FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"If You're Gone"
Part 1
by Sparrow
Disclaimer: Not mine! All characters are the property of Jason Katims, the WB and all those other powers that be. - Words and music were the inspiration but belongs to Rob Thomas & Matchbox 20 - If you have the CD - pop it in and listen while you read! The other song belongs to Alanis. - Just borrowing! And thanks to for the episode scripts - saved me a lot of rewind time!
Summary: Now that Alex is home from Sweden, his band, "The Wits" have begun rehearsing for Amateur Night at The Local Club (it was never given a name, and that's how they referred to it in the transcripts for Blind Date). Maria decides this would be a good opportunity to put some much-needed distance between her and her "stonewall" and throws herself into practices essentially ignoring Michael. However, Michael's reaction to their separation and the performance is not at all what she expected.
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Authors Note: Since this is my first attempt at fan fiction, I would be really appreciative of any comments as long as they are constructive. This story is already posted on two other fan fiction message boards. and Authors Note 2: Okay I'm a bit worried that things might get confusing because there are so many things going on. Since there are no bold type or italics available, flashbacks are between slashes ///Flash/// and indented, thoughts are in *Stars*, the song Maria will sing is in "quotes". Whew (wipe the brow), got it?
"You're sure?"

"Of COURSE I'm sure."

"Abso-lute-ly positive?"

"I am one-hundred and ten percent committed."

"No backing out."


"No freezing up, choking, or all out panics?"

"Geez Alex, I said I'll be fine, now knock if off or I'll smack you upside the head with your guitar!" Maria huffed and stormed off into the break room of the Crashdown.

"What the hell was that about?" Michael inquired over his shoulder as he continued to flip burgers.

Alex sighed heavily, rolled his eyes and dropped his head down toward the counter to rest it on his arms. "We're performing Friday night at The Local Club's amateur night." His voice sounded muffled and somewhat tense.

Michael smirked as he put the finishing touches on a Galaxy Melt and Men In Black Burger. "So?" He replied turning to face the still slumped Alex, "What's the big deal? It's not like she hasn't sung before. Order Up!" he yelled and deposited the food on the pick-up shelf.

Alex picked up his head and looked at him incredulously, his blue eyes narrowing as he explained his obvious problem. "The big deal is.." he began, loosely gesturing with one hand, "She has stage fright. The hyperventilating, 'Oh my god', Walk off the stage, kind of stage fright." Alex finished his rant with both hands held high in the air over his head to emphasize his perception of Maria's fear.

**So that's where she's been all week.** Michael thought, but to Alex he said, "So don't do it."

"What!?" Alex cried and slammed his hands down on the counter. "Not do it! Do you have any idea how HARD we've been practicing?!!! I mean Maria brought in this new song she wants to do that we STILL don't have the timing for down yet and.." Alex's voice was rising in octaves and in decibels until Michael cut him off.

"Hey!" he barked. "Chill out okay! If I'd of known you would get all. testy.. I wouldn't have said anything. In fact, forget we even had this conversation." Michael turned around abruptly and picked up the spatula, angrily flipping burgers that were already done.

"Well guess that's my cue to go check on Maria," Alex replied calmly, used to Michael's abrupt changes in temperament, especially when it came to Maria. He stood up and moved away from the counter to make his way to the break room. "See ya, Michael," he called as he pushed through the swinging door.

After Alex left, Michael tossed the spatula back onto the grill and ran a finger heavily across his right eyebrow, trying to erase the last five minutes of his life. He knew why he snapped at Alex. Maria. He was angry at her for avoiding him, angry that she was spending time with Alex, but most of all, he was angry at himself for caring that she was avoiding him. "Crap," he muttered and began prepping the rest of the orders.

Back in the break room Maria had just finished retouching her make-up using the mirror in her locker. Satisfied after one final check, she closed the locker door only to jump back in surprise when she turned and bumped into Alex.

"Eeeep! Scare ten years off my life why don't you Alex." She teased and whacked him lightly on the arm.

"You know I think you're the best, right?" he asked her quietly looking down at her.

Maria tilted her head to the side and gazed at him quizzically. "Are you okay?" Then more in a more accusatory tone, "Did Michael say something? Cause if he did, I swear I am going to knock his blockheaded Czechoslovakian butt into next week. What did he do?" Her hands were now on her hips and her green eyes were blazing, ready to do battle for him.

"Whoa DeLuca, down girl." Alex stepped back putting his hands up at his sides and thought **Boy, Michael must have really pissed her off** "I just came to apologize, but I'll leave if you want to start World War Three."

As quickly as the fight rose in her, it deflated, leaving in its wake such sadness that Alex was compelled to pull Maria into his arms. "Tell me what happened," he whispered.

Maria snuggled in her friends arms determined not to cry over Michael anymore. She took a deep breath and lifted her chin to rest it on Alex's chest so she could look into his eyes. "It's just the same old thing. One day he gives me pearls, and the next he's telling me he can't get involved because of this whole thing with Laurie, the woman Isabel and Max helped rescue." Maria sighed, tears welling in her eyes despite her determination, " Now, more than ever I realize that at any moment he could just pick up and leave but not care that he's going because I got to have him in my life. To love him, for a little while anyway," she said the last part quietly, pressing her cheek against Alex's chest and tightening her grip around him. "I haven't spoken to him in over a week. I feel like I've already lost him."

"A-ha, I see. He's in the whole 'being Czechoslovakian' phase again," Alex commiserated using Maria's code word for their non-humans. Max, Michael. Isabel and even Tess had all put their significant humans through the "will they won't they" relationship ringer several times in the past year and half. The look that Isabel had given him as she left Liz's rooftop, the night he was showing his Sweden slides, almost had him chasing after her again. Thank god Liz commended him on his supposed indifference.

Regardless of his restraint, in the back of his mind he knew he still had deep feelings for Isabel, but in no way did it match the intensity of Maria and Michaels on again off again relationship. Instead of placating her with the expected 'he'll come around again' or 'you don't need him in your life', he offered her this advice. " Sing the song Maria. We'll practice it more."

"Hey Blondie!" Michael yelled, the swinging door thumping as he pushed his way through. " Your customers are asking if you're planning on doing your job or.." He stopped short as his gaze settled on Maria in Alex's arms. Blocking the door from closing with his body, his voice got quiet and cold as he asked, "Am I interrupting something?"

"I'll see you tonight Alex and thanks," she said as she stepped out of Alex 's comforting embrace. Maria then walked directly up to Michael who was still giving Alex his trademark glare. "Cool your jets Spaceboy," Maria snapped. Michael's gaze immediately shot to hers and he felt his body tighten as she ran her finger just under her pouty lower lip. "Now move so I can service my customers." Maria giggled as she saw Michael's eyes narrow at her sexual reference then pushed her way past him and walked over to one of her tables.

Michael watched Maria chatter amicably with the family sitting in the booth, his body still tingling from where she brushed against him. **My Maria,** the thought startled him and he jerked his already tense body to step completely through the door, finally allowing it to swing close, thus cutting off his view of her. **Stonewall, stonewall, mud, mud, mud. Oh crap.** his Mantra just wasn't working.

His preoccupation with the golden-haired pixie is why he recoiled when Alex put a hand on his shoulder. "Shit! Whittman, do you WANT to get fried?" Michael berated as he pushed Alex's hand off his shoulder. "Don't sneak up on me like that."

Alex sighed and stuffed his hands into the front pockets of his baggy cargo pants. Today just was full of idol threats. "Look Michael can I offer you some advice?"

Michaels responding glare and sardonic expression screamed 'what could you possibly say to me that's worth hearing'. Alex ignored it and pulled one hand out of his pocket. "You need to get out more," he continued. "And I've got the means for you to do so." Alex held up his hand and clenched between his thumb and fingers were three tickets.

Suddenly and quicker than Michael thought the lanky musician could move, Alex smacked the tickets against his chest so he was forced, through reflex, to catch them.

As Alex walked through the door smiling he added, "Bring a friend.or two."

Michael looked down at the tickets he clutched against his chest and turned them over to examine them more closely. "Crap," he muttered and stuffed them in his back pocket, tickets to The Local Club's amateur night. **This could suck big.**

Index | Part 2
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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