Mike knows that Tracy has only really ever wanted one thing: to be loved, wholly and truly.
He gathers up more and more about the Havens during his stay, and he tucks it away in the back of his head like he’s writing a book about them. Liz would tell him he should, but if Mike knows anything about the Havens it’s that they would kick him out flat on his ass for that.
Tracy Samatha Lord is the opposite of stone. Mike wishes he could take a picture of the way she kisses Dexter breathless, the way his head hangs back and he’s at her mercy entirely. Mike’s eyes gloss over. The hand that he’s holding his drink in starts to shake ever-so-slightly.
“Mike, darling,” Tracy nearly purrs, taking a hand and guiding his glass down to the bedside table. “Join us, won’t you?”
Dexter opens his mouth to say something, but it sticks in his throat when Tracy undoes the third button on his shirt and leads Mike’s now empty hand to his chest. He swallows hard and nods.
The rich and their little games, Mike thinks, might not be so bad after all.
In the middle of the night, Tracy rolls over on her side and says, “Macaulay, are you awake?”
Mike opens his eyes as much as he can, which is only about halfway, and says, “I’m Mike to my friends, Miss Lord.”
Tracy snickers. “Of which you have many.”
Mike rubs his eyes and corrects her. “Of which I have two. Though I hardly think I could call you and Dexter my friends anymore.”
“Mike!” Tracy gasps, faux offended. “I thought you were rather fond of us.”
“Darling, you know I am,” Mike murmurs. He places his hand on the side of Tracy’s face and gives her a small smile. “You know I always will be.”
Tracy leans into Mike’s touch. “What’s the problem, then, Mikey?”
Mike laughs a soft, short laugh. “You always know how to make my worries seem less and less absurd by the minute. Am I meant to just sit in the shadows of you two?”
“You’re our third,” Tracy promises. “Dext and I have done a lot of talking, and we wouldn’t dare be without you. And before you give me any arguments about, “Doggone it, Tracy, what will we tell people?” She laughs, and Mike can’t help but laugh either. “You know the rich and their decadent ways. Nobody would dare question us.”
Mike quirks an eyebrow. “They wouldn’t?”
“Unless Mister Sidney Kidd is still a problem…” Tracy clicks her teeth and rolls over again, settling on her back. “They won’t.”
“They won’t,” Mike repeats quietly under his breath. He brushes a strand of Tracy’s hair out of her face and kisses her temple. Her eyes flutter, and her lips quirk up in a slight smile.
Mike settles down on his stomach and buries his face in the crook of her shoulder. He’s not really one to sit back and watch anymore. Tracy and Dexter know that, and Tracy and Dexter care.
In the Haven estate, Dexter cooks breakfast.
Mike wakes up early to sit, stare out the window, and pretend to write his next book. Within ten minutes, a plate of eggs is placed next to his notebook, and Dexter is draped dramatically across the chair facing him.
He lifts his head, and Dexter smiles. It’s a smile that Mike considers himself lucky to see.
“Thank you, Dext,” Mike says with a nod of his head. Dexter swipes his tongue across his teeth.
“It’s what Tracy keeps me around for, anyhow,” Dexter jokes. “I make her breakfast, design her boats, and worship her exactly the way she wants me to.”
Mike turns his pen in his hand and cuts his eyes at Dexter because after so long, the man should know much better than that.
Dexter holds his hands up in a surrender.
“Don’t say anything, Mikey, I know.” Dexter scrunches up his face. “You poets are all the same. Can’t take a simple joke.”
He bears his teeth momentarily, and Mike’s eyes catch on his mouth. His jaw goes a little ajar, which he assumes isn’t so becoming of him, but…
“Connor,” Dexter says. “You’ll catch flies. Are you going to make me kiss that look off your face?”
Mike blinks. He brings his eyes back up to meet Dexter’s.
“As nice as that would be,” Mike starts. He pushes his chair back and moves to the chair directly next to Dexter, grabbing his face in both hands. “I’m more interested in what’s wrong with your teeth.”
“My teeth?” Dexter asks, eyes darting. “Heavens, Mike, what’s wrong with my teeth?”
“Show me your teeth,” Mike demands.
Dexter’s mouth snaps shut faster than Mike has ever seen. He shakes his head.
Normally, Mike isn’t one to pry, but he’s rather comfortable around Dexter, so he decides to shove his fingers in Dexter’s mouth for the second time in the last twenty-four hours.
“Mike!” Dexter babbles around his fingers. “Macaulay Connor, this is not a gentlemanly thing to do.”
“C.K. Dexter Haven,” Mike counters, “if you think I’m a gentleman, you’re gravely mistaken.”
He manages to get his fingers in the right spot to see Dexter’s teeth, and lights up with a grin. He pulls his hands out of Dexter’s mouth and wipes them on the other man’s ill-fitting suit.
“You only have one front tooth,” He proudly declares.
Dexter wipes the spit off his mouth.
“This is no way to treat the man who slaved over breakfast for you.”
After a few hours of not writing, Mike emerges from his writer’s cave and finds Dexter and Tracy laughing over a card game.
“Who didn’t invite me?” He says, hands on his hips.
“Oh, Mike, you were so busy,” Tracy says, glancing up from her hand. “Besides, Dexter told me you stuck your hands in his mouth, so we thought it was best.”
“Seriously, Mike,” Dexter adds on, lifting an eyebrow at him. “Consent is key.”
“Aw, geez, Dext.” Mike runs a hand through his hair. “You’re not really upset about it, are you?”
Dexter laughs. “Of course not. But it’s too late to deal you in. Why don’t you grab Tracy another drink?”
“My job in any house,” Mike grumbles, picking Tracy’s empty cup up off the table and kissing the top of her head. He flicks Dexter’s temple and Dexter winces. “I’ll be back with your drink in a moment, Miss Lord. Can I interest you in a dessert menu?”
“That would be wonderful, sir,” Tracy calls after him.
Mike rolls his eyes and pours Tracy a drink, listening to her laugh ring out from the sitting room. How he got involved with these people, he’ll never know.
He sets her drink down in front of her and sits next to Dexter, who slips an arm around his waist.
That’s right. He loves them. That’s how he got suckered in.
Then, Tracy says, “We’re going to visit my mother for dinner. Dinah will be there, as will Liz.”
Mike blinks. “Liz is going to be there?” He asks. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
Tracy tilts her head. “Did things not end well between you? I was under the impression you were still good friends.”
Mike shrugs, gaze downcast.
“Sure, we are,” He says quietly. “But what will she think?”
Dexter slips his hand under Mike’s shirt and runs his fingers along the bare skin.
“There’s only one way to find out,” He says. “Come on, Connor, you’re not one to shy away from something like this.”
Tracy smiles at the two of them.
“Dext is right, Mike.” She splays her fingers flat on the table. “And besides, this is Liz we’re talking about. If she’s going to judge you, she’ll do it silently.”
Dinah flings herself at Dexter before he’s even in the house. She’s grown bigger since they’ve last seen her, since she’s been away for the summer, and Dexter bends backwards on impact.
“Darling Dinah!” He exclaims, wrapping his arms around her. “Lovely to see you, dear, how have you been?
Dinah’s feet hit the ground again and she takes a few staggering steps back.
“Wonderful, just wonderful,” She says, grinning ear-to-ear.
Tracy glances at Mike and rolls her eyes, stepping forward to pull Dinah into a hug.
“No love for your own sister,” She says, face in Dinah’s hair. “I oughta smack you.”
“No love for you?” Dinah laughs, tugging away from Tracy’s smothering embrace. “If I recall correctly, it was me who got you married to Dext, and got you Mike all the same!”
“The nerve of you, Dinah,” Tracy hooks her arm in Dexter’s. “My boys love me because they love me, not because you had anything to do with it. I haven’t wanted someone to save my face in a long time.”
Dexter and Mike exchange a glance, because they both know firsthand that Dinah has more power than Tracy gives her credit for.
“Dinah,” He says. “Has Miss Imbrie arrived yet?”
Dinah shakes her head. “Oh, no, Liz won’t be here until later. I’m sorry she’s coming at all, Mother wouldn’t listen to me when I said you weren’t seeing her anymore. She thinks the idea of the three of you is absurd, that Tracy would never be so selfish. So I asked her if she’d ever met Tracy in her life, and--”
“That’s enough, Dinah,” Dexter interrupts. “We get the idea.”
“Well, anyway,” Dinah says, then turning to skip back inside.
Dexter takes his arm away from Tracy and wraps it around her waist. He offers his other hand up to Mike, who hesitates, and then takes.
“Shall we?” Tracy asks, voice shaking ever-so-slightly.
Dexter gives a solid nod, letting Tracy lead them inside.
Dinner is more uneventful than any meal at the Lord estate has ever been. Dinah eats quietly, but Mike can see Liz’s growing discomfort as she glances between the two of them, over and over and over.
Liz, non-confrontational as ever, doesn’t say anything over dinner.
Dessert is when things get tense.
When Mrs Lord excuses herself from the table, Liz nudges Mike. He grabs Dexter’s hand under the table, a recent instinct of his. Dexter rubs Mike’s hand lightly with his thumb.
“Mike, why have you been acting so odd?” Liz asks.
Mike smiles a shaky smile. He always was a little scared of Liz, not that she would ever do anything to hurt him.
“You see, Liz,” He starts. “Since we split up and all…”
He pauses to think of the right words, ever the writer, and in that time, Dinah takes over.
“Mike’s dating again, and he’s worried you’ll be mad at him for it even though you broke up with him . Why’d you do that, anyway? He’s a great guy.”
Liz looks at Dinah with a small, sad smile, and Mike feels it in his gut.
“It’s simple, really. I knew Mike would never love me the way he loved Tracy, even for that one night. It ate at me. Besides, I’ve recently learned I like my men with a little more bite to them.”
Mike frowns. “I think I’ve got plenty of bite!”
Tracy laughs from a chair over, and even though it’s at his expense, Mike loves to hear that laugh.
“No, Mike, you don’t. I know better than anyone you don’t.”
Mike scowls, and he’s so caught up in Tracy at the moment that he fails to realize Dexter has brought their hands above the table.
“Anyway, Mike,” Liz says, bringing Mike’s attention back to her for the moment. “I’m not mad at you for moving on, it seems that…” She falters. Her eyes fall to Mike and Dexter’s fingers intertwined on top of the tablecloth. “Oh.”
“Oh?” Mike asks, lifting an eyebrow. He looks at Dexter. Then at their hands. “Oh.”
“‘Oh’ is right, Connor,” Dexter says. “Am I only an afterthought these days?”
Mike snatches his hand back from Dexter. His arms are as straight as rulers by his side.
“Liz,” He says quietly. Liz stares at the spot where Dexter and Mike’s hands used to be.
Then, she stands up.
“Excuse me,” She says. “I’ll only be a moment.”
Mike sighs and stands up after her.
“Sorry, folks,” He says, following her towards the next room.
He can hear Mrs Lord asking about them, but he doesn’t mind so much.
Mike chases Liz down until he finds her seated on a couch across the house.
“You didn’t need to follow me, Macaulay,” She says quietly. “I’m a big girl, I can handle myself.”
“I know,” Mike says. He sits down next to her. “Listen, Liz, I’m sorry.”
Liz smiles sadly. She looks him in the eye.
“Are you happy?” She asks. “With… With Dexter? And is Tracy okay with it? I mean, was it all just a coverup?”
“Gosh, no.” Mike almost laughs at how absurd that sounds. “Dexter and Tracy are so ridiculously in love with each other, it’s almost nauseating.”
“But…” Liz blinks.
Mike puts a hand on her thigh. “It’s confusing, I know. I’m a bit confused by it at times too. But I love them, Liz. I love them both. They’re… they’re so undeniably human, and I’m in awe of it. I’ve never met anyone so human.”
“Not even me?” Liz asks meekly.
Mike gives her a sad smile.
“Liz, you’re lovely. I really do care about you, and I’m sorry things didn’t work out for us. I promise.”
Liz places her hand over his where it’s resting on her thigh.
“And you love them,” She says. “You’ve always been quite a romantic, except when it was expected of you.”
Mike laughs softly.
“You’ll find someone wonderful,” He promises her. “Because that’s what you deserve. You’re too good for me anyway.”
Liz chuckles and hangs her head.
“I’ve always known that,” She says. “There’s never been a doubt in my mind about it.”
Mike arrives back at the Haven mansion with barely any wits about him.
Tracy isn’t much better herself, so she and Mike lean against either side of Dexter as he leads them upstairs to the bedroom.
Mike wraps himself around Dexter as he lets go of Tracy and tries to haul Mike into the bed.
“You’re so strong, C.K. Dexter Haven,” Mike slurs.
“Yes, and you’re very tall,” Dexter retaliates. “Please cooperate, Mike.”
“Isn’t C.K. Dexter Haven so strong?” Mike asks Tracy, who nods like a bobblehead.
“So strong,” She echoes. “Like Heracles.”
“Hercules,” He says.
Tracy shakes her head. Mike falls backwards on the bed, leaving Dexter to pry his shoes off. Tracy giggles and bends over to take her own shoes off. Mike knows Tracy would never be one to let her pride be damaged by a man taking her shoes off for her.
She curls up on the bed next to Mike, who wraps one arm loosely around her.
“You’re my girl, Tracy,” He says. “My golden girl.”
Tracy leans up to kiss his cheek, and Mike can practically hear Dexter rolling his eyes.
“You’re a first rate human, Mike,” She grins against the side of his face.
“And we’re all feeling wonderfully, wonderfully gay, thanks to that wonderful bottle of champagne,” Dexter drawls. “Isn’t it wonderful? Move over, Mike, I’d like to lie down too. If that’s alright with your majesties.”
Mike presses closer to Tracy and turns his head to watch Dexter peel his shoes off and crawl into bed next to them.
“Don’t feel left out, C.K. Dexter Haven,” Mike giggles. He picks up Dexter’s hand in his and toys with each of his fingers. “We love you very much as well.”
“Right,” Tracy says into the mattress. “Right, we think you’re rightfully yar.”
“Is that so?” Dexter asks, bemused.
“Yar,” Mike echoes. “We think you’re yar, whatever that means.”
Dexter seems to be happy enough with that. Mike grabs his arm and wraps himself around it.
He’d be happy to lay here forever.