FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Growing Pains"
Part 29
by Dee
Disclaimer: I don't own Roswell, I know it and you know it so why don't I save the mantra?
Summary: This is a sequel to my story Growing Up...
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Authors Note: Feedback: Is necessary for my existence.
Michael stood at the door, a sleeping Mickey slung over one shoulder and a sleeping Adrienne curled in his other arm. Maria suppressed a smile at how adorable he looked.

“I expected you earlier,” Maria said, lifting her sleeping baby from Michael’s arms and heading over towards the basinet to lay her down. “What took so long?” Maria asked over her shoulder.

“I got to talking with Liz,” Michael explained, laying Mickey carefully across the sofa.

Maria turned around, regarding him speculatively. “That’s interesting,” Maria considered, raising her eyebrows, “What did you two talk about?”


Maria felt herself tense with dread. “Really? And what did Liz have to say?”

Michael grinned at her, ducking his head. “That I should grovel to get you back.”

Maria felt herself returning his smile. “I think it’s gonna take a lot more than that, bucko,” she replied wryly.

“Yeah…Liz said something to that effect as well,” Michael said with a wry grin of his own.

“Smart woman.”

They regarded each other in companionable silence for a few moments. It felt good to be in the same room and not have an awful tension present as well. Finally, Maria said, “So…”


“I suppose we should talk now.”

“Yeah…I suppose so.”

Michael fidgeted. Now that they had come to the moment he had been looking forward to all day Michael had no idea what to say to her. To begin with an apology seemed too lame in light of all the things he had done to hurt her. And despite her laughter and easy-going attitude with him, Michael knew that Maria was still very angry. Realizing that, he anticipated that their discussion was going to get extremely heated and would very probably not work out in the way he hoped. Still, he knew that he had to start somewhere, knowing that Maria would shut him out forever if he didn’t try to make amends.

After a few seconds Michael opened his mouth, his explanation ready, then at the last moment he snapped it closed, deciding to take another tactic. “Instead of me going on and on about how sorry I am for hurting you…why don’t you first tell me how my leaving made you feel.”

“Why?” Maria asked, her brows furrowed in bewilderment.

“Because I want to be sure to employ more than the adequate amount of groveling when I eventually beg your forgiveness.”

Maria had to smile at that. “You’re an idiot, Michael,” she told him with an exasperated roll of her eyes. “I made lunch if you’re hungry. It’s in the dining room.”

Michael followed her into the neighboring room, taking a seat in the chair she indicated. Despite the food set before them, they did nothing more than pick at the sandwiches on their plates. “You know, I’m still really pissed off at you,” Maria mumbled, not meeting his eyes, “In fact, I wouldn’t even be talking to you if Max hadn’t taken the time to reason with me.”

“So the only reason you’re doing this is because Max asked you to?” Michael inquired tensely.

“No, I’m doing it because it’s the right thing,” Maria retorted.

Michael glared at her for a instant, gauging her sincerity, before asking somewhat miserably, “Exactly how close are…you and Max?”

“We’re good friends…that’s it.”

“Have you always been…” Michael paused for a moment, “’good friends’?”

“We kissed once,” Maria admitted honestly, “but that’s all that happened.” Despite her reassurance Michael swore softly, banging his fist against the table. Maria jumped. “Well, what did you expect after you just packed up and left me?”

“Definitely not for you to take up with Max, that’s for damned sure!”

Maria could feel her anger rising to the surface. “Do you have any idea what your leaving did to me, Michael?” she gasped brokenly, “My best friend’s baby had just died and I was pregnant…pregnant with a baby I wasn’t even sure I wanted. Do you know how guilty that made me feel? Especially when I knew that Max and Liz would have given just about anything to have their baby back?”

Her words hammered away at Michael. They killed his anger and made him feel lower than ever before. “For a long time I couldn’t even be happy about being pregnant,” Maria continued, tears clogging her throat and making her words hoarse and choppy, “I couldn’t help but be resentful because I felt like that was the reason you left me. I hated myself for so long for trying to force you to marry me, Michael! My self-esteem was basically in the toilet.”

Maria thought back to those first days after he left. For weeks she had seriously considered abortion, because she hadn’t been sure she could handle raising another child and having to do it alone. She’d felt like her world was breaking apart around her and her only refuge had been to bury herself waist deep in Max and Liz’s problems. It was the only way she could cope, the only way she could keep from being bogged down in her own personal troubles. Truly, the first three months after Michael left had been hell for Maria. She believed sincerely that she might very well have had a breakdown like Liz if Max hadn’t been there to support her.

She glared at Michael coldly. “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth Max when you should be thanking him for handling your responsibilities in your absence. He’s not the problem here, Michael; you are. If you want someone to blame, blame yourself!”

“And what about you, Maria? Do you share some of the blame or is that all on my shoulders?”

“Of course I share some of the blame!” Maria snapped, “No one forced me to take things with Max as far as I did. That was a choice I made on my own. However, I might have never needed to turn to Max if you hadn’t left me in the first place.”

“What was I supposed to do, Maria?” Michael burst out irately, “You had given me two choices: Stay and marry you or Get out your life forever! I didn’t have much wiggle room, if you get my meaning.”

“And, gee, we all know which one you chose,” Maria spat bitterly.

“I wasn’t ready for marriage, Maria! I told you that! I was scared!”

“That’s what I don’t understand, Michael. Why were you scared? Why the hell were you scared?”

It was a good question, one that Michael didn’t have a ready answer for. All he knew was eight months ago the idea of marrying Maria terrified him, mostly because he had been paralyzed by the fear that he would some how screw it up. It had been the story of his life. Everything he touched turned to crap. He knew that if he had married Maria that would make him vulnerable to her in a way that he had never been vulnerable to another person in his life. Marrying Maria would have been a public declaration that Michael was committing his life to her, not just physically but spiritually and emotionally as well. He knew he would be entrusting to Maria that part of his heart that he had never before let anyone see let alone touch. And he had been too frightened to do it. Because he knew that if she ever left him it would kill him.

He looked at her now, tears beginning in his eyes even though he didn’t want them to. “Maria, do you realize that every person that’s ever loved me in my entire life has loved me out of obligation?”

“Michael, you know that’s not true…”

“It is. If it wasn’t for the fact I came out of those pods with Isabel and Max they wouldn’t have anything to do with me,” he uttered tersely, “I’ve always been the outsider where they are concerned.”

“What in the world would make you believe that?” Maria demanded, looking at him as if he’d gone insane.

“When I was a little boy, Maria, I let myself hope for things,” Michael whispered, his eyes searching her face frantically for understanding, “I waited in that foster home for someone to come and love me…to help me make sense of who I was…what I was. And I got Hank, Maria,” he stated in a flat, emotionless tone, “I haven’t let myself hope for anything else ever since.”

“What are you saying, Michael?”

He grabbed up her hand, chaffing it between his own. “I’m saying that I couldn’t let myself hope we’d be happy if we got married…because I was never confident that things would work out…that you wouldn’t leave me.”

His revelation stunned Maria because it had been something she had never expected for him to reveal. She realized that it was his way of apologizing. That finally, after years of her begging, he was finally trusting her with his feelings…his fears. It left Maria humbled, devoid of anger, her heart brimming over with the love she felt for him. “In all the time we’ve been together, Michael, I’ve never left you once,” Maria remarked with tender emotion, “You were always the one that did the leaving.”

Her gently spoken words did what nothing else had accomplished; they broke the dam of tears inside him. As his body shook with sob after sob Maria wrapped her arms around him, holding his face against her while he cried. “I’m so sorry I hurt you, Maria,” he wept harshly into her midriff, “What can I do to change it?…What can I do….?” Michael felt naked emotionally as a result of his revelations, but he felt he had nothing to hide any longer. He put his emotions on brilliant display for her, figuratively giving her his heart with both hands. It wasn’t that he was 100% sure that she wouldn’t crush it, but that he was 100% sure that she deserved it. He lifted his tear-streaked face to hers and Maria lovingly wiped the tears from his cheeks. “Please, please tell me I won’t lose you over this, Maria…tell me we can start over.”

“Michael, we’ve never really even been friends,” Maria said, “So if we’re going to start over…maybe we should start there. Do you think you can manage that?” She smiled down at him and it was impossible to mistake the forgiveness he saw gleaming in her eyes. Michael expelled a deep sigh of relief.

As he smiled back at her, Michael felt the cold, icy shell that had protected his heart for most of his life begin to disintegrate. The hope he had fought against for so long had begun to bloom in his chest and he was powerless to stop nor did he want to. Michael could finally, after countless arguments and fruitless fights, trust his heart unequivocally to Maria without the immobilizing fear that she would leave him. He understood now that if she could forgive him for his desertion, for his thick-headedness, for his general self-centeredness and lack of good sense, she would undoubtedly forgive him for anything. And Michael anticipated that he would need plenty of forgiving considering how often he managed to screw up. To know that Maria loved him, beyond revenge, beyond hatred, beyond her own hurt feelings made Michael feel acutely unworthy and yet immensely overjoyed. Michael Guerin realized, in that one shining instant, what a truly fortunate man he was and just how truly and deeply he was loved.

He reached up to touch Maria’s cheek in reverence and adoration. “Yeah, DeLuca,” he replied finally with a grateful chuckle, “I think I could manage that.”

The End

Part 28 | Index
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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