Michael had shaken his head, then nodded, then shrugged and finally thrown up his hands.

They had talked about stuff like; What would you do if you and the characters you played were invited to a BBQ together? Again, shrimps had come up. And bananas. That had been the worst. Rick saying he liked bananas for desert because they were his favorite fruit beside blueberries. Then he had nudged Michael and said, “He likes bananas, too.” And Michael had tried not to choke on his water or kick Rick where it hurt the most.

Bastard.

They had talked about bad Vancouver weather and shooting outside in the rain, about explosives and about taking their kids to the set. They had joked about Rick’s affection for Thor again and Chris Judge’s career as the king of farts …

Everything was already starting to blur again. It was over and done and he had managed not to kill Rick for making that banana joke and for being in his personal space all the time, which had been equally wonderful and annoying. Wonderful because, well, Michael liked Rick being in his personal space and annoying because Rick had made his point just a couple of hours ago and if he’d been serious he should have kept his distance and backed off.

“Micheal.” Amanda’s elbow connected with his.

“Hmmm?”

“You ready to order?”

“Huh? Yeah, sure.” He blinked at the waitress standing by his side, waiting patiently. “Sorry, I... uh, the Ranger Salad, please, without the bacon. And a Merlot.”

She wrote it down, smiled and left. Apparently everyone else had already ordered. They were in a conference room which had been turned into a restaurant for the occasion of a private dinner. Sueanne Brown and Jay Acovone, Paul and the guys from Legend Memorbillia, Julie, Amanda, Rick and himself, plus the two head guys of FedCon, Dirk and whatshisname, had settled around the conference table that now sported a white cloth, the hotel china and a flowery decoration.

Everyone was chatting about everything and nothing. Michael resisted the urge to rub his aching temples and focused on keeping a grin on his face. He felt Rick’s eyes on him from across the table and chose not to look in that direction. Instead he launched into a conversation about whatever – meaning he put on his small-talk face and nodded or ‘hmm-hmm-ed’ in all the right places.

Ignoring Rick.

Rick who had been sitting next to him, goofing around, making fun about eating fucking shrimps and how he’d been heartbroken because his Jack O’Neill action figures didn’t have a real package. And how Thor had broken up with him... to which Michael wanted to say that, nope, Thor hadn’t broken up with him. Not this time around anyway.

Of course he hadn’t said it, even though it would have made the audience cheer.

Maybe it had been Michael’s imagination, but every other word out of Rick’s mouth seemed like it had been aimed at him with a subtle sexual meaning. Okay, so he had probably read things into … things.

But Michael wished he had bitten harder. He wished those hickey’s on Rick’s ass had him squirming and would be a reminder of who had claimed him last night. It would have been satisfying on many levels to see Rick being a bit uncomfortable in his chair.

God, his mind was totally fucked up.

Yep, Michael was definitely ready to blow this joint and go home.

Screw Lexa and her great ideas.

Screw Rick and his twisted sense of humor or his wacky mind in general.

Screw what Rick did to Michael’s mind. And body. Screw it all.

His phone vibrated. Absently he reached for it to look at the blinking row of words on the screen.

I know you’re mad, but c’mon, don’t let it end like this. It’s been fun.’

Michael’s head shot up and his glare was met by a sheepish looking RDA holding onto his phone as if it was an anchor.

You’ve got to be kidding me. He placed his phone on the table and took a long sip of his wine, his eyes never leaving Rick’s face. Rick gazed back at him openly, eyes widening slightly, mouth turning into a small pout.

I won’t give in to that look. Michael turned to Julie who was laughing at a joke Paul had cracked. Something about going to Oz in a couple of weeks and how the heat would melt them like the wicked witch.

“Rick will need an extra truckload of towels,” Michael said smoothly. “And a portable shower stall.”

Everyone chuckled and Amanda slapped his arm. “Jerk.”

“Oh, he’s right. I’d love to have a portable shower. Better yet, a whale tank,” Rick said from the other side of the table. “I bet Seaworld can provide one for me.”

That steered the conversation towards Sea Shepherd and whale protection. Michael sighed and picked up his phone again. He eyed Rick who had launched into an animated discussion about Paul Watson and marina life.

His fingers hovered over his screen.

I wasn’t the one cracking banana jokes on stage’ He scowled and, instead of sending, deleted it.

The waitress returned, asking if anyone wanted dessert. Since most of them still had time to kill until they needed to be at the airport there were several orders for ice cream, coffee and cake. Michael flipped through the bi-lingual menu and said, “Me and my colleague over there would like the banana split.”

The waitress’ eyes darted over to Rick whose face was priceless.

“I’d... what?” Rick blurted.

“The banana split is a composition of banana and vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, bananas and chocolate chips,” the waitress provided helpfully.

“Bananas are his favorite,” Michael shared with the young woman. “He gets off on them.”

“I see. We’ll do the best we can to make it extra delicious,” she said with a completely straight face in Rick’s direction and hurried out.

Michael leaned back in his chair and smiled.

Revenge was so sweet.

And he wasn’t done yet.

When the banana splits arrived, Rick eyed it suspiciously as if he expected the bananas to jump him. But it looked really yummy so, after giving Michael a dirty look, he started eating it. Michael picked up his own spoon and licked his lips.

Two banana halves framed the small mountain of ice cream in the middle of the plate. On top sat the whipped cream and everything was sprinkled with chocolate chips and a red fruity sauce, probably cherry.

While everyone went on chatting and laughing, Michael made an art of eating his dessert. He picked up one banana piece with the small fork, dipped it into the whipped cream and started licking it off the banana. He took a little bite here and there, then spooned up some ice cream and let his tongue swirl around the spoon.

No one took any notice, everyone was busy eating or talking.

Everyone except Rick, who sat there, literally staring, with ice cream dropping from the spoon forgotten in his hand.

Michael nibbled on his banana and scooped more whipped cream onto the top. “It’s gooood,” he said blissfully. “I do get why this is your favorite fruit.”

Rick blinked. “Huh. Actually, blueberries are my... ” He rolled his eyes. “Never mind.”

“Are you into food porn?” Amanda asked and burst out laughing.

Oops, so much for no one noticing.

“I think Rick is,” Michael said and toned his eating techniques down a bit.

“Michael is skilled at food porn,” Rick said at the same time. “Maybe he’s got an oral fixation. He used to smoke a lot.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s hard. Very hard. Not being able to suck on my cigarette. Need other things to suck on now,” Michael agreed.

“You should have come to the press conference on Thursday and shared that with the world,” Rick said. “It would’ve made it much less boring.”

Amanda covered her eyes. “You guys...”

“Eat your banana, Rick,” Michael said sweetly.

Rick put his fork down and his hands vanished under the table.

A moment later Michael’s phone vibrated.

Quit it’

He finished half of his banana split before he replied, ‘You started it’

I’m juvenile and an ass, what’s your excuse?’

Just a bit of payback’ Michael typed one-handed while he proceeded to suck whipped cream off his spoon.

Rick shook his head and started mirroring Michael, which was not good. Not good at all. First it made him laugh and then it made him flush. He watched Rick eating his banana and almost choked on his own.

“Like five year olds,” Amanda said to Suanne, who nodded and rolled her eyes.

“This is what I’ve dealt with for the better part of eight years,” Amanda went on. “Add Chris to the mix and you got to wonder how we managed to get any work done.”

“It’s a miracle all right,” Sueanne agreed.

Finally their plates were empty and the duel was over. Michael patted his belly and smirked. Rick had picked up his phone again to...

Text.

You getting off on this?’

Michael almost dropped his phone onto his empty plate. He quickly lowered it under the table and typed back. ‘Do you?’

I asked first.’

Coward.’

When does your flight go?’

Michael cursed under his breath. ‘No. Forget it. No. Way.’

You ever done it in a broom closet? Bathroom? Our rooms are gone so...’

Read my words: No. Way.’

Spoilsport.’

I’m mad at you, remember?’

We’re even now.’

Michael was interrupted by the waitress clearing the table and everyone getting ready to leave, thanking Dirk and his buddy for the hospitality. There was a lot of hand shaking and shoulder clapping and hugging with the girls. Paul and his staff left quickly to make sure all the merchandise from Legend was packed and ready to be shipped back to Canada.

Julie told them to go to the lobby and get their luggage. Amanda followed her right away. Michael hung back and waited for Rick to leave the conference room. Together they watched Dirk and his companion vanish around the corner.

“So.” Rick said, exhaling a deep breath.

“So.”

“I’ll see you... around.”

“You gonna call?” Hope springs eternal...

Rick winced.

Michael shoved his phone into his jacket. “Right.”

“Are we... are we good? I mean aside from...” Rick stuffed his hands into the pockets of his baggy white pants and shrugged.

Michael shrugged, too. What else was he supposed to do? “Sure. We’re good.”

“Sweet.”

“Yeah.”

“Have a good trip.” Rick looked at his shoes, shuffled his feet a bit. Then their eyes met and Rick gave him a lopsided smile. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Michael knew they would have hugged, but a group of fans chose this moment to come down the corridor they were in. As soon as they spotted them, they stopped, then moved considerably faster.

“Oyyy,” Rick muttered under his breath.

Hands were shaken and small talk made, photos taken with phones and cameras, then they were gone in a rush and Rick clapped Michael’s shoulder. “If I don’t go now, Paul’s gonna send someone to find me.”

“Yeah. Julie, too.”

Rick turned and walked away with a slight limp. It was barely noticeable, but Michael noticed anyway. Probably the damn knee. Michael watched him go. He always seemed to be the one watching Rick leave.