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Posted May 7, 2013

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Fan Fiction: The Efficacy of Poetry

Title: The Efficacy of Poetry

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG.

Summary: OHF. Leah wasn't the only one Mike had come home to that day, was she? 1000 words.

Spoilers: Olympus Has Fallen (2013).

Notes: For the commentfic prompt, "Olympus Has Fallen, Mike/Ben, Leah. Leah sees how they look at each other."

One Door Closes

It took Leah a while to suspect that she'd lost a battle she hadn't even known needed to be fought.

Well, and who could blame her? As a certified emergency nurse at a hospital understaffed to deal with the sheer volume of traumatic injuries that had poured in from the terrorist attack, she'd been worn to the point of mental exhaustion long before she'd been sent out with an ambulance crew at dawn.

She'd expected Mike would be somewhere in the crowd behind the barricade; she'd seen the view from his office before, and knew that there was no way he would actually be up there doing paperwork while the White House was under attack. But she'd been genuinely shocked to see him walk toward her escorted by men in BDUs, covered in evidence of a night spent in violence. Knuckles abraded, shirt stuck to his side, stride stiff, cheek scraped, and forehead gashed open-- it had been obvious that Mike had been in there. And Leah's entire world had narrowed down to the fact that he'd nearly died without her even knowing he was in harm's way.

Curled against him later that day, careful of the heavy bruising and the stitches she'd set into his side, she'd stared at his battered, handsome face and wondered briefly how many of the attackers he'd killed, how many friends he'd seen die. But it wasn't as though she didn't have plenty of fresh nightmare fuel already without interrogating her husband for his; she knew from past experience-- on both their parts-- that days like that, and their fallout, weren't so much gotten over as endured.

He'd come home, whole if not entirely hale. And that was more than enough for her.

It wasn't until she caught a glimpse of him on the news several evenings later, turning on the little TV on the kitchen counter while they threw a quick dinner together, that Leah began to grasp that it might not be enough, after all.

The resolution on the initial video clip wasn't great; it had been shot by the same camera that had captured Secretary McMillan's escape from the White House, up on the roof of one of the nearby office buildings. But the two men walking out of the shattered front door were easily recognizable: her husband and President Asher, arms wrapped around one another in support. At first, they seemed a picture of weariness, of men reaching the end of their rope; but then Mike turned to the other man and said something....

It was brief, a quick exchange of emotion that the reporters didn't even comment on. But Leah knew it for what it was: a warmth on her husband's face that she'd never seen directed at anyone but her, and an answering curve at the corner of the President's mouth as he turned to reply.

Leah stared, transfixed, as the video cut from there to a clip from the end of the President's news conference that day, a news anchor narrating about 'tragedy' and 'dedicated agent' and 'redemption'. That hadn't looked like a pair of men who'd spent the last eighteen months alienated from each other before clearing the air over a second shared trauma; they'd looked like friends. Close friends. And the second clip made it even clearer.

On the surface, it was just a handshake. Once again, the angle on the President's face was poor; the cameras were behind him. But Leah could see Mike's face even more clearly than she had on the video from the portico. She could see the lingering way his gaze met President Asher's, the softening of the lines around his eyes, and the way their bodies turned fully toward one another rather than angling obliquely, and something in her froze up.

Leah wasn't the only one Mike had come home to that day, was she?

She swallowed. Surely she was imagining things. But other realizations were already starting to click into place: the way Mike had held onto a desk job he claimed to hate rather than accept an assignment that would take him out of DC, how much surer of himself he seemed over the last few days since rejoining the Detail.

How did that saying go? if you love something, set it free. If it comes back....

She didn't know what to think. Or what to do about it, if she wasn't wrong.

She hastily turned off the TV and reminded herself that two iffy data points did not a diagnosis make. Six months from now, she'd probably be laughing at herself for such completely unfounded suspicions.

Leah summoned up a smile, went back to tossing the salad, and yelled to Mike that if he didn't come stir the ground beef, he'd be eating his spaghetti raw.

And Another Opens

There was a poem that Maggie had loved; from her Emily Dickinson collection, full of oddly capitalized words and breathless pauses. It came to Ben Asher as he sat on the floor of the PEOC, arms zip-tied overhead, hearing Mike Banning's name fall from Dave Forbes' lips.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers— That perches in the soul—

It had been a long time since he'd been able to think of Mike without remembering Maggie's last moments. But suddenly, he remembered her last impromptu recital instead: the warmth in her voice as she'd spoken, the impish twinkle in Mike's eye as he'd broken his guardian statue impression to murmur a comment pitched for Ben's ears.

So long as it doesn't crap there, too. Or do you suppose that's where criminals come from? The more unrealistic the hope, the bigger the feathers, the more dirt gets left behind?

And what does that say about politicians? Ben had murmured back, raising an eyebrow.

Oh, I'd say it depends on the politician, Mike had replied, dryly.

Some pretty dirty souls in this room, he thought, glancing sharply between Forbes and his buddy Kang.

But something else now, too, singing its tune without words.


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