Summary: Being a chronicle of the strange courtship of Mitch Wozniak and William Coles, Jr. after the events of the movie.
Pairing: Mitch Wozniak/Bill Coles, aka Jean Jacket/Racher Shirt
Word Count: 2320 (Part 1)
Disclaimer: Unknown and related characters do not belong to me, etc etc.
Warnings: Male/male sexytimes starting in part 2. Language. Spoilers for the movie. Un-beta'd.
Side One: Intimacy
Woz isn't quite sure how Bill got his contact information. In the aftermath of the warehouse, no one thought to exchange phone numbers, to say "Hey, we just went through hell together, let's do lunch sometime." Woz just wanted to get away from the mess that his thoughts became upon having both Bill and Eliza standing in front of him.
The phone rang that night (or was it morning by then?), but he just let it ring until it turned over to voicemail, and he heard Eliza spill a vitriolic, "What the fuck, Mitch?! We need to talk!" into his machine.
But he doesn't want to talk. Not to her. Still, she keeps calling, leaving variants on the same message. He's stepping out of the shower when she leaves one, a change of pace with an almost plaintive "Mitch, I miss you, would you just call me?", and he ends up breaking his bathroom mirror out of frustration.
Exactly three days pass. Whiskey and the never-ending senseless drone of the TV keep him pleasantly numb, physically and mentally. The phone rings. He ignores it.
"Hey, uhm... Woz?"
The voice jolts him out of his vegetative state like a shotgun blast.
"I, uh, I guess you aren't in..."
Woz fumbles the phone off the hook and up to his ear. "Bill?"
"Hey, man!" Woz can hear him smiling on the other end of the line. "Glad I got ahold of you! How are you doing, you holding up okay?"
"Uhm, yeah. H-how did you get this number?"
"Called your captain, told him I wanted to thank you personally, made a small donation to the San Diego police department. Do you want to come up to Eagle Ridge for a few days?"
Eliza, dressed in nothing but his shirt draped around her shoulders, the sunset playing over her smooth skin, a smile curling against his neck as she whispers, telling him about Bill Coles Jr, about her pre-nup, about how they can be together, if only he'll step in and kill her husband--
Her husband, who is on the line asking if Woz is there, if he's alright.
God, no. He's not alright. And he can't face them both in the same room. Several excuses rush over his tongue and trip over each other on the way out, but the answer is clearly in the negative.
"A-Alright. You sure, man? I know it's a long way, but it might do you some good."
Woz says no, thank you, and he's really busy right now, bye, and he hangs up. He drinks the whiskey straight out of the bottle and stares at the phone for a long, long time.
Eliza stops calling him. Bill picks up the slack. He invites Woz up to have dinner with them, to go see the Coles family ranch and his orange trees, to just come and relax. Woz turns him down each time, but he finds that he enjoys the meaningless chatter that comes with each invitation. Bill tells him about Eagle Ridge, about his home in Rosales, about McCain's six-hour surgery and complaints about physical therapy, about how he read somewhere that smell was most closely related to memory and he was pretty sure it was true because he'd had this burst of memories when he found that the milk had gone bad. Woz doesn't divulge as much, just little things that stand out from the routine he's fallen into for his three months' psychiatric leave, but Bill doesn't seem to mind.
Neither of them talks about the nightmares. Woz knows Bill has them, from the way his voice is always tired and from the smattering of late-night calls and from one off-handed remark about picking up a sleep medication because he was running low. Woz knows Bill has them because he has them, too.
"I'm going back to work soon," Bill says, sooner than Woz likes. "I swear, these people are like toddlers, I can't leave them alone for five minutes without them getting into some kind of trouble."
And then, "I'm going in tomorrow. I'm a little trepidatious." Woz makes fun of the word, but asks if Bill is sure about this. Bill says that he is.
Woz's phone rings at nine-thirty the next morning, and Bill is hyperventilating in the executive bathroom and Woz has to talk him down from a hundred and twenty-five miles away, and Bill decides that maybe he should wait a few more days before he tries to work.
When Bill calls that night and asks if he can attend a party later that week at Bill's place in Rosales, Woz says yes.
Bill's place is modern and boxy and seems to be constructed mostly of windows, the way California homes in movies always seem to be when they aren't quaint villas. Woz can see numerous professional-looking types inside, all Bill's colleagues, all people who probably make more in a year than Woz has in his entire life, all wearing outfits that cost more than Woz's apartment. Woz almost turns back, before he chides himself on being intimidated by anything less than a twelve-gauge.
Eliza answers the door. Her eyes narrow and her smile tightens just slightly when she sees him. "Hi, Mitch," she says.
"Hello, Eliza," he says curtly, stepping in past her.
Across the room, Bill spots him and swoops over, gripping his hand and not-quite smacking his shoulder. "Hey, you made it!"
He looks good, Woz considers, with a proper shower and shave and a smile on his face, but there's a relieved quality to his expression, and the dark bags under his eyes make it clear that he's not as past his ordeals as he wants everyone to think he is. He grabs Woz by the uninjured shoulder and steers him expertly through the shifting crowd.
A couple of suits step into the way, looking to take Bill's attention. "Ah, Bill, who's your friend?" one of them asks, giving Woz a once-over that makes the cop want to either fidget or punch the guy.
"Gentlemen, this is Mitch Wozniak," Bill says. "The man that saved my life."
The other guy whistles. Woz shifts uncomfortably. "Wow! Nice to meet you, Mr. Wozniak, we've heard--"
Bill interrupts, "Yeah, uh, Mr. Wozniak was just getting a drink. Excuse us." And he continues steering Woz away.
They cut through the dark master bedroom and end up on a second-floor balcony overlooking the city. Noise drifts up from the patio below, muffled, and no one can see them from down there. Bill slides the glass door shut and immediately deflates, leans his elbows on the balcony rail and runs his hands over his hair. "Your timing could not be more perfect. I needed an excuse to get away from those people."
"Maybe this is a stupid question," says Woz, leaning against the rail next to him, "But why have a party if you don't want to deal with the people?"
Bill sighs. "It's this stupid mixer thing we throw every year. I should have rescheduled, but I thought I could handle it."
"Yeah, and Monday you thought you could handle going back to work, and look how that turned out. You're pushing yourself too fast, you've got to give it time."
"I know, I know..." Bill looks up, the creases on his forehead smoothing a little as he smiles. It's not the first time Woz has seen him smile, but the first time was out in front of the warehouse, and Woz wasn't paying much attention to details. Now, he notices that Bill's smile is unusual, all in his eyes, lips hardly turning up at all. "I'm sorry I dragged you up here. I just needed someone who wouldn't try and talk to me about stock reports."
"What makes you think I don't know about stock reports?"
Bill just looks at him. Woz laughs. "Okay, fine, so I'm a little out of my element here." Bill laughs with him.
"Listen," Bill says, "I need to get back in there, but feel free to retreat up here whenever you need, okay? I know I will."
Bill shows him downstairs and manages to get him to the bar before several guests corner them and make off with their CEO. Woz asks for a rum and coke, and is taking the first sip when he feels a touch on his shoulder.
"So, Mitch," says Eliza sweetly. "Have you seen the house yet?"
"Just the bedroom," he says. He's not sure why. Eliza raises an eyebrow and smiles.
"Come on," she says, "I'll give you the tour."
He takes his drink and follows. Watching Eliza glide across the floor, long and willowy and all leg under that little black cocktail dress, reminds him of why he fell so hard in the first place. Mrs. Coles is a gorgeous woman. Mr. Coles was very lucky, once upon a time.
She leads him into what looks like an office and closes the door, shutting them off from the crowd. When she turns to him, she's lost the smile, and she looks angry and confused and hurt, but mostly angry. "What the hell, Mitch? What happened? We had a plan!"
Woz sighs. "A lot's happened since then, Eliza," he says. "Can we not talk about this here?"
"No, you're not putting this off any longer!"
"For god's sake, Eliza, your husband is right in the other room!"
"And whose fault is that?"
Woz stares at Eliza, and he tries to remember when, exactly, the goddess became a siren, ready to dash poor Bill against the rocks for having the gall to be successful. Maybe she was always that way, and he was just too lost to notice. Eliza misreads his expression, and her own softens.
"Oh, Mitch, I'm sorry," she whispers, closing the distance between them and wrapping her arms around his neck. "I know it's not your fault. Bill told me about the gas -- no one could have predicted that." She nuzzles against his collar. "It was a good plan. We just need a different one, now."
Woz pulls her arms off him, doesn't look at her face. He feels sick. He should say 'no', should say 'it's over'. Instead, he says, "Not here."
She smiles wistfully and nods. "You're right. We've got plenty of opportunities now that Bill's so keen on having you around." She lays a kiss on his lips. "I'll see you later, Mitch." And then she's gone.
Woz picks up and drains his glass, and steps out of the study. He sees Bill, in the middle of a discussion across the room, Eliza hanging on his arm like a loving wife. Bill catches sight of him and smiles with his eyes.
Woz goes to get another drink.
Woz doesn't know a lot about Rosales, so Bill picks the restaurant, insists he'll buy. Woz wants to argue but knows it's futile, resolves instead to just get a drink. He's not sure he'll be able to stomach anything, anyway.
Woz arrives early, opts to keep his jacket with him, sits facing the door, orders a beer. Bill's on a set schedule now that he's managed to power through his anxiety, and sure enough, he's there at twelve-fifteen exactly.
"Hey, Woz," Bill greets him. He's dressed in a business suit, looks just as comfortable in it as he does in a rancher shirt and jeans. His smile falters as he slides into the seat across from Woz. "You okay, man?"
Not really, he thinks. "Fine," he says.
"Okay. What's up?"
"You should get a drink," Woz says.
"I have to go back to--"
"You should get a drink."
Bill nods warily. "Okay, I'll get a drink." He orders a tequila sunrise, and Woz gets a second beer. He waits until Bill has swallowed his first sip before he speaks.
"I was having an affair with your wife."
Bill looks at him, blinks. "That's not funny, Woz."
"No, but it's true."
Bill leans forward, scrutinizing Woz's expression. His eyes widen. "Jesus, it is." He takes another drink.
"It gets worse," Woz says.
Bill looks up at him, looks at his glass, drains half of it and folds his hands in front of him. "Okay."
"It was her idea to have you killed and to collect on it. I was already undercover with Burian, so I brought in the kidnapping. The idea was to kill everyone, make it look like McCain set you up and the dealers turned on him. The poor widow Coles would grieve for awhile, sell her stock in the company, and we'd retire together to Barbados with our ill-gotten gains."
Bill finishes his drink while Woz is talking and rests his elbows on the table, forehead on his hands. "Jesus," he repeats. "Jesus Christ." He looks out from the protective barrier of his arms. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because she wants to try again," Woz says. Bill buries his face in his hands again. "She thinks I'm still in love with her, that we still have a shot."
"Why not?" Bill whispers without looking at him. "I'd have made it so easy for you."
Woz takes a deep breath. "I'm not the same person that walked into that warehouse. And Bill Coles, Jr isn't just a name in the paper and a picture on a mantle anymore. I've been doing the wrong thing long enough, it's about time I do something right."
Bill's shoulders shake slightly under his Armani jacket. Woz stands up. "You do what you have to do. If you want to press charges, I'll testify."
"Won't that get you put away, too?"
Woz looks up from pulling on his jacket to find Bill's eyes on him, his eyebrows knitted together, expression pained. Woz shrugs. "It's only as much as I deserve," he says.