Fanfic - Michael/Maria
"Beautiful To Me"
Part 1
by Elise
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Don't sue, I'll cry. ;p
Summary: Maria's pleased with what's hers. Takes place after Season 2.
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: I've come to realize that some Fehrians find this fiction offensive - - please realize that in no way am I insulting Brendan's looks; what Maria is speaking of is not what's on the outside.
My boyfriend is beautiful is so very many ways. To me. Beauty is a funny thing by definition. Definition alters depending on the object, and on the observer. Someone unusually deep and mature might say that beauty can be found in anything. Max would say that, and Liz might say that. I don't think that's true.

Take a dead bug, for example. It's a bug. It's dead. That's not beautiful. The bug was not beautiful in life, when it spent its days crawling along the ground, leaving a slimy trail in its wake, feeling around with its trembling antannae. And it is not beautiful in death, lying lifeless on a cold linoleum floor, scrunched up and rotting within hours.

If you can find beauty in that, then one would think you'd be overwhelmed into a heart attack upon seeing a butterfly. Therein lies my definition of beauty. Pretty colors on wings that soar up into the heavens on a whim. Yeah. That's beautiful.

Somewhere between those two extremes lies the other half of me: Michael Guerin. Now, here's where that whole personal point-of-view thing factors in. It's a well-known unspoken fact that there are those who consider Michael a nice catch, a handsome bad-boy, and there are also those that roll their eyes at his always-entertaining choice of hairstyles and lopsided grin.

Consider me biased, but in my opinion they're all nice qualities to have. At least, they're nice qualities for Michael to have. They make him who he is, and without them, I don't know who he'd be. Certainly not someone worthy of my attention.

Michael is a living, breathing contradiction to all that beauty represents in the minds of many. And at one point I believe my mind set was very much the same. But as I've come to be closer to him, and to learn more about who he is, I've come to realize just what a gem I have in my arms everyday. Granted, he's a dusty gem on the surface, one that cannot, will not be spit-shined, but a gem he is nonetheless.

Max once spoke to me about Liz, about falling in love with her at first sight on the first day of third grade. His words were so passionate and the way that he said them, you just knew he meant them, and he believed them. I remember at the time that I felt sad, wishing that for myself and at the same time realizing that wasn't likely to happen.

I don't wish for that anymore. It wasn't in the cards for me, it's not the way I was meant to be loved. I can tell you without a doubt that the first time I saw Michael Guerin, I was anything but in love. The word repulsed comes to mind. He was just this weird kid with bruises and cuts and scrapes all over his arms and legs, with unruly hair that more often than not stuck straight up into the air. And it was years before I saw his face express anything but contempt for those around him. Not exactly crush material.

But Michael's the kind of guy that grows on you. Slowly. But relentlessly. All he had to do was kiss me, and suddenly I was looking at him in a different way, looking for clues to explain why he was such a complex person, why he insisted on being so closed off to everyone but Max and Isabel. And all I could think about for days afterwards was how much I wanted him to kiss me again.

It took a long time to get Michael to warm up to me and give me a reason to justify the feelings that I suddenly had for him. It was a gradual process, and one that was full of potholes, and sometimes even now I still feel like I'm on that same path. But without having to go through all that agony, I wouldn't have appreciated getting past it, wouldn't have realized what a huge thing it was that Michael let someone new get close to him. And I wouldn't have been so amazed that the person was me.

Now that I know so much about Michael, now that I've come to love him, it's strange trying to remember why it is that I never felt inclined to pay more attention to him in the past. He's an amazing person - - well, amazing in his own way, that is - - and I wonder why I never saw that before.

He's not beautiful in the conventional sense of the word, I suppose. Not to everyone. He's no Brad Pitt. Hell, he's no Max. But I honestly can't think of anyone else I'm more attracted to, more drawn to. He would appeal to more people if they knew him the way I do, if they saw him the way that I do.

He was lying on the bed the other day. In his room, in his apartment. The room was still, everything was quiet, except for his labored breathing. I was wide awake, propped up on one arm and staring at him for long, long minutes. There was this small bit of sunlight filtering in through the drawn shades - - I told him that material was too cheap to block the sun - - and it lit up the room with this faint glow, lit up his skin in a way that can only be seen if you happen to look at the right time. And he looked... beautiful. Peaceful.

I was glad to be awake, though it was just after sunrise and therefore far too early for my taste, but it gave me time to just look at him, to appreciate him without having to explain why I was staring. It was the day after we'd slept together for the first time, the day after he almost left me for another planet. Knowing my mother was going to give me hell in the morning, I'd come back to his apartment with him anyway, wanting to be close to him if only because I'd been afraid I'd lost him. And had I not slept over, I wouldn't have been there in that moment, looking at him and admiring all that makes him Michael.

I'm a busy person during the day. I have a job; I have tables to wait on, people to feed. I have things to say, people to rag on, places to get to while barely keeping under the speed limit in Mom's beat-up old Jetta. I have alien enemies to worry about, a best friend to console, and a boyfriend that keeps me constantly on my toes. And so it's rare that I have such quiet moments of contemplation, and even more rare that I take advantage of them. But I did the other morning.

You know how sometimes when you look at something too closely you suddenly start to see all its flaws? It was one of the things that always turned me away from science and made me marvel that Liz could be so infatuated with it, because examining things, scrutinizing things, looking at them under a microscope, brings flaws and ugliness to the surface, melting away any ounce of beauty that something can possess when you look at it from afar.

People are a lot like that, too. When you lean in really close to someone and scan your eyes over their face, you see the imperfections that makeup can't conceal anymore, and you see the microscopic things that aren't meant to be seen by others. You see the stray eyelashes that you sweep away from your friend's face, and you see the result wearing too much lipstick has had on their lips.

But that's where I contradict myself. Because with people, I see even more beauty in every imperfection. It's the differences in everyone that fascinate me, and that I'm most eager to see. Physically, I've been closer to Michael than pretty much anyone. I know his face so well I could draw it from memory. If I could draw. But I don't need to. I draw it in my mind when he's not around, imperfections and all.

I love it that I know about certain things on Michael's body that no one else ever will, because they're things that you have to be close enough to see. Some of my favorite things about him are things that other people don't know are there. There's a freckle on the soft spot of his left shoulder. I know because I often kiss him there. And there's the tiniest scar on the edge of his bottom lip, from a time when Hank punched him while wearing a ring that cut his skin. I know because I asked. And I know why it's still there because Michael said he wouldn't let Max heal it; he wanted to keep the scar as a reminder of his life with Hank.

I didn't quite understand that. Why he would want a reminder of that left forever on his body. But that's another thing that's so appealing about Michael. I know so much about him, and yet there are still things that puzzle me, that I'll probably never understand. And that's okay, that's good, even. If I knew him inside out then I'd have no more questions to ask, and lord knows how I love to talk...

I don't remember how long I watched him on that morning in his bedroom, but I suspect it was quite awhile because when he stirred and opened his eyes, I realized that the arm I was leaning on had gone numb. He asked how long I'd been awake in that tone that only Michael could pull off, that tone that tells me he really doesn't need to know, but still cares enough to ask. I told him I didn't know and then smiled as I leaned toward him to blow in his ear. It's a turn-on of his, though as far as I know I'm the only one aware of it. I take full credit for that; I discovered it. He sighed, and was silent for awhile.

I rested my head back down on my pillow and stared up at the ceiling as he was doing, fixing my stare on the piece of gum he'd shot up there weeks ago. I don't know why he did that. One of these days, that's going to un-stick and come crashing down into my hair, I just know it.

He turned to me, his eyes genuinely concerned, and he asked if I regretted yesterday. That's the exact word he used, "yesterday." I could have been annoying and prodded until he actually acknowledged that it was the sex he meant, but he knew that I knew what he was talking about. And I told him no.

He shifted his weight, rolling on top of me to lean the weight of his bare chest upon my body. His expression was fleeting, but I caught the relief in it, the gratitude as he leaned in and kissed me. A different kind of kiss than the one I spoke about earlier, our first kiss. That was rushed and unexpected and ended leaving me dissatisfied. This kiss was the kind he had come to learn that I liked, deep and passionate. His lips fit mine like a missing puzzle piece, and anymore he's not afraid to be tender.

As he pulled away, he rolled back to his side of the bed and then off, standing and trudging toward the bathroom as he muttered that I had better get home. "Your mom's going to kick my ass," he mumbled as he turned around to throw me a smirk before closing the bathroom door behind him.

I knew he was right, but I lingered in the bed a few moments longer, bringing a hand up to trace my lips where his had so recently been. He knows that I like kisses in the morning, and he knows that his kisses leave my lips tingling for hours afterward, always in expectation of the next. He doesn't have to know that, didn't have to take the time to learn that, but he did. And I'm glad. It shows that he cares, and that perhaps he thinks I'm beautiful, too.

Michael Guerin may not be the stereotypically gorgeous guy, the courageous hero, the beloved jock. He's different - - strange, stand-offish, and not of this earth. But all of it only makes him even more beautiful to me. The end.

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