FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Not Even the Rain"
Part 13
by loki
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.
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: PG-13
It was already dark by the time Liz and Maria made their way back to the other apartment. Max and Isabel were sitting in the small dining room, picking through plates of take-out Chinese food. Liz threw her jacket on a chair and joined them.

“How did everything go?” She asked, rubbing Max’s thigh under the table. “Everything seems to be in one piece.”

Max smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “It went okay. But we keep going around in circles.”

Digging her hands into her coat pockets, Maria dropped her guard down a bit. “Where’s Michael?” She directed her question towards Isabel in an attempt to keep the tension lower than it was before.

“He’s outside in the back.” Isabel responded, her tone reflecting a similar desire to diffuse the anger between them. Maria nodded, then started towards the glass door that led to the back porch.

“Maria…” Max called to her as he heard the door slide open. “I don’t know if…”

“What can I say?” She cut him off, smirking. “I’m a glutton for punishment.” Closing the door behind her, she looked out into the small yard, finally noticing him at the bottom of the stairs. She went down and sat next to him.

Michael took a deep breath as he felt her arm brush against his. ‘What difference a day makes,’ he thought to himself. Yesterday he was looking for excuses to touch her, and now he stiffened at the most minimal physical contact between them. All his realizations from earlier were promptly forgotten now that she was here – all he could picture was her… with him. Michael stood up and took a step away.

Maria grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. “Stay.”

“I don’t have to listen to this.”

“You are angry with me ~ and you have no right to be.”

“You had sex with MAX!” He spat out through gritted teeth.

“That was my decision, Michael.” Maria sighed. “You left *me* if I remember correctly.”

“So, you slept with him because of me.” He snapped, moving off the stairs. “That’s good. That’s really good.”

Maria shook her head, holding it in her hands. “No. I slept with him because of *me.*” She looked up at him, standing in front of her – trying to mask his hurt with fury. Furrowing her brow, she ventured to continue. “You don’t know what it was like, Michael. I missed you *so* much. And I hated myself for it. But the pain didn’t stop – not after a few days, it didn’t even lessen after a few weeks. I just shut down. After a while, all I did was go to class and come home. I barely hung out with Alex or Liz. And then Max started, like, being around all the time. I think he felt guilty.”

“So, it was a guilt thing.”

“Jesus Christ, no. It wasn’t a guilt thing, or a lust thing, or even a ‘get back at Michael’ thing.” Maria almost laughed at his attacks. At least he was talking to her – and there was a comfort level in their arguments. It was when the bickering ended that she would start to worry. The blonde leaned her elbows against the step behind her. “I think he felt guilty that he came back, and you didn’t. I think he felt guilty when he saw what a mess I was. Anyway… we did stupid mindless stuff like rent videos and go to bad diners. A whole bunch of months went by, and all of a sudden it was a year. A year without you.” The last few words came out as a whisper, and Maria bit down on her lip to keep from letting him know how much it still hurt. She was still chastising herself for falling apart in front of him the night before, and was determined to keep it all together from now on. “One night Liz and Alex dragged us to this stupid party where Alex’s band was playing. It was so not what I needed. Max and I just hung out in a corner and talked. About you and Liz, mostly. And about us. Not ‘us’ ~ but each of us – and how we felt so alone and separate from the people in our lives. It was really nice to have someone who understood.”

Michael sat back down, a couple of steps below her. That longing to be close was returning, although he was fighting it with every ounce of strength he had left. He leaned back against the wooden railing, eyes fixed straight ahead – not quite able to really look at her yet.

Taking a deep breath, Maria played with her rings nervously. “I honestly don’t remember how it started, or how we got back to his room. But I remember making the conscious decision to… be with him.”

“But why Max, Maria? Out of all people – why him?” Michael asked, the words burning his throat.

“Who else, Michael? Who else could understand what I was going through? Who else had lost one of the dearest people to them? Who else was full of as much regret, and worry as I was? Who else knew what was going on in my head when I would stare at your paintings for hours?” A few unwanted tears slipped down her cheeks. “I didn’t plan it, or even consider it until that night. But somehow, at a time when it hurt so much that I could barely breathe, somehow it helped.”

“I just… I don’t know if I can forgive you.”

“Oh, I’m not looking for your forgiveness. And I’m not apologizing for anything I’ve done, either.” Michael whipped his head at her in surprise. That was not the reaction he was expecting. “I’m not saying that to be spiteful in any way. I just wanted to explain.”

“If you felt the need to explain, then you must feel some guilt about it.”

“No… it’s not…” Maria tried to get a grasp on what she wanted to say. A new thought popped into her head. “Michael, why didn’t you tell me about the ring?”

“You’re changing the subject. This isn’t about me.”

“We can go back – I want to know. That day in my store – why didn’t you tell me?”

“I… I don’t know.” He got back up and paced on the grass.

“I knew about it, you know.”

“What?” Michael stopped mid-step.

Maria looked at him and half-smiled. “I knew about the ring.”

“But, you said…” His hands flailed at his sides.

She raised her eyebrows mischievously. “I didn’t say anything. I just asked you if there was something I should know, if you remember correctly.”

“So, Max *did* tell you.” He asked, accusingly.

“No. That night… I saw you give it to him.” Tucking a piece of hair behind her ear, Maria sighed. “Do you honestly think that I would wear the same thing every day for five years just because Max gave it to me?”

“It was a birthday present.” Michael shrugged.

“You *know* me. I’m a flake. I lose things. And I rarely wear the same thing all the time.” Maria giggled softly at the hint of a smile she was able to bring forth from him. “It’s the one thing from you that I could have with me no matter where I was. But you still didn’t answer my question. Why didn’t you tell me it was from you?”

Scratching the back of his head, Michael stared down at the ground. “You thought it was from Max. I figured that it’d probably be better to let you think that rather than make things awkward all around.”

“See, we all keep secrets for our own reasons. It’s the same thing.”

“Oh no, you slept with my best friend.” He scoffed. “I think that’s a bit different than not telling you about a ring.”

“I’m not stupid, Michael. It’s more than just a ring.” Maria stood up and walked down to be next to him. “Remember – visions are not just visions. I felt what Max was feeling, I could sense what you were thinking. I *don’t* know exactly what the ring represents – but I know that it’s something stronger and more intense than sex.”

Michael bent his head down to meet her eyes, remembering the first time he’d been that close to her. The motel room on 285 – she scared him then like she scared him now. There were a few strands of hair falling over her eyes and he had to resist the temptation of smoothing them back.

“What does it mean, Michael? What does the ring mean?” Maria asked in a hopeful whisper.

An ironic grin slid across his lips. Michael reached out and brushed her cheek with his thumb. “We all have our secrets, Maria.” Dropping his hand before he did something more than touch her, Michael edged past her and walked back up to the apartment.

** There was definitely something different about the mood when Maria entered the apartment. Max, Liz and Isabel were in the living room, watching television and joking around. Michael stood in the kitchen, eating an egg roll. He smirked at her as she walked by, to which she rolled her eyes in response, shooting him a sly smile as she joined them on the couch.

About an hour later, Michael retired the guest room that Isabel had been staying in, claiming that since he’d had such a rough day he couldn’t *possibly* be expected to sleep in the living room. Maria was laying across the couch, her head resting in Liz’s lap. Isabel and Max were stretched out on the floor, arguing about what channel to watch. Liz sat back and just observed them all – knowing that it wasn’t the same as it’d been in Roswell, but still feeling like something was finally put right.

When the clock struck eleven, Maria jumped up. She rubbed her eyes vigorously, then tried to wake herself up. “I, uh, really should be going. It’s a full house, and I’ll just come by in the morning.”

“Okay,” Liz cocked her head to the side. “Will you be alright to drive home?”

“Yeah,” Maria nodded. “I’m just going to splash some cold water on my face, and then head out.” She got up and stretched, then headed down the hall.

Max stood up a few minutes later and went to get a glass of water. He noticed Maria standing at the far doorway, nowhere near the bathroom. Quietly, he tiptoed down and ran his finger down her arm. “Watching him sleep?”

Maria nodded sheepishly. “Old habits die hard.”

“Come here,” he whispered, taking her hand and pulling her into his room. “So, how did it go?” Max asked, sitting down on the bed.

Closing the door behind her, Maria leaned against the bureau. “Okay, I think. He was… furious. But I think he’s calmed down a bit.”

“So, you told him.” Now that it was just him and Maria, the reality of their action started to settle in on Max.

“No,” she said, “you told him. I just explained.”

“I didn’t~”

“It’s alright, Max. But now we have other things to think about.”

“Liz.” The word hung heavily in the air.

Pacing across the room, Maria gathered her hair in a small pile on the top of her head. “I honestly don’t know what to do anymore. Michael is one thing, but Liz…”

“She won’t take it well.”

“She won’t take it well at all.”

Lying back on the bed, Max moaned in frustration. “Well, she *was* dating someone at the time. She moved on.”

“Who are you trying to kid? Are you being successful in fooling yourself, because if so, please tell me how.” Maria walked over and sat next to his head. “This is Liz. Parker. The girl who moons over you and gets googly eyes when you come in the room. The girl who’s been convinced that you are her soulmate since the day you, oh, I don’t know, saved her life.”

“I know, I know.” He rubbed his eyes. “But you said Michael was okay with it.”

“I never said he was okay with it. But, c’mon, what is he gonna do?” Maria poked him. “He *left* - me, you, Isabel, everyone. He may be angry – but he has no right to tell me, us, what we can and cannot do. Liz, on the other hand… how do you think she’ll take it that her best friend slept with the boy she was in love with?”

“So, we go back to the original agreement. We don’t tell her.”

“Judging from Michael’s reaction… I think that’s the only thing we *can* do.”

Part 12 | Index | Part 14
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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