FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"Missing Pieces "
Part 1
by Courtney
Disclaimer: I would say something witty here, but I canít think of anything. So, Iíll just go with plain old, "No, not mine."
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
Authors Note: Response to a challenge by Melissa. Here are the requirements . . . 1) M&M. 2) An NC-17 rating. 3) Must explain what happened after the kiss on the forehead in Michael's apartment in "Sexual Healing." And since the rating has to be NC-17, then I WONDER what that could entail...;) 4) Must have a sweet waking-up-after-the-act scene. Thanks and all that . . . to Melissa for the challenge. My thoughts exactly, hehe. And thanks to Eden for beta-reading for me :)
"I really didnít care about the stupid flashes. I just wanted us to be close." Ė Maria, from Sexual Healing

* * * * *

After she spoke the words, she hadnít really expected him to react. Well, that wasnít true. She *had* expected a reaction from Michael Guerin, just not the reaction that she got. When she said that she just wanted to be close to him, Maria had expected that he would do what he always did when things got too Ďintenseí . . . he would run. He would push her as far away as possible and run in the opposite direction, away from her and all the feelings that she brought out in him. Michael wasnít big on feelings. At least, she hadnít thought so . . .

His arm around her shoulder told a totally different story. He wasnít running, wasnít high-tailing it away from her at breakneck speed as she had grown so accustomed to. No, instead, he was holding her to him. He was kissing her. His lips pressed to her forehead almost made Maria cry. She found herself leaning into him, liking the way it felt to lose herself in his arms.

God, why was he being like this? Why now? Why, after everything that had happened between them, did Michael pick this moment to finally give just a little of himself to her? She knew the answer, of course, but the question still wouldnít go away. He was afraid; afraid of losing her, afraid of running, afraid of being alone. And she was afraid, too. She was afraid that he would eventually stop being afraid . . . and then where would she be left? Maria closed her eyes and let herself feel his arms around her.

"Iím sorry," he said softly against her hair.

She started to look up, to meet his eyes, but his arms were still wound tightly around her and refused to budge even enough for her eyes to find his. She finally gave in and settled back against his chest as she asked, "Sorry for what?"

"What you said before . . . about me not being cold or mean . . . I know that I am sometimes . . . a lot of the time, actually. Iím sorry." His words were spoken softly, but so close that they echoed through her.

She smiled a little. "Itís okay, Michael," she assured him. It was true that his distance had hurt her so many times. But, at that moment he was holding her so close, letting her into his heart like he rarely ever did. How could the world be anything but perfect right then? How could she be angry about one thing in the world when he was holding her like this?

"Itís not okay and Iím sorry," he insisted.

She pulled away again and this time he loosened his hold on her just a bit so that their eyes could meet. "It doesnít matter now," she told him honestly.

He gave her the most amazing look then, reaching down to brush his fingers over her cheek and smiling so slightly that she would have missed it were it not for the look in his eyes, and he said, "Iíll never do it again."

She smiled back at him even as tears filled her eyes. "Michael . . ." she whispered and his name was the only word she managed to get out before the tears were streaming down her pale cheeks, leaving faint lines down the porcelain-smooth surface of her skin.

"Maria?" Worry filled his voice as he saw the tears. He reached up and brushed at the moisture with his thumb. "Please donít cry," he said quietly as he tightened his arm around her body.

"Iím . . . itís not what you think," she told him. "I just . . . I canít believe . . . I canít believe that itís finally right."

"Right?" he questioned as he eased away the remainder of her tears with his fingertips.

"Us . . . this," she explained. "I was afraid . . . well, I didnít think weíd ever have, you know, what Max and Liz have," she admitted.

"And what do Max and Liz have that we donít?" he asked curiously.

"Well, you know, the whole Ďsoulmatesí thing. Theyíre so . . . connected. I guess I was scared that . . . well, that I could never be that person for you. That I just wasnít . . . enough," she finally said.

Now it was Michaelís turn to pull back and look at her. "Maria, are you kidding me? Youíre . . . God, youíre more than enough. I canít . . . I donít even know how to describe how much more you are to me than that." He seemed to think for a moment, then he touched her face, brushing his fingers over her cheekbones and leaning in to kiss her lips lightly. "Youíre what Iíve been missing, Maria DeLuca. Youíre my missing piece," he whispered.

She looked up into his eyes and all the words that normally swam through her head at a mile a minute seemed to have deserted her. For one of the first times in her life, Maria was speechless. She couldnít do anything but stare up at him with the goofiest grin on her face. She felt tears prick her eyes again, but she pushed them back. She didnít want to cry now. She wanted to do a lot of things, but crying wasnít one of them. Instead, she went with the thing she wanted to do most of all. She kissed him.

Maria had kissed him before. Many times, in fact. It wasnít *always* Michael who initiated their eraser room make-out sessions. He wasnít always the one to make the first move. Still, this was different . . . very different indeed. It was like he could feel her everywhere around him, like she became a part of him through the kiss. His eyes were closed, his fingers tangled in her short, blonde hair and her tongue was in his mouth. ĎOh God . . .í he thought. How had he ever run from this girl?

"Umm . . . Michael," she said breathlessly between their frantic lips. "Do you have any . . . um . . . you know . . . protection?"

He pulled back immediately. "W-what?" he stammered in disbelief.

"You know, Michael," she prodded, widening her eyes to get her point across and closing the distance between them for another hungry kiss.

"W-well, yeah, I mean, I do . . . I just--" he said in a nervous voice that made her smile grow as any fears she might have had melted away.

"Get it," she requested and she kissed him once more before giving him a look that told him she was more than serious about this.

"Uh . . . okay, I . . . I think itís, um . . ." He went quickly to a stack of boxes by the bedroom door and rummaged through them. "I know I have them . . . um . . ."

"Michael," she said softly and he turned to see her standing beside him. He gulped and tried to keep his eyes from opening too wide. ĎWhen did she take off her sweater?í he wondered as he looked down at her in only her bra and jeans. "I found one," she said as she held up the object heíd been searching for. He gave her a questioning look and she shrugged. "My mother always told me to be prepared."

Shaken from his stupor, Michael smiled then, too. "God bless your mother," he said as he took the condom from Mariaís hand and pulled her against him for another kiss.

Maria responded quickly, reaching up to meet his mouth even as she pulled him down closer to her. Realizing the disadvantage that their height difference provided, Michael bent down to hook his hands beneath her thighs and pulled her up. She took the hint immediately, wrapping her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. He pressed her body back against the open bedroom door as his mouth continued to ravage hers.

"Michael . . . bedroom . . ." she managed to say between fevered kisses. He could only nod and stumble towards the bed, Maria still in his arms and their lips never parting. When he set her down on the already tosseled sheets, he finally pulled back from their kiss. She looked up at him questioningly. "What? Whyíd you stop?" she asked.

"Uh . . . I need to breathe," he explained. She watched as his eyes fell shut for a moment then watched them open again and his gaze fixed on her.

"I . . . um . . . youíre not . . . I mean, you arenít not sure or anything?" she asked tentatively. She dreaded his answer more than she had ever dreaded anything in her entire life. If he said no to this, if he rejected her now . . . she just wasnít sure that she could take that.

Michael looked at her for a moment, then seemed to register her question. He shook his head quickly. "No, no, Iím not . . . I mean, I want to, I just . . . Maria, are you sure?" he asked. "Because I know you came over here kind of upset and I donít want this to be about that and if thatís all this is then I really shouldnít let--"

"Michael," she said as she brought her finger to his lips to silence him. "Shut up." She smiled sweetly after the words. "I want this. I want you. Michael Guerin, youíre what Iíve been missing, too. Youíre the only person that I . . . that I trust. I . . . please, Michael. Please just . . ."

He answered her with another kiss, this one filled with all the fire of the previous kisses, but also laced with something more. She could feel his emotions in this kiss, feel all of who he was being conveyed between them by the touch of their lips. And then she realized what had changed. Michael was opening himself up to her, connecting with her. She was seeing him, the real him that no one else, not even Max and Isabel, really knew. This was the person sheíd gotten a glimpse of that night when heíd cried himself to sleep in her arms; the boy that she knew was hidden inside the man she loved, but had never really thought he would let her see. And now she *was* seeing him. And it was incredible.

She saw Michael as a boy, alone in the desert after Max and Isabel had gone. She felt his fear, his loneliness . . . he was just a scared little boy. She felt his tears as he cried under the stars that night and wished he could just go home.

She saw Michael as a youngster, maybe ten years old or so. He was huddled in a corner of a dark bedroom that she didnít recognize. It was his bedroom in one of the foster homes. Heíd had a nightmare. And no one had come to comfort him. Instead, he woke up alone, just like always.

Then she saw Michael as a teenager; it couldnít have been more than a few years past. He was fending off blows from Hank, trying to hold back his anger and his pain even as he wondered what he had done to deserve this latest round of punches. He knew it had to be something. He knew it had to be his fault.

And then, there was Michael again, this time hiding behind a tree in the yard across from the Evansí house. He was watching Max and Isabel and their parents as they played basketball. It seemed like a simple scene, but she could feel how hurt he was by it. He felt like an outsider around them. His only family in the world, and he felt like he didnít belong even with them.

Maria gasped as Michael finally broke the kiss and the images that had flashed through her mind began to fade. She took a few deep breaths and blinked quickly to clear her vision. Sheíd been crying, but she hadnít realized it until just then. Looking up at Michael, she was surprised to find his cheeks covered with tears as well. She reached out to cup his face in her hands, praying he wouldnít pull away from her even as it became exactly what she expected to have happen. But he didnít. He just sat there and let her brush away his tears.

"I never knew," she whispered. "Iím sorry, I never knew."

"Iím not alone anymore," he reminded her as his lips curled into a tight smile.

"No," she nodded as she smiled in return. "Youíre not."

"I love you," he whispered as his eyes bore into hers. Her smile grew and she felt her throat tighten at his words. He leaned in then and caught her lips with his again.

This time there were no visions, no flashes of light or heart-wrenching emotions that accompanied the kiss. But then, this kiss wasnít about all the things that were wrong. No, this kiss was about all the things that were *right* . . . and suddenly that seemed like everything to Michael and Maria.

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