Fanfic - Michael/Maria
"Can't Find a Better Man"
Part 6
by Ariana
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
Summary: Sequel to "Just Like Me"
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG
Michael became aware that he was alone with Maria and they hadn't spoken directly to each other yet. "Are you going to be okay here by yourself?" Maria decided to break the ice.

"I'm sure I'll be fine," Michael struggled in his seat and Maria could see that it was difficult for him to get his boots off.

Maria rolled her eyes and kneeled down in front of him, "Now is not the time to be proud Michael." Michael didn't say anything when Maria unlaced his boots and gently slipped them off his feet. "Have you eaten anything yet?" He shook his head and Maria got up to get her cell phone out of her purse.

"Hey, Tess," Maria said after she dialed. "Can you do me a favor? Can you tell Sheriff Valenti that I'm spending the night at Liz's." Michael was surprised that Maria wanted to stay after all he had done. "Yeah, we are working on a school project together. OK, I'll see you tomorrow, Bye," Maria hung up the phone, and without saying another word to him she went into the kitchen.

Michael could hear her moving things around, but because of the position he was in he couldn't see what she was doing. Instead of trying to initiate a conversation by yelling from his seat he turned on the TV and began flipping the channels for a sports game.

She made him spaghetti one of her favorite dishes, but after she set down his plate in front of him she hurried back into the kitchen. "Aren't you going to eat?" he asked her.

Maria handed him a soda; "I'm not hungry."

"Are you purposely avoiding me?" he questioned.

"Do you think I would be here if I was avoiding you?" Maria answered, but Michael didn't exactly believe her.

"We need to talk about this?" Michael told her. "I can't stand this anymore."

Maria agreed they needed to talk, "Eat first then talk later." She went back into the kitchen and left him alone to eat his dinner.

Maria washed a pile of dirty dishes that Michael had left in the sink, and then she cleaned out the refrigerator of all that food that was growing fur. By the time Maria got done cleaning the entire kitchen Michael was sleeping soundly on his couch. "So much for talking," Maria grabbed a blanket from the closet and began to cover him, but then his eyes opened.

"I'm awake," he said flinching with pain.

Maria said, "Come on, I'll help you to bed." She took one of his arms and put it around her shoulder. Using all her strength Maria managed to get Michael to his feet and together they walked over to his bed. She helped him sit down on his bed and she couldn't hold it in any longer, "Why the hell did you do it Michael? You knew how I felt about all of this?"

"I guess, I thought if we got the pentegram from Brody half of our problem would have gone away," Michael confessed. "I kind of wanted to play the hero."

"Michael, you could have died, don't you realize that. I could have lost you," Maria cried as she sat down on the other side of the bed. "I was so scared when I got that phone call from Max, but when I saw that you were okay I could hardly breathe."

Michael couldn't believe he had put her through that, "I'm really sorry. I just want all of this to go away. I just wish you and I could have a normal life together without these consequences."

"I gave up on having a normal life," Maria told him. "But I don't want a life without you."

Michael wished he had been more careful, "If my entire body wasn't throbbing with pain right now I would give you the biggest hug.

"I guess I can fix that," Maria crawled across the bed. She cupped Michael's face with her hands and softly pressed her lips to his. Michael felt the power surge through him as the kiss deepened. The achiness in his body began to disappear and Michael never felt better.

Michael said in a husky voice, "Maria, I really want to-"

Maria smiled teasingly, "Sorry, it's a school night." Michael groaned as Maria pulled away.

"Why didn't you heal me earlier?" Michael asked curiously.

Maria opened Michael's top dresser drawer, "I had to make you suffer a little bit." She quickly undressed and slipped on one of Michael's Metallica T-shirts then she settled into the bed waiting for Michael to get in so she could finally sleep.

* * * Maria needed to talk to Max about the Tess situation and she finally got her chance at lunchtime the next day. Only it didn't go as planned because all he wanted to do was talk about John F. Kennedy.

"How did he know?" Max went on. "How did Kennedy know to be tough with the Russians early but later to hang back and play it safe, even after they shot down the U2?"

"I don't know," Maria responded wondering what the band U2 had to do with Kennedy.

Max continued, "I don't either. That's the problem. I'm supposed to be this great leader, but I don't know how to make these kinds of decisions. I don't have that kind of insight. How am I supposed to know what's the right course of action?"

"Hmm, I have a thought," Maria wanted to knock some sense into him, so she did the next best thing. She grabbed the hard cover book in front of Max and began whacking him with it. "What are you talking about?! Here you are giving me this history lesson. You haven't even told me what the hell is going on."

"I know," Max said after she stopped hitting him. "I'm sorry. Look, I'm just trying to figure how to-"

"Yes, yes," Maria interrupted. "You're trying to figure out how to be a leader. All right. Here's a little insight, JFK. He's not so great. Cheated on his wife with tramps. Lied to his friends. Ohh…now there's something you and Jack have in common. Why didn't you tell me about you and Tess?"

"I'm not involved with Tess," Max gave her a confused look.

Maria didn't look convinced, "Just taking midnight strolls with her?"

"You saw us?" Max questioned unless Tess told her.

Maria nodded, "Yeah, WE saw you…as in Liz and I saw you together. Looked like a pretty romantic evening to me. Maybe a little patty-cake on the front porch before you said good night?"

Max could tell that she was teasing him a bit, "No. It's just…it's a long story."

"Oh well, I certainly don't want to hear a long story unless there's a Kennedy involved," Maria joked.

"I love Liz," Max stated simply.

Maria's facial expression grew more serious, "I know you love Liz, Max. You've been telling me that the entire summer. But now that she's back, I'm the one who's doing all the work here. I'm putting my relationship with my sister in jeopardy for you."

"What am I supposed to do?" Max looked lost and really wanted her guidance.

Maria got up to leave, but before she left she said, "I don't know. Do something. Show her how you feel, and please, please…do it now. Look, I'm sorry. I know that you're dealing with this Roswell Missile Crisis or something…just try and follow your heart. I mean, isn't that what the great leaders always do?"

"I guess so," Max replied.

Maria concluded, "But they also listened to their trusted advisors. Their decisions weren't completely their own sometimes." Maria walked away hoping Max would do the right thing.

* * * Michael was glad that Max changed his mind and decided to do something to permanently end their current problem. As he walked with Max and Isabel to the UFO center he felt a little guilty for not including Maria. They hadn't included Tess in a lot of their decisions was because they lacked that special connection, but Maria's absence was out of Michael's own selfishness. Whatever happened that night Michael wanted to be sure that Maria would not be the one to get hurt.

"No, we can't do this," Max announced to them when they reached the exhibit hall.

Michael couldn't believe it, "What?!"

"This isn't us," Max explained.

"I know what you're saying," Isabel had her doubts too. "But we have to do something."

Michael wanted this over, "Brody's dead. End of subject." Max did something that Michael wasn't expecting; he erected a force field between them. "What the hell?" Michael knew that Maria had the capability of a force field, but he didn't know Max could do it too. Max put his hand down and the force field disappeared. "When did you learn to do that?"

"Awhile ago," Max ordered. "Just wait here."

"What are you gonna do?" Isabel asked.

Michael saw Max revert back to his pacifist side when he said, "Face him and find out the truth."

"And if he kills you?" Michael challenged, as they looked each other in the eye.

Max didn't get intimidated, "Then you can be fearless leader." Michael could only watch as Max disappeared down the hall.

"God, I hope he knows what he is doing," Isabel nervously paced.

"That makes two of us," Michael added wondering if he would have had the guts to do what Max did.

"Abducted," Isabel repeated for the third time since her brother returned. "Brody was abducted by aliens." She hugged her brother because she was relieved that they didn't have to go through with it.

Michael realized that Max was right but instead of apologizing he said, "Do me a favor Maxwell, don't give Maria the details, because I know she trusts you with the truth."

"Besides," Isabel came up next to them. "You don't want Michael to be in the dog house."

* * * "I'm really proud of you Michael," Maria said to him at work the next day. "I really admire you for doing the right thing."

"Well Max made me see the errors of my ways," Michael admitted feeling a little guilty for only giving her the sugar-coated version.

Maria leaned on the counter separating them; "Well I'm relieved we were wrong about Brody, because that is one less enemy we have to worry about."

"Hey Maria," Courtney came up from behind. "Table six wants a re-fill."

Maria snapped at her, "Why can't you do it?"

Courtney was eyeing Michael; "I got better things to do." Maria rolled her eyes as she walked away. "So, Michael, how do you feel about piercings?"

Michael wasn't interested, "I don't."

Courtney leaned closer to him, "You should think about it."

"Not into pain," Michael took a step back.

Courtney threw him a flirtatious smile, "Well, it only hurts once, then it's about the stimulation."

"Table four is waiting," Maria came back to pry her away from Michael. Courtney picked up the order on the counter and smiled sweetly at Maria before leaving.

"Looks like trouble," Michael announced nodding towards the door. Maria turned around and saw Liz walk in with Max quickly pursuing her.

Maria leaned in closer to hear what Max was telling her. "This isn't about Tess," Max spoke passionately. "It's about you and me. You think I'm gonna forget about you or get over it or something, but…but I'm not. I don't…I don't care about my destiny or my planet or anything else. All I care about is you. So just know this…I'm coming for you, Liz."

Maria watched Max walk back to the table and she gave herself away by telling Liz, "Now that is a great man." Liz just threw her a look and walked away.

"Cover me," Courtney came up to Maria.

Maria scowled, "What else is new?" Courtney disappeared into the bathroom just as Max approached her. "What's up Max?"

"I need your help," Max kept his voice low.

Maria knew it had to be serious, "What is it? Wait don't tell me, you know who killed Nasedo and you need my help to take him down?"

"I need your help with a surprise party I am planning for Isabel," Max told her making sure Isabel was out of earshot.

Maria was not expecting that, "Oh, okay, yeah I'll help. What do you need?"

"I need to reserve the Crashdown, a guest list, a cake, decorations, because I really want this to be a success. We really need the distraction."

"I hear you, ok. I'll round up Michael, Tess, Alex, Liz, and I'll even make Kyle help. Just leave everything to me," Maria reassured him.

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