|"Not Even the Rain"
Disclaimer: The characters… not mine, well except for the two I made up. The
poem at the end is not mine, it's by e.e. cummings.
Summary: It's a future-fic, set when they are all about 25. While it's primarily a M/M fic, there are lotsa people and issues popping up.
“Well, what?” Max replied, thoroughly annoyed at the attitude Michael had been maintaining since he’d gotten into the house. He immediately went and sat in a chair in the corner of the room, his face frozen in an irate scowl. Isabel sat on the couch off to the side, watching his every movement with worried motherly overtones. Still struggling with the desire to throw Michael out of the house, Max leaned against the wall and closed his eyes in exasperation.
“Well, what do you want to know? Now that I’m here and have sufficiently fucked up my relationship with Lydia – the two of you better have something to talk about.” Michael snapped.
“Us?” Max asked, stepping forward.
Reading her brother’s emotions, Isabel moved between them, sitting on the coffee table in front of Michael. She reached out and tried to take his hands. “Michael, I guess we just want to know what’s really going on. You told me that you don’t have any more powers.”
“Yup, that’s right. So, I’m not one of you anymore.” He pulled his hand away. “I’m just a regular ol’ human.”
“What about the dreams?” She asked tenderly.
“What about them?” Michael replied, looking off towards the door.
Turning around, Max walked into the kitchen and started to rustle through the cabinets. “Look, why did you stay if you’re only going to be difficult?” He called into the other room.
“I thought you made it pretty clear that I didn’t have a choice in the matter.”
“Please – will the two of you just stop? This isn’t helping anything.” Isabel got up and started to pace back and forth. She wanted to help Michael, but it was getting to the point that nothing was breaking into the steel bubble that he’d created around himself. Max was trying, she knew that, but he was letting Michael press all his buttons. There was some kind of energy shift between them – but Isabel couldn’t quite determine what the cause was. Running her fingers through her hair, she looked back at Michael. “So, let’s get this straight – nothing at all?”
“Pretty much.” He stated blankly.
“Pretty much?” Isabel’s eyebrows were raised in surprise.
“A couple of things, but I’m sure that they were just flukes.” Michael shrugged, then started to pick at a hole in his jeans. “A feeling here, a vision there.”
Maybe this was it, Isabel tried not to smile. She returned to the couch and rested her chin on her hand. “Feeling?”
“When Maria gave me back the ring…” Michael paused, twisting one of his own rings around his finger.
Hearing Michael’s words, Max walked back into the living room. “She gave you back the ring?” Max asked quietly, sympathetic without being patronizing. Maria knew how important that ring was to Michael, and if she returned it, it was for a reason. It was to prove something.
“Yeah…” Michael nodded, meeting Max’s eyes. “I could feel so much misery. But more than that – like disappointment and just… pain A lot of pain. And it wasn’t from her. It was from it.” He winced at the memory of her walking away from him in the diner, and of the emotions that emanated from the ring in his hand. It was if in that one moment he felt everything that she’d gone through in the past five years. Well, almost everything. Michael looked over at the young man who was once his closest friend. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I felt it, then it was gone.”
Isabel could sense Michael retreating into his bubble. She tried to get his mind off Maria. “You said a vision?”
“It was brief – I couldn’t describe it.” Michael lied.
“But you know it was real?” Isabel nodded her head encouragingly. “Like, it really happened?”
Max’s eyes immediately darted over to read Michael’s reaction. Sitting back further in the chair, Michael stared back at him, becoming fully aware of how protective Max was of his secret. The image of them naked in bed, sharing tender kisses and soft caresses – the same image that he had just told Isabel he couldn’t describe – was etched in his brain. What got to him more than the fact they’d slept together was that Michael knew it wasn’t just sex. Underlying emotions were usually entangled in visions, and this one was no exception. Contradictory thoughts assaulted him. On one hand, he was somewhat relieved to know that Max wasn’t simply using her for sex, yet on the other, it killed him that they had such an emotional attachment to each other. There was some kind of connection between Max and Maria, Michael couldn’t deny that. And as hurt as he was, he knew that he really didn’t have the right to be so furious with them.
“Yeah, it happened.” **
Liz busied herself by cleaning the apartment while Maria slept. First she checked on Lucy downstairs, making sure the girl could take care of the store on her own for the day. Then she came back up and started straightening up – dusting, sweeping, finishing the dishes. The place was relatively clean but disheveled, which was understandable. Maria hadn’t been herself lately, and it was Liz who compulsively organized things when she was stressed.
After the kitchen, Liz began dusting the shelves. Maria had quite the collection of photographs – mostly of Alex, Liz and Max, a few of her mom. Snapshots of her life in Roswell. Liz chuckled as she came upon one of her favorites – Alex and the girls in the Crashdown. In her own copy of the picture, both Alex and Maria’s heads had mysteriously been changed into Max. Not in this version, though, although he was in many others.
In fact, Max, too, had quite the collection of Maria photos. They had taken a photography class together one semester and sometimes it seemed as if they were decidedly unaware of any other potential subject. One day Liz surprised Max in the photo lab, and was shocked to see the new project he was working on. There was a plethora of shots of Maria… they were so intimate – too intimate for Liz’s tastes. Not that there was anything risqué of any sort – they just implied a kind of knowledge reserved for… lovers.
‘But they weren’t lovers,’ Liz reminded herself, ‘They were just friends.’ She picked up a picture she’d taken of Max and Maria one day when they all went on a picnic. His arm was slung around her shoulder, and she was leaning back into him comfortably. In that picture, she looked so peaceful and content – there was no evidence of the storm that had been tormenting her for over a year. A fleeting question as to *why* Maria looked that content flew through Liz’s mind, quickly to be dismissed. She had been thankful that Max had somehow broken through to her best friend. For a few years, Maria was unreachable to most. Even with his good intentions, Alex could barely make a scratch in her protective bubble. And it was almost as if she resented Liz for Max’s return – although he didn’t want to have any kind of romantic relationship. Michael’s departure had more of an effect on her than anyone could understand, than Maria, herself, could accept.
Strangely enough, tensions eased when Max decided to follow Liz to the east coast. Well, tension between Liz and Maria, that is. At the time, Liz was finishing up her last year at UNM, living rather contentedly with her boyfriend and was quite appalled when Max climbed into her window that summer night. Years of distance and all of a sudden he decreed that they could finally be together? His presumptuousness infuriated Liz and pushed her away from him even further.
Liz curled up on the couch and remembered that night. She basically threw him out, afraid of what would happen if she didn’t. So, she sat alone in her house, trembling violently. There was no way she could talk to Brian about it, and Alex was out playing at some bar. She got in her car and drove to the person she needed most. Maria opened the door to find her friend standing before her with red-rimmed eyes. “Czechoslovakian?” she asked sympathetically. Liz nodded, and Maria took her into her arms, letting her cry all night.
There was a slight noise from the back of the apartment, and Liz got up to see if Maria was awake yet. ‘Lord know she deserves the rest,’ the brunette thought. She peeked into the room to see her friend roll over and pull the blanket around her sleepily. Her thoughts returned to that night, as Maria comforted her – confused and bewildered. It was the first time that Liz contemplated their respective situations, wondering who had it worse. Liz, who saw the boy she loved everyday but couldn’t be with him, or Maria, whose love left her, never to be seen again. That’s when much of Liz’s jealousy subsided – when she started to understand the connection between Max and Maria. They both loved and missed Michael so much that they clung to the one person that reminded them of him – each other.
Liz took one last look at Maria, and backed out of the room, letting her sleep.
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