FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Crash Down"
Part 1
by Gyro
Disclaimer: Those darned characters are still there…in my head! But I don't want Jason Katims et al to take them away!
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: Calling for reader patience: this is post 'Wipe Out' but, readers, please appreciate that, unlike you lucky Americans, I am not privileged to see the second series yet. My gratitude to, Joan's Roswell Guide and the enthusiastic writers of the transcripts. Otherwise, I'd still be in the dark. Hope that WB 'movers and shakers' realize that there are ROSWELL fanatics all over the world. . even though we never knew about the Tobasco drive. And some of us want Michael to stop being a sh..t and for Maria to wake up and smell someone else's coffee. I'm aiming for the latter. My heroine has suffered enough!
" Six Alien bustas with Saturn rings!"

Michael banged the bell at the kitchen hatch with unnecessary force and dumped two loaded plates on the counter. After a cursory look around, he turned to fetch the other four. He was in a foul mood: the kitchen was hot and greasy, Jose's absence had been unexpected, and sweating over hamburgers on an eight hour shift was a mundane letdown after the excitement of the last couple of weeks, particularly the defeated takeover of Roswell by the Skins the day before. Back to human reality! Big deal! In addition, although he was loathe to admit it, he missed Courtney and her obsessive flirting, with a dull sense of depression.

When he had delivered the next two plates, he stuck his head over the counter to find a waitress. There was only Liz, who detached herself prettily from a young couple who were joined at the palms of both hands and then she pranced energetically to the counter to fetch the plates.

"Where's Maria?" asked Michael crossly, firing angry laser eyeballs at a tranquil Liz from a shining face sheened with perspiration. She considered his expression carefully before answering.

"Dunno. She's supposed to be on duty. She's late." With a quiet, inscrutable smile Liz expertly swept up three plates and left to deliver them.

At this point, an unguided missile projected itself through the door in the form of Maria. Her face was flushed and she was loaded with books. As she flew across the room, two books slid gently from the pile and landed unceremoniously on the table of the lovers.

"Sorry!" gasped Maria, as she tried in vain to keep the rest from tumbling down on top of them while she simultaneously scooped up the offending texts. The books had dismantled the cruet arrangement and disturbed the couple's bonding. The young man laughed, stood up, and carefully re-arranged the books, placing the escapees on the top of the pile.

"Thanks." Maria shot him a grateful smile and turned to Liz who had approached to relieve Maria of half her load.

"I'm SO sorry, Liz," gulped Maria, " I went to the library to fetch some research stuff for Physics for Kyle and me and there was such a queue…the time just flew. Have you been busy?" She roved an eye round the restaurant and a guilty expression flashed into her face; her section was now filling up rapidly.

"Don't worry," Liz re-assured her, " but let's dump these and you'd better get going. Looks like a busy lunch-hour today." During Maria's minesweep of the restaurant, Liz noted that her eye glassed over the delivery counter where Michael was still scowling through the hatch. He was staring at both of them.

Maria ignored him and led the way at breakneck pace to the back room where she hurled the books into her locker, pulled out the familiar blue and silver uniform in some haste, and slammed the locker door with a bang.

All this hyper-activity made Liz nervous, and with Maria and Michael both in overdrive she wondered whether the restaurant would make it through lunch without some sort of traumatic incident. Both of them seemed edgy.

She had hardly returned to help out in Maria's section with the orders when Alex did the whirlwind act through the door and dashed up to Michael, whose expression had changed marginally from annoyance to lugubrious moodiness. He was leaning his head on one hand by the hatch, waiting for more orders.

"Where is she?" Alex hurled the question at Michael and his face was taut with suppressed excitement. Someone was in a good mood. Since he had practically shouted the question, Liz had turned to see what the furore was about.

"Who?" Michael continued to lounge on the counter, like a static cartoon figure of misery; he managed only to lift one eyebrow sardonically.

"Maria, of course."

Michael moved his arm, letting his head support itself, and jabbed a thumb angrily towards the back room.

Alex shot through the back door without another word and within seconds the entire restaurant was privy to a loud scream.

Liz rushed across to the door, filled with instant alarm, hotly followed by Michael and a couple of teenage boys who were intent on proving their manhood.

Maria was not in danger - except from public exposure. Alex's untimely entrance had caught her in lacy bra and pants but when the four onlookers peered through the glass window all they could see was that Alex had clamped her to him, lifted her up, and was twirling her around the room. Both of them seemed to be laughing and crying all at once in a state of pure ecstasy.

The spring door rocked gently from the pressure of heads against the glass, particularly from the young studs, and, attracted by the sound, Maria turned and screamed again when she discovered the faces of the four voyeurs riveted to the glass.

"Alex!" Her shout was outraged maidenhood.

Alex followed her gaze and then dumped her unceremoniously on the floor, quickly ripping off his shirt and handing it to her. Maria quick-wittedly used it as a sarong, giggled, and freed an arm with difficulty to wave everyone away. Alex, ever the gentleman, walked up to the glass and spread a palm across it. The youthful male studs turned away with some reluctance. Michael stomped back to the kitchen with a grunt, and Liz pushed open the door and joined the other two in the back room.

"Whatever is the matter?" Michael heard her whisper but could not bring himself to turn back to catch the reply. The door swung shut with a thud.

To relieve his feelings he banged the bell at the counter again with a vicious kick of his hand. The three humans closeted in the backroom appeared to ignore it; he heard laughing and Liz's exclamations of surprise and pleasure.

Two minutes later Liz re-appeared and cruised back into her area, followed by Alex who drifted to Maria's section. He had Maria's order pad in his hand and started with some ceremony to take orders from the first two tables. Then Maria appeared, somewhat flushed and pert in her uniform, and sailed past him.

She took the order pad, tore it in half, and then approached the other three tables where the customers were waiting with some patience and amusement to place their orders.

He could tell that she was trying to explain the scream to each of them, laughing mostly, and bouncing up and down so that her antennae seemed in a continuous state of rhythmic dancing on top of her head. Her long blonde hair swirled in confusion across her back, kept vaguely in place only by the headband.

It was inevitable. Within a few minutes Michael was presented with several flapping pieces of paper, lined up along the counter and any explanation of what had happened was impossible while he was forced to engage with the stove with venomous enthusiasm. He muttered curses under his breath and flashed a snarl at Maria, who remained quite oblivious. Having delivered her orders, she had sauntered back to make idle conversation with a group of male enthusiasts, tourists to the UFO centre, listening to their enthusiastic chatter, with amusement at their flirting registering on her face. Michael decided that he hated her. The two male studs might have been hanging on her every word but their eyes were roving elsewhere.

The bell of the street door banged again and Brody blew in and made a beeline for his acolytes who were still enamoured with Maria.

Michael was in the process of trying to flip a dozen hamburgers but his curiosity was too great now and, as his spatula robotically flipped along the line, he craned a head to see what was really cooking.

It was pretty obvious to him that Brody was in an expanding universe of his own ego and imagination; he was holding forth in earnest conversation, while the group offered devotional worship. It was all designed for Maria. Michael could tell that from the frequent and furtive glances that Brody was casting in her direction. She was smiling, then obviously murmured a gentle excuse to move herself to another group.

A middle-aged couple at the next table was anxiously soliciting drinks and Maria moved with some urgency to whip up some milkshakes. She was within earshot of Michael but did not acknowledge his presence. She seemed in a trance, expertly moving glasses in position, tossing the flavourings in where needed, scooping up the crushed fruit, before she pressed the buttons.

After a cursory glance at his sizzling hamburgers, Michael could not resist the temptation to speak and draw her attention to his presence.

"So what was that all about, then?" he barked across at her.

She didn't seem to hear him at first and he knew that this was genuine; he knew her body language well enough to know when her obliviousness was just an act. He had experienced it many times, but probably not as often as she had been party to the same treatment from him.

"Maria! You were late!"

She was startled back into consciousness, not to him but to the swirling mixtures in front of her which were in danger of vaporization. She killed the buttons and expertly poured the mixture into the glasses, before adding a couple of paper planets and some fruit as an afterthought.

"Yeah. I know. Sorry." She loaded the drinks onto a tray and pushed across the restaurant to deliver them without further explanation. To say Michael was piqued would be an understatement.

His curiosity was not to be satisfied for the next two hours. Liz had been right. The restaurant was crowded and he was forced to devote his time between sweating over the stove and banging paper slips onto the skewer with a savage satisfaction when he had filled the orders. Liz and Maria passed silently to and fro with quick precision, with only occasional laughs and giggles when they met at the counter to load up their trays.

Alex had helped for an hour, for which Maria was obviously very grateful. Brody had sat down with his teenage enthusiasts and seemed to be forcefully explaining the mysteries of the universe by dint of moving salt and pepper sets around the table, using straws to indicate star relationships and distances. Maria managed to find the odd moment to stop pertly at their table to manoevre straws and interrupt, holding forth as if she had taken a postgraduate course in astronomy. Brody, Michael noted with savagery, did not seem to mind her female interference; in fact, if Michael were honest with himself, he was encouraging her. On one trip she dropped off half a dozen tiny paper planets on sticks to enable Brody to take his lecture to a more sophisticated level.

Maria was in fine form today. The middle-aged couple seemed to find her insouciance enchanting, she had obviously not ruined their drinks and Michael knew that they had tipped her generously from the way she quickly pushed their donation into the silver pocket of her dress. She laughed prettily at them and took them to the door.

After two hours, Maria arched her back, then headed for the backroom.

"You're not finished yet," Michael said loudly, as she passed in front of the counter.

She looked at him uncomprehendingly for a moment, then slowly smiled. That smile had melted his stone wall on many occasions but he refused to be affected today and merely glared back at her. She was unperturbed.

"Yes, I know, Michael. Following a human urge, if you know what I mean. Some of us just can't control our powers." She laughed again and increased her pace to dive through the swing door to the back.

Michael felt indefinably depressed. Today had started badly and was taking one route only. He could not control his mixed feelings of anger and depression and the fact that Maria was irrepressibly bouncy and happy, coupled with the secret intuition that he had nothing to do with anything, just increased all his bad vibes.

He was not to be let off the hook. Just as he had resumed his slouch on the top of the counter and was focusing bad temperedly on the pungent smell of hamburger which seemed to be concentrated round his nose, and the slick greasy feel of oil all over his hands, the doorbell pinged again to announce the arrival of Kyle. Kyle was not his favourite person.

Today, however, Kyle was in great humour and made a beeline for Michael. He sat companionably on a stool and indicated that he was there for some friendly conversation. Michael remained completely motionless, just allowing his eyeballs to rove languidly in Kyle's direction.

"Where is she?" Kyle asked idly, while he fiddled with the cake display cover on the counter.

With a sense of deja-vu Michael asked irritably, "Who? Tess? Liz? Congressman Walker? " The last suggestion was practically spat out in an effort to indicate his state of mind. Kyle was a dumbo.

It was hardly surprising when Kyle laughed and refused to be squashed by Michael in ire-mode.

"Bad day?" he asked sympathetically. " I suppose that feeding the human masses IS a bit of a comedown after your military activities over the last few days. My sympathies. It's no fun to come down to earth." Michael's mood was not improved when Kyle saw fit to laugh uproariously at his own joke.

Liz had joined Kyle and perched herself on the adjoining stool. She was treated to his same question. "Where is she? I mean, come on, Liz, take me to our fearless leader."

Liz looked momentarily puzzled then her face cleared with understanding and she laughed, very loudly for Liz. "You mean…?"

Kyle grinned. "Yep. Boy, are we proud of ourselves that we did that remedial science course or what? Where is she? And we thought that we were destined to major in woodwork for the rest of our lives."

Michael was trying desperately to follow the gist of this double-talk. Intending sarcasm and a jibe at Maria, he said slowly "If you mean Maria - she's in the back, following a human urge at the moment…very little to do with remedial science."

The joke rebounded when Kyle stood up, making it quite clear that he had received the answer he wanted. He winked at Liz, squeezed her arm and swaggered to disappear through the swing door.

*I reckon that jock-swagger is part of the football practice sessions* thought Michael viciously. He shot a glance at Liz who had remained sitting dreamily on the barstool, tracing a finger across the glass cake stand and lost in thought.

"What was all that about, Liz?" He knew instinctively that his grumpiness had not passed unnoticed and deliberately threw in her name as a gesture of friendliness.

Like Maria earlier, Liz seemed lost in thought and did not hear him immediately.

*Is this wipe-out?* thought Michael angrily, *have I become invisible or something?" He was so desperate to be included in the big scheme of things that he tried to ask again, this time with more patience and more effort at radiating good humour.

"Hey! Liz! Calling Earth. Home base come in, please. Over!"

Her face jerked round and her eyes focused on his. "What was that, Michael? Sorry."

That's all he was going to get from everyone today. Inane apologies. He was determined to get some sort of meaningful reply from somebody. And all the time he was wondering what Kyle was doing with Maria in the back room.

"I said, " he sighed patiently (he thought), " What was Kyle talking about, just now? What's all this about Fearless Leader?" His mind, of its own accord and against his inclination, was tossed back to various situations in which Maria had not really showed daring and courage: when Izzy was so mean to her she was a wreck, a wimp, initially, although he grudgingly allowed that she came through at the end. When they went illicitly to see Topolski she might have shown ingenuity and daring but her insistence in getting out of the car was supposedly her cowardice. He was forcing his mind to conjure arguments but his mind knew better and argued against him.

* Not true, Michael. You know why she got out of the car and it was nothing to do with her, you fool. She was trying to protect you! *

He shook his head angrily and realized with some mortification that he had been so absorbed with thinking of Maria that he had not given much attention to Liz's reply.

"Say again?" He focused his eyes obstinately on hers.

"Oh, Michael. It doesn't matter. No-one needs to know anyway. It's our little triumph. Maria has every right to feel good about herself."

* Oh great! More in the dark than ever. So's what's the big deal about Maria today, then?: *He cursed under his breath and allowed his eyes to slough away from Liz to settle gloomily on Maria's section of the restaurant.

" By the way, Liz, the lovers are about to disengage, drift away from their spaceport, and leave. They need their bill. Mar'-ii-a's section. Daddy's profit margins are under threat."

Almost as if she had been prompted, Maria bounced back through the door, her eyes glowing in pleasure.

"Heard that! Right. Let's to the lovers." She rummaged for the order slip on the spike, then cruised across with a bright smile. Michael just knew that she was apologizing yet again for the book incident. The young man's eyes were dancing in his face as he smiled down his acceptances, while his girlfriend hung on his arm, looking vaguely miffed.

Something was pressed into Maria's hand and again she thrust it quickly into the silver pocket of her uniform.

Liz had noted the exchange, too. "This is a good day for Maria," she noted with quiet pleasure. "It's so good to see her happy again - it's been a long while."

She had half-spoken to herself, then realized that Michael was still listening and shot him a guilty look.

"I mean - gosh - I didn't mean…"

"I know exactly what you mean, Maria, " Michael said with some grimness. "I've been the flake…it's O.K. You can say it. I'm not so insensitive that I don't KNOW that."

"Well, " Liz paused to grope for the right words, not wanting to incense him further. It was so obvious that Michael was not having a good day. " The Courtney thing…you must know that you ripped her up over that one."

At the mention of that name, a strange expression flitted over Michael's face and then was gone. It was enough to rid Liz of any feelings of guilt she might have had over her slip, though. He had cared about Courtney; that much was obvious. * Maybe that accounts for his foul mood today, * thought Liz, then she put the thought away and neither of them could speak again because Maria had dispatched the lovers and was retracing her steps to the counter.

She looked exclusively at Liz. "Phew! What a hectic day…and after yesterday, I'm absolutely pooped!" She slid down onto the barstool next to Liz but as far away from Michael as possible. Now he was not in a good position to see her.

The doorbell pinged yet again and the look of radiance on Liz's face left no-one in any doubt who had just entered.

"Way to go, Liz!" smiled Maria gently, "Take a break - or do I mean b-r-a-k-e? Looks like Max doesn't have his brakes on!" She sniggered, then pushed Liz towards the approaching Max.

Once Maria might have looked pained at the way he greeted Liz but today her face was shining its pleasure and approval. She sat for a few more moments, watching Max solicitously grab her friend's arm, then guide her towards a table.

"OKAY! So you don't get that treatment. What a flaming shame!"

It was that cutting remark that made Maria realize that she was now left defenceless against the gloomy giant behind the counter. Without a glance at him, she sighed, picked up her pad and approached the couple.

Michael was left shocked that she had not even bothered to snap back at him.

"Hi Max! Good to see you. Good to see everyone today, actually. Is this a good world or what?" She laughed at her own joke and was pleased with herself for tossing off the drama of yesterday as if it had been a funfair ride. In reality, yesterday she had been almost paralysed with fear. But only almost.

"Maria." Max glanced up at her and his face softened. Michael, with nothing better to do than observe to try to make sense out of today, thought with a jolt that his friend's face always softened at the sight of Liz's friend. * O.K. So he knew that Maria and Max had spent most of the summer together, patching up each other's wounds. And now he was jealous of that? The whole scenario was as far away as the Heat Wave. Today was a very different world.* Still, today, Max's affection annoyed him mightily.

Maria bent her head to hear Max's quiet instructions for the order, then she clapped him on the back in a gesture of both familiarity and intimacy. She scribbled busily on her pad then returned to the counter to slap the yellow slip down emphatically.

Michael saw her coming and seized the opportunity to capture her hand under his.

Startled green eyes rose up to meet his and he could feel the hand shaking beneath his. Touching had become a foreign thing to them of late.

"What's put you in such a good mood today, then?" He knew he was growling out the question but lacked the control to speak in a more civilised manner. He could feel her trying to pull her hand away but increased the pressure to keep her imprisoned. She was like a butterfly today, flitting away from him whenever she found the opportunity.

"Unhand me, sire," she stated calmly in falsetto, but her lower lip was trembling. She tried to flash a smile. "I always wondered why Shakespeare's characters said that. Now I know."

Michael found himself intensely irritated that she was practising her artificial gaiety on him. He had seen it many times for others - for everyone, in fact, except himself. Once she had allowed him to see the real her but not today.

"Not till you tell me."

"Listen, buddy, your pal over there is waiting very patiently for double malts, the Uranus specials, and I don't want to be the one to break up their special moment."

"Max is a patient man," said Michael with infuriating calmness. He was feeling more in control now and he liked the feeling.

"If you don't let me go in five seconds, " she hissed, the vulnerability in the green eyes having been replaced by a steely glint of dislike - or was it fear? "Then believe me, pally, I'm gonna scream the place down and then Valenti's gonna be chalking up another misdemeanour on your charge sheet. That file of yours 'll be commanding an entire drawer soon."

Her barb had made its mark. She regretted the aggression as soon as she saw the wounded look in his eyes; never before had she made reference to Michael, the murderer.

"I didn't mean that, Michael, honest. Sorry." He had let her go the moment the careless remark had left her lips and so she took the opportunity to bolt to the shake machines where her activities might now be described as frenzied.

"You can make me one."

She turned her head, knowing that it was Michael who had addressed her.

"What? What did you say?"

"I said that you can make me one, too. It's been hot as hell in here." He tried desperately to sound non-commital, cool over the whole thing. In reality, he was burning up and it wasn't the heat of the kitchen that did it, either.

She nodded as she did the fruit and decoration routine for Liz and Max with an entirely Maria-style originality. Maria's drinks were legendary works of art and bloody good value. Everyone knew that Mr Parker's profit margin on the shakes was very 'shaky'.

She deposited her magnus opus with Liz and Max and then busied herself with a drink for Michael. Wordlessly she slid the drink towards him on the hatch; her guilt and remorse quite evident in the quantity of fruit and extra paper planets. She gently placed the tobasco sauce next to it.

"I said I wanted a drink, not fruit salad," he grumbled ungraciously.

What she would have said in reply he would never know because at that moment she was hailed by Brody, who seemed to have finished the sky-at-night exercise for today. She sighed, a heaving tired sigh which touched Michael despite his ill humour, as she ambled across to the table, tray in hand, to clear up the debris of the universe, the battle of the planets. Whatever.

Brody was gesturing her to sit down and Michael could tell that she didn't really want to oblige. The boys had been ordered to get to their feet, which they did to make way for Maria. She slipped into the seat opposite Brody and now her back was to Michael and he could see nothing except the animation on Brody's face as he was obviously in overdrive to impress her. The boys stood by the table, all gangly legs and arms, hanging on to the conversation. He tried to imagine Maria's face in response, then squashed the notion. He didn't want to know or to imagine. Today was no ordinary day.

Whatever Brody was doing, he was asking her something. That much was evident when he reached out both hands to grab hers. Michael felt violated just watching, to the extent that a red dot started to burn somewhere behind his eyeballs. He had taken for granted his exclusivity over Maria for a long time. Hugs from Max, admiration from Kyle, and twirling with Alex were all very well but they all knew she was his property. Brody was stepping on the grass and ignoring the signs.

* See how I felt about Courtney? * said a whispery female voice in his head, * and, oh-so Mr Valentine, roving Lothario, whatever…I am not - like naked in a towel allowing you to pick skin off my back. I am just - just like sitting here with this sweet geek who seems to have this unbelievable crush on me. Imagine that? No aqua-bra and almost no make-up and here I am, seemingly turning this guy's thoughts away from stars for oh-so-wonderfully one moment. Are there stars in my eyes, lover boy? *

Of course, she was not saying that. Brody was a weirdo and no big deal. But then Maria went for weirdos, didn't she? It was food for thought. Food - ugh - this was Michael's cross to bear today.

Since the bell had not pinged for the last five minutes, Michael picked himself up from the counter and decided to be tactless enough to join Liz and Max.

So he didn't feel awkward that their whispers had died away at his approach; at least, he would not have felt awkward if he hadn't distinctly heard Max say with some urgency "Maria…" before he broke off into silence. And if that wasn't enough, Max's gaze slid past him, somewhat guiltily, as Michael slid into the bench alongside Liz.

"So, Maxwell, what's cooking?"

Liz wrinkled her nose in distaste at Michael's nearness and yelped "Hamburgers!"

Max smiled at her joke and waved his hand up and down over the table. "Go take a shower, Michael. You reek…"

Now Michael was annoyed again. It seemed that everyone today had made him feel a little dirty, a little unclean, not nice to be near. After long hours of mystery and stoically propping up the kitchen or the counter in equal measure, though, he wasn't going to be blown off just yet.

"I'm sorry about Courtney, Michael, " Max spoke slowly and in a low voice. This was not the way that Michael wanted the conversation to go.

"Me, too," was all he said, staring with hard eyes right past Max's shoulder.

Squashing all feeling firmly down behind that stone wall, like sandbags ready for a siege, Michael eventually let his eyes rove round to Liz who was sitting next to him and looking uncomfortable.

"So what's with Maria? The scream and everything."

"Didn't I try to tell you awhile back there?" Liz smiled at him patiently.

"Soo. Tell me again, then. I'm testing you for accuracy of detail."

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