FanFic - Michael/Maria
Part 1
by Natalie
Disclaimer: Max, Maria, Michael etc, do not belong to me. Erin tells me she read a disclaimer that said Michael belongs to Maria and I agree :) Or the WB and Melinda Metz, depending if you are a lawyer or hopeless shipper .
Summary: Post-Independance day (I finally saw it!!!). It's Max's POV, but it's a Michael and Maria story. And it's angsty. Uh... is there anyone still interested...?
Category: Michael/Maria
Rating: R
Looking back Max realized he should have known.

It wasn't in the way they fought, even if it did have too much passion for a mere argument, or even in their fumbling reconciliations.

It was in their silences.

Neither Michael or Maria were the silent type. They believed all people were entitled to *their* opinions. If something was up they were vocal. Michael wanted to make all the decisions and Maria was always there to cut him down. If they were ignored, they only got louder. But since Michael had climbed through Maria's bedroom window there had been... silences.

Max realized now that with an open girl like Maria and an explosive guy like Michael it was what they didn't say that was the most important. The things they held close to their hearts were too precious for words. Max wondered, if Liz hadn't walked in on them at the Crashdown would anyone have learned about their feelings?

He could see the worry in Liz's eyes grow in the past weeks as Maria became more and more quiet. It wasn't that Maria was purposely ignoring her friend. She just seemed to be in another world.

Michael was the same way. It was good in some aspects. It had been more then a month since he had got Hank out of his life and he was becoming more stable. He had a job now, lot and lobby at the local McDonald's and had his own small apartment over the Giant Tiger on Main St. He came to school regularly now. But he sat at the back of class and whenever Max tried to talk to him he seemed startled, like he hadn't realized anyone else was in the room.

Isabel had told Max that Michael, the guy who said that asking for help probably would kill him, had gone to Maria that night, admitting to himself and them that he needed her even if he wouldn't say it out loud. Isabel was hurt and to tell the truth so was Max but they couldn't bring themselves to ask about it. They all pretended that Michael had spent that night on Max's floor instead of in Maria's bed. It just seemed to personal to ask, too delicate of a thing to mention.

Despite their silences when apart Maria and Michael did not seem different when together. They fought and bitched and put on a good show, if a little half hearted. Their silences spoke louder then any insult. Sometimes when the group sat together at lunch or the Crashdown neither would speak for a moment, just eating companionably, their thighs pressed against each other in a touch that looked as unconscious as it was deliberate. Isabel told him that she had once seen them holding pinkies under the table. These touches scared Max. They spoke of more then just lust and teenage hormones. They were about something deeper. Reassurance, comfort, need and... Max hadn't delved any deeper. He did not want to believe in what he saw. He didn't want to admit that Michael was already lost.

As lost as he was.

This scared Max but not as much as it should have. He had his own ill fated alien-human love to deal with. He had school, family and the meaning of his existence to occupy his thoughts. So, he pushed all these observations to the back of his mind. It was easier to believe their act, nod when Michael grumbled about humans and their stupidity, agree with his constant declarations; that they were alone here, that they couldn't have attachments, that it was for the best. Max needed Michael's denials to support his own.

But now Max couldn't ignore what he didn't want to see. It was shoved in his face and he couldn't turn away. He had to deal with it. Even if it was already too late.

From his hidden spot in the alley behind the Giant Tiger Max watched as two distorted figures crept down the back steps, leading from the apartment above. One opened the door and the warped glass no longer obstructed Max's vision. The couple was holding hands as they said goodbye. The man stood inside the door, barely clad in ragged jogging pants and bare feet, staying on the warm tile. Max watched their faces, neither were smiling but they looked happy, content. The boy ran his fingers through the girl's short blond hair, tucking some unruly strands behind her ear. She moved her hand up his chest to his face with familiarity. She ran her thumb softly over his lips. He responded to the invitation with ease. There was no hesitation between them, none of the normal teen fumbling. They touched each other with knowledge and security. Neither spoke as they broke apart reluctantly, their kiss was a goodbye. She moved away slowly, her hand still held in his.

Max blinked away wetness as his best friend, Michael, the one who wouldn't admit that he cared for anything on this godforsaken planet, held on to Maria's hand, not letting her leave. She smiled as his fingers lingered on hers, palm to palm in another kiss.

It was beautiful and Max was going to destroy it.

He waited as Michael watched Maria walk down the street until she was out of sight. Just as Michael was turning back towards the door Max stepped out of the shadows.

Michael stiffened as he saw his oldest friend step into the light spilt by the nearby street lamp. For the first time Max felt like Michael's enemy. Michael must have felt it too for his body took on flight or fight readiness. His eyes were as guarded and shuttered as they had been open and vulnerable moments before.

Max smiled bitterly. "Mud, huh?"

Michael didn't respond, he just climbed back up the stairs but he left the door open for Max. He wasn't running from this.

Max followed him into the small apartment. There were signs of Maria everywhere, why hadn't he ever noticed? A potted plant on the window ledge, utensils smuggled from the Crashdown, a brightly coloured blanket on the dishevelled bed Max could see through the slightly opened bedroom door. If he went through Michael's closed drawers what would he find? Would there be a pink tank top mixed in with all the black t-shirts? A spare sweater maybe? A bra? Would there be whispers of her in the bathroom too? A forgotten towel, a toothbrush?

He walked to the bedroom and Michael moved to stop him but Max ignored him. He stepped over the threshold and was almost bowled over by the power of the emotions held in the room. He could smell the lust, desire, sex.

The pillows had been thrown off the bed and the blankets were just holding on. The shirt Michael had been wearing that day had been tossed on the floor. The radio played a slow, sad song. No, it was a tape. Max walked over to the second hand tape player and popped out the cassette. Mixed Tape #2 was printed neatly on the side in Maria's bubbly handwriting.

"She's everywhere." Max felt like he had been punched in the stomach. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, Maria had entrenched herself firmly into Michael's life.

And Michael had let her.

"When is the yelling going to start?" Michael leaned against the door frame, his body deceptively relaxed.

Max didn't need to yell. The disgust in his voice had it's own power. " What were you thinking?" He turned to face his friend. "That's right, you weren't thinking, were you? At least not with your head."

To Max's amazement, Michael flinched. "It's not like that."

Max felt his grip on control loosening. "Not like what? That once again you let your ‘urges' control you? That once again you acted without once thinking of the consequences? You had sex with a *human*, Michael! Do you even understand what that means? What if she gets pregnant?"

"We've been careful." Michael interjected, gesturing at the bedside table. An open box of condoms lay on its side. Max picked up the box. There were only three left.

Max couldn't believe how angry he was, he could barely get the words past his gritted teeth. "How long has this been going on?" Michael wouldn't look him in the eye. "Tell me." A direct command.

Michael moved away from the bed, sitting in a wooden chair by the window. The bed still smelt like Maria and it distracted him. "She came by a couple days after we saw the judge. I hadn't been in school with all the lawyer stuff and getting a new place. I hadn't seen her since the day after..." He trailed off for a moment. "I had just walked away from her at the police station."

Max didn't speak, he wasn't going to help, he wasn't going to make this any easier. Michael ran his hand through his scruffy hair, pursing his lips. He didn't want to talk about this, it was personal. These memories were the only thing he really owned and he feared that speaking of them would dissolve them into mist. His hold on happiness was so fragile. But he owed Max Evans so many things, an explanation was the least of it. "She was angry. Isabel had told her how I had tried to leave. We fought. She started to hit me." He rubbed at his chest unconsciously where her small fists had beat at him furiously. "Then she just stopped and started to apologize and then she started to cry... I couldn't understand why *she* was apologizing until she told me that she knew. Isabel had told her." He stopped, his face amazed and earnest. "And I was glad Max, I was glad she knew. I had wanted to tell her but I didn't have the words. And there she was in my room, crying for me when all I had ever done was hurt her..." He looked down, playing with his silver rings. "It just happened. I kissed her and I couldn't stop." He met Max's dark eyes with a hard stare. "I'm not sorry."

Max's rage boiled to the surface. "Oh, of course not! Not Michael Guerin, he would never admit to making a mistake especially when he's getting some!" Max crossed the small room in two strides, getting right into Michael's face. "Even with Hank gone, you still can't take any responsibility for yourself. Now you're blaming your dick."

"I'm not blaming anything. I did it, I knew what I was doing."

"Didn't you even try to stop?" Michael stood, almost knocking Max back with the force of his reply.

"Yes, damn it! I tried! Every morning I woke up and promised myself that this time it would be different, that I wouldn't look at her, that I wouldn't touch her!" He yelled into Max's face. "I told myself that I didn't want or need her. But then I stopped lying to myself. Something obviously you are still a pro at."

"What is that suppose to mean?"

Neither would back down. "You know exactly what I mean. You're just pissed that I had the balls to do what you are too chickenshit to attempt!" He jabbed a finger into Max's chest. "You're mad that I wouldn't just sit around moping like you. I did something about it!"

"Oh yeah, fucking Maria was obviously the answer, there are no problems now!"

"Don't talk like that!"

"Why not? Oh, is fucking not the appropriate term? Did you make love?" Max dragged out the last word, making fun of everything Michael felt. Michael pushed him away.

"Is that so hard to believe, Max? Or are things like that reserved only for you and Liz? Oh Michael, he's just horny. Max is in *love*. Michael is impulsive, Max is responsible. I'm just using Maria, your *protecting* Liz. Just admit it, you're just protecting yourself!"

Max couldn't see, he was so mad. The world was red and he felt the blow rather then saw it. Suddenly Michael was on the ground. Blood trailed from his lip where Max had hit him. Max stared at his own hands with horror. He couldn't connect hurting Michael with himself. Michael just stared at him from the ground, he wasn't even angry. His face took on the look of every child that had been abused, filled with the secret knowledge that they knew they deserved it. Finally Max stretched a hand out to his friend.

Michael ignored it and pulled himself up by the back of the chair. He brushed past Max without a word, heading to the bathroom. He spit a mouthful of blood into the sink. Max followed silently. Their eyes met in the bathroom mirror.

"You're a coward, Max."

"You're a hypocrite, Michael."

They nodded at each other, nodded at the truth of the statements. Michael straightened. "I'm not giving her up, Max." The blood was almost gone. Max reached for Michael's face to heal the damage but Michael flinched back. He was trying to look strong, defiant, but he only looked lost. "You have your Mom and Dad. Liz. Are they any less of an attachment than Maria? I'm not going to give her up." Under the stubborn determination in Michael's words there was a silent plea.

Max realized that if he pushed it, used the advantage that mutual dependance over many years gave him that he could do it. He could make Michael give up the only person in his life that had ever chosen him. Max, Isabel and Michael, they were family, tied by blood and a forgotten home. But Maria... Maria had chosen to love Michael. She could have turned her back on him a thousand times and never had. How could Michael have possibly resisted her? Yet, Max had that power to break both hearts because, no matter how many times Michael had defied Max, how many times he rebelled, Michael still believed that Max was the better person, alien, whatever. Years ago Michael had decided that Max was smarter, stronger, honourable, perfect. If Max told him that breaking it off with Maria was the best thing, Michael would do it. Max wouldn't lie to him. Michael trusted Max but did not trust himself.

Max sighed. He could never bring himself to destroy this. He should have realized that from the beginning too.

"I'm not going to ask you to give her up." Michael looked like he had forgotten how to breath but his eyes were suspicious. Max almost smiled, Michael never had known what to do with love when it was right in front of him. Maybe Maria would teach him where Max couldn't.

Then the biggest grin Max had ever seen spread across his friend's face. Michael would deny it, say that he didn't need Max's approval, but the smile was grateful, the smile of a man who had been given a last minute reprieve. Maybe Max had made the right decisions. Maria had already taught Michael how to smile.

* * * *

The next day Max deliberately dropped his fork under the lunchroom table where he, Isabel, Liz, Michael and Maria sat. In the real world Maria was talking animatedly to Liz about the old 80's John Cusack movie she had seen on TV the night before while Michael grunted and rolled his eyes at every ‘so sweet' and ‘how cute'. He looked ready to bolt. Under the table, though, another world existed where Maria's small hand was curled innocently around Michael's larger one, palm to palm in a kiss.

The End

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