by Stephanie A
Disclaimer: The characters and universe herein don't belong to me. No
Summary: Michael/Liz- What happens in conditions that you really can't change?
Category: Unconventional Couples
It took Liz a second to deal with that. She was trying not to imagine what Maria would say, but the concept of sleeping in his bed unnerved her- just slightly.
*Stop it* she told herself firmly. *He's a guy, and you're barely even friends with him. He's just being nice. Go to sleep, or you'll be the walking dead when the sun comes up.*
The lamp on his bedside table turned on, she took in a scene that said a lot more about its occupant than anything else she had seen or heard. The faded carpet, the bare walls, the closet that was about a seventh the size of hers at home- were painfully neat. Liz didn't have any brothers, but she knew guys her age, and in her experience, there were generally strewn clothing, haphazard pictures of sports heroes or half-undressed bikini babes, old Little League trophies and dusty trinkets, half-hidden relics of childhood covered under athletic shorts and sweaty t-shirts. If Michael had any of these things, he concealed them well. It was eerie, actually, now un-lived-in the room looked.
In the middle was his bed, which was made (less neatly), but rumpled, like it had been sat on, which, for some odd reason, was comforting. She turned down the plain blue sheets. Cheap, she thought unconsciously, which brought a hot flush to her face. What an ungrateful snob she was! Michael's economic upbringing was no secret. He had been a state ward since he was found at seven, shuffled from one foster setup to another, which couldn''t possibly improve as he got older. Most people want to take care of rosy-cheeked babies, not sullen, angular teenagers. Even he acknowledged, only half-joking, that Hank just kept him around to cut the grass.
In comparison, Liz's family was decidedly upper-middle class.
*No wonder he treats me like I'm a spoiled brat* she reasoned uncomfortably, suddenly embarrassed for the both of them, and for that feeling itself. Michael, she knew, abhorred sympathy. He was entirely self-sufficient. Which was why he didn't need to express himself by making his room any less cold and distant than he was.
She shivered, even though it wasn't very cold at all.
The door was three-quarters shut. She didn't know whether to close it or not, so she left it that way, torn between shutting it and appearing rude, or leaving it ajar and seeming... what, exactly? These mind-circles were becoming tiresome, she decided. Quickly, before she could hesitate and stop herself, she untied the robe, and let it slide to the floor as she simultaneously slid beneath the covers, pulling them up to her chin. She puffed the pillows under her dark head, and lay back tensely, feeling *him* all around her.
It was *so* weird- she could smell his cologne, faintly on the cloth, and she received an unasked for mental picture of him sleeping where she was, his long legs bent in rest, his eyes closed. Could he be peaceful in sleep? Or did he ever close his eyes?
Liz shouldn't have thought that. Liz was a bad friend. Liz was referring to herself in the third person, which meant Liz must be tired.
She clicked off the lamp, noting that, from the muted sounds and light drifting through the door, he hadn't gone to bed yet.
She was wrong.
Michael slept with the living room lights and the TV blaring, sitting up in the chair he had been in before. He could only be closer to awake if he had his eyes open, but he didn't, having just drifted off minutes before. He was tired. Saving lives did that to him. And so, from his vantage point in the oh-so-aware extrasensory dream world he was by birth entitled to walk in, he saw Liz do the same, nodding off in the dark of his room.
*Pretty* he mumbled to himself, not so much as a personal thing as an unaffected judge of exterior beauty. Very right.
And he *had* seen her looking worse than when she fell asleep after being dragged from her home in the middle of the night by miscreants like himself, which wasn't saying much. That was one of the many things that both, by combination, confused and annoyed him about Liz. Anywhere she was, in any situation- a car wreck, a cave on an Indian reservation, a tourist-trap cafe after six hours tending belligerent townies- rarely was one shining lock of hair out of place, her face anything but clean and meticulous with natural makeup and her clothing presentable and spotless. She was a princess living in a fantasy world, he summarized, disgusted. No wonder she and Max had that constant, tragic misbegotten fairy-tale romance. Beautiful, shiny people belonged together.
Michael wasn't shiny. He wouldn't call himself beautiful. Sure, Max was as close to his blood as it ran, but they weren't the same, at all. Michael was no one's prince. He was quite happy with the outside.
He told himself this as he rolled his head back, his eyebrows raising one degree in slumber as he saw Liz's dream coming into focus. It wasn't that he had conjured it- why the hell would he dreamwalk there, even if he was skilled enough to pick and choose? It came to him unbidden, which he attributed to their spatial proximity and the fact that he was thinking about her, albeit broodingly.
*Well, well, well* he thought.
Michael wasn't interested, by general terms. But he was curious.
He invaded Liz's dream without thought of repercussion, just intrigue as to what he would- and would not- see.
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