FanFic - Michael/Maria
"Not Even the Rain"
Part 4
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
Max walked into the apartment exhausted. It had been a long night and an even longer day. The look of realization on Maria’s face flashed in his mind. He grabbed a bottle of aspirin and downed two with some water. Coughing heavily, he replaced the bottle and double-checked the note in his pocket.

“Isabel will be here tomorrow,” he reminded himself. He had called her shortly after Maria left. Isabel called him five minutes later with her flight details. “Thursday, 2:47pm.” No airline, no flight number. Annoyed with himself, Max picked up the phone to call his sister. A chorus of knocks sounded on the door. Max hung the phone back up and walked over to answer the noise.

“Michael,” he said to the weathered young man at the door.

“Maxwell,” Michael nodded.

Still in shock, Max opened the door wider, and stepped back. “Come on in…”

Michael stepped past him and looked around the apartment. “Thanks.”

“Can I get you something?” Max closed the door and walked into the kitchen. “Uh, we have some water, juice, soda. There should be food in here, or I can order.”

“I’m fine.”

“So, um~” Max poured himself a glass of orange juice.

Michael sat down on the stool next to the phone. “Listen, I’m sorry that I didn’t call first. I tried, but I just didn’t know where to start. So I looked up your address and came over.”

“That’s, I mean, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad to see you.” He took a sip. “How *are* you, Michael? What have you been doing?”

“Nothing much.” Michael shrugged.

“So, you’ve just been wandering all this time?” Max asked.

“Yeah, that’s about it.”

“Nothing much!” Max muttered to himself. “You’ve been gone all this time and all I get is ‘nothing much’?”

“Trust me, nothing much.”

Michael’s nonchalant manner was starting to get to Max. He stared at him hard, then stormed across the kitchen in a huff. Tossing the rest of the juice in the sink, Max grasped onto it with both hands. This is not what he expected the reunion to be like. Max wanted some kind of answer – or some kind of crazy story that would explain the years without any sort of contact. But Michael obviously didn’t care. He didn’t care that everyone had been concerned about him nor did he care that he had hurt a lot of people.

“Why are you here, Michael?” Max spun around. “I mean, here – in my house. What’s the point?”

Michael stood up. “This was a mistake.” He started for the door.

“No!” Max yelled, grabbing him by the arm. “You are not leaving like this again.”

Shrugging him off, Michael started rubbing his temples fiercely. “What do you want from me, Max? What do you want?”

Max stood squarely between the door and his friend. “I want answers. I want to know where you’ve been, I want to know what has kept you gone for so long. It was only supposed to be another year, remember?”

“Another year, another four years, what does it matter?” He kept looking at the floor.


‘Dammit, he is always doing this. *Always* trying to take control of the situation.’ Michael brought his head up to meet Max’s glare. “You want answers? Well, maybe I want some answers of my own.”

“What are you talking about?” Max looked at him like he was insane.

“What am I talking about? Why did you tell Maria the ring was from you? What were you trying to do?” Michael’s eyes turned cold. “Is there something I should know about?”

“I can’t believe you, Michael. I really can’t. You truly think that I would do something behind your back?” Max fell back, wounded. “This is too much. Ten minutes back, and already you’re accusing me of trying to steal Maria. Someone who you’ve spent more days than I can count expounding on her faults and annoyances. Someone you’ve been running away from since before you left.”

“All I know is that she has the ring, and she thinks it’s from you. Mighty nice present from a ‘friend.’”

Max stepped up into Michael’s face. “I *am* her friend. And I’m going to tell you what it’s like to be her friend. I got to see the look on her face when Isabel and I drove home alone. I got to watch her heart smash into pieces when she realized that another year had passed and you hadn’t come back. I got to spend months trying to convince her to move out here with me, so I could be closer to Liz. And today, I got to be the one who broke her heart all over when I told her that you didn’t want to see her ever again.” He paused, breathing heavily. “I am grateful for my friendship with Maria. I am thankful for all the times that she’s listened to me. You missed out on her friendship - *you* didn’t have the guts to stick around. So, don’t you dare accuse me of having designs on her or of being some manipulative bastard. In fact, don’t even say anything.”

The two stood still, trading menacing glares. The tension and anger was hotter than either could remember. Each one grew more furious with the passing seconds. Michael clenched his fists, failing to control his breathing. Noting his action, Max exhaled harshly, his warm breath beating down on Michael’s face. They were feeding off each other’s anger, their bodies lightly trembling from rage.

“Anyone home?” Liz’s cheerful voice broke into their trance. She pushed open the door and stopped when she realized what was going on. The bag of groceries dropped at her feet. “Michael?”

Michael turned and looked at her. “Liz.”

Liz glanced over to Max, trying to read him. He wouldn’t look at her, he was afraid that if he did, all his momentum would be lost. Max was not a violent person, but right now he would not object in the slightest to hitting Michael.

Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t about to give him that chance. “I was just leaving.” He took one long hard look at Max, then turned towards the door.

Just as he was about to walk out, Max called after him. “Isabel will be here tomorrow. I suggest you be here too.” Michael paused momentarily, then continued down the stairs.

Liz rushed over to Max, frightened by this side of him. “Max, what happened? Are you okay? What’s going on?”

Slightly dazed by the blood pumping through his system, Max kept staring across the room, trying to cool himself down. Mindlessly, he took Liz’s hand and squeezed it. “I’m fine. We’re okay. It’s late… let’s just go to bed.”


Plodding through the rain puddles on the sidewalk, Maria took another sip of her tea. Her tongue harshly retracted from the plastic lid, scalded. It was a daily ritual – a walk down to the coffee shop on the corner to get a large herbal tea to start the day. The water was always too hot, and she always burned her tongue. Today, she took comfort in the pain – one of the few familiar things in the sea of unexpected turns that had filled her life lately. Only three more minutes before she got back to her store. The blonde laughed at herself, at how mindlessly routine her days had become… before Michael came to town.

“Are you Maria?”

Maria stopped dead in her tracks, turning around to face the voice behind her. “Excuse me? What?”

“You are… you *are* Maria, aren’t you?” Lydia walked up, her arms crossed tightly around her.

“Why do you want to know?”

“I knew it. I just knew it was you.” Lydia shook her head, almost hurt. “He’s been edgy ever since we left your store that day. I’ve never seen him that… thrown by someone. I couldn’t quite figure it out at first, I mean, he’s never been here… how could you two possibly know each other? But that night, I realized that you were her… Maria.”

“I still don’t understand what you want.” Maria eyed the woman suspiciously. “What does it matter if I’m ‘Maria’ or not?”

“I just thought… well, I thought that you could help. Help him… I mean.” Lydia’s eyes studied Maria for some reaction.

“Michael doesn’t want my help,” Maria answered, her tone cold.

The brunette’s face flinched when she heard Michael’s name spoken. As much as she wanted to help him, Lydia was terrified that as soon as he found the elusive Maria, he would leave her. “Michael doesn’t always know what he wants.”

“Look,” Maria was getting impatient. “Do you have some kind of a point or something? Because I have to get back to work. Like, now.”

“It’s his dreams. They’re getting worse.”

Maria’s face softened for the first time. “Dreams?” she asked, concern thick in her voice.

“It used to be once in a while, but lately they’ve been coming almost every night. He starts sweating and shaking… sometimes he tosses and turns, sometimes he mumbles something that I can’t understand. I can usually wake him up out of them, but he won’t tell me what they are about.” Lydia paused to regain her composure. She was about to lose it on some public street in front of a woman she hardly knew. “Only one thing is always the same… he calls out for Maria.” Her despair shined out from behind the tears that were welling up in her eyes. “Michael would never tell me who she was, every time he’d change the subject, say it was no one. But I knew that it was something more than that. The way he calls out… it’s like he’s trying to find her, or hoping that she… you would find him.”

She could feel it happening again. The wall that Maria had modeled after Michael’s own was crumbling down as the other woman spoke. Mentally, she cursed Michael for once again making her care, but deep down she knew that she had never stopped. Taking a long sip of her tea, Maria fixed her eyes on the ground.

“I don’t know what I can do,” the blonde said in sad resignation.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry I bothered you.”

“No, it’s… I just don’t know what I could do or say to make it better. Michael hasn’t spoken to me in over five years… by his choice. I can’t imagine how I could make anything better.”

“I understand.” Lydia nodded again, then met Maria’s eyes. “Please don’t tell him I told you. Please.”

Maria smiled painfully. “I won’t.” She looked at her watch. “I really should be going, I’m sorry.” Turning around, she walked back to her store, leaving the brunette standing alone in the middle of the sidewalk.

Part 3 | Index | Part 5
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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