Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)155 - 8/24/19 - Complete

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)143-11/20/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:49 pm

keepsmiling : Of course parents want their children to go to college. But we all know Michael, it wasn’t necessarily what he wanted. Maria had more freedom, because of how her mom raised her and because of her beliefs. But Michael’s parents expected it so much because they wanted him to have more options.


Part 143

Michael hooked the strap of Maria’s bag over his shoulder and grabbed his own bag before following his girlfriend off of the plane. The flight hadn’t been bad, but the hour layover in Phoenix had been an aggravation. It didn’t make any sense to him why the stop was necessary considering the length of the flight. He shook the annoyance off before it could gain a foothold and affect his mood. Maneuvering through the throng of people packed in the terminal could do that without any additional help.

“Oh look, Michael,” Maria said as she tugged on his hand.

“What?” he asked, his head automatically turning to follow her pointing finger. His eyebrows lifted when he saw the uniformed chauffer standing near their exit, a cardboard sign with their last names printed in large letters held in his hands. “I thought we were just catchin’ a cab to the hotel.”

“So did I but I’m not complaining.”

He rolled his eyes but stayed close on her heels when she made a beeline for the chauffer and immediately started chatting him up. Anything that kept her mood light wasn’t going to get a negative response from him right now. Although it didn’t keep him from glaring at the Limo Lothario when he started to flirt with her like her boyfriend wasn’t standing right beside her.

“He’s just being friendly,” Maria said as the door closed behind them and Geoffrey hurried around to climb in behind the wheel.

“Yeah, I got that.” He relaxed when her hand settled on his thigh and the car pulled out into the late morning traffic. Geoffrey’s annoying nasal voice continued to blather on about the sights in San Francisco and he was knowledgeable about the area so Maria was happy to engage him in conversation. He was sure the guy was taking the long way to the hotel because he’d looked at it on the map and it really shouldn’t be taking as much time as it was. They could’ve walked there in less time!

Mom had wanted to know where they were staying so Maria had brought out the brochure Savannah had sent along with the plane tickets. After countless handlings by Maria, Liz and Isabel as they practically drooled all over the stupid thing it had looked like something that had been picked out of somebody’s trash. And it had only looked worse after Maggie got finished with it. Thankfully, Mom had looked it over and after making a sound of approval there had been no more fuss over it.

He didn’t see what the big deal was. It was a hotel. No matter how nice they dressed it up, it was an overpriced room. A bed and a bathroom, what was all the excitement about? He didn’t wait for the driver to get out of the car when it finally came to a stop but before he could open the door it was pulled open from the outside and he found himself facing yet another uniformed man. He scrambled out as the guy launched into his welcome speech, quickly turning to give his girlfriend a hand before anyone else could offer.

He shook his head when Limo Lothario came around with their bags and Romeo reached for them. “I’ve got it.”

Maria smiled at Geoffrey and thanked him when he saw her reach for her purse and he hurried to assure them that the tip had already been taken care of. She bumped her hip against Michael to get him moving when the doorman opened the door and she managed to control the urge to laugh until they were inside and the men were out of hearing range.

“I don’t see what’s so funny,” he grumbled. “Or why he thought he was getting a tip for doin’ his job. Hell, he took the longest possible route to get here.”

“You don’t need to be jealous. They were both really sweet and Geoffrey was just giving us the scenic tour.”

Yeah, he’d seen the scenic tour that moron was taking every time his eyes had landed on Maria. He snorted when the rest of her words registered. Him, jealous? Yeah, right. Jealous of those two? It was laughable. He stewed over those thoughts while she handled the check-in and talked up the elderly woman behind the desk.

“Would you just look at this place?” Maria whispered reverently while they were walking to the elevator. “These floors are Italian marble.”

A floor was a floor. Sure, some were nicer than others, but when it came down to it, a floor was still just a floor. You walked on it whether it was wood, dirt or marble. He turned his head when the scent of something mouthwatering drifted past him. Food, now food was a different story altogether.

Maria rolled her eyes. The floors and décor might not impress him one way or the other, but the food? Yeah, it figured that would have his full and undivided attention. Admittedly, it did smell appetizing. But then, the hotel brochure did boast a world class restaurant with one of the finest chefs in the country.

They took the elevator up to their floor and Maria led the way down the corridor, checking the room numbers and stopping when she located theirs. She swiped the keycard and pushed the door open, stepping inside and stopping suddenly as she gazed around the beautifully furnished room.

“Maria,” he growled when he nearly plowed into her back.

“Just look at it, Michael. Have you ever seen anything like it?” Her voice was low, the words almost whispered in awe.

He looked around and shrugged. “It’s…” and whatever he was about to say locked up in his throat when he spotted not one, but two large flat screen televisions. “You’re right, it’s pretty cool.” He shuffled past her and tossed the bags on the bed before throwing himself down beside them and twisting around to get his greedy hands on the remote control. “Check out the picture on this thing, Maria.”

“We’re supposed to meet Savannah at her art gallery at two o’clock.”

He was already busy scanning through the channels. “Yeah, yeah, that’s at least three hours away.”

Maria shook her head at him and wandered off to explore the room. There was a comfortable sitting area with the second wall-mounted flat screen television, a large bathroom with a sizeable vanity area, and a picture window with a panoramic view of the Bay. She stepped out on the balcony and leaned over the railing to look down over the city, smiling as she watched the people moving around.

She was so excited about moving to San Francisco in a few months and starting their life here together. Her gaze drifted away from the activity below to the coastline, smiling as she imagined the houseboat that was just waiting for them to move in. She had been in contact with Dominik Laszlo, the owner of Antiquities shop. He loved to talk and she had learned that he had come to the States with his parents as a child, refugees fleeing their homeland during the Hungarian Revolution. She had an interview with him scheduled for Monday morning. It might not be the most interesting job, but she was willing to give it a shot and see if it would be a good fit. She couldn’t imagine the conversation would ever be dull or boring.

The job writing articles would only be part-time for a while, but Sandra Markland, the woman who owned the online magazine, was hoping it caught on as internet use exploded and the online availability of written formats such as newspaper publications became more widespread.

Michael was meeting with Trang Stevens on Saturday morning to talk to him about the courier job. She had been curious about the man’s name so she had called Deanna and learned that Trang’s parents had met during the Vietnam War and his father had only found out that he had a son when the boy was four years old. He had been contacted by a woman working for the Red Cross after the boy’s mother had died of malaria. It had been a struggle to bring him to the States, but he had finally succeeded.

Trang had started the business with his father’s help a few years ago and he was still fighting to gain a solid foothold in the industry. She had talked to him when he had called to confirm that Michael would be able to make the scheduled appointment and he seemed like a very pleasant man. He was only about fifteen years older than they were and he owned his own business. Michael hadn’t said anything but she could tell that he respected that.

She knew he’d be great at taking on the handyman job in their little floating home community. He was always doing something on the Rez, helping others out, and growing up the way he had he’d learned all kinds of things about making repairs. Both jobs would keep him free of the confinement of a normal nine-to-five job and as long as he was happy so was she. A different job might pay better, but neither of them felt that being miserable was worth a few more dollars.

“Hey, you wanna get somethin’ to eat before we head over to the gallery?”

She turned to look at Michael when he spoke up from the open balcony doors and she nodded with a smile. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Okay, lemme know when you’re ready.”

She shook her head when he went back inside and before she’d made it in and closed the door he was already involved in whatever game he’d found to watch. She walked around him and she smiled when she leaned over to grab her bag and his fingers ghosted over her arm. She bent down to give him a quick kiss. “Give me ten and I’ll be ready.”

He nodded and watched her walk away, enjoying the view and mentally doing the math. Ten minutes? No, the current situation combined with her mood… thirty-five to forty minutes would be their actual estimated time of departure.

*****

Kinsey Abrams glanced over the couple as they entered the Montague Gallery. They were underdressed for their normal clientele, but she had a feeling they were the two o’clock appointment Savannah was expecting. She stepped away from her desk and crossed the floor as they paused in front of one of their most recent acquisitions. Vibrant splashes of color made an astounding statement on the canvas, but it was apparently lost on the young man.

“Welcome to Montague Gallery,” she greeted them.

“Hi, we’re here to see Savannah Paisley. I’m Maria and this’s my boyfriend Michael.” She motioned to the painting. “We were just wondering what the artist’s statement is.”

“I wasn’t wondering,” Michael mumbled under his breath. Hell, Shysie could paint better than that! He shifted just a moment before his girlfriend’s elbow would have impacted with his ribs.

“It represents hope.” She gazed at it fondly. “Hope for the future, hope for mankind.” She sighed and motioned to the one beside it. A piece that was much darker, more forbidding. “As you can see, this one represents despair.”

“Really?” Michael frowned at it. It was completely black with an off-center blotch of red.

“Oh, yes. The lack of light in the world, the overwhelming presence of fear and the hidden desire to let it swallow us whole, this piece just screams of despair.”

“Uh-huh.” His tone said he wasn’t impressed or buying her explanation. “So what’s a piece like this go for?”

“This particular piece is priced at $97,000 while its companion is priced at $87,000.”

“Someone’s seriously gonna pay that kinda money for a red spot on a black canvas?”

“It’s so much more than that. When you look at it you can just feel the artist’s pain.”

He felt more pain from the price tag. “Well, to each his own I guess.” He wasn’t sure what it said that the so-called darker piece was priced ten grand higher than the one that supposedly represented hope, but whatever.

“Maria, I’m so glad you could make it.”

They turned and she smiled at Savannah before introducing her to Michael.

“I hope you found your accommodations satisfactory?”

“Oh, it’s really too much. You didn’t have to put us up in the nicest hotel on the Bay.”

“Nonsense! I keep a handful of rooms booked at their establishment for clients that fly in for showings and I had that room free this weekend. Please, it’s very important to me that your stay here be comfortable.”

“I can’t imagine any way for a stay there to be anything but comfortable.”

“Wonderful!” She turned to her assistant. “Kinsey, Mrs. Covington just called. She’s on her way to see the new piece we received from Enrique. You know how she feels about his work. Oh, and show her that magnificent piece that Bartok delivered to us yesterday. I have a feeling she’ll love it the moment she sees it.”

Michael shot another glance at the pieces Kinsey had been gushing over and he sincerely hoped whoever Mrs. Covington was, she wasn’t coming to see that crap. His gaze roved over the walls as they followed Savannah back to her office. There wasn’t a single thing there that looked like anything he’d call art.

“I don’t remember my dad painting anything that looks like what you showcase,” Maria said as the office door closed behind them.

“Your father’s work is considerably different than what we have on display, but I assure you there is a huge demand for work of his caliber.” She led the way to another door but before opening it she turned to her guests. “This room is for private viewings and I’ve had everything removed so that I could display your father’s work for you.” She smiled and pulled the door open. “I’ll leave you alone and come back in a while. If you need anything before then I’ll be out front.”

When they had been left alone again Michael took Maria’s hand and pulled her around to face him. “You okay?”

“This… it’s almost like seeing him again. When he painted he put everything into it, like he was putting pieces of himself on the canvas. Dad was a true artist, passionate, emotional and so immersed in the moment when he was working. I know he sold a few pieces, but a gallery like this doesn’t sell smalltime paintings.”

“Then she sees the depth of his connection to his work and she understands its value.” And he really hoped it wasn’t as weird as the pieces on display out front were because it wasn’t going to be easy to agree with how great they were if they looked like that.

She smiled and took a deep breath before stepping over the threshold and into the dimly lit room. As she moved forward a light came on above the first painting and she inhaled sharply. She couldn’t help reaching out and letting her fingers graze the brushstrokes swept across the canvas by her father’s hand.

Michael studied the desert landscape, his eyes automatically finding the details that someone unfamiliar with the beauty of the New Mexican desert would miss. Her father had obviously loved the desert as well as the ocean. Both were heavily showcased as they moved down the wall. There were paintings of the grasslands, desert and prairie, the desert at night when the sky was laden with stars, during the day when the sun beat down on the sand and sent every living creature into hiding, paintings of San Francisco, the ocean and even a few abstracts that he didn’t really understand.

“Michael, look,” she whispered, her voice trembling as she reached out to another painting.

He moved to join her and he stared in shock at the herd of mustangs drinking from the river at dusk. “Santana and Mirage.” His voice was hushed as if speaking any louder would destroy the moment. He counted the horses in the painting. “This had to be the first or second year they were on the Rez.”

“It’s so beautiful.” Her fingertips traced over the frame she knew to be hand carved from driftwood. Her father had found beauty in imperfection. She could remember running on the beach with him on a long ago trip to San Francisco and her curiosity making her stop when he crouched down to pick up something half-buried in the sand. She had watched him as he pulled seaweed off of it and brushed sand away and then listened to him as he explained what it meant to find beauty in the most unexpected places. All of his paintings had been placed in unique frames, but there were a select number that he had crafted himself.

“Your dad made this?” he asked, sensing it was true from the way she caressed the wood.

“Yeah.” Her voice cracked but she held a hand up and shook her head when he took a step closer. She cleared her throat and raised her head to look at the painting once more. “He was a genius with a paintbrush.”

“Yeah, he had the touch.” He touched the edge of the frame, tracing over the smooth polished lines of the gnarled wood. It was a beautiful job and he’d managed to capture the mystical bond between Santana and Mirage on the canvas.

“I never knew he spent so much time in the desert.” She could remember her dad telling her that to really reveal any truth through art you had to immerse yourself in your subject. “I know before he and my mom got together he lived near the ocean most of his life,” she gestured to the paintings featuring the ocean before once again focusing on the one that had so completely captured her attention, “but…” her fingertips gently grazed over Santana’s mane as her words trailed off.

After a while she continued moving down the wall to view the rest of the paintings. She could feel Michael keeping pace with her, a protective, caring shadow, his very presence reassuring in its promise to be there if she needed him. She turned to glance at him when she felt him move away and she watched him when he stopped in front of a desert landscape, his head tipped to one side as he studied it. She moved back to his side, wondering what had captured his attention.

It was the desert at night; the sky so black it almost appeared a deep indigo, countless stars scattered across its expanse with shadowy outlines of rocky outcroppings far in the distance. He leaned in closer, hands resting on his knees as he studied the details of the scene. There was something about it that seemed so familiar. He shrugged it off after a few more minutes of staring at it, straightening up and motioning for her to move along.

There were a couple more paintings of the desert, one more of the ocean, but it was the last one on the wall that stopped her in her tracks. She stared in disbelief at the image of herself at four years old, perched atop her dad’s shoulders as he nodded at a painting hanging on the wall of a museum. He’d captured her innocence and curiosity as well as his own fatherly pride and love.

“The museum in Santa Fe?”

His voice startled her. She had been so caught up in the memories stirred up by the poignant painting that she’d almost felt as if she’d been drawn back into that moment, as if she was there, listening with rapt attention as her dad explained the artist’s use of color. She could almost feel his forearm resting against her legs, his hand, an artist’s hand, wrapped securely around hers and keeping her balanced on her perch.

After a moment she remembered Michael’s question and she nodded. “Yeah.” She was surprised that he remembered that little bit of information, she’d only mentioned it the one time, sitting on the tailgate of his dad’s truck on the side of the road, halfway between their homes.

His strong arms wrapped around her waist and he pulled her back against him. “Didn’t I tell you you’re not forgettable?” he murmured against her ear.

Maria smiled slightly and relaxed back into him as her hands came up to rest on his forearms. If not for Michael she wouldn’t have made this trip and she would’ve missed out on experiencing this reconnection with her dad. All these years she’d unfairly judged him, believing the worst of him, and she had been so wrong.

“I want to visit him, Michael.”

“Any idea where he was laid to rest?”

“No, but it can’t be that hard to find, can it?”

“We have his name, we know where he was living and we know the date he passed away so it should be easy enough to find him.” He knew it was important to her to know where her dad’s final resting place was so that made it important to him.

She smiled and nodded. “Let’s find Savannah. I need to talk to her about a couple of the paintings and then we’ll go.”

He lowered his arms but maintained a hold on her hand as she led the way out of the private showing room, pausing at the entrance when she stopped to turn and stare at the paintings once more. He didn’t need her to point out the ones she intended to speak to the gallery owner about. He already knew which ones would be gracing the walls of their new home.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)143-11/20/16

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:22 pm

Michael was not impressed with the over-priced room.....
Love it!
Thanks,
Carolyn

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Chrystalkay
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)143-11/20/16

Post by Chrystalkay » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:38 pm

Well this story has been going on for a loooong time and I still wait for each addition. The last few days I have re-read it from chapter one. I still wonder what you have in store for the future here. Since you are at a good place to wrap it up, I am wondering if you will or else... what surprises lie in wait. Will there be complications? Will Dakota get out and cause trouble? Will nasedo come back and try to get hold of the granolith to get home? And if so is it because he found others to help him?
Or are you going to leave it peaceful and tie up any ends?
It has been a good journey. Thank you!
Chrystalkay

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)144-12/4/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:24 pm

keepsmiling7: Who would be impressed by these modern pieces of art and pay so much just to hang them on their walls? Not Michael, that’s for sure!

Chrystalkay: Thank you for spending so much time rereading the entire story. It’s such a long fic that it had to take up a lot of your time. Well, yes, this story is close to being over, it’s just a matter of time now.



Part 144

Michael paced back and forth on the balcony, his focus divided between the woman on the other end of the phone and his girlfriend. Maria was finally sleeping, emotionally spent after a day that had taken a turn they hadn’t expected. The morning had started without a single hiccup. They had slept in and taken advantage of the opportunity to be together freely then lingered over breakfast before getting ready for the day.

The meeting with Trang had gone well. The man was personable and had a great sense of humor and he’d known immediately that he could work with him. He’d spent more than an hour talking to him and touring the warehouse where cargo was stored for clients overnight when the need arose. Trang was proud of his business and he set standards that were high but realistic. Some of his business was for clients that needed larger items or shipments moved and he maintained a small fleet of cargo vans and a few larger box trucks. Michael had assured him if it had a steering wheel and tires he could drive it.

He had left the meeting with the assurance that a job would be waiting for him when they returned at the end of August. He was sure he was going to enjoy the courier business. It was a job that would keep him busy and it would offer a certain amount of freedom. Trang had explained that there were lulls in the business, time of the year when business slowed down, but he was constantly searching for ways to expand in an effort to combat that problem. The courier business had a high turnover rate and he wondered if that was a hindrance. He could imagine that customers who relied on couriers probably preferred the comfort of seeing a familiar face when entrusting their shipments to an outside source.

It had been noon by the time he made it back to the hotel and in spite of having a late breakfast he’d been hungry again. Unfortunately, Maria had already lined the afternoon up and lunch hadn’t been anywhere on that itinerary. He’d managed a small detour to a fast food chain in their trek to the library, wolfing down a cheeseburger while keeping pace with his girlfriend since sitting down and eating would only notch up her agitation.

The trip to the library had paid off. They knew the date of her father’s passing so tracking down the obituary hadn’t taken more than a couple of hours. They had run into a slight snag when the name of the cemetery hadn’t been listed but armed with the name of the funeral home they had made a couple of calls and headed for their next stop. It was the conversation with the director at the funeral home that had shot the day all to hell and sent them to the county coroner’s office.

The county had attempted to locate Lorenzo’s next of kin but the search hadn’t stretched beyond the borders of the state. Her father’s body had gone unclaimed and after the mandatory waiting time his remains had been cremated. Two years later when no family members had come forward to claim him, his remains had been buried in a mass grave along with the unclaimed remains of more than a thousand other people. A pauper’s grave that held the homeless, the indigent, the unwanted and unidentified.

It was a tragic ending to an already tragic story and Maria hadn’t taken it well. He had offered to call Amy for her, not wanting her to have to repeat the story so soon after learning the truth. He nodded at something the woman said before remembering that she couldn’t see him.

“Yeah, she’s finally sleepin’. I don’t know how long it’ll last but I’m hopin’ for a few hours at least.” He turned to rest his weight against the wall of the balcony, crossing one arm over his chest as he watched his girlfriend. He tuned back in to what Amy was saying before he completely lost track and had to ask her to repeat herself.

“She wants to go out to the gravesite tomorrow.” He wanted to talk her out of it, worried that it might be too much, but she was determined.

Amy could hear the reservation in his tone. “I know it’s hard, Michael, but she needs to do this. If she doesn’t see it through she’ll never be able to let it go and move on.”

“Yeah, I guess. Y’know, they don’t search for relatives outside of the state. I guess they just focus the search within the state and if they can’t find a relative willing to claim the body and there’s not someone able to legally take possession it stays in their custody until they’re able to have the mass burial.” He sighed quietly and shook his head. “I’m sorry it turned out this way.”

“I am too. Lorenzo deserved so much better than sharing his final resting place with…” she cleared her throat. She needed to talk to Gabriel. “Just take care of her, Michael. I know how hard this is for her and she needs your strength more now than ever before.”

“I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

She smiled tearfully at his declaration, easily reading everything he hadn’t said in those four simple words. She was so thankful that Maria and Michael had found each other. “Would you do something for me?”

He straightened up when Maria shifted restlessly, relaxing only when she settled down again. “Sure.”

“Tomorrow after you visit the gravesite, I want you to take her somewhere special.” She closed her eyes as memories assailed her. Drawing in a deep breath, she continued.

Michael listened as Amy explained where she wanted him to take Maria and after asking a few questions, making sure he knew where he would be going, they ended the call. He walked back inside and quietly closed the door before turning the vertical blinds to block the lights from the city below.

The lamp next to the bed provided the only light in the room and he moved to check on her. She lay curled up on top of the covers, dwarfed in one of his shirts. Her face was ravaged by pain, her cheeks streaked by the tracks of dried tears that he hadn’t been able to stop no matter what he’d said or done. He reached over and gently brushed the backs of his fingers over her cheek, just watching her for a moment before retreating and quietly collecting the things he needed to grab a quick shower.

Ten minutes later he was padding back into the bedroom, dragging his feet to completely dry the bottoms off on the thick carpet while running the towel in his hand over his hair. Finished with the towel he tossed it across the room and fisted the air when it landed over the back of one of the chairs.

Maria didn’t stir when he settled next to her but within a couple of minutes she rolled over and curled up against him. He eased an arm around her and reached up to turn the lamp off before grabbing the remote. Turning the television on, he channel surfed for a few minutes and finally settled on a sports network. He lowered the volume, interested in the commentator’s opinion about the next game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but not giving it his full attention.

His mind was on several things at once. Maria, the request Amy had made, the impending visit to the gravesite, how she was going to handle it, and how he was going to hold her together. He didn’t even know if it was possible. She had been hit from all sides in just a matter of days and this latest news had completely blindsided her. When she had excused herself for a few minutes at the county coroner’s office he had asked the man what they could expect upon visiting the gravesite.

The field that contained the cemetery wasn’t anything fancy and there were no special markers or headstones to identify those buried there. He was concerned that seeing the grave was only going to make the situation worse for her. Maria shifted restlessly and he stroked her arm from elbow to wrist and back again, the motion soothing for both of them. He sighed tiredly and closed his eyes, and before long the muted sounds of highlights from the last game lulled him to sleep.

*****

The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and the barren field stretched out before them. The cemetery was exactly as the county coroner had described it. Depressing was the first word that came to mind upon seeing it. The entrance was bordered by an old wrought-iron trellis that had seen better days and unlike the cemeteries people imagined for a loved one’s final resting place, there was no lush carpet of green grass, no flowers to mark the presence of visitors, and no rows of well cared for personalized headstones.

The grass was dry, most of it browned from lack of watering. The graves were marked only by a small ten by six-inch granite slab engraved with the year the burial occurred. There was nothing to show the names of those contained in the grave, nothing to show their actual dates of death, nothing more than an impersonal four-digit number.

Maria’s hand tightened around Michael’s, her fingernails digging into his palm without even realizing it as they walked along the rows of markers looking for 1993. Her breath caught in her throat when they found it and she felt the tears threatening once more. There was nothing special about the marker. The only thing that made it different from the others was the fact that the year was unique.

Releasing Michael’s hand she knelt down next to the marker and her free hand rested against the sun-warmed slab. It was so wrong for her dad to be here, buried with so many others in a single grave. He hadn’t been unknown, hadn’t been unwanted… he hadn’t been unloved. With only thirteen hundred miles between them her dad had died and his body had gone unclaimed. How could that happen? They lived in one of the most advanced societies in the world and because they hadn’t lived in the same state no one had searched further and they had never been notified of his passing.

“I’m so sorry, Dad,” she whispered.

Michael watched her trace over the engraved year until her shoulders started to shake. He looked around the field until he located a patch littered with rocks. Leaving her along for a couple of minutes he gathered up a dozen or so good sized rocks and crouched down to put them together. Satisfied with the arrangement he rested his hand over them, concentrating until they melded into a single granite sheet.

Placing his palm against it he waited a moment and then slowly slid it from one end to the other, smoothing it out and putting a high polish on it. He turned his head to check on Maria, watching as she clutched the bouquet of roses and daisies interspersed with baby’s breath and greenery she’d picked up at the florist, pressing them to her chest. He focused on the slab once more, his finger moving across it and leaving an engraved message in the stone. Once he was finished he walked back over to his girlfriend and dropped down to sit beside her.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” she rasped. Her voice was strained and it almost hurt to talk.

“Look, nobody deserves this kinda burial, and I know there’s nothin’ we can do to change it, but…” He held the small marker out to her and watched her as she accepted it. Tears filled her eyes and immediately spilled over when she looked at it.
Lorenzo De Santis
Beloved Father
June 17, 1962 – March 27, 1991
Her fingers traced over the symbol etched into the stone at the top right corner and she looked at him quizzically.

“It’s called ‘Man in the Maze’,” he explained. He reached over to brush his thumb over it, drawing her attention to the circular maze with a small dark spot at the center and the small figure of a man standing at the opening at the top. “It symbolizes the person’s journey as they go through life. The maze represents the choices they make in life. It has a lot of twists and turns, dead ends that stop their path and then openings that allow them to continue moving forward. The center’s dark and it represents his journey from the dark to the light. For some people the darkness would be on the outside but I think with your dad, his path would’ve taken him into the light.” He shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe one day we can find him a better spot than this, but for now at least we can leave something that’ll let the world know he wasn’t forgotten.”

She nodded and drew in a shaky breath. “Thank you, Michael.”

He nodded, giving her time to collect herself while he carved out a place for it beneath the marker the county and placed over the gravesite. After digging a few inches down he lined the bottom with more stones until the small slab he had made would rest on them and leave it flush with the surface. Satisfied with it he placed his hands over it and melded the stones together.

Maria reached over and carefully placed the marker on top of the stone foundation and she watched as he rested his hand over it, using his powers to seal it to the larger block of stone below. She understood without an explanation what he was doing. The cemetery wasn’t patrolled or well-lit and other than an occasional mowing it wasn’t well-maintained. It made the marker thick and heavy and would hopefully deter vandals from stealing it.

Her eyes traced over the dates on the marker and she sighed quietly. Twenty-nine years old. Her dad had died so young. She pressed her nose to the flowers she held, inhaling their fragrance before carefully laying them over the marker.

“When I was four my dad was away from home on Valentine’s Day.” Her fingers traveled over the petals of the flowers as she thought back to that morning. “My parents didn’t really do much for Valentine’s Day.” She shrugged. “They didn’t really see the point of making a big deal about romance one day outta the year so there weren’t overdone bouquets of roses, obscenely large boxes of chocolates or extravagant gifts. But we would have dinner and Mom would make a special desert and Dad would bring me flowers. It had become a tradition and I spent the whole morning running to the window every time I heard a sound from outside, but he was never there. And finally, when it was getting dark and I had given up because I was sure he had gotten busy and forgotten, there was a knock on the door.”

“Flower delivery?” he guessed after a few moments of silence.

Maria shook her head. “Mom told me to go answer the door, which was a really big deal for me at that age. Even though I grew up in a small town they were still cautious. But I was so sure my dad had forgotten all about me that I dragged my feet all the way there and took my time unlocking the door.” She could still remember standing up on her tiptoes to reach the lock. “I finally got the door open and there was my dad, down on one knee, holding a small red basket with a bouquet of flowers just like this one.” In that moment every fear of being forgotten had flown out of her head and she’d thrown herself into her daddy’s arms. She smiled as tears rolled down her face, but for the first time in days they weren’t tears of sadness.

Her fingertips brushed over the stone again, touched by Michael’s thoughtfulness and feeling that tightness in her chest beginning to break apart. “Thank you for everything, Michael,” she whispered as she turned and wrapped her arms around him.

“You’re welcome,” he mumbled gruffly and returned the embrace.

After a while she indicated she was ready to go and he stood, bringing her with him. “I promised your mom I’d take you somewhere special after we left here, so if you’re up to it…”

Maria paused in brushing her clothes off to look at him. “Where?”

He shrugged. “It’s a surprise. But if you don’t feel up to it I’m sure she’d understand.”

“No, no, if she asked I’m sure it’s important to her. We’ll just go back to the hotel after we do whatever it is.” She crouched down and kissed her fingertips before pressing them to the stone that still held the warmth of the day. With one last look at the small marker that personalized her father’s final resting place she stood and took Michael’s hand.

*****

They walked through the small park tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, hidden from the hustle and bustle of the city. Hands swinging between them, Michael and Maria followed the path through the garden toward the gem at its center.

Maria knew the area, could feel the familiarity of it, and excitement thrummed through her veins as she tried in vain to recall it. “I’ve been here before.”

He nodded. “Your mom told me.”

She glanced at him. “She did?” Her gaze moved over the native plants that decorated the area but it wasn’t until she glimpsed the green bars that arched over the short concrete walls that the memory hit her. “The Seward Street Slides,” she whispered and her mind automatically took her back to that brief passage in the letter her dad had left for her.

“Do you remember the slides? You were so little when I took you to see them but we spent hours there. Flying down the slides and then hiking all the way back up to the top to do it all over again. You were tireless and I lost count of how many trips we made up that hill and back down the slides before they closed for the day.”

“Mom was attending a meeting that day, something to do with her work, and me and Dad spent the day together. I was, wow, three years old, and when I’d get tired of walking he’d pick me up and carry me on his shoulders. He’d hold my arms out and he’d duck down and run while making airplane noises.” She walked up to the slides and rested her hand on the green arch, not even feeling the chipped paint brushing roughly against her palm.

“He brought me here and told me about my granddad bringing him here when he was my age. They participated in a protest, something to do with the locals fighting against development that was pushing into the neighborhoods and stripping away what was left of open areas.” She looked at the steep slides, concrete with high walls, and she smiled at the memory of the wind rushing past them as they zoomed to the bottom. “The slides were designed by a teenager, can you believe it?”

“Really?”

She nodded and glanced around, grinning when her searching gaze landed on a stack of cardboard that had been left behind. “Slide with me.”

“Okay.” He wasn’t a stick in the mud or anything, but this really wasn’t his kinda thing. He’d outgrown slides years ago. Besides, it was concrete. How did that make it possible to actually slide down?

Maria grabbed a couple of the squares of cardboard and pressed one into his hand. “C’mon! Last one at the bottom picks the movie tonight.”

He rolled his eyes and followed her to the top of the slides, taking the one on the left. She could pick the movie tonight as long as she understood that tomorrow was a playoffs game and there was no way he was missing it. He mimicked her moves as he pressed the cardboard into place and lowered himself onto it. He was sure if he gained any momentum at all it’d be lost partway down and he’d just be sitting there. But, if this was what it took to put the smile back in her eyes, hell, he wasn’t above making a fool of himself. Well, as long as no one else was around to see it, he thought as he glanced around surreptitiously just to make sure they were alone.

“When I win you agree to no whining when I’m watchin’ the playoffs game tomorrow.”

She snorted at him. “Do not use your powers and cheat.” She rolled her eyes at him. “And don’t give me that look because I know you thought about it.” Her fisted hands landed on her hips. “And, just for the record, Michael Guerin, I do not whine. Ever.”

“Yeah, okay.” His tone easily gave away his disbelief at her obviously incorrect statement. “Let’s just do this.”

They took up their positions on their cardboard and Maria counted down before they pushed off. Her gleeful screams pierced the air around them as they flew down the slides, faster than Michael had believed possible, fast enough to make his heart pound as the wind raced past him. As the end rushed towards him he had to order himself to remember to hit the ground running so he didn’t land wrong and end up face-down on the ground.

His feet hit the ground and he launched himself upright just a mere two seconds before Maria and he pivoted around to catch her. Her laughter rang out but before long it dissipated into sobs and she collapsed into his arms, holding onto him for dear life.

Michael held her close while one hand rubbed soothing patterns on her back. This was different than the other times she’d fallen apart since learning of her father’s death, even he could recognize it. This was a cleansing emotional release and he wondered if Amy had somehow known being at the slides would allow it to happen.

Now she would be able to let the past go, and hopefully release the guilt she felt with it. He didn’t know her father but he knew the man wouldn’t have held her fear and pain against her. He’d seen the works of art Lorenzo had created and he was sure anyone with a soul like that would’ve been able to see and understand the pain in his daughter, pain created by his loss in her life.

Tomorrow they would spend their last day in San Francisco before returning home. He’d made arrangements for them to spend the afternoon with Samantha and Chris, two of their neighbors when they moved to the city in just a few months. He’d missed the last game of the playoffs but Chris had recorded the game and he was also a hockey enthusiast so they were going to barbecue and watch it while the girls did whatever it was girls did when they got together. Talk most likely.

But he had a feeling it would be good to get Maria out around other people. She needed the escape and she enjoyed being around people, and he could handle hanging out for grilled meat and a game. Besides, the other couple had been pretty cool when they’d met them during their last visit to San Francisco and he knew the girls had stayed in touch.

Now with the resolution concerning her dad she could begin healing. Not having the specter of uncertainty hanging over her would make a difference and in time it would release those old insecurities. He knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but it would happen. And when that time came the hurt attached to her dad’s memory wouldn’t cut so deeply.

“You okay?” he asked quietly when she began to calm down.

“I will be,” she said a little while later.

He rubbed her back and rested his chin on top of her head. “Your dad would be proud of you, Maria, don’t ever doubt that.”

She nodded, believing it was true. “Let’s go back to the hotel.” She gave a watery chuckle and poked his stomach when it rumbled loudly. This was normal, and that’s exactly what she needed right now. She felt better than she had in days and so much of that was because of the man standing beside her. She tipped her head back to look up at him, seeing the concern in the dark depths that stared back at her. “I love you so much,” she whispered. His answering smile filled her heart to near bursting and she hugged him before stepping back and taking his hand, willingly following him as he led them back to the top of the hill.

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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)144-12/4/16

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:59 pm

That was so sad for Maria.......but I'm glad Michael was there when they visited her father's grave.
Great part,
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)144-12/4/16

Post by Jessluvz » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:35 am

I recently started watching Roswell again on Netflix again and I've always loved Michael and Maria as a couple and always thought we needed more of them on the show. That made me start looking to see if any fan fictions stories where written about them and luckily I found your story. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with us!

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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)144-12/4/16

Post by Chrystalkay » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:40 pm

I really like this story, so much so that I went back and re-read the whole thing to present. It has been quite a few years in the making, and I don't know how much farther it will go, but i have sure enjoyed the ride!
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)145-6/4/17

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:59 am

keepsmiling7: That would be a tough situation, but Michael wouldn't have been anywhere else at that moment.

Jessluvz: Thanks for reading! Went to Netflix the other day looking for an episode of Roswell to refresh the memory on a specific scene... imagine my dismay when it was no longer available for streaming!

Chrystalkay: Wow, that's a lot of reading! It has been quite a few years in the making and we've still got a bit to go with the story.


Part 145

Michael was hauling groceries into the house after making the trip into Ruidoso, muttering under his breath because Maggie had managed to weasel her way out of helping. He hated grocery shopping on a good day and he was running short on time. It was Saturday and he’d already had to get up extra early to get his regular chores finished so he’d have time to clean up and get ready to head out to meet up with the others to continue their search of the desert. He hadn’t been expecting Mom to spring grocery shopping on them and he’d gotten his way about dragging his sister to the store with him so he didn’t have to suffer alone but the minute they got home she’d pulled her disappearing act.

If he had been feeling charitable he would’ve admitted he’d have done the same thing in her place, but since she’d made her escape first and stuck him with unloading the groceries and putting them away, his feelings weren’t quite so forgiving. He glanced at the clock on the wall over the stove as he hurried back outside while trying to figure out if he could carry the remaining sacks in one trip. He was stretching as far as he could, trying to get a grip on the handle of a sack that had slid to the front without actually climbing into the bed of the truck when a horn blared behind him and he jerked, managing to rip the handle on the sack and ruining his chances of grabbing it.

He straightened up and turned around, already glaring at the Jeep that braked to a stop just inches from him. He shook his head at Linda when she dropped down to the ground and his irritation at the interruption eased when he saw the expression on her face. She had been quieter than normal the past few weeks, but he hadn’t pushed, knowing if she wanted his opinion about whatever it was she’d come to him. And now she had. When he was already running late. The poor girl had the worst timing of anyone he knew. But, eager as he was to get back to the desert, he just couldn’t rush her.

He knew Maggie had tried to talk to her but even she hadn’t been able to get through to her. He’d overheard her and Christina talking recently and they hadn’t understood what was going on either. He’d listened to them speculate that maybe it was because of her breakup with Cameron or maybe it was because they were going to college and she wasn’t. In the end they hadn’t come up with an answer for the sudden distance between them.

He stretched again, attempting to grab the elusive grocery sack. “What’s up, Linda?”

“What’s San Francisco like?”

He shrugged. “It’s like a big city.”

“Is it hard to get a job there?” She bit her bottom lip and turned to lean against the Jeep. “I mean, you and Maria, you guys have jobs waiting for you, right?”

He gave up on the bag and shuffled around to look at her. “What’s goin’ on, Linda?”

“I need to leave here, Michael.”

“What, right now?”

“I wish.” She rubbed her arm absently and her eyes took on a faraway look as she fell silent.

His eyes dropped to her hand and he frowned at the long sleeved shirt she wore. The middle of July was too warm for long sleeves. He reached out, intending to take her hand and freezing when she flinched away from the contact. Warning bells went off in his head but rather than reach out to her again he moved to face her, hands in his pockets to avoid any suggestion of threatening behavior. His eyes traveled over her and he realized it wasn’t the first time he’d noticed her wearing long sleeves in spite of the heat.

“Linda,” he coaxed, “I know something’s goin’ on with you, but I can’t help if you won’t talk to me.”

“I broke up with Cam.”

“Um-hmm.” Somehow he didn’t think that was the root of the problem, but if that’s where she needed to start, he’d follow her lead.

“It wasn’t because I wouldn’t have sex with him,” she hurried to assure him. “I mean, he wasn’t like, happy about that or anything but he’d agreed to wait until I was ready.”

He tugged his collar away from his throat, trying to get rid of the choking sensation that always accompanied one of these talks. “But you broke up with him anyway.”

She shrugged one shoulder. “He got into college. He’s gonna be leaving to go to University of Arizona pretty soon and I’m gonna be here. I don’t really think we were cut out for a long distance relationship anyway. I mean, all those college girls, the parties. Why would he wanna wait for me?”

“Hey.”

She nodded to let him know she was listening but she didn’t look at him.

“Linda, I know you liked him, but if he’s not willin’ to wait for you he’s not worth your time.”

“I thought I was gonna make it off the Rez.”

The quiet comment set his internal alarm off again. He wanted to push, to get to the bottom of whatever was going on, but he didn’t want her to shut down so he cautioned himself to be patient. He watched the movements of her hands as she fussed with the cuffs on her sleeves before absently rubbing her right arm. The motion pulled at the cuff and he noticed the face of her watch was cracked, but it was the bruising curled around her arm that held his attention.

He forced his eyes away and focused on the watch for now. “How’d you break your watch?”

“Oh, it um…” Tears welled up in her eyes and as she dropped her head down her hair swung forward and shielded her face from him.

“Why don’t you hand it over and let me fix it for you,” he suggested gently.

“There are some things even you can’t fix, Michael,” she whispered raggedly.

“Yeah, that’s probably true.” He leaned against the Jeep next to her and gave her a soft nudge. “Never hurts to try though, does it?” He paused a moment, thinking over everything she’d said so far. “Everything okay at home?”

After a few minutes she rested her head on his shoulder. “My mom’s dating David Redbird and he’s been staying at the house.”

He could hear the underlying tremble in her voice but he forced himself to remain relaxed and give her time to get her words out. He’d seen the man she was talking about around the Rez but he’d never actually met him. From everything he’d seen and heard the man was a fun-loving loud mouth who only held down a job when it suited him.

“Anyway, he seemed nice at first but a couple weeks ago he started making comments when Mom wasn’t in the room, stuff like he likes the way I look or smell, and it’s just creepy. I’ve been staying over at friends’ houses so I didn’t have to go home.”

Michael drew in a calming breath before speaking. “You tell your mom what he was doin’?”

She nodded miserably. “Yeah. She confronted him and he denied it, said I was just trying to break them up.”

“Wait, she believed him?”

She rubbed her arm absentmindedly. “I have to get off the Rez, Michael. I can’t keep staying with friends and even if I could go home, I’d be scared to stay there with him in the house.”

She was damn right about that. “Well, hell no, you’re not stayin’ there. We’re gonna go to your house and get your things and you’re gonna stay here.”

“Yeah, but I can’t just stay here indefinitely.”

“No, but we can figure that out later. Right now the most important thing is makin’ sure you’re safe.”

“I don’t understand why she believes him over me. I’ve never lied to her.”

Michael cautiously wrapped an arm around her shoulders, shifting to accommodate her when she turned and burrowed into him. She and Christina were just like sisters to him but she was the one most likely to get into trouble because she wanted so badly to please everyone. She didn’t like to rock the boat or get into confrontations. She had a gentle nature and unfortunately that made her easy to walk over and a target for people with agendas.

“Which one of them left the bruises?” he asked quietly.

Linda tucked her arm against her chest self-consciously. “It’s just the one where Mom grabbed me. She dragged me outta the house and told me not to come back.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Maggie’s shocked voice startled both of them and Michael held a hand up when Linda’s body went taut. He wasn’t sure when his sister showed up. He’d been so busy with the other girl that he hadn’t heard her come back.

“Y’know what, we don’t have to talk about this anymore right now. Is your mom or the boyfriend home right now?” She shook her head. “Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do.” He sent Linda around to the other side of the Jeep and waited for her to climb inside. “Maggie, I got most of the groceries inside, but there’re still a couple bags left. I’m gonna take Linda over to her place, help her get her things together and then we’ll come back here. Do me a favor and call Maria, tell ‘er somethin’ came up and we’re gonna have to cancel today’s trip. Tell ‘er I’ll explain when I call tonight.”

She wanted to demand an explanation but one good look at Linda had her nodding in agreement. “Is she okay?”

“No.”

“Michael, maybe you should stop and ask Grandpa to go with you.”

He shook his head. “River Dog’s out in the desert for a couple days, remember?”

“Then stop at Eddie’s. I don’t think you should go over there alone.”

“She said there’s no one at the house right now.”

“Yeah, right now, but what if that guy comes back while you’re there? I know you, Michael, and it’d be better if you took someone with you.”

“I’m not gonna get into a fight with the guy while Linda’s with me.”

Maggie waved a hand dismissively as she turned to collect the grocery sacks. “I’ll call Eddie so he’ll be ready when you get there.”

“Yeah, whatever. Don’t forget to call Maria.”

*****

Maria was sitting on the front porch enjoying the quiet of the evening in spite of the warmth of the night air. She had spent the day with the others, hanging out and discussing their future plans since the search had been called off, but as early evening approached they had taken their leave to pursue other plans. She’d had dinner, talked with Mom while she ate, and then she had excused herself to get ready for her date with Gabriel.

Things were getting very serious with her mom and Gabriel. She could remember how nervous her poor mom had been about meeting his parents, certain they weren’t going to approve of their son’s involvement with an older woman. Yas and Johana Red Eagle were very traditional, but they were also open and welcoming. They were familiar with Amy’s actions as an activist, her efforts to bring recognition to the artists on the Reservation, and most importantly, her dedication to raising her daughter alone.

In spite of all of her mom’s fears, dinner had gone well. The age difference had proved to be of little concern as Gabriel’s mother was actually several years older than his father. She had met them a few weeks earlier when her mom invited them over for dinner. They were a quiet, reserved couple, but once they felt comfortable they had opened up and conversed openly over dinner.

She was glad things were going so well for her mom. Gabriel understood her and he supported her in everything she did. That was important. She knew he had proposed several times in the past, her mom had confided that bit of information, but while he hadn’t asked again recently, she was certain it was only a matter of time before it came up again.

She couldn’t hold back a quiet chuckle as she recalled a long ago conversation with Mom about the future. She had completely misread the situation, thinking Mom was seriously entertaining a future with Howard, the traveling aromatherapy salesman. Of course, at that time it had seemed like everything she knew was upside down. Looking back on it now, jumping to the conclusion that she was looking at a future with a stepfather named Howard was funny, but it sure hadn’t been at the time.

The screen door squeaked in protest as it was opened and she rolled her head along the back of her chair to look at her mom. “Hey, you look great.”

“Thanks, honey.” Amy smoothed a hand over her dress. “No plans for this evening?”

“No, just waiting for Michael to call.”

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I’m sure it is.” She stretched before resuming her lazy slouching position. “Something came up at home but he had Maggie call and let me know he’d give me a call and explain tonight.”

Amy watched her daughter for a few minutes, just enjoying the opportunity to observe the woman she had become. Confident, secure, happy, loved and in love. What more could any mother ask for? Nothing, there was nothing else she could want when it came to her daughter. Her thoughts drifted to Gabriel. She knew he wanted children and it was something she had discovered she wanted too. She was proud of Maria and everything she had accomplished, but she regretted not being there as much as she should have been. She would have that opportunity with Gabriel.

The sound of an engine cut through the silence of the night and she hid a smile when she saw Maria’s head snap to the side to search for the source. Ah, the anticipation of youth, she mused. It didn’t take a full minute for the motorcycle to come into view as the rider turned the corner and headed in their direction. The reverberations of the engine died down several seconds after the engine was turned off and Maria was on her feet and running down the driveway before he’d even pulled his helmet off.

Michael managed to hook the helmet on the one of the handlebars and swing one leg over the seat before Maria crashed into him. She chuckled at their unrestrained enthusiasm as they greeted each other as if they hadn’t seen each other for weeks instead of just a couple of days. Headlights lit up the houses across the street as a truck turned onto their street and a moment later she forgot all about her earlier thoughts about the difference between the kids in the driveway and seasoned adults, because she was hurrying down the drive to meet Gabriel before he’d cut the engine.

“Hey, everything okay?” Maria asked as she leaned back, cupping his face in her hands.

“Yeah, I know I told Maggie to tell you I’d call but I needed to get away for a while.” He shrugged and glanced to the side when Amy called out a goodnight and issued the usual warnings, nodding and waiting until she and Gabriel had gone before he continued. “She tell you anything about what’s goin’ on?”

“No, just that something had come up and you’d give me a call after things calmed down.” She took his hand and stepped back. “C’mon.” She led him up to the house and he dropped down in the chair she had been in before pulling her down to sit in his lap.

“You ‘member me tellin’ you about Linda kinda droppin’ off the radar?” he asked as his arm came around her waist and he pulled her closer.

“Yeah, you said Maggie was concerned that she hadn’t been around much and when she was she was pretty quiet.

“Christina’s always been the troublemaker of the bunch. Nothin’ serious, but she’s the one that finds trouble. Linda’s the one that tries hardest to please and it’s not that that’s a bad thing, but for someone like her, it has a way of opening the door to trouble. She’s just got a very gentle personality, doesn’t wanna do anything to cause anyone any grief, and certain people think that just gives them license to walk all over ‘er.”

Maria rubbed the back of his neck, hoping to ease the tension coiled so tightly in him. “Someone tried to hurt her?”

“Her dad took off when she was little, wasn’t interested in bein’ tied down with a wife and kid, so it’s always just been her and her mom. She’s always been kinda timid but I think her dad leavin’ made it even worse.”

“It scarred her,” she said quietly, knowingly.

He grunted in response. “Anyway, her mom’s dated off and on, let a couple of the guys live with them. Not exactly a lead by example kinda thing, but she’s always stayed on Linda’s ass about guys and getting too involved. She’s not the kinda mom that sits down and talks to her kid and I think that’s made it a lot harder on Linda than it needed to be.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair. “She started seein’ a guy recently, let him move in, and then he started sayin’ stuff to Linda, makin’ her really uncomfortable.”

“Oh, my God,” Maria murmured. “Did he…?”

“No. No, but even without that the damage is done, y’know? She told her mom and her mom apparently confronted him only to have him deny it.”

Anger was thrumming through his big frame and she had a bad feeling she knew what he was about to say.

“She believed him,” he snarled. “Believed him over her own daughter and then threw Linda outta the house. What the hell kinda bullshit is that?”

“Michael…”

“She was too embarrassed to tell anyone what had happened.”

Maria knew she had to calm him down before his emotions got the best of him. “But she came to you.”

“She wanted to know about San Francisco. What it’s like, jobs… she wants to get outta here.”

“Okay.” She thought back to the realization she’d had the day of the barbecue, sitting on the porch at his aunt’s house. She’d been observing him with his family, his very large family, and suddenly realizing that there were going to be times when she would have to deal with that inconvenience because it would be a part of their life together. “Okay, well, if that’s what she needs and a better solution doesn’t present itself before we leave for San Francisco, then she can stay with us until she gets on her feet. Whether it’s college or a job, we’ll help her get where she needs to be.”

Michael dropped his forehead to rest on her shoulder, relieved that she had understood without him having to ask. “I know it’s inconvenient – “

She chuckled softly and pressed a kiss against his hair. “It’s family.” She hugged him tightly. “And we could come up with a different plan before the end of summer. No matter what it is she can’t go back home and she can’t be near that situation. What that guy could’ve done to her,” she shuddered, “is unthinkable.” She leaned back to look at him. “Hey, are you okay?”

“Me, yeah, I’m fine. Mom and Dad said Linda could stay with us so now it’s just a matter of makin’ sure she doesn’t come into contact with her mom or the boyfriend.” He dropped his head back against the chair and met her gaze. “Thanks.”

She smiled and slowly raked her fingers through his hair. “Not necessary.”

“Everyone okay getting together tomorrow?”

“Yeah. I told them we’d call once we were sure about the time.” Her fingers traced over his features before closing the distance between them to kiss him. “C’mon, why don’t you come inside and let me fix you something to eat. I have a feeling you haven’t eaten all day.”

“Food sounds good.” Michael let her pull him to his feet and he followed her to the door, turning and pressing her against it once they were inside. “You sound better,” he murmured against her lips.

Her hands slid up his back to his shoulders, holding him in place. Mom wasn’t going to be back home tonight. “You know you can’t stay overnight.” He grunted an ascent and she dropped her head back against the door when his lips trailed down over her neck, knowing she wouldn’t refuse him. Yeah, food could wait, she thought. Right now they both needed this time together.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)145-6/4/17

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:50 pm

what.......where did this come from?
Now I have to go back and reacquaint myself with this story!
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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)146-6/18/17

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:51 pm

keepsmiling7: :oops: Yeah, lol, it's been a while, but we haven't forgotten this story!


Part 146

Michael lowered the binoculars he was using to scan the desert, letting them hang from the strap around his neck to rest against his chest. He shifted and stretched, leather creaking as he settled back in the saddle. He reached up and took his baseball cap off to wipe his forehead on the back of his wrist, glancing at it before swiping it against his jean-clad thigh and putting his hat back on. The sun was high in the sky and the temperature was already at ninety degrees and still climbing.

“What do you think our chances are of actually finding the cave?”

He turned his head to look at Isabel, watching her unwind the canteen strap from the saddle horn.

She uncapped the canteen and took a drink before offering it to him. “I mean, we’ve been looking for months now.”

He shrugged and took a long drink of water before handing it back to her. “We’ll find it.”

She hooked the strap over the saddle horn and looked around, taking in the desert surrounding them as far as the eye could see in all directions.

“I don’t know if we’ll find it before we all leave in August, but we’ll find it in time.” He nodded at a cluster of rocks several hundred yards out. “C’mon, let’s take a breather an’ cool off.”

Isabel nodded and turned Rascal to follow him. She listened as Michael radioed the others, checking in and making sure they were taking a break from the heat as well. They found a shady spot and dismounted, taking care of the horses before settling down out of the heat of the sun.

“Does your family do anything special for the Fourth?”

Michael slouched down and leaned back against the rock. “Um-hmm,” he mumbled as he pulled the bill of his hat down to shade his face, “ignore it.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s a holiday that was created to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the country, right?”

“Right.” She wasn’t sure where he was going.

“Have you ever actually read the Declaration of Independence?” He pushed his hat back and glanced at her. “No, right? Thanks to History class you can probably quote a couple of the more well-known bits and pieces… ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ or ‘all men are created equal,’ but what about the lesser known lines in it?”

She shrugged. “I’ve never actually read it.” She’d never really given much thought to it to be honest. July Fourth was a holiday, a reason to get together with family and grill hamburgers and hot dogs. “People celebrate veterans, freedom and independence.” She frowned when he smirked and shook his head before resuming his previous position.

“Further down there’s a passage that reads, ‘He has excited domestic insurrections against us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.’ So yeah, it’s not real popular around here.” He stretched and then resettled, crossing his arms over his chest. “We celebrate our veterans. We just don’t make a big deal on that specific day.”

She tapped her thumbnail against her bottom lip thoughtfully. “Does it offend you that other people celebrate the holiday?”

“No.” He tipped his head to the side to shoot a quick look at her. “Seriously, Isabel, it’s not gonna bother me if you guys do some big family barbeque to celebrate the Fourth.” He chuckled and shifted around. “You can even shoot fireworks off if it makes you happy.”

“Just don’t invite you over to participate, right?” she teased and shoved his shoulder.

“Right.” He let the silence hang between them for several minutes before speaking again. “You and Alex decide what you’re doin’?”

“We’ve found an apartment that’s not too far from campus and it’s in our price range.” Neither of their parents was exactly thrilled with their decision to share an apartment, and it was only after several lengthy – and embarrassing conversations that they had given in and agreed to let them use their housing allowance towards an apartment. That would cover a significant portion of their housing expense but in order for it to work they were going to have to work for the rest.

“So you’re gonna get a job?”

“Well, it was either one of us had to get a full time job or we each had to get a part time job and it wouldn’t be fair for Alex to be holding down the only job and trying to juggle a full load of classes.”

He raised an eyebrow and repeated his question.

“Already got it lined up.” Her tone was smug. “Remember Sara Badawi?”

“My new neighbor? The one that works for the museum?”

“Um-hmm, one and the same. We really hit it off when we met and we’ve stayed in contact. She’s got contacts all over and when I asked her advice about the job market near Berkeley she offered to check some possible positions out. There’s a position for a visitor services specialist at one of the museums in Berkeley.” She wrinkled her nose. The title wasn’t as interesting as it sounded, but the hours fit perfectly with her schedule, the pay was good and it had the potential for advancement.

Michael gave a short bark of laughter. “Visitor services specialist? What is that, a glorified gofer?”

“Yeah, basically. For a while anyway.”

“Give it a few years and you’ll be runnin’ the place.”

She grinned at him even though his face was covered by his hat and he couldn’t see her.

“What about your boy?”

“Alex has been like a dog with a bone but he’s finally found a job that fits him. He called a couple of days ago and did the interview over the phone. They called yesterday afternoon and told him he had the job. He’ll be working as a grade school counselor for a few hours in the afternoons during the week. He’ll be helping the kids with their homework, assisting the teachers, and a ton of other stuff. I think he’s really gonna enjoy it.”

“Your parents cool with you guys shackin’ up together?”

“Cool isn’t the word I’d use, no. But they’ve accepted it. And we’re not shacking up. It’s a completely respectable arrangement.”

“A guy, a girl, a shared apartment and no adult supervision.” He yawned widely. “Sounds respectable to me.”

*****

“And it’s a completely respectable arrangement.”

Maria and Liz exchanged a look when Alex finished responding to their last question.

“Respectable,” Maria echoed, her tone laced with amusement.

“Not everyone is ruled by their hormones.” That didn’t mean they didn’t exist though.

Max cleared his throat and tugged on the collar of his tee shirt. “Do we really have to talk about this?”

Alex laughed and shrugged. “What about you guys?” He already knew the answer but if Max was that uncomfortable with the current conversation there was no point in prolonging the guy’s agony. He hadn’t fooled himself into thinking it was going to be easy. Living with Isabel was likely to be trying at times and yeah, he knew it was bound to be difficult keeping the pace of their relationship from progressing too fast, but they were determined to do things right.

“We decided on the dorms,” Liz answered. “At least for our first year. It’s just more efficient. I mean, everything’s paid for and we won’t have to worry about jobs. With our course load we’re gonna be buried under homework so this’ll just keep things manageable.” And as tempting as it was every time they were together she knew she wasn’t ready to take that step just yet. She glanced at Max and blushed when he gave her that special smile.

Alex pulled an apple out of his backpack and rubbed it on his shirtsleeve before opening his pocketknife and cutting into it. “So what’re we doin’ for the Fourth?”

“I’ve got dinner with Mom and Gabriel.” Maria accepted a slice of the apple and bit into it. “He has a cousin that’s coming home to be with their family this weekend and he wants to introduce us.” He’d told them that his cousin had served during the Gulf War and she’d returned stateside after losing an arm when the helicopter she was in was shot down. She worked at a rehabilitation center in Virginia, helping other soldiers recover and learn to live with their injuries. She was interested in meeting her. “They don’t celebrate the Fourth on the Rez but there’s a big get-together this weekend to honor their veterans.”

“So,” Max opened up a bag of chips, “I get them not wanting to celebrate Thanksgiving, but what’s the deal with the Fourth?”

It hadn’t been that long since she’d asked Michael that same question. She had been shocked when he explained and it had made her reconsider the celebration, look at it from his viewpoint, and wonder if anyone even knew what it was all about.

Liz lifted her eyebrows when Maria finished explaining. “Wow.” She was a little ashamed she hadn’t had any idea about that section in the Declaration of Independence. She supposed people just took their freedom for granted and never even thought about considering why or how those freedoms came into existence.

“I can see why they don’t really celebrate the Fourth.” Alex wiped the back of his wrist across his forehead and readjusted his sunglasses. “In their place I wouldn’t either.” He tipped his head back to glance at Maria. “Most people are just celebrating a holiday, getting together with family and friends to barbecue and shoot off fireworks.”

Maria chuckled. “Michael doesn’t expect you guys to suddenly stop doing what you’ve always done with your families on the Fourth.”

“But you guys won’t be hosting Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July,” Max guessed as he leaned back and stretched his arms.

“No, but there’ll be other celebrations. It’s not like there’s a huge movement against celebrating the Fourth of July, they just choose to celebrate for other reasons and on a different day.”

Liz smiled as she peeled an orange. “How’re things going with Maggie’s friend?”

“As good as they can be. She’s staying with their family for now.”

“That’s a bad situation she was put in.” Alex dropped the apple core into a small plastic bag and sealed it before tossing it in his backpack. “How does a parent just not believe their own kid with somethin’ like that?”

Maria shook her head. She couldn’t imagine that. “I don’t know. She definitely has to get off the Rez because she could run into him there and she shouldn’t have to deal with that. If that had ever happened with any guy my mom was dating she’d have castrated him on the spot. There wouldn’t have been any question about my telling the truth.” She smiled as she thought about her mom’s response when she’d told her about Linda’s situation. Mom had been outraged that any woman would not only put her child in that situation, but then accuse that child of lying and kick her out of the house.

Max stretched and shook his head. It was a messed up situation for sure. “She might run into him but he’s more likely to run screaming into the night if he crosses her path.”

“Say what?”

He shrugged when Maria looked at him. “Isabel took it very personally since Michael was so affected by the situation. I have a feeling she took a walk through the guy’s subconscious. She didn’t share any details but she was confident he’d never try to make a move on Linda again.” Knowing his sister’s capabilities he had a feeling the guy probably wouldn’t ever attempt making a move on any other girl either.

This was one time Alex had no problem with his girlfriend poking around in someone’s subconscious. Well, other than the fact that anyone like that had to have an incredibly twisted mind to be poking around in. “We’d better get back to work. We’ve got a couple more hours before we have to call it a day.”

*****

Michael led Sundance up the ramp and into the trailer, squinting when the setting sun hit him directly in the eyes. Once the horse was settled he went back for Rascal, taking extra time because he tended to be resistant to being loaded into the trailer.

“Okay, let’s walk it off,” he muttered when the third try still hadn’t yielded the desired result.

Isabel was doing her best not to laugh at him. “Want some help?” They went through this every time he brought Rascal out. His sister’s horse had a major aversion to the trailer.

“No, I’ve got it.”

She nodded and sat on a boulder several yards away, giving him plenty of room to work. He was still trying to trailer the horse nearly twenty minutes later when the others joined them, the ATVs loaded and strapped down.

Isabel just held a hand up when the others piled out of the truck and joined her. “Don’t even bother to offer. He’s got it.”

He turned his head to glare at her. “I’ve been trailering this horse for years. I know what I’m – “

Rascal chose that moment to shift his weight and as the rope went slack he reared up, knocking Michael on his back.

He scrambled to his feet, making a lunge for the lead rope and missing it completely as the horse backed away and took off running. “Damn it!” He hurried to unload Sundance, saddling him and swinging up into the saddle. He could just imagine his sister’s rant if anything happened to her difficult animal.

Maria chuckled and shook her head as she watched him take off after Rascal. Maggie would have a fit if her beloved horse was injured and her brother would never hear the end of it. And she knew if anything happened to the animal while in his care he’d feel bad.

The sun had dropped low on the horizon when he finally caught up with Rascal. Thankfully he hadn’t managed to get the lead rope caught up on anything or stepped in a hole, damn fool horse. Once he had checked the animal over and determined he wasn’t injured he radioed back to the others and gave them his location so they could come to him. After that run in the heat he didn’t want to ride Sundance back and Rascal didn’t need the extra miles either.

While he was waiting he unsaddled Sundance and set about cooling out the horses. Twilight was upon them when the trucks pulled up, the headlights bouncing over the desert floor. He watered the horses before loading them, and this time Rascal provided little resistance, probably because he was tired. Michael rolled his eyes at them as he closed the doors and secured them.

“I’ll bet you’re ready for a break,” Maria said as she leaned against the trailer next to him.

“Yeah.” He glanced over at the others where they were sitting on the truck and trailer loaded down with the ATVs. “Sorry ‘bout the holdup. Next time out I’ll load one of the other horses.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Max said with a smirk.

“I enjoyed the colorful language as he shot by us in hot pursuit of the renegade,” Alex laughed.

“It was colorful,” Liz agreed.

Isabel rolled her eyes and elbowed Alex. “Let’s go. We’re gonna miss the nine forty-five show if we don’t hurry up.”

He nodded. They’d miss it anyway, he thought with a quick glance at his watch. By the time they got back to their vehicles, drove back home, and he dropped her off they were only gonna have about half an hour to get ready and be at the theater. No way she’d pull that off.

“Yeah, we’ve already missed dinner,” Liz said with a look at Max. “Movie at my place?”

He grinned and pushed away from the trailer. “Sounds good.”

“Michael.” Maria looked at him, eyebrows lifting as she turned her head to see what was holding his attention. “Michael, what’re you…?”

He straightened up, his gaze locked on the shadowy outline of a large rocky outcropping far in the distance. “Maria, you remember that painting of your dad’s?”

She didn’t bother reminding him that there had been quite a few desert scenes. Before she could answer he lifted his right hand to point. Her eyes narrowed and after a minute they widened as she recalled the painting right down to the smallest detail. She remembered him saying something about it feeling familiar but he hadn’t been able to put his finger on it. It was one of the three she had asked Savannah to set aside for her. He knew about the other two but he wasn’t aware she’d asked for that one as well.

“That’s where the cave is,” he said with certainty.

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