Disclaimer:The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Memories Are Made Of This
McCall paused beside the cabinet and looked down at the collection of silver framed photographs standing there. Family portraits smiled up at him, some formal, others quick snapshots but all of them capturing special moments in his past.
Scott as a young child, fair-haired and angelic and one taken about a decade later after his first public performance as a soloist, showing him clutching his violin tightly in one hand and with the biggest grin on his face that McCall could ever remember seeing, the blond hair even then falling untidily into his eyes.
On either side of Scott were his daughters - Kathy, the one he had lost so very young and the other, Manon's child, whom he had discovered only recently. Yvette had come into his life suddenly, dredging up painful memories of the love he had borne her mother and the despair he had felt when Manon had disappeared. He'd lashed out at everybody in his pain. At Scott, another quarrel amongst so many. At Mickey, though half his anger had been worry and the fear he had felt when he heard that the younger agent had been shot. And most of all at Control. Because Control had known Yvette was McCall's child and hadn't told him.
McCall turned from his daughter's picture and looked at the one in the middle of the display. It was his wedding photo, he and Kay looking young and happy and so much in love. He had had such high expectations then but their daughter's death and his work had come between them all too quickly and she'd left him, taking Scott with her, leaving Control to pick up the pieces again as he had after Manon. Kay had told him once towards the end that she'd been prepared to fight his job for him but she hadn't been ready to fight Control too. He hadn't really believed her then but when he got back from Poland with Control, she was gone.
Control. McCall picked up the photo tucked away at the back. It had been taken in a rare moment of relaxation during some mission or other, showing him with an arm draped casually around Control's shoulders in a half embrace. They had been so very young then, sure of each other and their world, relatively untouched by the cynicism and bitterness that tinged them both now. Those had been happy days before Control's promotion and his own disillusionment with the system, back when they had both been field agents and partners.
"Robert?" McCall looked up at Control hovering in the doorway. Thirty years older and grey-haired now, the sight could still stir him. "Are you alright, old son?"
McCall smiled and put the picture gently back in place. "Just remembering."
Control came further into the room and stood beside him, also looking down at the collection of photos. "Good memories?" he queried softly.
"Mostly." McCall flicked a sideways glance at his closest friend and longtime lover. "Not just memories either, I hope, Scott."
Control met the look, surprised at the unusual use of his given name and felt a smile creep over his face. It wasn't often that Robert allowed his feelings to show so openly. At least, not the affection. The anger and quarrels erupted all too frequently between them.
"Does he know?" Control asked abruptly, gesturing towards the picture of his namesake.
"That he was named for you?" McCall countered innocently, deliberately misunderstanding. "Hardly. Not even his mother knew."
Control glared at him from under bushy brows but a smile hovered around his mouth. Robert could be so very irritating at times but he had long since learnt to ignore such deliberate provocation.
"Don't be dense, Robert. You know what I mean."
"Yes, I do. And no, he doesn't. Why?"
"No reason," Control told him casually.
McCall looked at him disbelievingly. Control never asked pointless questions.
"Alright, Control," McCall said, taking his arm and steering him towards the sofa. "Why don't you tell me all about it?"
Control sank down, hand automatically going to his collar to loosen his tie. McCall sometimes wondered why he ever bothered to put one on in the first place, they never survived for long. Control looked up at McCall as he leant against the mantelpiece, hands stuffed casually into his pockets and wondered where to start. Robert's handling of his son was one area they had always clashed over.
"It was last week when we were all at O'Phelan's. He didn't say anything to me but the looks he was giving me were transparent enough. I overheard him asking Mickey some pretty shrewd questions, too. If he doesn't know for sure yet, he'll soon worm the answer out of Kostmayer."
McCall frowned thoughtfully. "You're sure? He hasn't said anything to me."
"He's hardly likely to, is he?" Control shot back. "You're his father."
McCall was forced to acknowledge the truth of his words. He and Scott had come a long way in their relationship this last year or so but there were still some very sensitive subjects. And the Company and McCall's marriage were top of the list.
"So you think I should talk to him."
Control leant further back into the sofa, propping his head on one hand and considered Robert's statement. He knew McCall was reluctant to let anything spoil the fragile rapport he had built with his son but his relationship with Control was an integral part of his life and who he was. It had started long before Scott was born and had outlasted both their marriages and numerous other affairs. Control firmly believed that the only way to break the barriers once and for all was to have a little more honesty between father and son. And that included his relationship with Control.
"I think you must unless you want him to hear it from Kostmayer first."
"Mickey wouldn't tell him," McCall protested, only half believing it himself. He knew as well as Control how easily Scott could talk his way round Mickey when he really wanted to. "Okay, maybe I should," he conceded reluctantly. "but how the hell do I tell him? I can't just go up to him and say 'by the way, Scott, did you know that I'm in love with Control?'"
Control let his smile show. "Why not?" he asked flippantly. "Okay," he continued more seriously as McCall glared at him. "Maybe not that bluntly but he's a lot like you in some ways. He prefers to be told things straight."
"How come you know more about my son than I do?" McCall complained ruefully.
"Because he is your son and I've made it my business to keep an eye on him, old friend."
"I just don't want to lose him again," McCall explained. "How can he possibly understand what you mean to me? All he'll see is that his mother left me because of you. Kay has never hidden how much she loathes you and now he'll know why."
For a moment McCall looked so lost that Control came to his feet and went to join him in front of the fire. He rested a hand on McCall's shoulder, bringing him back from his thoughts.
"I don't think you do him enough credit. He's grown up a lot these last few months. Scott may never have gone into the field but he's learnt a lot about life just being around Mickey and Gage and the others. Trust me on this, Robert," Control asked softly.
McCall sighed and reached up to squeeze his lover's hand where it lay comfortingly on his shoulder. "Don't I always, eventually?" he conceded. "No, don't answer that," he added with a smile as he saw Control about to speak. They both knew that answer all too well. "Alright I'll speak to him."
Control allowed himself a small smile. "Tomorrow?" he prompted, knowing that he was probably pushing McCall too far, too fast.
"You really want me to?" McCall queried again softly. "But why now? We've been together for a lot of years and it's never bothered you before."
Control sighed and looked down at his hands clasped loosely around the glass in his lap. "Would you believe me if I said I was sick of the subterfuge? That I'd like one thing at least in my life to be honest?"
McCall gave a crack of disbelieving laughter. "You tired of the intrigue, Control? Never!"
"That's not what I said, Robert," Control corrected him mildly. "Lying is what I do for a living. It shouldn't be my whole life and I won't let it be anymore. I'm tired of living one lie after another. We're neither of us getting any younger, old friend, and I would like to have some sort of normality in my private life again."
"I understand what you're saying. God knows, I should do," McCall agreed, "but, Control, you don't have a private life. Everything you do, everywhere you go, the Company is always watching."
"I know, Robert but..."
"But nothing," McCall interrupted. "You know Scott. He's not going to take this quietly and if he lets it slip to anyone you could be finished..."
Control snorted. "Don't be naive, Robert. Half the Company is convinced of it anyway. Remember what Charlie McGinn said at the trial?"
McCall chuckled, remembering the Company prosecutor's words vividly... 'Robert, I want you to tell the tribunal the nature of your - relationship with Control.' He and Control had planned every detail of that trial meticulously but that dig with its obvious pause had been pure McGinn. "Bloody kangaroo court! Okay," he allowed. "Maybe they do. Just as long as you're prepared. I don't want this coming back on you," he said sincerely.
"It won't," Control replied confidently. Relations might be a bit strained for a while between the two of them and Scott and, consequently, Kostmayer and Gage as the two younger agents were bound to be dragged into any conflict to keep the peace, but he had weathered worse storms before. They both had. And so long as they had each other to fall back on, they'd survive this one, too. "But d'you know something, Robert," he continued, "there are times when I don't care. If it came to a choice between you and the Company..."
"Don't say it," McCall warned, holding up a defensive hand. "We both know the Company would win."
"Maybe." McCall watched thoughtfully as a pensive look appeared briefly on Control's face before being banished by the familiar half smile. "But the decision would be a lot harder to live with now," he ended ruefully.
McCall looked at him searchingly for a moment and then moved over to take a seat beside the other man on the sofa. He reached out and took the glass away from Control, setting it down on the floor. "I think that's one of the nicest things you've ever said to me," he said softly, the amusement in his voice not concealing the emotions behind the words. "Come here," he added, holding out a hand to the older man.
Control returned the clasp and used it to pull McCall into a comfortable embrace. The gentle kiss and the feelings it engendered were familiar, owing more to the deep and enduring friendship between them than to passion, though even now passion still sparked between them sometimes.
McCall pulled back for a moment. "You can stay the night, can't you?" he checked. "The Company's not going to come calling..."
"Your phone's off the hook?" Control countered, moving closer as McCall nodded. "Good, then I'm staying," he confirmed, catching McCall's mouth in a kiss that had everything to do with love. A love that had survived, battered but undimmed between them for more than three decades.
Scott and the Company and the seemingly endless list of clients for the Equalizer could wait. They would still be there tomorrow.
Tonight was just for them.