FanFic - Unconventional Couples
"De Veritas"
Part 7
by Stephanie A
Disclaimer: The characters and universe herein don't belong to me. No infringement intended.
Summary: Michael/Liz- What happens in conditions that you really can't change?
Category: Unconventional Couples
Rating: R
Michael always awoke with his eyes wide open, having believed for as long as he could remember that by blinking, he turned his back to the world. Sunlight shone mockingly through the dirty drapes, and the first thing he saw was his own pale skin, the lean expanse of his arm, stretched out to nowhere on the pillow by him.

Liz was gone.

He stretched his eyelids further as he rolled off the bed, found his discarded shorts and tugged them over his legs, not in the least concerned. Hank hadn't stayed long. There was water running in the bathroom. It was a tiny trailer. There were only so many valid conclusions to draw at that point.

"G'morning" he mumbled as he circled once in the closet-sized room, scratching at his bare chest. He proceeded to lean over the sink and grab at his toothbrush. Turned on the tap.

In the bathtub, Liz gave a little shriek, and sank under the bubbles.

Michael did a double take, having just realized what had transpired. He coughed, spit out his mouthful of toothpaste in the sink, and hastened to cover his eyes with his hands, backing away blindly.

"Aw, shit" he muttered, as he went to close the door. "I forgot... sorry."

She, bright red, wished she could just fall through the floor.

"It's OK" she said, uncomfortably. "I guess- you saw it all already."

He paused, still covered, at the door, with his back to her.

"I shouldn't have just walked in like that, though" he shuffled. "I'm not exactly used to screaming girls in my bathroom."

"I'm not exactly used to being in strange guy's bathrooms" she retorted.

He, mildly amused, *did* turn at that.

"Strange, eh?" he echoed. "You just let them into your bed, right?"

Liz sputtered, furious. How dare he!

"You... you jerk" she hissed, her reservation gone. She was trembling, and Michael noticed that he had struck a chord he hadn't meant to. He immediately felt bad, but didn't betray it on his countenance.

"So now I'm a strange *jerk*" he baited her.

She was quite visibly upset by now.

"Just so you know, Mr. Fly-by-night" she said in a low voice. "Last night was the *first* time I let a strange guy into my bed. Any one, actually. So..."

Her voice trailed off, mainly because her boldness had vanished by then, and the color simultaneously drained from his face as she watched silently, the sarcastic quip he had planned dying on his lips.

"You didn't tell me that" he stated quietly.

She laughed in her throat.

"And what difference would that have made, Michael?" she asked him. "You don't control yourself. Virgin or not, you would have gotten what you wanted."

"Oh, no, you didn't" he countered, his voice rising. "You will *not* blame this little tryst on me, Liz- you and your dreams..."

"That you intruded on!" she interrupted him. "And now it's something to be taken blame for?"

"That's what you said!" he exclaimed.

"It should never have happened" she finished, her voice markedly softer than his previous comment. "That's all."

Michael sat down on the toilet, because it was the only place to in the room, and felt awkward so high above her, so he shut the door and slid to the floor behind it, flopping his wrists over his knees.

"You didn't want it to happen?" he asked.

"I didn't say that" Liz amended. "I was just saying that it happened, it's over, it's done with, but you and me, Michael... it's crazy."

He gazed at her.

"Who's talking about 'you and me'?" he wondered. "That's not even an issue. I'm talking if you take last night for what it was, and nothing else."

"Pure, mindless sex" she intoned, with what he read as sadness.

"Look, Liz" he tried to explain, looking down as he traced patterns on the bath mat. "We both had something we just needed to..."

"Don't say 'it was fun, that's it'." she warned him, her eyes as dark as they had ever been.

"I wasn't going to" Michael said, surprised. "But whatever it was... that was it."

She lay he head back against the folded washcloth she had positioned at the crown of her head, and watched the water envelop her, her hair wick it up like string and float in the soapy pool over her throat, covering her breasts. As he watched, she traced one finger up the tile wall, and watched it drip. He swallowed, and wondered how the hell they got where they were.

"It's like you said last night, Liz" he offered. "We aren't anything alike. And you've got Max, and I..."

A weird, choking sensation caught him in the larynx, and she watched him curiously.

"Maria" she finished. "My best friend."

He rolled his head over at her, and she was looking back at him quite intently, having pulled herself up. Her hair hung straight down, clinging soaked to her body, and the faintest streaks of bubbles caught her skin, their residue leaving a glowing sheen off her arms and hands and neck in the dull overhead light.

She was halting on her words, since she didn't know any, less weighted way to express them.

"Maybe" she said. "If Max touched me the way you did, I would be happy with that."

He should have, might have just left it at that, had she not said those words at that time, when he was struggling so hard within himself that it hurt and confused him. Michael glanced up, and she had looked down, and her fingers followed, touching the floor. Beads of water trickled over the fine hairs on her arm, and pooled in the cracks and ruts in the linoleum.

Something hit him then, and it could have been his otherworldly sense for the unsaid, but there was a tenuously, faint connection in the chasm that divided them just then, and he wanted nothing so badly as to cross it. Even if he had to go back, and burn it for the last time.

She understood. Had he ever asked for that much?

In one fluid movement, he had undone the buttons, and standing there before her in that yellow light, he took the minute step to the tub, and even as she watched, straddled her small body, and lowered himself onto her in the hot, bubbly water. She groaned, and rolled over to accommodate him, as he had already affixed his mouth to hers, kissing her hard as she was pushed down. The water closed over them, and he held on to her, and breathed for her so that she wouldn't drown. So he could save her life for the second time.


The minute the Evans siblings' Jeep pulled into Michael's driveway, Max was already out of it, nearly stumbling over the grass in his haste to get to Liz's side. The logical conclusion to this would have been a huge, passionate hero's embrace, but he just stood in front of her, his big eyes relieved and emotional in the almost unbearable afternoon sunlight.

"Liz" he greeted her, panting.

She smiled her at him, her lopsided grin as quiet as ever. He read so much into that expression. Finally, when he had prolonged the sweet torture enough, he pulled her into his arms, closing his eyes as he drew her to his heart.

"I was worried about you" he murmured.

She didn't say anything, but sighed, and cupped his shoulder.

Over his shoulder, Michael was kicking at a rock in the ground, his eyes lowered. He felt the heat of her eyes frantically signaling him, and looked up.

Their eyes met for one electrifying second. And then his flickered out, as if he could control it. That was all.

Max finally let her go, and turned to his best friend.

"Hey" he grinned. "Miss me?"

Michael smirked.

"Have a good trip?" he asked.

Max nodded. Then he turned back to Liz.

"Your mom's worried about you" he said, brushing her arm with his side.

She looked up at him, and licked her lips unconsciously.

"I should go, then."

If Max noticed the change in her tone of voice, he didn't comment on it. He hiked his thumb at the Jeep, and looked down at her fondly.

"I'll drive you home" he offered, not giving her a chance to either accept or decline.

What he did notice was that Liz didn't say anything to Michael as she left, save a highly uncomfortable, obvious half-smile as she headed to the vehicle. Max shrugged to himself. They had never been especially close.

As they both watched her slide into the seat, Max turned to Michael, and smiled at him gratefully.

"Michael" Max said, hesitantly. "Thanks for... you know, taking care of Liz for me while I was gone."

"No problem" Michael cracked his knuckles. "Really."

Max looked tense.

"I just know you guys don't talk much" he observed tactfully.

Michael just looked him, clearly in the eye.

"Like I said, no problem" he repeated. "I know you'd do the same for me."

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