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Chaos fic: A Breather in the Sky

July 19th, 2011 (07:51 am)
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Title:  A Breather in the Sky

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  eviinsanemonkey  wanted Michael Dorset; superman can’t fly.  I looked up the lyrics and this is what it inspired.  No beta and some preseries spec.

Summary:  Michael just wants to save the world.


“What do you want to be when you grow up, Michael?” the teacher asks.

Michael is seven and enthusiastic.  Even at this young age, he seems to know his classmates are sillier than he is, preoccupied with pointless things.  Garrett wants to be an astronaut.  Shelly wants to be a ballerina.  But Michael knows there are things more important than that.  Really important things, and that’s what Michael wants.

He looks earnestly at the teacher and meets her gaze.  “I want to be a superhero,” he says proudly.

Her face doesn’t waver and she nods with a smile.  “Oh, that’s nice,” she says, the same praise she’s given to everyone.

When she moves on to the next kid, Michael looks sadly down at the picture he’s drawn on his desk.  Superman has his hands on his hips, looking proud and bold.  He’s the real thing, Michael thinks.  Even if no one sees it.


College bores him.  He knows he can’t wear a cape anymore, but pre-med isn’t what he thought it would be.  He’s surrounded by over-eager yuppies, all vying for the top spots without any concept of what they’re trying to do.  They want power; Michael still wants to save the world.

His classes are too easy.  His classmates are too obtuse.  He has a girlfriend who thinks he’s too serious and a best friend who always tries to get him drunk.

When the CIA recruits him, it’s an easy decision, and he doesn’t regret anything he left behind, not for a minute.


His early years with the Agency are invigorating.  For the first time, he feels like he’s doing something important.  He understands the value in his actions, and each day feels like the chance to actually do something that has an impact.

He saves lives.  He rescues innocent civilians.  He takes down bad people.  He protects his country.  He’s saving the whole world, one mission at a time.

And it feels good.


The first time he sees a friend die in the field, it changes things.  He does everything right.  He sticks to the mission.  And his partner dies anyway.

Back home, Michael can’t even go to the memorial service.  Instead, he stands at the wall and looks at the star and reminds himself that he can’t let his guard down, he can’t stop working, not even for a minute.  He’s Superhero who can’t afford a Clark Kent, except in name only.


When he’s team leader, Michael carries the responsibility with everything he has.  The weight of the men under him is pressing, and he realizes that every decision affects not only the mission, but their well being.  It’s a balancing act of getting the job done and keeping his men safe, and Michael takes pride in doing that well.

It takes time, though.  He has to study harder, plan more effectively.  There can be no loose ends.  Everything’s a contingency he must plan for.

And Michael’s record at the Agency speaks for itself.


Michael doesn’t mean to fall in love, but every Superman needs their Lois Lane.  He marries Fay in Paris and dotes on her at home.  They’re happy, for the most part.

But then there are the missions.  There are the nights he spreads out all his paperwork and doesn’t go to bed until past midnight.  There are the long trips overseas and the way he sees potential threats at their dinners out.

Fay’s not the type to take it.  “You’re not Superman,” she tells him, and sometimes she yells it like she really needs him to hear.

Michael understands she’s frustrated, but his answer is still the same: “But I need to be.”


Years pass.  Michael feels old.  His body aches and his mind is weary but he still has a job to do.  Sometimes missions go wrong, but sometimes they really go wrong, and Michael’s in Indonesia with all three of his teammates captured and hurt in enemy territory.  He has to get them all out, but it occurs to him, that he doesn’t know how.

This is a tall building that Superman can’t leap.  This is a mighty rock Superman can’t move. 

If he saves one, the others will probably die.  If he gets one out, it’ll be at the expense of the rest.

His rescue mission is a suicide operation.  There’s gunfire and fighting and when it’s over, the enemy is dead and his team is bleeding.  Michael’s nursing a gunshot himself as he calls in support and when he’s given their location, he has nothing left as he drops to the ground with his men and just waits for rescue.


Casey’s got a compound fracture in his leg, but it’s healing well.  Rick suffered from a bleed in his abdomen.  Billy needed brain surgery to fix the hematoma.  But they’re alive.  They will be okay.

Michael stays at the hospital and alternates between their rooms.  There’s a lot of time to think.  And he can’t stop himself from doubting.

How can Michael save the world when he can’t save the people who matter most?  Maybe his teacher was right; maybe Fay was, too.  Maybe Superman can’t even fly, and if that’s the case, then what the hell kind of superhero is he.


It’s a while before they’re all back at work again.  Michael is wary of their next mission and stalls as long as he can.  But Higgins gives them an order and Michael sits down at his desk and reviews the file.

The team is anxious--they’ve wanted a new mission.  But Michael closes the file and says, “It’s too dangerous.”

“They’re all dangerous,” Casey reminds him.

“I thought that was the point,” Rick adds.

“I can’t take that risk,” Michael tells them, and his throat feels tight.

His teammates look at each other.  Billy presses his lips together and seems to approach the topic carefully.  “It wasn’t your fault,” he says.

Michael stiffens but he tries not to let them see.  “It’s my responsibility.”

“Last I checked, this entire venture was a team effort,” Billy muses.

“I’m in charge,” Michael says.

“But we work together,” Casey says.

“And you did save our asses,” Rick says.  “Don’t forget that.”

It’s a detail Michael overlooks because he still sees the blood, still sees his team in hospital beds looking more dead than alive.  But it’s a valid point, and it hits Michael like a revelation.

His team almost died, but they didn’t.  They’re still there and they want the same things he does.  They want to do the mission and they want to do it together.  They want to save the world, just as much as he does.

Maybe the mistake isn’t thinking he can save the world.  Maybe it’s thinking he has to do it alone.

Maybe he’s never been supposed to do it alone.

His team watches him, expectant.

Michael’s mind works.  Maybe Superman can’t fly; maybe he doesn’t have to.  Maybe he just has to stand on the edge of the world and take that leap of faith and trust that if he’s falling, he’s not falling alone.

Collecting a breath, Michael picks up the file.  He holds it for a moment, eyes going to Casey to Billy to Rick.  Holding out the file, he finally lets go and lets the next mission begin.


Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)

Oh, Michael! *hugs*
I love this, it's amazing! You captured Michael so perfectly. And the ending is beautiful!

(You're up!)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
billy considers

I'm glad you liked it!

(Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans--and you can pick the focus :)

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 20th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)

here you are :)

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)

Poor Michael, feeling the burden of the whole world on his shoulders. That ending was beautiful. I hope he can relax a little bit more now.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
billy considers

I like protective!Michael quite a bit, and the tension between his need to control the details and his team's willingness to put themselves in danger, it makes for a nice mix.


Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
martin - pizza boy

Have I told you lately that I love you?

You have nailed Michael Dorset. Beautifully, perfectly, angstily - all the 'ly's' that are so very Michael. Thank you - I needed this today.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC)
billy likes

Aww, I'm so glad you liked it :) I just wish we had more episodes to get to know these characters better because I love them all very much.


Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)

Lovely! Your protective!Michael is perfect.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 20th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)

I certainly do enjoy writing protective!Michael :) Thanks!

Posted by: Average Girl Extraordinaire (legsi003)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)

Just beautiful! Such a lovely story <3

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 20th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
billy considers

Thank you :)

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)

That really sounds like Micheal, he puts too much on his shoulders. At least he's got the rest of the team to back him up :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 20th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
chaos team moves

I do like that aspect of Michael--he's clearly paranoid but it seems to stem more from fear of risking his team than anything.


Posted by: serenity_pen (serenity_pen)
Posted at: July 26th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)

Bravo! Very nicely done. I love the support of the team at the end. Also, you have Michael and all of his angst down well. Very well written.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
chaos team 2

Michael angst can be a fun thing :)


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