Title: Always Will Be
Summary: Maria returns to Roswell on her national tour, but will she have a reason to stay?
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Chapter Two - I Didn't Say It
Michael Guerin pulled his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the front door of his apartment, yelling at his flatmate Kyle Valenti to get up for work. He hoped Kyle’s girlfriend Tess Harding wasn’t in there with him, or he’d be late…again. He’d already gotten a warning from his boss. Over the last few years, Michael had grown used to working the night shift as a security guard for local company Meta-Chem. As head of security, he could probably switch to days if he wanted to, but he’d gradually become more and more of a night owl.
He grimaced as he remembered the billboard posters he’d seen being put up on his way home. She was coming back to Roswell.
‘Singing Sensation Maria DeLuca’, native of Roswell, and the only girl Michael had ever loved. The girl Michael still loved, a fact he admitted to no one, and rarely even to himself. She’d made it. Just like he’d known she would. As far as he was concerned, she had more talent in her little finger than anyone else in the business had, possibly excepting Metallica.
As a finale to her nation-wide tour, she was doing a small gig in her hometown in 2 weeks time. The billboards advised to ‘Buy Your Tickets Fast’ as there were only about 500 seats available.
“Gives me a good excuse not to go,” he sighed in relief, not overly anxious to have his heart trodden on when he saw her. He’d seen the pictures in the newspapers and magazines, a different guy for every party, for every release. She’d moved on with her life, had obviously forgotten all about her first love. Unlike him, for all he claimed he was completely over her, that he thought of her as just an ‘old friend’.
She was so much more than that. He’d cried when she left. Not in front of her, he didn’t want to upset her even more, but after his door was closed behind her and she was gone. He’d buried his face in the pillow she’d slept on and cried. It was yet another thing he had hidden from the world. Not even Max or Iz had ever found out.
She was only going to be in town for a few weeks, surely he could manage to avoid her for that long.
“I hope,” he muttered to himself as he headed into the shower.
* * * * *
“We need to get Michael to that concert.”
The small group sitting around the table looked up in surprise at Liz’s statement.
“Isn’t he going?” asked Alex. “I would have thought he’d want to see Maria sing.”
“When I asked he said he thought he was working that night” answered Max, his tone leaving no doubt as to what he thought of that excuse.
“He’s the boss,” Tess remarked. “Can’t he just give himself the night off?” Ignoring the ‘duh’ faces his girlfriend was now receiving, Kyle seemed thoughtful.
“What I don’t understand is why he wouldn’t want to go. He dated the girl for God’s sake, surely he’d want to see her again.”
“That’s just it,” Isabel retorted, “He dated her. Not just that, he loved her. And it’s pretty clear that he still does, no matter how much he denies it.” Kyle looked unconvinced.
“Think about it,” Max reasoned. “He says he’s moved on with his life, but come on, you live with the guy. Exactly how many dates has he been on since she left?”
After a long pause, wherein Kyle seemed to be doing some finger counting and head shaking, he finally announced, “One.”
“And he did come back pretty early,” admitted Kyle, looking contemplative.
“And have you noticed the way he acts whenever her name is mentioned?” Liz piped up. “He tries sooo hard to make it look like he doesn’t care. And if you accuse him of not caring about his ‘old friend’ as he calls her, he gets really defensive, babbling on about how he wants her to be happy, and how they’ve both moved on with their lives, and how he thinks of her as a friend now.”
“Methinks the moody alien doth protest too much,” misquoted Alex.
“Exactly my point!” Liz exclaimed.
“And there’s the whole magazine thing.” Everyone stared at Kyle after this outburst.
“Yeah. He thinks I don’t know about it, but he has a huge stack of music and gossip magazines in his room, and Maria’s in just about all of them. I’ve never seen another guy buying these particular magazines, and especially not in such a quantity. You know, I think you might be right about him…”
“Either that, or he’s having some sort of gender crisis,” Tess joked. “But seriously, if Michael does still have a ‘thing’ for Maria, isn’t taking him to the concert just setting the poor guy up for a fall?”
“Well, it would be,” Alex started softly. “But for the fact that Maria feels exactly the same way about him.”
Kyle looked bewildered. “Seriously? I know we haven’t been particularly close as step-brother and sister, but surely she’d have said something to me, or I’d have noticed something.” Liz shot Kyle a withering look.
“The same way you noticed that Michael still loved her?”
“Okay, maybe I’m not the most perceptive person in the world when it comes to this sort of thing, but I’m still having a hard time believing that Maria is out there pining over Michael.”
“Believe it,” Alex told him. “She may have dated a hell of a lot more than our buddy Mike, but nothing has ever been even remotely serious for her.”
“Plus she never asks about him when we talk on the phone,” Liz added. “If she was truly over him, she’d have asked how he was getting on once or twice.”
“And if you mention his name in a conversation with her she just blocks it out and pretends she didn’t hear you.”
“Just trust us on this one. She’s our best friend. We know her better than she knows herself.” Kyle looked between Alex and Liz, stunned.
“So we really do need to get Michael to that concert!”
* * * * *
Michael pushed open the swing doors of the Crashdown Café, noticing that the rest of the gang were already in their regular booth. He checked his watch. No. He wasn’t late. Nine o’clock on the dot, as usual. He was somewhat surprised to see Kyle and Tess already there. They were always late. Something had to be going on.
“Hey guys,” he called, strolling over. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Tess said innocently. Too innocently.
“Why’d you think there was anything going on?” Kyle asked, his voice about 3 octaves too high. Something was definitely going on.
“Okay guys, spill it. You’re not fooling me. I’ve known you too long.”
“It really is nothing, Michael,” Liz declared, unruffled. “We just wanted to give you this,” handing him an envelope. Michael eyed it suspiciously.
“What is it?”
“Open it and see. It’s nothing bad, honest.” Michael flipped open the envelope, tentatively pulling out the contents. A ticket to the big show, less than a week away.
“I know you said you might have to work, but we figured you’d want to go, seeing as she’s an ‘old friend’”
“I don’t know. I really might have to work.”
“You don’t,” Kyle piped in. “I already checked.”
Damn. There went that excuse. Michael didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t exactly refuse to go. He knew how they’d interpret his making a fuss. He’d spent too long working on his ‘I’m sooo over Maria’ façade to let it slip now. Yet he couldn’t go either. He just couldn’t face seeing her again. Not in person. Pictures in magazines he could handle, but having her actually in the same room as him again was a completely different thing. Maybe he could accept the ticket, and find some excuse not to go at the last minute, so they couldn’t find a way around it.
“Ummmm…thanks guys. I was gonna get a ticket when I first heard about it, but then I realised about the work thing. It’s, umm, really good that I’ll get to go after all,” he stuttered, hoping they’d just figure it was his regular inability to show gratitude easily.
After a long pause, Max finally spoke up. “So what we gonna do tonight then? Anyone fancy a movie?” Michael sank into a seat, his mind still on Maria, and the concert he needed to get out of.
* * * * *
He’d tried everything. They’d found a way to fix every ‘problem’ he’d had that would prevent him going. He was almost desperate enough to resort to ‘I’m washing my hair’, but he realised that would never work. Damn his short hair, and damn his bloody over-helpful friends. There was nothing else for it. He’d actually have to go to the concert from hell. Max and Liz would be over to pick him up soon, their solution to his ‘my bike’s acting up’ excuse. Kyle had already left to pick up Tess, and they were all meeting up outside.
“Why did I agree to go? How could I let them convince me it was a good idea?” he muttered under his breath.
“Because you do really want to see her again. You miss her.”
Michael tried to ignore the annoying little voice whispering to him from the dark recesses of his consciousness, but it was persistent, and as stubborn as he was.
“You know you’re still crazy about her.”
Well, crazy about her, crazy because of her. What was the difference anyway? Either way he was going to end up in a mental institution if he didn’t get her out of his head.
“And you hope she’s still crazy about you too.”
Now that just wasn’t true. He wouldn’t wish this emotional torment on his worst enemy, let alone the woman he loved.
“And you hope that when you get there she’ll see you and realise she’s still madly in love with you and jump off the stage and into your arms and then you’ll…”
Michael cut the irritating little voice off mid-rant. That was completely out of the question. In fact, he hoped the exact opposite, He hoped he was sitting right at the back, where she’d never see him, never even know he was there.
The doorbell rang out. It was time to face the music.