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 Ten - Too Much
Kyle swung open the door at 11.25am the next morning to find a chirpy Maria standing on his doorstep with a large box of microwaveable popcorn in her arms.
“You’re early. I’m sure we decided noon. I’m absolutely certain that we didn’t say …”
“Yes, I’m early. Yes, we *did* decide noon, but I was ready early and got bored sitting at home alone waiting for noon.” And I couldn’t wait to see Michael again a little voice added inside her head. As they had arrived back at her apartment to drop her off the previous evening she had awoken to find herself snuggled against Michael’s side, his arm loosely around her back and his chin resting gently on top of her head as he talked quietly with Kyle and Tess.
“Yeah, we should. Although it would have been better if I could have found my goggles. Have you seen them around the house anywhere?”
“Nope. Why are you really that bothered anyway, you don’t use them that often even when you have them with you.”
“Yeah, but it’s annoying. You don’t realise you’ll miss having something until you don’t.”
“I know. And you don’t *really* understand just how much you missed it until you find it again.” Maria felt Michael’s arm involuntarily tighten around her momentarily.
“Are you sure we’re talking about someTHING here?” Tess hinted not so subtly, glancing round to look pointedly at Maria snuggling into Michael’s shoulder. Michael smiled wryly.
“I think you know what I’m talking about. I know I didn’t ever show it, but I did miss her. And I’m glad she’s back in my life, even if you all had to practically force her there.” He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and ducking his head as he murmured softly, “She makes me feel young and happy again.” Maria carefully stayed still and kept her breathing slow and steady, but inside her heart was jumping around in her chest. She was glad Michael felt that way, because she felt exactly the same way about him. He made her feel so good that she was desperately hoping things would work out between them, because she didn’t think she’d survive if she lost him again.
As the car drew to a stop outside her apartment, she felt Michael shake her gently.
“Maria honey, you need to wake up. We’re back.”
Maria stirred, and tried to act as if she was just being woken.
“Wha…?” She murmured as she opened her eyes and reluctantly lifted her head from its comfy spot on his shoulder.
“We’re back at your apartment. Come on I’ll walk you to your door.” Michael helped Maria climb a little groggily out of the car, and took her arm as they strolled down the short path to her front door.
“So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Maria sighed, yawning as she stepped onto the porch and leant on the door handle for support.
“Yeah, I think Kyle said something about noon.” Maria nodded, hesitantly turning to unlock her door. Michael shifted a little nervously. “How about I take you out, just the two of us, say..ummm,” Michael paused as he thought over his work schedule for the next week. “Monday?”
“Hmm.” Maria pretended to think it over as the little voices in her head were yelling *YES* “And what might said taking me out involve?” She asked coyly.
“It’s a surprise. But keep your evening free from about 4, I have an idea that I hope you’ll love.” Maria looked at him quizzically.
“Should I trust you? Your ideas in the past always seemed to involve abducting me…” she inquired tongue-in-cheek.
Michael chuckled, a rare sight, and one that made Maria’s heart smile. “You’ll just have to wait and see. Tomorrow. Noon.” He backed away and got back into Kyle’s car, leaving Maria to let herself into her house, where she fell against the door, her hands clutching her bag to her chest, and sighed.
“So you got bored and we have to suffer for it?” Kyle joked, snapping Maria out of her thoughts. She looked at him and punched his arm playfully.
“Why did I have to get stuck with *you* as a step-brother”
“You love me really.” Kyle stepped back and motioned Maria through the door. “Well, seeing as you’re here I guess you can come in. Michael’s just run out to the store. Somehow, we’re out of snacks. Not sure how that happened. We bought some only a few days ago.” Maria shot him an amused look, although her heart sank to know that Michael wasn’t there.
“With two pigs like you and Michael living here, I can quite easily picture how it happened.”
“Hey! We’re growing boys…we need our food.”
“Yeah right…keep it up and you’ll soon be growing alright…growing fat!”
Maria and Kyle continued to tease each other like the siblings they were as they made their way to the kitchen, where Maria proceeded to dump her box of popcorn on a counter.
“Kyle…” Maria started slyly, “You wouldn’t happen to have any clue about this surprise idea Michael has for us tomorrow night would you?”
“Not even an inkling.” Kyle answered too quickly. Maria raised her eyebrows in disbelief and glared at Kyle. “Ok, maybe he’s mentioned something to me vaguely, but he’ll kill me if I tell. He wants to surprise you, and yes,” he continued when Maria opened her mouth to speak. “it’s a good surprise, so just let him do this, ok?” Maria sighed, but he could see that she wouldn’t harass him about it any more.
Maria led the way as they headed towards the den, where several battered cushions had been spread out across the floor in preparation for six people trying to watch movies there.
“So, what’re we watching then? You said you’d gotten a few new ones on DVD.”
“Mostly comedies, including one sappy girly romantic movie that Tess made me get. There’s a couple of horror-type ones as well. We should have time for about 4, so I guess we’ll take a vote or something when the rest get here. Although I’m guessing that you girls will…”
Maria’s heart sped up when she heard the front door open and close, and Michael’s voice carrying through as he went into the kitchen. “Ok, I think I got enough that we shouldn’t run out. Actually, we’d better not run out, cos no way am I going back to that shop again today. I really don’t know why, but that cashier just doesn’t…” he trailed off as he came through the door into the living room and spotted Maria. “Hey.” He glanced down at his watch. “You’re early.”
“Yes, I know. I’ve already gone through this with Kyle, why is it such a big thing for you guys? I got bored, so here I am. Nothing to go crazy about.” Maria’s eyes twinkled mischievously.
“Ummm…” Michael tried to formulate a response that wouldn’t get him a slap upside the head. “We’re excited to see you?” Maria just looked at him. “Ok, so what am I supposed to say? We weren’t expecting anyone till after twelve, except maybe Max and Liz, cos they always like to turn up early everywhere.” Michael locked his gaze with Maria’s and sent her a smile that said ‘I’m glad you’re here though.’
Silence descended on the room for several moments, as the three looked at each other, unsure of quite what to do now. Finally, Kyle spoke up.
“So, I was telling Maria about the movies I got for us all to watch.” Michael groaned.
“Please don’t tell me you told her about that mushy chick flick crap Tess got.” Kyle looked at the floor.
“Oh God we’re doomed.” Maria looked indignant.
“And what exactly do you mean by that?”
“Now come on, you know how much me and Kyle hate those soppy things.”
“Yes, but that’s not the question I asked.”
Kyle sat down quietly, recognising that to get in the middle of this would just be stupid.
By the time everyone else arrived (Max and Liz at 5 to 12, and Tess at exactly 12), the pair had stopped arguing and were content to sit at opposite sides of the room and make stupid faces at each other.
Kyle and Tess disappeared into the kitchen, and took an inordinate amount of time to prepare the large bowls filled with popcorn, chips and plenty of chocolate sweeties – Michael had known the girls wouldn’t be happy without at least *some* chocolate. When they re-emerged, Tess’s hair a little less neat and tidy than it had been before, they walked into a full-on brawl over which movie should be first on the list.
Much to Michael’s disappointment, the girls somehow managed to convince Kyle and Max that watching the girlie movie first was a good idea. By the time it started, Maria had been transferred across the floor to sit on one of the mounds of cushions not far from Michael’s feet (due to the inability of the other couples to sit apart). Neither of them noticed as, during the movie, she slid to sit practically touching Michael’s legs. As the end credits started to roll, with all three girls sniffing quietly, and Michael, Max and Kyle trying to pretend they hadn’t been watching it – and enjoying it – Michael looked down to see Maria mere inches from him. Noting that she didn’t appear to have noticed, he didn’t say anything to her. That might make her move, and, with the feelings her closeness were inciting in him, that was the last thing he wanted to happen.
In an attempt to reclaim the masculinity they insisted they had lost by watching a chick flick, the guys succeeded in making the next movie to be watched an action filled horror. At a particularly scary moment, Michael felt a hand grab his leg. Glancing down he realised that Maria’s eyes were still fixed on the screen, and decided she probably wasn’t even conscious of the contact.
He was wrong. Maria had felt a jolt of awareness the moment that her fingers touched Michael’s leg. She hadn’t intended to reach out for him, but even now it was a natural reaction to fear. She knew that Michael would protect her, and just a tiny amount of contact gave her strength. Ok, watching a scary film wasn’t exactly life threatening, but it showed her just how much Michael could make her feel confident and strong just by being there for her. No one else had ever been able to do that for her, and she was realising that no one else ever would. Ever so slowly, she shifted closer to Michael’s chair.
By the end of the final movie of the afternoon (they had followed the horror flick with a couple of comedies), Maria and Michael had moved closer still. She was sitting with her back against the easy chair Michael sat in, his hand resting lightly on her shoulder, occasionally fiddling with a stray strand of hair, and her head leaning against his leg. When the couples around them started to make movements to get up and clear away the mess of dropped snacks and empty soda cans, Michael and Maria stayed seated for a few moments, savouring their closeness, before getting up to join the clean-up operation.
Max and Liz left not long after they finished clearing, leaving Maria and Tess to help the boys put their living room back to normal – i.e. picking up the cushions and restoring them to their usual spot in the hall cupboard. Of course, with Kyle and Michael around it wasn’t long before Tess was bopped on the head with a particularly battered specimen, and Maria felt another hit her back as it was thrown boldly by a smirking Kyle.
Several minutes later, the four started to gather up the small pieces of fluff that had escaped from various shabby cushions as they were thrown around the room. After actually putting the cushions away, Maria gathered her things and got ready to leave. Michael walked her to the door, his hand gently on the small of her back. When they got to the door Maria turned back to face him.
“So, when can I expect you on my doorstep tomorrow?”
“I’ll be by to pick you up at about 4.30. Wear something comfortable that you don’t mind getting a bit messy.”
Maria’s curiosity was only growing stronger, and it was evident on her face. “And no, I’m not telling you what I’m planning. It’s a surprise…a surprise doesn’t work if you know what it is.” Maria pouted and looked up at Michael with puppy-dog eyes. He chuckled, surprising her by giving her a quick peck on the cheek and opening the door for her. “It’s not gonna work, so why don’t you get home and get a good night’s sleep, let me get to work and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Maria nodded dazedly as she backed through the door. Until tomorrow…
* * * * *
Maria wasn’t sure what to expect when Michael picked her up the following afternoon wearing sweats, a T-shirt and a mischievous look. Whatever she had thought of, it wasn’t paintballing.
It wasn’t something she’d ever done before, and she couldn’t have imagined how much fun it would be. Especially when Michael let his guard down and was happy to run around like an idiot. Every time she managed to actually hit him with a paint ball he threw himself to the ground and acted like he was dying…only to smash a ball right back at her when she, once again, fell for it and came over to make sure he was ok. After a while she became convinced that her aim wasn’t as bad as she thought - that he was using his alien mojo to avoid being hit, and to help his paint balls hit her. On several occasions she decided that throwing them just wasn’t getting him painty enough, and jumped on him to squash paintballs against his back and chest. Unfortunately, he too the opportunities to do the same to her.
Before he returned her to her house, he helped her attempt to clean some of the paint off her with his powers, although Maria was sure there wasn’t THAT much paint on her butt. Even still, she was going home a strange colour.
When they reached her apartment, like before, he got out and walked her back to her door. When they reached it, she turned and looked at him questioningly. Slowly, and very gently, Michael leant down and pressed a soft, relatively chaste kiss to her lips. When she would have deepened it, he pulled back, and she could see the strain and effort it took for him to do so.
“Not so fast querida, we agreed remember?”
“Why? It’s a stupid agreement. We should never have made it,” Maria mumbled, reaching for Michael’s neck. Michael allowed himself to be pulled back into a kiss. With some considerable effort, he managed to straighten several minutes later.
“I have to go. I don’t think my control will last much longer, and I really don’t want to do something we might regret in the morning.”
Maria pouted but let him go. There was always the next time…