A SMALL WORLD
A/N: See, miracles do happen. I updated on this at last! Admittedly, this is only a short update, but hopefully the next one won't be so long in coming. And shippiness! My god! Shippiness abounds, and I never thought I'd go this way!
Be warned, though - I am veering right away from the favoured B/A and M/C pairings. If you really can't stomach the idea of Mike courting Alex, and Bobby courting Carolyn, then I suggest you stop reading. I will not take kindly to flames from readers simply because I am not bowing to the standard shipper pairings.
By the time they reached the motel where they’d planned to stop overnight, Mike appeared to be over his bruised ego, at least enough to allow Alex to help him work through his physio exercises.
“Is that how you want me to ask you?” he asked suddenly. Alex glanced up at him, puzzled.
“What are you talking about, Mike?”
He looked uncomfortable, she thought, not without sympathy.
“If I… you know… asked you out. Is that how you’d want me to do it? Like Bobby asked Carolyn?”
Alex paused, looking him over thoughtfully. Mike had a ruggedly handsome look about him that Bobby was definitely lacking. Where Bobby had that cute, innocent little boy look that made you want to wrap your arms around him to keep him safe, Mike looked like the kind of strong, handsome guy that made you want to be the one to be protected. She realised in that moment that she wouldn’t mind going out with him at all, provided he could stop acting like a big kid.
“Mike, if you’re going to ask me out, I’d rather you were just sincere in doing it. You don’t have to copy Bobby’s style. In fact, I think I’d prefer it if you didn’t.”
Mike let his breath out in a rush. Sincere. He could do sincere.
“Alex, would you like to have dinner with me some time?”
She smiled warmly at him and, on impulse, leaned in to kiss him lightly, chastely on the lips. Nice, warm, soft lips, she thought with pleasure.
“I’d love to, Mike,” she answered with equal sincerity.
“Bobby, are you awake?”
For a brief moment, Bobby considered ignoring Mike’s query and feigning sleep. Finally, though, he sighed and responded.
“Yeah, Mike, I’m awake. What is it?”
Mike didn’t answer immediately but, tired as he was, Bobby kept his patience and waited quietly for him to sort out what he wanted to say in his own mind.
“I… um… I asked her.”
“Yeah. I asked her to have dinner with me some time. She said yes.”
Bobby smiled in the darkness.
“Way to go, Mikey.” And it’s about damn time, too.
A wry grin quirked Mike’s lips. Bobby was calling him ‘Mikey’ much more frequently now, and yet he found he really didn’t mind. Coming from Bobby, it sounded affectionate, and not insulting; just good-natured teasing from one brother to another.
“She said she just wanted me to be sincere… So, I guess that means no bowling on the first date, huh?”
“That would be a wise assumption. If you’re willing to take some advice, take her some place Italian. She’ll enjoy that.”
“Italian,” Mike muttered. “Got it. So… You really don’t mind? Me dating Alex, I mean.”
“If I did mind, do you think I would have told you to go ahead and ask her out? Or that I would have asked Carolyn out?”
There was a rustling sound as Mike shifted in bed.
“I was wondering about that. I didn’t think you were attracted to Carolyn.”
Bobby hesitated in answering. More than anything, he didn’t want to say the wrong thing, have it get back to Carolyn and leave her feeling hurt. He really did like her, and didn’t want her thinking he’d asked her out as some sort of favour.
“I do like her… And she’s a smart and attractive woman. I’d like to get to know her better.”
Mike chuckled softly at Bobby’s carefully worded reply.
“I think I get it. Just… treat her nice, okay? ’Cause I’d hate to have to kick your ass if you don’t.”
It was Bobby’s turn to laugh at that.
“Funny. I was just thinking the same thing about you and Alex.”
“Okay, then,” Mike conceded. “You treat Carolyn right, I do the same with Alex, and we’re all good. Agreed?”
“Yeah,” Bobby murmured with a smile. “Agreed.”
“You think he really wants to go out with me?” Carolyn wondered at much the same time as the men were having their own discussion on the same subject.
“He wouldn’t have asked you if he didn’t have some interest in you,” Alex assured her. She had no intention of telling Carolyn what she had told Bobby. She didn’t want to hurt her friend, but it was also because she honestly believed that what she’d said was true. Bobby would not have asked Carolyn out just to make a point, or to show Mike up. He just wasn’t that kind of a man.
“Is he a good dancer?” Carolyn asked, and Alex couldn’t keep the grin off her face.
“You are in for a treat, Carolyn. Girl, that boy can dance!”
Carolyn sighed with happy anticipation as she settled down into bed.
“I’ll be looking forward to it. And… if it leads somewhere, then great. If not…? Well, at least I can feel sure that I’ll have a nice time along the way.”
Alex chuckled softly as she reflected on the many times she’d witnessed Bobby turning on the charm for a woman. And knowing that this time he would be doing it for someone whom he genuinely liked and respected, it was guaranteed that there would be nothing contrived about his conduct towards her. Yes, Carolyn was definitely in for a treat.
“Girl,” she murmured, “I really think you will.”
“And what about Mike?” Carolyn asked, watching Alex with a sly smile. “Did he get his foot out of his mouth long enough to ask you out?”
“As a matter of fact, he did,” Alex answered, feeling inexplicably smug. “And he managed to do it quite nicely, thankyou. Now, as long as he doesn’t try taking me somewhere tacky, I think we’ll do quite well.”
“Oh, god, can you imagine it? If it got serious… we could end up sisters in-law!”
Alex snorted, and burst out laughing.
“Let’s not start thinking along those lines quite yet. We don’t want to give the boys a collective heart attack.”
Carolyn sighed again.
“All of a sudden, I’m looking forward to getting to Miami.”
Alex’s smile faded minutely. “Just as long as we don’t forget why we’re going. I don’t think it’s all going to be a picnic.”
“Maybe not,” Carolyn agreed. “But hopefully we can keep the boys from being hit too hard by whatever crap Richie Goren has to throw at them.”
Alex didn’t reply to that, but quietly, fervently, she hoped that Carolyn was right.
Miami Dade County
They arrived in Miami just before noon the next day, and soon found their way to their hotel. Deakins had booked it for them the night before they’d left, and neither Bobby nor Mike were entirely surprised to find they’d been booked into not two separate suites, but a large two bedroom suite.
“He’s done this so they can keep an eye on us,” Mike grumbled in irritation as he sat down on one of the two single beds in the room. Bobby smiled wryly as he lay down on the other soft bed.
“It could be worse.”
Mike looked around at him, eyebrow raised.
“It could have just been a Queen size, and not two singles.”
“Deakins wouldn’t have dared.”
“Don’t bet on that,” Bobby retorted. “He’s still sour on us over the Starbucks thing.”
Mike only grunted, and then sighed as he lay down, taking the pressure off his injured leg.
“Look at this, would you?”
Both men looked up to see Alex standing in the doorway, eyeing them both with an amused smirk. Carolyn joined her, and snorted derisively at the sight of them.
“What was it they said when we left New York yesterday?” Alex mused. “Oh, yeah… ‘This will be much better than flying. We’ll be fine, and we won’t be tired when we get there’.” She shook her head. “You two are full of it, you know that?”
“In my defence, I’d like to point out that I never said anything of the sort,” Bobby answered, making no effort to move. “That was entirely Mike.”
“Traitor,” Mike retorted.
“Self-preservation,” Bobby fired back at him.
“Whatever it is,” Alex said bluntly, “you can both get your sorry asses up. It might be too late now to go to see Richie, but you can at least make contact with the arresting officer. Who was it again?”
“A Lieutenant Caine,” Mike said, wearily pushing himself back up again. “Do we really have to do this now? It’s not like the guy is going anywhere.”
“Look at it this way, Mike,” Alex said. “The sooner we get this part of the trip over with, the sooner we can relax and enjoy just being here. We’ve got a week. Do you really want to waste it chasing after Richie?”
“Good point,” Mike conceded ruefully, and got awkwardly back to his feet. “Let’s go.”
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