by Chicago

Disclaimer: Characters belong to DC Comics, borrowed for fun and not for profit.

Pairing: Dr. Mid-nite/Mr. Terrific

Rating: PG

"Katherine Blythe."

Pieter Cross froze where he sat, back straight, eyes forward. It wouldn't do any good to turn, to face his accuser when he couldn't even see him. He listened to two full strides forward and a half step back before the door swung shut, closing off the light streaming in from the hall.

"That's what you've been worried I would find out about, isn't it?" the man behind him asked. He couldn't read the mild, almost bland tone of Michael's voice.

He should turn around, he told himself, but he simply stayed where he was, facing the bulletin board over his desk, staring at the note reminding him that tomorrow was the anniversary of his accident. The anniversary of Katherine Blythe's death. Atop his blotter, his hands tightened a little.

He heard another two steps forward and knew that Michael was close enough to touch him. He felt himself stiffen involuntarily, but the contact never came. There was only the steady awareness of Michael's presence, solid, unwavering, and infinitely fair. Always fair.

"I am prepared to leave the team," Pieter finally forced out. On the desk, his hands balled into fists.

"No," Michael answered, neither too hastily nor too slowly. "No, you are not the only who feels he has blood on his hands. And you are wrong if you think I didn't already know about her."

Pieter blinked. Then he slowly swiveled his chair around so he could face Michael. "You know."

Michael nodded. He did not look upset or surprised. He was just... there.

"You know I killed her," Pieter stated flatly, the words reechoing in his ears, made no easier to say by time or distance.

Michael was still standing in a sort of relaxed attention, his eyes level on Pieter's face even though he couldn't possibly see in the dark. Or could he? With the T-mask on he probably could. "I know she died when her car was struck by a vehicle you were operating," he stated, his tone announcing facts without blame.

"I killed her," Pieter repeated stubbornly.

"And I killed my own wife," Michael responded softly.

Pieter forced himself not to gape, not to react at all either positively or negatively. He gave himself time to measure his words - his word. "How?"

"I was driving," Michael replied, and Pieter was sure behind the T-mask, Michael's eyes were scanning Pieter's face.

And suddenly Pieter understood. Michael didn't want absolution. Pieter couldn't take away the guilt any more than Michael could forgive Pieter. There was only the comfort of shared blame, shared grief.

Michael still stood an arm's length away, and Pieter wasn't sure what to do, how to signal that he got it, that he knew what Michael was trying to say. He caught it, though, when Michael made an aborted gesture with his hand, as if he were starting to reach out and thought better of it. It gave Pieter enough of a clue.

Pieter raised his own hand and caught hold of Michael's, finishing the gesture Michael had started and feeling rewarded by the squeeze of fingers against his. They remained in silence, hands entwined, until a beep sounded at Michael's belt.

Michael did not apologize as he released Pieter's hand and reached down to activate the com unit at his belt. Pieter wouldn't have wanted him to. Instead he watched as Michael quietly said, "Terrific," and then listened to whoever was on the line. Finally he said, "I'm on my way."

Michael's gaze returned to Pieter's face, but there was nothing else to say. Pieter nodded to him and got a nod in response before Michael turned and the opening of the door once more plunged Pieter into blindness.

Then the door closed, and Pieter Cross - Dr. Mid-Nite - sat in the dark, rubbing the tips of his fingers together in the memory of touch.