Title: The Date Revealed
Location: Maxwell Ranch
Synopsis: This is the log of what went down between Mike n' Julie directly before their appearance on the target range the night before Ju's 'Big Date'.
Mike and Juliet's Room - Ranch House
Comfortable. Perhaps the best word to describe this room: Comfortable. Rustic, rough-hewn wood has been used in the bed, which dominates the room, uneven planks creating the head and foot boards, held up by full sections of trees. The bed itself is covered in an off-white blanket, with a patchwork quilt in dark burgundy and green and blue draped over the bottom quarter. Four pillows rest against the headboard, covered in off-white, antique lace shams. Off to one side of the room is a warm golden-colored dresser, the mirror above it framed by thick branches. A rocking chair, aged and well-worn, sits off in the corner, an off-white blanket draped over the arm. In front of the window sits a simple desk, hardly more than a table, the same warm golden-honey in color as the dresser. Stacked on it are several books, papers, and a lamp with a cream shade. Hanging in the center of the room is a cast ! iron chandelier.
Michael Donovan, in a rare moment over these past couple of days, is actually spending some time in the room he shares. After a day or two of seeming normalcy, he's seemed to have cut the others a rather wide swath, as though the guilt of being a direct cause of his son's injury and nearly costing more people their lives because of it. Elbows on the desk, he rests his chin on steepled fingers, pondering things somewhat pensively.
"Long day?" Juliet voices from the door, which opened soundlessly at her guidance. Her cane is nowhere to be found, despite the reappearance of her limp. She's done a decent job of hiding it, but Michael may have caught her hot bath last night after she went riding. And Ham may have spoken with him to get her cane hidden in her car so she couldn't 'forget' it this morning.
Michael Donovan looks up sharply as Julie enters, seeming genuinely taken by surprise by her sudden entrance. "Long week," he answers with the plain honesty that he's somewhat notorious for. Pulling himself to his feet, he asks with genuine interest, "How about yours? Seems like Bates has you doing the work of five people these days."
He had to bring Bates up right away, didn't he? Glancing away, momentarily uncomfortable as she moves towards the bed, shrugging out of her lab coat, Julie nods. "He's been keeping me busy with the safer red dust project…waste of time, really."
Well, as quickly as he brought ol' Natey-Boy up, Mike jumped up and down on Julie's back about it after the first week or so of her employment at Science Frontiers, unlike certain Ham Tylers who shall go nameless. "Some people just don't seem to realize that its going to take more than some 'magic bullet' to end this thing…" See? He's not even mentioning that opportunistic sleaze by name now.
Juliet Parrish nods slightly, reaching out to tug at the quilt at the end of the bed, straightening it needlessly. A nervous gesture. "You believe sometimes we all have to do things we don't really want to, right?" she wonders, an odd question given the last statement. "To end this thing, I mean."
Michael Donovan crosses the room and meets Julie at the bed. "I do," he says simply. "I have. God knows I probably will again before this whole thing is over." He tilts his head in mild curiosity. "You're leading up to something, aren't you?" he asks slightly suspiciously.
Juliet Parrish smirks faintly, caught so soon. "Yeah," she agrees, straightening up just a little, turning her head to look up at the taller figure next to her. "And…you're not going to like it. -I- don't like it."
Michael Donovan frowns somewhat. A couple of years spent in Julie's company has made it just slightly harder for her to try and slip one by him. His eyes move down to find hers, "Well, feeling like the man who's shot the whole movement in the foot isn't exactly leaving me with the sunniest outlook on things, but…" He finally sucks it up and shoves the self-pity into a corner somewhere, "Talk to me, hon."
Juliet Parrish smiles faintly, shaking her head. "Would you stop beating yourself up over that already?" she chuckles, lifting her hand to cup his cheek lightly for a moment before sighing and withdrawing it. "I…had a meeting with one of your favorite people today."
Michael Donovan looks majorly concerned at that Julie's cryptic response. "Someone on the 'Kill' List, or the 'Maim' List?" he asks in all seriousness, having rather unfortunately accumulated a rather long list of people who have either pissed him off or have been pissed off by him.
"Nathan," Juliet responds simply, rolling her shoulders in a mild shrug. "He wanted to know why it was I was leaving the city every night…I managed to convince him that my therapist suggested nightly walks in the country." She smirks. "He still wants one of his doctors to look me over," she mutters, more than slightly annoyed by that. "He's still pushing."
"Oh," Mike answers, tactfully not mentioning which of the aforementioned lists the aforementioned Mr. Bates is on. "What's so far-fetched about that? 'Open City' or not, anyone would want to get away every now and again when they've got a mile-long Frisbee hanging over their head."
"They know someone is leaking information." Julie states, slowly, and very clearly, just to be certain Mike catches precisely what she means. "I don't know how close they are to knowing who, but…I had to do something to throw him off me. Or, at the very least, make him not want to -believe- it could be me…"
Michael Donovan lets out a slow breath at that. "I want you to be careful. You're more important to me than anything you could get from that place." There he said it, and he somehow managed it without crude, four-letter words. "If that means laying low for awhile to throw them off the scent, do what you've gotta…"
Juliet Parrish opens her mouth to reply, but at that moment, what Michael first said hits her, and she simply blinks up at him. She must have heard that wrong. Right? "Michael, I…I've been wanting to hear that but do you know how much harder that just made things on me?" she asks quietly.
Michael Donovan nods grimly. "I know, Julie… I know. It's just after coming so close to losing Sean… It just sort of brought everything home to me. Made me realize everything I stand to lose if I screw up like that again." His gaze seeks hers out again. "Just know that I trust you and I have faith in you. You're the one that got this whole show up and running, before I came along, before Ham and the WLF. If anyone's going to be able to see this thing through to the end, it's you."
Juliet Parrish closes her eyes, giving her head a shake as she turns, sinking down onto the edge of the bed. Stretching her leg out, she pushes her fingers into her hip, rubbing in small circles as if working out a kink. "Don't, Mike…I didn't do it all on my own." she insists, for the umpteenth time. "Look, you better sit." Her chin nods towards a spot on the bed next to her. "You need to know why I'm not going to be here tomorrow night."
Michael Donovan might have taken note of the attention Julie was giving her hip if she didn't subsequently whack him upside the head with that 'not going to be here' line. Instead, he slumps onto the mattress in the general vicinity of the area that was nodded towards. There seem to be a million different replies to that statement jockeying for position to push past his vocal cords, but not one seems able to escape his mouth.
"You know I'd rather be here than anywhere else, Mike," Julie murmurs quietly, pulling her hand away from her hip to turn on the bed, pulling her good leg up and under her so she can face him directly. "Instead, I'm going to have to play nice over dinner and drinks with that pompous ass…"
Michael Donovan takes a second to let that sink in, his reaction somewhat vague at first. "My mom," he finally says with all seriousness, "even though she turned sympathizer before the end, had six important words of advice in situations like that, where someone you can't stand is picking up the tab for dinner: 'Most Expensive Item On The Menu.'" The wry smirk that suddenly crosses his features suggests that he can't possibly be serious about that… or can he?
Juliet Parrish blinks as, shockingly, no holes have suddenly appeared in the walls. "You're not mad?" she asks carefully, that having been a considerable worry for her, other than what stunts Nathan himself might try to pull in the limo on the way to, or from, the restaurant, all day.
Michael Donovan's smile becomes slightly edgier. "If he lays a hand on you," he replies sincerely, "I'll make it my driving ambition in life to break his arm in three places. Heck, it might even edge out my wish to make a pair of Diana-skin boots." Finally, the expression settles into a nice, honest warmth, "But like I said before, I trust -you-, Julie. I know what you're capable of, and I know it'll take more than some stuffed suit with the keys to the city and a raging case of Roman Hands to get between us."
If things were scripted, Michael couldn't have picked a more perfect way of stating just what Julie wanted, and needed, to hear. "Thank you," she murmurs, shifting again to leaning, and wrap her arms around his lower waist while her head settles on his shoulder. "I wish it were you taking me tomorrow night, not him."
Michael Donovan idly runs his fingers through Julie's hair, enjoying the closeness for all that it's worth. "Well, I have it on good authority that I need to go on a diet anyway," he says with surprisingly good humor. "Maybe it's for the best." He manages to plant a kiss on Julie's forehead sweetly. "We'll make up for lost time when you get back, alright?"
"I just don't want to cost us everything we've worked for out here by getting caught, by letting him catch me. If this…date will give him enough to keep him satiated for a while, then…so be it." A shudder, easily felt, passes down Julie's spine as she states this, attesting most clearly to her opinion of the next nights' 'date'.
Michael Donovan gives Julie a gentle squeeze, trying to offer what reassurance he can. "Hey," he says soothingly, "You're a professional. And sometimes people like him need to learn the hard way that there are just some things and some people who simply don't have a price."
Juliet Parrish inhales deeply, nodding as she exhales. "It won't go past a date," she swears, quietly, turning her head around so her chin rests on his shoulder. "Hey, you know what I discovered last night? First for the world, I imagine…think I deserve a reward."
Michael Donovan raises his eyebrows curiously, as though he was perhaps on the 'Reward Committee' or even merely just returning to his journalistic roots and seeking out the latest scoop, "What's your latest amazing discovery, and how will it revolutionize our lives?"
Juliet Parrish chuckles softly, a faint sparkle settling in her eyes. "Ham…has a heart." A momentary wince and she shifts, moving to pull away from Michael and spread out on the bed, laying back as she eases her hips straight and flat. "He can actually be nice when he tries."
Michael Donovan pulls back with a highly skeptical look on his face. "Ham who? Ham Tyler? Yeah, he has a heart. Keeps it in a jar under his bed." He seems to be taking the announcement with much more shock and dismay than the impending dinner with Nathan Bates. "If we call Guinness, I think we can still make it in time for their 2005 edition…"
Juliet Parrish simply laughs at that response, giving her head a gentle shake. Lifting her hands, she instructs, "Help me up. I think we need to go for a walk before bed." She has a long day tomorrow, and she wants to spend the evening with Michael, and she doesn't want her hip to bother her while she does so.
Michael Donovan carefully helps Julie to her feet, not protesting in the slightest the idea of a pleasant evening's meandering. "One thing about this place," he opines, "it never lacks for scenery at this time of night."
"Or any time." Juliet corrects as she gains her feet. Pausing a moment, she visibly rotates her hip in it's socket before sighing. "Shall we?" she wonders, motioning towards the door with one hand while the other twines it's fingers with his.
Michael Donovan frowns briefly at the troublesome joint, even though its been a problem that's been with Julie before his path crossed hers. Managing a smile, the hand Julie holds gives hers a light squeeze. "Let's shall," he answers resolutely.
Juliet Parrish rolls her eyes at the returned comment, but she moves towards the door, only limping slightly. Granted, that's due mostly to her own stubbornness, but hey. She refuses to make a big deal of it, and it will pass in a few days. "Where do you want to head?"
Michael Donovan replies with a noncommittal sort of shrug, "I was thinking in the general direction of 'out'. From there, I figure we let our feet make up our minds for us." Mike never was the creative sort, though he attempts to make up for that particular lack with his unique brand of charm. Such as it is.
Juliet Parrish has come to accept the lack of…well, many things, but the 'charm' seems to content her. She's still here, right? "Sure, just as long as we don't go so far that I can't make it back." she clarifies, pulling the rooms' door open.
"Well," Mike replies, his fingers still nicely intermingled with hers, "I figure that if we wander too far off the beaten track, you'd have no objections to me carrying you the rest of the way home." If chivalry's well and truly dead, Donovan apparently missed the memo.
Juliet Parrish arches an eyebrow, looking sideways up at Mike. "I'm no cripple, Mike, I can damned well walk on my own. Got it?" She wants to make sure her message is received, loud and clear, squeezing her hand around his as they go.