Mohinder let out a longsuffering sigh and let gloved hands drop to his side from where they’d been tending to the shallow scrape on his adopted son’s forehead. “Michael…”
The boy scowled at him. “What? That stuff hurts worse than getting my face ground into the pavement ever did.”
“Not half as much as it will if it gets infected,” the geneticist pointed out. “If you don’t want to deal with it, then I suggest you stop getting into fights at school.”
Another glare, but this time he sat still long enough for Mohinder to finish tending the wound with alcohol and cover it carefully with a patch of sterile gauze. Only when he’d finished did Michael speak again.
“It’s not like I had a choice,” he defended himself fiercely. “They called you and Matt a couple of fags.”
Mohinder put the gauze back into the first aid kit with a pained grimace. “I see.” Less than a year ago, he might have thought the children in question had called him a cigarette or a meatball – either of which would be a creative if an odd insult – but once Matt had come into his life he’d quickly learned the unpleasant truth of what the word meant in the United States. “That is admittedly crude…but not entirely inaccurate.”
“Yes it is,” Michael insisted, his words weighted with conviction and disgust in equal measures. “A fag isn’t a gay man, it’s a gay caricature. It means they don’t want to see you as a person; they want to see you as some weak, effeminate, lisping, probably slutty stereotype. And you’re not. Either of you.”
Mohinder snorted. “I should say not.” He closed the first aid kit and set it back on the table, studying his handiwork with a critical frown. “How many of them were there, again?”
Michael had the decency to look a little embarrassed. “Only three. They wouldn’t have gotten the drop on me either if I hadn’t tripped. I mean, it’s not like any of them could’ve snuck up on me.”
“It still might be wiser to choose a battle with fewer opponents next time. Or at least not attempt to take them on all at once,” Mohinder pointed out.
“I didn’t take them on all at once, they took me on all at once,” Michael corrected, as if that made the end result any different. Then he did a double take. “Wait, does this mean I’m not in trouble?”
Mohinder hedged. On the one hand, picking fights in the school yard was almost a rite of passage, and at least Michael had chosen a worthy cause to fight for. On, the other, well…he certainly wasn’t the world’s expert on parenting, but it didn’t seem entirely prudent to encourage one’s own bad habits in one’s children. “We’ll discuss that when Matt gets home.”
Maybe he could persuade Matt to pass along some of his police training.
For a moment, Michael’s eyes lost their focus as they always did when he was using that extraordinary power of his to locate someone. “He is home,” he announced with both excitement and trepidation. “He just started up the stairs. You didn’t tell him, did you?”
Mohinder snorted. “I rather don’t think I’ll need to.”
Sure enough, the first words out of Matt’s mouth when he walked through the door moments later were, “You’ve been fighting again.”
Whether this was because he’d read their minds or just drawn the logical conclusion from the bruises, bandages and split lip was anyone’s guess.
Matt crossed the room in a few swift strides and crouched beside Michael’s chair, taking his face in hand to study it. “Okay, that’s it. Saturday, you and I have a date at the gym, kiddo. If you’re going to keep doing this, I’m at least going to teach you how to do it right.”
A corner of Mohinder’s mouth twitched upward as he exchanged a knowing look with his partner. “My thoughts exactly.”
Michael looked from one to the other before burying his face in his arms with a dismayed groan.