Isabel: Michael, stop!
Michael: Maxwell, I was right. He was bugged. He's working against us.
[Isabel and Max are holding their hands up defensively towards Michael.]
Isabel: Let him go.
Jesse: Get out of here, Isabel, he's crazy...
Michael: Hey, shut up!
Max: Back off, Michael.
Michael: Nah, he has to die--
[Max blasts Michael, sending him flying across the room into a light fixture. Jesse falls away from the wall, and Isabel helps him stand.]
Max: [Puts his hand out to guide Isabel and Jesse towards a door.] Everybody out... NOW!
[Everyone scrambles to exit the apartment except Max and Michael, who are preparing to fight.]
Maria: Somebody please tell me it's going to be okay?
Maria chewed her lip nervously as she hugged herself trying to keep warm. The noise inside the apartment was so loud and she couldn’t help feeling scared at what was going on between Michael and Max. Liz’s earlier words had chilled her to the bone and while Max had said he wouldn’t kill Michael, a tiny part of her couldn’t be totally sure he’d keep to his word.
Things had been going great for her and Michael since she had come back from Vermont and they were now both ready to make a real commitment to each other. It was way too soon to be thinking of marriage but they had talked about living together after they graduated and it was starting to look like it was really going to happen.
Hearing Michael suddenly howling in pain had Maria running back into the apartment and she froze in the doorway when she saw him lying on the floor, shards of glass around him and his face covered in bleeding cuts.
Michael’s hands tentatively covered his face. “Get out of here, Maria.” Sensing her ignoring his request and moving towards him, he shouted, “Max, get her out of here. I don’t want to see her.”
“Please don’t do this Michael. Not now, not after everything that’s happened this past couple of weeks.”
“I said get out!” He was practically screaming at her now, pain and confusion evident in his voice.
Getting up off the floor, Max walked over to her. “I think it would be better if you did what he asked. I’ll take care of him.”
She stared at her boyfriend a moment longer before nodding and slowly heading towards the door but changing her mind, she turned back and said, “I’m going but just remember this Michael, you can’t get rid of me that easily.” With that said, she turned and left the apartment. She was almost to the Jetta when she heard footsteps behind her and she slowed her walking.
“Maria, wait up. Are you okay?”
Fixing a hard glare on her face, Maria turned and stared at Liz. “What do you think? My boyfriend doesn’t want to see me let alone have me help him and oh yeah, my best friend earlier suggested that we kill him so that her boyfriend could be king again. All in all, it’s been a great night and I’m feeling sooo good.”
“Look, I’m sorry. It was just an idea that’s all...I didn’t mean...”
“That wasn’t an idea, Liz. I’m tired so I’m gonna go home and take a bath. I’m just hoping and praying that tonight hasn’t set me and Michael back months.”
Liz stood and watched as Maria got in the car and drove off. “And I’m just hoping and praying tonight hasn’t damaged our friendship,” she whispered into the night.
Suddenly an image of Michael all alone and brooding in his apartment popped into her head and sitting up in the bath, she grabbed her sponge and lathered it up with her favourite lavender scented soap, quickly running it over her body before finally rinsing the suds away with the shower attachment. She couldn’t stop smiling as she got herself dried and dressed. Grabbing her bag and her keys, she ran out of the door, quickly locking it, before getting in her car and driving to Michael’s apartment. Upon arrival, she lost her nerve and sat there for a while wondering if she was doing the right thing by being there. Maybe she should give him the space he’d asked for.
Making her mind up, Maria got out of the car and made her way to his door, hesitating when she got there about whether to use her key or not. ‘Come on Deluca, pull yourself together,’ she told herself while at the same time giving herself a mental shake. Michael had given her the key so she could use it to open the door, not just stare at it.
Quietly entering the apartment, she saw Max fast asleep on the couch and so tip-toed past him towards Michael’s bedroom.
“I’m not asleep, Maria.” Max’s voice froze her in her tracks and she slowly turned to face him as he moved himself into a sitting position.
“Oh, hey Max. How...uh...is he?”
“He’s fine but I’m kinda surprised to see you here. I thought you were going to do as he asked and give him some space.”
Maria shook her head at Max’s “he’s fine” comment. She knew that Michael wasn’t fine after what had happened and it just went to show how self-involved Max could be at times. “When have I ever done what Spaceboy’s asked?”
He chuckled at her answer. “True.”
Giving him a smile she said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Reaching the bedroom door, she hesitated for a second before slowly turning the handle and walking in. The room was in darkness and she was just able to make out Michael’s form lying on his side facing away from her. Stripping down to her underwear, she crept closer and climbed into bed trying not to make too much noise or movement. Maria brought one of her arms up to drape around his waist and she rested her forehead against his back, breathing in his scent. She smiled when she felt him shiver and placing a soft kiss on his back whispered, “When were you going to tell me you were awake?” Her hand which was resting on his stomach came up to stroke his chest.
“I was waiting to see what you were gonna do,” he whispered back, a smirk evident in his voice. Turning over, he looked into Maria’s eyes and leaned in to rest his forehead against hers. “I’m...uh...sorry...you know, about what happened in the car and for what...what I said,” he said after a few moments.
“Shh...there’s no need to apologise Michael, but thank you.” She moved in closer and covered his lips with hers and smiled against his mouth when he deepened the kiss. Her hand came up to caress his cheek and his stubble prickled the pads of her fingers. Moving the same hand to the back of his neck, she pressed him closer and kissed him back hard. A feeling of relief washed over her knowing that Michael was safe and back in her arms where he belonged.
Rolling Maria over onto her back, he covered her with his body and kissed a path down from her lips to her throat where he sucked hard, determined to leave a mark. He savoured the silkiness and natural scent of her skin while his lips travelled down to her neck. Her small hands were his undoing as they massaged his shoulders and back, giving him the comfort he more often than not craved.
Michael buried his face in the nook between Maria’s neck and shoulder and one of his hands tightened on her waist. What had happened tonight had made him question himself over and over. The power of the crest surging through his veins had felt so good and so natural but there was still a part of him that hated it and he was now filled with a sense of shame. He hated what he had done to Jesse but more important than that, what he had said and done to Maria. He couldn’t help feeling that he had probably jeopardized how far they had come in the past couple of weeks and his grip on her unconsciously tightened.
Maria could feel him trembling in her arms and so held him tighter. “It’s gonna be okay,” she soothed as she brought a hand up to stroke the back of his neck.
After a few moments, he lifted up slightly resting on his forearms and looked into her clear eyes. “Am I too heavy?”
Raising up, she caught his lips with hers and gave him a soft kiss. “Nope, you’re just right. Are you okay now?”
“I don’t know, Maria. I hated what I was saying and doing but at the same time it felt so...”
“Natural?” she interrupted. He dropped his head and using her fingers, she cupped his cheek and brought his face back up to hers. “It’s okay, Michael, and what happened wasn’t your fault.”
Shaking his head, he rolled off her so that he was laying on his back and he flung an arm over his face covering it. “It was my fault. Everything I did to Jesse and...what happened between us before that...in the car.”
She sat up in the bed and turned on her side so she was looking at him. “How was this all your fault? Did you know that you’d become king if something happened to Max? No, you didn’t so stop blaming yourself.”
He sighed loudly. “Fine, I didn’t know that it would happen but I should have told Max as soon as I realised what had happened. We could have figured something out before it went this far.”
Reaching out to him, Maria moved his arm so she could look into his eyes. “Michael, the power had already kicked in and that’s why you didn’t tell Max so stop beating yourself up over this. What’s done is done and the others know this wasn’t your fault,” she told him.
He gave a sarcastic laugh. “Yeah right. I can’t help thinking I’ve got you to thank for me still being here.”
Maria’s eyes shifted at his words and she coughed to clear her throat. “What...uh...what do you mean?”
“Come on Maria, I’m not stupid. They had to have talked about the options open to them to get the seal back to its rightful owner and one of those must have been for me to die. It makes sense after we know what happened for it to pass to me.” He turned on his side to face her and gently smoothed back a strand of her hair behind her ear. “It’s okay, I can understand why th...”
“No! You shouldn’t understand why they’d say that. It was wrong for anyone to even think it and I felt sick as soon as I heard her say the words.”
Michael took a deep breath. Hearing her confirm what he’d already suspected shook him. “Isabel?” He asked, not wanting to believe that the person he still believed to be his sister could have suggested it.
Shaking her head, she replied quietly, “No.”
“I should have guessed. So what did the others say when Parker came up with her bright idea?”
Leaning in, she planted a kiss on his nose and then his lips before answering. “I don’t know because I jumped in as soon as she’d said it and told Max no.”
He smiled back at her and said, “Thanks,” before crushing his lips to hers and kissing her hard, his tongue parting her lips and then thrusting inside to explore her mouth. Rolling onto her back, she pulled him with her and wrapped both arms around his neck again, her fingers scratching his skin playfully.
Michael moaned into her mouth and he trailed a hand down her body to cup her breast through the skimpy lace of her bra. Finding the front clasp, he released it and began kneading her soft flesh, taking her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and pinching it. He smiled against her lips when she yelped into his mouth with the sudden sensation and he proceeded in kissing her harder.
Reluctantly breaking the kiss so she could breathe some much needed air, Maria smiled up at him. “There’s no need to thank me, I’m just glad you’re okay. You are okay, right?”
“I’m getting there,” he admitted before sucking her bottom lip between his lips and then tugging on it gently with his teeth.
Cupping the back of his neck, she played with the hair there while working up the courage to ask him a question that had been preying on her mind since they’d gotten back together. “Uh...Michael? Can I...I mean, can we talk?”
Seeing the serious look on her face, he replied, “Sure. I’m guessing you already have a topic in mind.”
“Yeah, I do. I was just...um...wondering about us and if we’re, you know, back together.”
“I don’t know about you, Maria, but I thought we’d gotten back together the night you came back from Vermont. I thought we’d both decided that that was what we wanted but maybe I got it wrong,” he said pulling back from her.
“No, no, you didn’t get it wrong. That’s what I thought too, it’s just that...”
“Just what? Where’s all this coming from?”
“It’s just that whenever we get close...really close like when we’re in bed, you seem to pull back from me and we end up just holding each other which, don’t get me wrong, is really great but I...”
Michael moved closer to her again and wrapped an arm around her waist. “You want us to make love?”
Maria bent her head slightly and looked at him through her lashes. “Well, yeah. I mean, if you don’t want to, uh, be with me anymore...”
“What?! Are you kidding me? Of course I want to be with you. It’s just that...I...”
“You what?” This time Michael lowered his head but Maria wasn’t having it and raised his face back to hers.
“I’m scared,” he confessed in a whisper.
“What are you scared of?” She bit her lip in anticipation of his answer.
Taking a deep breath, he answered, “I’m scared of us being that intimate again after what happened the last time.”
“You mean after I left you and then said what I did about us no longer being linked.”
“Yeah, and I know we’ve talked about it and I know that you didn’t mean it like that but...I’m just scared of it happening again and I don’t think I could take that. No, I know I couldn’t take you walking away from me again.”
Moving away from him, Maria sat up in bed and covered her face with her hands. “God, I’m so sorry. I wish I knew how to prove to you that I’ll never leave you again because that’s the truth, Michael. I will never leave you...ever, at least not willingly.”
Michael pulled her back into his arms and wrapped them around her, holding her tightly. “I know you won’t, Maria, and I do trust you. I just need time, that’s all. Be patient with me,” he said burying his face in her hair and breathing in its scent.
“That I can do, Spaceboy, that I can do. So we just...um...carry on as we are for the time being...cuddling and stuff?”
“Yeah, if that’s okay with you.”
“It’s more than okay. I love you so much,” she told him after she had turned in his arms and was looking him in the eyes.
“I love you too, more than anything in this world.” He tightened his hold on her waist.
“How about we get some sleep? It’s been a really long day for both of us and I can barely keep my eyes open.”
“Yeah, me either.” He agreed.
They rearranged the bedding before getting comfortable and snuggling together. Maria sensed when Michael had fallen asleep and before she drifted off herself, she leaned up and placed a soft kiss on his forehead, followed by the tip of his nose and then finally on his lips, reminiscent of a time that seemed so long ago now. “You’ll always be my brave, handsome hero,” she whispered before adding, “And I’m going to do everything I can to make up for hurting you.” Snuggling back into his body, she closed her eyes and a few moments later she was fast asleep. The End