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 One Chapter Two Chapter Three
Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six
Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve
Chapter Fourteen - Talk To Me
“I can’t believe it’s been two weeks already!” Liz exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Tess rejoined, “it only seems like yesterday that they flew out.”
“I’m sure Alex and Isabel will agree,” Max smiled. “Of course, it’s their honeymoon, so any time is going to seem too short.” Kyle smirked.
“So how many of those ‘wonderful monuments’ that Alex was raving about do you think they actually visited?”
“Unless those monuments were magically transported into their hotel room, I doubt they saw any,” Tess responded.
“Ditto on the beaches, boutiques and restaurants,” Liz added.
“And speaking of people who go places and then disappear, has anyone seen Maria in the last few days?” Tess segued. The rest of the group shook their heads.
“Or Michael, for that matter,” Max put in, looking questioningly at Kyle. Kyle recoiled slightly.
“Don’t look at me. I may live with the guy, but I haven’t actually seen him since Thursday afternoon when he picked up my car keys for his date with Maria.” The group exchanged looks over the table.
“I think we may just have solved that mystery,” Liz announced.
“Assuming the two events are related,” Tess began.
“A fair assumption,” Max interrupted.
“Yes,” Tess continued, “Assuming that, do we think the date went extremely well or very, very badly?”
The bell above the Crashdown doors jangled, signalling a new arrival.
“Well, considering how they look,” Kyle grinned, indicating the entrance with his eyebrows, “I’m going to go with very, very well.”
Everyone’s eyes were drawn to the couple who had just entered. Michael’s hand hovered at the small of Maria’s back as they made their way across the restaurant. Neither registered the stares of their friends as they laughed together at some shared joke.
“Is Michael… is Michael laughing?” Max said incredulously. Liz, Tess and Kyle glanced at him, equally amazed.
“I think it’s safe to say it went well,” Liz hissed quickly as the cheerful couple approached the booth.
“OK. What is it? Do I have something in my hair or something?” Maria quizzed her suddenly silent and too-innocent looking friends as she and Michael slid onto the bench, barely an inch separating their thighs.
“Nothing. Nothing at all,” they simultaneously replied, trying and failing to look and sound natural. Maria raised her eyebrows at them disbelievingly.
“What?” Kyle protested. “Don’t you trust us?”
“With my life? Yes. Absolutely. With anything else? Not as far I can throw you, bro,” Maria short back. Tess stifled an involuntary snigger.
“So, what was it you were saying about me that you don’t want me to hear?” Maria asked pointedly. “Or should that be ‘us’?” she added, glancing at Michael.
“Look,” Liz began bluntly, sensing that Maria wasn’t about to just let it go. “It really is nothing. We were just commenting on how happy you guys looked when you came in.”
“And, if truth be told,” Max continued, “wondering where you guys had been for the last couple of days.” Michael and Maria exchanged a heated look. Max caught it and chuckled. “But I think we figured it out.” Knowing their probable conclusions were largely accurate, Maria blushed slightly.
“I’ll have your dirty little minds know that I was at work for ten of those hours since I last saw any of you,” Michael announced jovially.
“And what about the other thirty-eight hours?” Liz inquired, doing a little quick mental arithmetic. Michael and Maria shared another warm smile.
“OK, you may have a bit of a point with that,” Maria admitted.
“So, the, erm, date went well then?” Tess questioned. Maria cocked her head and slid her hand over Michael’s where it lay on the table.
“Yeah, I guess it did, huh Spaceboy?” Michael returned her living stare, unguardedly responding, ‘”Yeah it did.”
Their obvious happiness pleased Kyle, Tess, Liz and Max. Despite the surface signs, they knew that neither Michael nor Maria had really been truly happy since they parted all those years ago. This wasn’t about to stop them teasing the glowing couple, however.
“Yeah, apparently so well that you couldn’t even spare one minute to let your flatmate know you were still among the living,” Kyle needled. Michael broke eye contact with Maria to glare good-naturedly at Kyle, who simply grinned in response.
“He’s not the only one. Not talking to your best friend for a couple of days is acceptable from halfway across the country, but just across town? That hurts.” Liz joked.
“This from the girl who didn’t even tell her best friends she was about to run away and get married?” Maria retorted genially.
“Hey!” Liz protested, “I did tell you, remember? And anyway,” she smirked, “that falls under the ‘halfway across the country’ clause. So it doesn’t count.”
“Just face it guys, you’re bad friends,” Max teased, the twinkle in his eyes belying the seemingly harsh words. Michael and Maria grinned at each other.
“I dunno, Max.” Maria said, “I think we’re pretty good friends, actually.”
“Good friends,” Tess scoffed. “Is that what they’re calling it now?”
“Actually,” Michael interjected, “from what I’ve read, if you’re a celebrity, then yes.” Maria swept around to stare at him, her surprise at his apparent knowledge base evident. Kyle smirked as Michael appeared to be at a loss for an explanation.
“I’m guessing Mike here hasn’t told you about the ‘secret’ collection of celebrity gossip magazines he’s amassed in your absence,” he taunted. It was Michael’s turn to shoot a shocked look at Kyle. “Yes, I knew about those,” Kyle smiled in response. Michael fixed his gaze on the table-top as he reluctantly explained.
“Even though I told myself repeatedly that I didn’t care anymore, some part of me still wanted to know how you were doing.” He glanced up at Maria. “I knew Liz and Alex still talked to you all the time, but I couldn’t just ask them, because I knew they’d assume that me asking meant I did still care. And I’d convinced myself that I didn’t. So in the end I had to resort to trashy gossip magazines.” He let out a self depreciating chuckle. “And somehow my denial-riddled subconscious rationalized that one.” He finally looked up to find his friends staring at him as if they’d never seen him before. Maria was smiling at him, her eyes glistening.
“Michael, that is possibly one of the sweetest things you have ever done,” she announced, leaning in to drop a peck on his lips. “However, also more than a little strange.” Michael rolled his eyes.
“Great, I’m now sweet and strange. What a combination.” He glanced around at the empty doorway. “Anyway, I’m sure that’s more than enough about me. When are Alex and Izzy getting here?” Liz grinned at his blatant change of subject.
“They just got back from their honeymoon,” she smiled. “I think that actually overrides Isabel’s be-on-time gene.”
“Maybe Alex is corrupting her,” Kyle stage whispered.
“You think so?” Maria queried. “I always figured Isabel as the ‘corruptor’.” She giggled salaciously.
“Guys, stop, please,” Max complained. “I really don’t want to think about my sister like that, not even with Alex.”
Max was rescued by the sound of the door chime as Alex and Isabel rushed in. Their half-hearted excuses of jet-lag were fictionalized by their appearance. Even the normally impeccable Isabel looked mussed. The others exchanged a look..
“Suuuuuure. Jet Lag. We’ll go with that.” Isabel and Alex attempted to look sheepish, but their obvious joy shone through.
“I don’t even have to ask if the honeymoon went well,” Liz said. “It’s written all over your faces.”
“So tell us,” Kyle jumped in, “because it’s been a hot topic of debate back here. Did you guys actually see any of those famous Roman sights you talked about?” Izzy and Alex locked gazes and looked thoughtful.
“Yes,” Alex announced triumphantly after a moment, “we did, actually. We saw the Colosseum.”
“And was this in the taxi to the hotel or from it?” Michael inquired cheekily, thrilled to be on the other side of the teasing.
“Erm, to the hotel,” Alex mumbled, pinkening.
“It was our honeymoon,” Isabel defended. “It’s allowed.”
“She’s got a point,” Kyle acceded.
“Thank you,” Isabel grinned. “Now how about some food. I don’t know about you guys but I’m starving.”
“Don’t they have room service in Italy?” Tess asked, mock-innocently. Isabel stuck her tongue out at Tess as she and Alex squeezed in around the table.
“Of course they did,” Alex riposted, “but they only served for sixteen hours a day…”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Liz pulled the door shut behind them and locked it.
“This brings back memories,” she sighed. “The eight of us closing up the Crash after a long night.”
“Yeah,” Maria agreed. “It’s been too long. Let’s not wait years before the next time.”
After a quick round of goodbye hugs, the couples split off to their respective vehicles to head home.
And after five solid years with no serious threats, none of them paid any attention to, or even noticed, the dark figure emerging from the shadows.