(1937-12-21) At Loose Ends
Details for At Loose Ends
Summary: Michais returns to take care of the shop. When Miranda finally returns, things almost get better. Almost.
Date: 21 December 1937
Related: Last Train to India, The Hangover

As the holiday season grows closer, more people are out and shopping this late afternoon. While one wouldn't exactly call the new antiques import emporium crowded, there are a few customers milling around. The always helpful Mr. Holmes is at hand, currently answering some questions posed to him by an older couple about a clock. His hands are, as usual, clasped lightly behind his back as he talks, and his hair is as mussed up as always.

Miranda blows in with the breeze, appearing from her upstairs apartment with a bit of floo powder still clinging to her hair and soot stains on the hems of her robes. Some things next change. Her eyes flick sideways as she descends, noticing first the prayer rug now missing from the spot where it leaned. She heads behind the counter where the register and her ledger books are and stuffs herself down on the low stool, lips pressed together sourly.

Depending on whether or not she's actually reading the ledger books, or just pulling them over to look busy, there is a notation that Wizard Delivery Company handled all the deliveries that have been made in the past few days, including the prayer rug.

Michais glances up as soon as Miranda appears, but then hastily returns his gaze to the people he is currently helping. Then he gives a smile. "Of course," he can be heard saying as he turns to lead the couple towards the counter, pausing when he realizes Miranda has taken up her station there. "Miss Prewett will be happy to ring up the purchase, and we can have the settee delivered to your house promptly tomorrow before your daughter comes home so you can have it safely hidden." He turns to his partner and gives her a polite smile. "Mr and Mrs Black would like to purchase the 17th century Moroccan settee," he informs her, along with the price. He brushes past her to pick up one of the sold tags, and takes it back out to the floor.

Miranda glances at that careful note and turns the page on the ledger with something very much like a scowl. Then she takes a deep breath and smooths it away to smile at the couple as they approach. "Ah yes, Mr. and Mrs. Black, lovely to see you again." She gives Michais a dismissive nod and turns to begin ringing up the settee and handling the transaction.

Michais bows slightly from the waist as he's dismissed, then after marking the settee, he moves on to the next set of customers. He is attentive to their questions, polite in his answers, and a couple more sales are brought up to the counter, these two small enough to be wrapped and carried. Michais will wrap them carefully in the paper, and charm it for softness, handing over the purchases while Miranda rings them up.

Miranda finishes handling people with a polite if impatient air and once they have been sent on their way she rises to join Michais on the floor, stuffing her hands into the pockets on her robe and fiddling with her wand. "I saw you didn't deliver the prayer rug yourself…" She says by way of opening line.

Michais is finishing putting some knick knacks back in proper order. "There was never any reason for me to deliver the prayer rug," he replies mildly. He switches the positions of a couple to see how they look, then puts them back. "We usually use Wizard Delivery Co, they're reliable and reasonably priced."

Miranda arches an eyebrow at Michais, not the least bit convinced that there wasn't /any/ reason. "Mmhm," she finally murmurs, sounding and looking quite doubtful. "She looks around and then reaches out to touch his arm. "I'm sorry…"

Michais does not respond to the raised eyebrow. He merely continues his assessment of the condition of the wares in the store after a day of being lifted and pawed over. He pauses when she touches his arm, and looks at her. At the apology, he nods. "Me, too." He takes a breath, "Miranda…" then he closes his mouth, and turns to take out a handkerchief and cleans the fingerprints off a taller Shang dynasty vase.

Miranda watches him for a long moment and then says, "Say it. Whatever you were about to say, just…say it. I don't like being on the outs with you."

Michais pauses and braces his hands on the table and stares straight down at the vase. "A guy doesn't stick around with someone for thirteen years through everything if they don't want to be with them," he says quietly. He stares at the vase for another long moment as if he can't believe he just said that, and then he straightens with a sigh.

"You could just really enjoy keeping my head screwed on," says Miranda, trying to make a joke of it. One last sweep of the store to ensure it's still empty and then she reaches up to try to get Michais to look at her. "You never said anything. I was honestly beginning to think you might be gay. Which, you know, you can tell me anything…" Just in case he /is/. Ahem.

Michais gives a little snort of laugh, and shakes his head. "No, Miranda, I'm not gay." He turns to look at her, and it seems that words come with a lot more effort when they're eye to eye. "But I'm also not as comfortable as you are when it comes to displaying my feelings."

"Well… Then it's your own fault you wasted thirteen years and it took a mixed up box of chocolates for me to figure it out." Frustrated? Yes. Miranda runs her fingers through her hair, and floo powder sprinkles down to her shoulders from it. "Next time you like a girl, say something to her. Otherwise, she'll move on."

Michais turns his back to the table, and rests his rear end against it. He crosses his arms across the chest and looks down at the floor. "I told you I thought that some things are worse than being alone," he reminds her quietly. "Being rejected is another thing that's worse than being alone. Just being alone, there's still some hope."

"Well, I haven't rejected you, have I? You've never even tried." Miranda throws up her hands in exasperation and turns back to the ledger books and the dust. "I trust you have the shop in hand," she adds, taking her purse from behind the counter.

"You have, now," Michais replies quietly, very quietly. Then he straightens and looks around with a sigh. "I've used up my personal days at work. I can't open the shop tomorrow. But yes, I can stay and close up today." He folds his handkerchief quite properly and puts it back into his pocket.

"I haven't rejected you," replies Miranda curtly. "You haven't asked." She blows out a breath, sending a few strands of hair puffing upwards. "You don't have to stay. I'll close it up; go. Don't come back, even, if that's what you need."

Michais isn't given to temper, he's the one who usually weathers Miranda's tempers. But tonight, a little muscle works in the corner of his jaw. "You've been may things over the years, Miranda. You've been exasperating and exhilarating, generous and thoughtless, careless and absolutely captivating." He walks around behind the counter to collect his papers and his briefcase. "But never before have you actually been cruel."

His personal ledgers are placed quite forcefully into his briefcase. "You insist that Elijah is the man who deserves you, that loves you and appreciates you, and the man you are going to stay with. And yet you badger me to ask you to be mine. Why? So you can pat yourself on the back that you have two men who are in love with you and one of them will have to live the fact that he can never be with you?" He clamps his jaws as tightly shut as his briefcase when he pushes the cover down and snaps the latches shut. A few steps takes him to the coat rack, and he pulls down his cloak to swing it on. "Good evening, Miranda."

Miranda is going to regret this and probably grovel… if not tomorrow, the day after that. For now though, she just folds her arms and watches Michais go. Once he's gone, she flips the sign to closed and locks up before heading down the street to a certain other wizard's house.

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