FanFic - Michael/Maria
"He Who Shouted "I" At the End of the World"
Part 1
by Stephanie A.
Disclaimer: These character's aren't mine, and no infringement was intended.
Summary: What *should have* taken place after the restaurant and desert scenes in "Crazy"....
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
Why do I continue to see you?

Why do I? It's a good question. I apologized, but I haven't changed my mind. You're completely insensitive. I don't even think you realize how cold you get- the things you say, the brush-offs... the bottles of generic shampoo and the sweaty, cramped make-out sessions in top of narrow couches that never cost you a cent, and felt like a little bit of random Heaven. 'Relationship' is a limiting term for you- you prefer to have me there, you like to kiss me, for me to kiss you, for that brief, hot instant of warmth that I know you have to catch a hold of. Do you even know?

I like you for who you are, as masochistic and sick as that is. I like that you can't see that you're uncomfortable in your own skin, struggling with this beautiful, hybrid soul that feels strange to you when it starts to itch. When, out of the blue, you *don't* kiss me, and it's just your lips on my forehead, my cheek, your arms hanging around me- I see you, and that's why I put up with you. The fact that you *see* that you're a jerk says something.

You're seldom all there. You're looking at me, and we're physically as close as we could bodily be, and you're a billion miles above the Earth, orbiting the rings of some far off planet in your own little world. You think that's an alien thing? I see Max, and I see Isabel, and I see you, and you are a distant being. All by yourself. When you look at me, and I see that I am the only thing you see, it means more than ten complimentary dinners at the fanciest restaurant in the city.

Even if I don't always realize that.

I have this ungrounded, irrational, likely dangerous notion that you care about me. Somehow, I don't doubt that. Every now and then, *I* am the one that wonders why you continue to notice me. Do you have a complex, intricately tied to the mother you never had? I don't take care of you. Sometimes I think you just need another wall to drive your complicated, mixed up passions into, to see which way they fall, someone to pick up the pieces. And I'm there to do that.

One day, maybe we'll find balance in that.

You say you've been waiting a lifetime for something to fall from the sky, and make life make sense. See why I said that I have, too? It's a human dream, Michael. Whether you like to admit it or not.

Out there in the desert the other day, when you said that you wanted me to know, if anything ever happened to you, that... maybe I should have made you say it. Because, honestly? I don't always know. And I *really* don't know why.

How I started to love you without knowing that it was happening.


"Knock" he stated lamely at the door.

Maria hastily shoved the scrap of paper under her music box, and arranged her hands on her lap.

"Michael" she said blankly. "It's late."

"I know" he said, shoving his fists into his pockets, and tapping the toe of his sneaker idly against the threshold of her bedroom. "Can I come in?"

"Sure" she sighed. He raised his eyebrows, and slowly sat down on the bed across from her.

"I was walking by..." he began.

Maria smiled.

"...And the light was on. I know" she acknowledged with a dip of her head. "I was just thinking."

He pursed his lip, and didn't ask what, but something was at the tip of his tongue, and nothing could have been more obvious.

"Maria" he began. "About the whole desert thing..."

"I thought that was over" she said mildly. "It's fine."

"Yeahhh" he trailed off, sticking a hand into his back pocket. She tried to crane her head around, and he paused.

"I know it's fine" he said. "But there was just one more thing..."

His fingers curled around a tiny, wrinkled knot of tissue paper, and Maria tilted her head, her front teeth already poised to grin.

"You really don't have to..." she said quickly. "Listen, Michael, I've been thinking about this. We're not Max and Liz, right? So, therefore, we can't be the same way they are."

"So... you don't want me to try with the shampoo/lotion/perfume thing again" he hedged dryly.

She shook her head quickly.

"I can deal with not getting all that" she said, slowly. "It's..."

"There is one thing" he said, turning the scrap in his hand.

She rolled her eyes.

"Michael..." she went to say, but he stopped her.

"Hold on" he said, with a hint of his characteristic impatience. "I was thinking too, about what I was about to say over there."

Her breath caught in her throat, and he cracked the knuckle of his index finger, slowly.

"Yeah?" she said.

"And... this" he finished briefly. He shoved the little wad at her. "Just open it."

Her head shaking slight, she peeled back the Scotch tape, and ripped at the tissue paper. A bright, quick flash caught her eye, and she pulled the rest away.

She couldn't even bring herself to emit some cliched squeak of shocked emotion.

He drew back his fingers, and laying in the scraps of paper, she saw the silver ring she had never seen anywhere else but on his finger, glinting lonely on the edge of the table. A thin chain dropped from it, fine, but heavy enough to hold the weight.

"I figured it would be too big for your finger" he muttered.

Again, she didn't say anything, but held the band up with a hand that distinctly felt its coolness and width, and just stared at hit for a minute. His hands were barely touching her skin, fastening the chain around her neck gently, watching wordlessly as if fell to the hollow of her throat.

"It looks good on you" was all he said.

"Michael..." she breathed. She blinked, and felt the unusual presence of the necklace, like strange fingers around her skin.

He just smiled, barely.

"I wanted you to have that" he said, shortly. He stood to get up, and, with shaking legs, she stopped him.

"Don't you dare leave" she warned him, and he stopped, bemused, to turn around.

Maria looped her arms around his neck, and kissed him deeply. His own hands came up, to the nape of her neck, his own fingertips finding his ring at her collarbone.

"You didn't have to do that" she murmured.

"I wanted to" he replied, against her hair.

"I didn't need a gift" she said, again, just leaning into him, feeling his space envelop her like a cap. His hands at her back stopped for a moment, and she felt him take a breath.

"It wasn't a gift" he said. "A reminder."

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