FanFic - Unconventional Couples
"Comfort Zone"
Part 1
by Joanne
Disclaimer: The characters belong to the WB people, not me. The words, however, belong to me, not them.
Summary: Michael & Isabel find peace with each other after Destiny.
Category: Unconventional Couples
Rating: PG
"At the moment it’s just not appropriate. It feels wrong. Shameful even, but given time we might possibly change our thinking and maybe in the future we could accept it."

Michael stood up letting everything she said sink in. He turned his back so she couldn’t read his face, but he couldn’t hide his elation. Everything she was saying was exactly how he saw it.

He returned to his seat facing her, "Don’t take this the wrong way, but I love you! You’re exactly right. I know we are destined to be together, but right now it’s just too complicated. Y’ know, destiny or not, we will always be… conne…no, I mean…uh… related in a special way. Let’s just go with this understanding and one day, in the future, we’ll revisit this and re- evaluate it."

Grabbing her jacket as she rose, "Great! I’m glad we agree. You can stick with Maria and I’ll stick with…"

"Alex" he quickly added.

"Well…whomever" she completed, thinking of Grant.

She leaned across the table they were at, picked up her soda glass and tilted it in towards him in a toast. He picked his up and clinked hers they both happily said, "To the future" and finished the last of their soda. Looking back as she walked out she said, "Oh Michael, and uh just for the record, I love you too. Later"

Seeing Isabel leave the Crashdown, Maria bounced over to Michael, "So you OK? How did it go? She didn’t look hurt or anything."

Michael was still staring at the door Isabel had exited, lost in thought. He was reliving the intensity of the dream, of them in the desert. He marveled at how content he was, just being in her company.

Maria playfully tapped her order book on his head to bring his attention back to her. "Hello Spaceboy, I guess all went well?"

Slowly ripping his thoughts from the desert, he looked at Maria, "Huh?, oh yeah, yeah. She was really great about it"

Sitting, practically on his lap, she inquired, "Yeah? So what did she say?"

Michael snaked his arms around her waist, kissed her and murmured, "the future. Everything is gonna stay the same and we’ll face this in the future"

Maria pulled Michael’s arms off her. Michael was confused at this sudden belligerent move. Looking away, she said, "I have to get back to work. I’ll see you later"

Michael just sat there dumbfounded ‘This is strange’ he thought, ‘Really strange. Now why should I feel more loss when Isabel glided out than when Maria left obviously perturbed?’

He finally dragged himself to his apartment with Isabel’s words running through his mind like a continuos loop tape… "You can stick with Maria and I’ll stick with…well…whomever" He knew she was thinking of Grant. He didn’t like Grant. He found Grant threatening; not like Alex, poor pathetic, peasant-like Alex. Grant was different. He was sophisticated, older, ruggedly handsome just the type Iz could really get into. Grant was more like…like…royalty. Like him, just older.

The sun went down a few hours ago and Isabel was not sleeping well. She kept thinking of Michael and their earlier conversation. It had gone well, particularly the part about her and whomever. Michael probably didn’t realize how much his face showed his disappointment at her ‘well…whomever’ comment. She decided to go on a little trip and see what he was dreaming about. Flipping through her photo album she found his picture and concentrated on him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dream Sequence ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She was in. They were in the desert. She saw Michael just sitting there waiting. He kept looking at his watch. He got up and walked to the cave. She waited outside for his return. Tired of waiting, she eventually and cautiously followed him in. She was amazed at what she saw. He had furnished the desert cave in the most tasteful way. It looked like someplace Robin Leach would showcase on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". It was gorgeous. She couldn’t believe he did this himself, but glancing around she didn’t see anyone else. What an imagination! Well this seemed harmless enough so she decided to leave. When she was sneaking out he saw her and said, "Hey, took you long enough. Don’t you think?" She was thinking about what to say when she heard her voice say, "What? Is it too late? I could leave"

He ran up to his dream Isabel, "Don’t you dare"

Playfully she responded, "Oh well, in that case, honey I’m home."

The real Isabel cowered behind some décor thinking, ‘He didn’t see me’

Looking back at her dream self and Michael she saw that they just hugged.

She was wearing jeans, pink T-shirt and her hair was loose and wind blown. They walked out together.

Michael ran in to grab the telescope binoculars and left the cave.

Isabel followed him out and saw her dream self spreading a blanket on top the cliff from their dreams. He was climbing the cliff to join her. Sensing they were about to have a moment, she looked down, not wanting to watch. She tried not looking, but curious at how Michael would imagine her to act, she peeked. Isabel was taken aback by what she saw. They were just sitting on the blanket scanning the sky and talking. Just talking, like two really good friends. Best friends. That was it. Nothing provocative. There weren’t any awkward silences. They looked really comfortable with each other. She was glad that he saw her truly as a friend to hang with and not a mistress, seductress or anything.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ End Dream Sequence ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She woke very pleased the next morning. Max had left a lot earlier, so their Dad dropped him off at school, leaving her the jeep. On her way to school, she swung by Michaels to see if he needed a ride. When she arrived he had just rolled out of bed.

"Hey Sunshine, ready for school?"

"School? I’m taking the day off. Sick day."

Moving toward him she reached out and felt his forehead, "Sick? You’re not sick. Get dressed. We leave in five."

He yanked his head away. "Fine, I’m not sick. I’m taking a Trig day"

"Trig day?"

"Yeah, trig day"

‘OK so he doesn’t want to elaborate’ She thought. ‘ I don’t wanna go either, but I have to. Right? It’s the responsible thing to do. Aww hell, let Max be the responsible one’

Plopping down next to him, she asked, "Trig day, huh? So do you want company?"

He chuckled for a moment, "Your gonna skip?"

She stretched back on the couch, "Sure, if you want me to. Besides school is so overrated y’ know?"

Michael nodded in agreement, "So what do ya wanna do?"

She sat pensive for a sec then responded, "Take me on a typical Michael day off"

"OK, Get up. We need to clean this beauteous abode." He said while sweeping his hand in a motion of grandeur.

"Excuse me?"

"Yeah, then we need to do laundry, go shopping then race back in time to cook something up for dinner."

Isabel began to see him in a different light. He was behaving much more responsibly than she imagined on his ‘Michael days off’ "You’re wasting a day off to cook and clean? Michael you are shattering the reckless-tough guy image I have of you".

He flashed a smile her way, "I think you can handle it… besides who do you think does my cooking and cleaning? Little elves during the night? Yeah, right I wish."

They both had their own ideas about cleaning and shopping so their day lasted well into the night. Entering his apartment carrying grocery bags and laughing it took them a moment to realize the gang was waiting for them in the living room.

"Where the hell have you two been?" Max angrily questioned.

Hiding behind him Liz said, "Yeah, we were worried"

Michael and Isabel just looked at each other and busted out laughing. They remembered a conversation they had earlier of little Miss Lizzie Parker. BOO-HOO. She was more pathetic than Alex was.

Max took offense at their display, but Maria spoke up getting to the point, " So what, you guys don’t believe in phones?"

Trying to control her laughing, Isabel then said, "Oh yeah, I…I…uh…I turned off ma…ma…my cell phone to save the ba…ba…bat-t-ttery-y-y. Sorry"

Looking at Michael she asked angrily, "And you…Where’s your phone don’t you still have one?"

Michael and Izzy again erupted into fits of laughter. "Well, I d….did…until Iz de…de…decided t..t…to cle-e-e-an it"

"Hey, I am not who pulled it out of the wall!" Isabel soberly defended herself

"I tripped over the extension cord you pulled across the room; without telling me!" Michael retorted.

Isabel countered with, "Well, it was gross it needed some soapy water"

The gang just watched them argue the issue.

Alex voiced what they were all thinking, "You spent the day together cleaning and shopping?"

Michael added," and doing laundry"

Isabel smiled at them and said slyly, "Yeah, it was a Trig Day off"

No one in the room understood except Michael who tried to suppress a smile.

"Well, whatever, we’re just glad you’re safe. It’s getting late" looking at Iz he said, " we should go". She hopped up, said her Good-byes, but when she reached Michael, good-bye didn’t seem enough.

Michael just stared into Isabel’s eyes sensing that she too didn’t want their little "Trig Day off" to end, then after a moment he said, "I know, me either. I’ll see you later?" The question in his good-bye insinuated, in his dreams.

She smiled at him with a slight nod, "Later"


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