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fic: Drinking in the Sunshine

Title: Drinking In The Sunshine
Fandom: Man In An Orange Shirt
Length: 375
Pairing: Michael Berryman/Thomas March
Content notes: no warnings apply
Rating: G
Author note: written for the Drinking Alone challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks; thanks to [personal profile] owl_by_night for encouragement
Summary: This isn't how he imagined Thomas's life in Cassis

This isn’t how he imagined Thomas’s life in Cassis. When Michael had let himself think about it at all, he’d assumed Flora was right: he’ll drink himself to death in the sunshine. He’d been afraid of what he might find, but he had to come, after Lucien told him about Mrs March’s death.

He’d imagined Thomas miserable and alone, drinking to forget. Yes, Thomas enjoys a drink, but when he drinks it’s for pleasure and with his friends. Everyone in the village knows him, and a surprising number of them – mostly young men – call him tu. Michael has no right to be jealous, but the rebuke to his vanity stings just the same. Thomas has made a life here for himself, a happier one than Michael managed with Flora, these last years.

The more he sees of Thomas like this, the more he longs for what they had. For what he didn’t have the courage to try to keep, or to regain. Sitting on the café terrace in the sun, watching Thomas as he sketches the men playing boules, it feels easier to be brave.

“Come back with me,” he says. “Come back to the cottage.”

Thomas’s hand stops moving, arrested. He puts the pencil down as if it might break. “What for?”

“For good,” says Michael. He’s never been more sure of anything.

“What about Flora?” There’s an edge of bitterness to the question, and no wonder.

“It’s over,” he says. “She knows I’m here and she – there’s someone else. Or there would be if she’d let herself see it.”

“Fine,” Thomas says stonily. “Good for her. But you don’t get to do this twice.”

It’s no more than Michael deserves. But he’s not giving up this time.

“I wrote to you,” he says, “when you were – in that place. I wrote you a letter.”

Thomas looks so wild Michael can’t tell whether he’s about to punch him or start crying. “I never got it.”

“I know,” says Michael. “I was – I never sent it.”

He hadn’t known why he brought it with him, when he thought there was nothing to hope for; but some part of his mind wouldn’t let him stop hoping.

“Here,” he says, and puts the letter into Thomas’s hands.

Also posted at https://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/236701.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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