Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Heal But By Degrees

Heal But By Degrees

by Mara

Summary: Henry’s art brings back a few memories. Sequel to “From All His Iniquities.”

Author’s Chapter Notes:

Just a little idea that came to me last night.

Continuity: Takes place a few weeks after “From All His Iniquity.”

Henry gave Mike a lingering kiss as he came through the penthouse door, then drew back, waving at his drawing table. “Unfortunately, I have work to do before any *further* distractions arrive. Make yourself at home.”

Tossing his coat across a chair, Mike wandered around, finally ending up at the table of completed pages. His eye was drawn immediately to one sitting in the center and he hissed in a breath. “Jesus, Henry,” he said, taking a startled step backward.

Henry’s head came up from his work, but he didn’t turn around. “Ah. You’ve seen it.”

“I could hardly miss it,” Mike said, staring (from a safe distance) at the stark page on which Henry’s hero hung chained to a cross, whip marks bloody across his chest. “What the hell…?”

After a pause, Henry turned, face under control. “Have you ever done any writing or drawing?”

“The closest I come to fiction is the case reports that involve you and Vicki.”

Henry ignored the attempt at humor. “There’s an old piece of advice for writers: Write what you know.”

Mike looked back at the drawing, the way the man’s bare shoulders slumped helplessly, defeat evident in every line. “I’m not sure this is what they had in mind.”

Henry chuckled, although it was almost entirely devoid of amusement. “But those things we feel strongest about make the best art, don’t you think?”

Mike took another step back. “It’s…”

“It’s the truth. It’s truth as I saw it, as I lived it.”

Mike noticed that Henry couldn’t seem to look at the page. “Don’t you want to forget it? Why bring it back?”

Pausing, Henry turned away and walked to the window. “It was never gone.” For just a moment, his shoulders slumped in exactly the same way as the drawing. “Call it an exorcism,” he said, leaning on the windowsill.

“Do you feel better having drawn it?” Mike came to stand beside him.

“Not particularly,” Henry said with a shrug. “Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t.” He walked back toward the drawing table.

Although he didn’t want to, Mike looked at the drawing again. He’d been so focused on the hero that he hadn’t seen the heroine lying on the ground off to the side, blood streaming from her neck. “Is she dead?” he asked softly.

“No.” Henry didn’t look up, but his pen was still. “I can’t do that in the book or my editor would stake me to a cross himself.”

“You never bit Vicki, you know.”

“But I frightened her. And I nearly drained *you*.” Henry’s head was still down. “If Vicki hadn’t called my name, I might have. It’s…happened before when I was starved.”

The small scar on Mike’s neck throbbed, but he ignored it. “Maybe I deserved it.”

Henry was in front of him before the last word was complete, cupping his jaw in both hands. “No,” he said fiercely. “Never say that.”

Mike closed his eyes. “Okay, so maybe I’m not quite over it either.”

“One thing I’ve learned in 500 years is that these things take time. More time than you expect. And the memories will overtake you just when you least expect it.” Henry caressed his cheek, then stepped back.

Mike watched him as he went back to the drawing table. “I–”

“Don’t say you’re sorry again.”

Mike grinned at Henry’s back. “I was going to suggest that sex can help you forget things.”

Henry peered over his shoulder, eyes half-lidded. “Occasionally you have excellent ideas.”

* * * * *

When Vicki came in ten minutes later, she found the two of them draped across the couch. “Starting without me, hmm?”

Henry smiled up at her from his position under Mike. “Just exorcising a few demons.”

Shrugging off her coat, Vicki laughed. “Is *that* what you call it now?”

“Something like that.”


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