Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Mature) [Complete]

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Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Mature) [Complete]

Post by Eva » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:14 am

Winner Round 15

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Title: Incomplete

Author: Eva

Disclaimer: Roswell isn't mine. Everything about Roswell belongs to Katims and Metz.

Summary: Michael & Maria are long time friends but haven’t seen each other several years. And then Michael has a motor accident…

Rating: Teen/Mature.

Pairing: M/M but the others are there too.

Author's note: I got the idea after a discussion with a good friend of mine. At that moment I worked for a youth organisation during my studies. The children and youngsters with and without a physical disability who joined the youth movement went together on holidays and weekends.
My friend Tijl (who is a lot like Michael) declared that he didn’t want to live anymore if he got in a wheelchair. I disagreed. And that’s how it all begins…
If you think the story is misplaced (and should belong with the Alien Abyss): just give a sign!

Extra info: Each chapter begins with a piece of lyrics. I used several songs, not all of them from the American music industry. So if you are interested in them: just go to http://www.youtube.com and search them by name and title.

A 'thank you' to nibbles2 for beta-reading my story. She somehow finds the words I was looking for when translating the whole thing from Dutch into English.



Chapter one
I know we're just like old friends
We just can't pretend

Smashing Pumpkins- Perfect

Her old Jetta cruised on the old road to Las Cruces, New Mexico. 70 mph on the dashboard, windows down, a nice and happy tune blared from the speakers in the car.
At first sight it looked like a very beautiful August day. Maria DeLuca sat, apparently relaxed, in her car. Her hands loosely on the wheel, the sun bright on her windscreen. The wind blew gently through her open windows and played with her shoulder length blond hair. On a normal day she would have loved it but at this moment the beauty of it all went completely past her.

A million different thoughts flew through her mind. Snippets of conversations with Max and Isabel whirled in her head. “He chases everybody away”… “He just lies there like a vegetable. A very angry vegetable that is” … “He’s just a shadow of the guy he used to be”…

He was Michael. Michael Guerin. She noticed him the first time when she was about 15 years old. He sat in some of her classes in West Roswell High. That was, if he came to school at all. From the first moment she was drawn to him. Michael was a rough guy; a bit of a loner. He didn’t open his mouth often but when he did… Well, let’s say it was directly to the point and very honest. Sometimes a bit too honest, you might say. The thing that fascinated her most was the look in his brown eyes, like they were daring the rest of the world to challenge him.
Eventually she got to know him when her best friend Liz Parker started dating Michael’s best friend Max Evans and a real gang of friends was formed between their friends.

Through the years a ‘love-hate’ kind of friendship arose between Michael and her. They were like water and fire. They could argue like hell, almost coming to blows. Or they could avoid each other like the plague. But they always turned to each other in difficult times. And because of their home situations, that happened quiet alot. When they weren’t arguing or avoiding each other, they could talk for hours. She was one of the few people Michael could really open up to. And now Maria started to think about it, she was probably the only one he really talked too. He didn’t talk that much with Max and Isabel Evans though he was very close to them. Michael and Max had connected in kindergarten and Michael often stayed at the Evans place when home, with his abusive and drunk foster father Hank, became too much.

Michael and Maria never became a couple, though she wouldn’t have mind. But Michael just never saw her that way.

One time, when he was teasing her she had let the truth slip. He had asked “Who do you have your eye on?” Before she could stop herself, she answered. “On you.”. Her face still flushed when she thought about that embarrassing moment. He had looked at her like she was joking. “Ok. And now for real,” was his laconic answer to her honest remark. And because he hadn’t believed her, her love had vanished. Just like that… But the friendship had endured. Well, endured…

At this very moment there was not much left of that friendship. After graduation they all went their separate ways. She went to get her teacher’s degree and he began working as a carpenter. Michael had always been very skilled with his hands. And due to Hank, it had been very important to him to get a job and get away from the trailer he had grown up in. So when he got the opportunity to start with a construction company, he had taken it with both hands.

And when Michael had got himself a girlfriend by the name of Courtney, his friendship with Maria dissolved very quickly. Courtney didn’t like Michael’s friendship with her. She didn’t like their private jokes, the way they laughed together… Courtney found Maria threatening. So for Courtney’s sake, Michael kept some distance and finally stayed away from her. Occasionally they saw each other in the Crashdown but that wasn’t often. And it didn’t go further then a “Hey, it’s been a long time! How is it going?” or inconsequential small talk. And when he moved to Las Cruces, also for Courtney’s sake, he disappeared from Maria’s life completely.

Until a couple of months ago… Her heart had stopped beating for a moment when she heard the news. She still remembered it as if it was yesterday.

Maria had just closed the door from her classroom after a long day teaching when she heard two of the students talking. Normally she enjoyed the conversations between ‘her’ students. They always reminded her of her own teenage years. Those typical teenage problems…

But this time the smile on her face vanished quickly when she heard them talking about an horrific accident. By the time she got to her car, the news had spread around the campus like wildfire. Several people tried to talk to her about it but she could only shake her head. She didn’t know anything more then they already knew.

Michal Guerin was in a coma!

He had been hit by a drunk driver while riding his motorbike and slammed against the concrete piers of a bridge in Las Cruces. Because he was a hometown boy of Roswell, the gossip circuit in Roswell went into overdrive. If you would believe everything they were saying it was a wonder he was still alive.

Before she could even think of driving her car, she sniffed some cedar oil that she always kept on hand. She relaxed a tiny bit but that was interrupted when she got a call on her cellphone. She recognized the ring tone as Liz’s.

Though Liz was normally a very calm person, she sounded frantic then and she skipped the pleasantaries and blurted out her message. “Maria, can you come to the Crashdown? Like immediately?”
“Is this about Michael?”
“You heard…” Liz murmured.
“Yeah...”
“Come as quickly as you can. The others are coming too. Ok? Oh, and Maria, drive safely.”
“I’ll be there.”

By the time Maria stumbled into the Crashdown, she was a nervous wreck. She was worried and devastated at the same time. Liz was waiting with their oldest friend Alex Whitman, his girlfriend Isabel Evans and their other friends Tess Harding and Kyle Valenti.

“Where’s Max?” Maria demanded when she joined them at the booth where they all sat.
“He’s on his way.” Liz responded.
Kyle added. “Apparently they couldn’t find Hank or Courtney. So the sheriff in Las Cruces contacted my father and he was the one who called Max..”
Isabel started shooting questions at Kyle. “And? What else did your father say? As a sheriff he must know more about this then anybody else. Goddamn it. ”
Kyle held up his hands “Hey, don’t attack me. I know nothing more then you already know. Michael was riding his bike and got smashed by a car.”
“Kyle!”
"Valenti!"
Everybody yelled and Tess tapped him on the head.
“Hey, what did I do? It’s the truth you know” he said offended.
Tess looked at him and shook her head. “Honey, it’s not what you said but HOW you said it.”

But before Kyle could respond, Max walked in.
His friends all glared at him, anxious to know, but nobody dared to start.

It was Maria who pounced when Max was seated. “Max, how is he doing? Is he still alive?”

Max nodded. “Yeah, he is. But it seems really bad. I don’t know if he can survive. They are keeping him in a coma for now. Otherwise it would be too painful for him. In a couple of days they will turn of the machinery and see what will happen. He is very badly bruised and has a cut to the head. They had to operate. He must have a guardian angel. Michael just broke his left arm. But the doctors say it’s too soon to relax. They will know more when the swelling goes down.”

Liz squeezed Max’s hands in comfort. She could see he had a tough time dealing with it all.
“Did you see him, Max? Isabel asked.
“They let me in.” Max covered his face with his hands.. “It was awful. He was just lying there. With all those machines. He was so alone.”
“Define alone” Maria asked.
“I was the only one there for him. The police told me Hank didn’t even answer the phone and when they called around, he didn’t care. That they could stop the machinery for all he cared.”
Everybody erupted in anger at this.
“Oh my God!”
“You can’t mean that!”
“Oh… How I hate that man!”

“And Courtney? Maria asked again.
“Nope. I didn’t see her. Sorry.”


After four days the medical staff of the Las Cruces hospital decided to take Michael off the respirator. After a couple of seconds Michael started to breathe on his own. It was a medical wonder. But Michael didn’t stay that lucky.

Though his wounds healed, he didn’t regain the feeling in his legs. Due to a spinal-cord injury he lost the motor and some sensory function in his legs. The doctors said there was still some hope though.
Because Michael had fallen of his bike before the car smashed his vehicle against the piers of the bridge; the lower side of his back had been hit but the spinal-cord itself was not broken. A part of it had moved and was blocking some important nerves. Doctors called it an incomplete paraplegic injury. Science was on his side though. They said that recent evidence suggested that over 95% of people with an incomplete spinal cord injury recover some locomotory ability. But nobody could guarantee Michael if his personal situation would be permanent or temporary. In the mean time he had to get used to the fact that he was paralyzed.

And anybody who knew Michael just a bit knew this would be very hard for him to take.

After he woke, Michael refused to see anybody except Max and even that was grudgingly. Max became the only connection between Michael and the others. No matter how much they tried, he never gave in.

Isabel had tried to barge her way in once but was immediately kicked out by hospital staff at Michael’s insistence. To everybody’s surprise Michael had the decency to let Mrs. Evans stay when she came. Though she said that he just barely tolerated her.

After Isabel nobody tried again. They relied on Max to keep them posted.

Days became weeks and weeks became months. Because she couldn’t visit him, Maria tried to hold on in other ways. As soon as she heard the news about his paraplegia she looked it up on the internet. She planned to read as much as she could. But after just one paragraph she shut the lid on her laptop. The little bit she read just did not reconcile with anything she knew about Michael. It was like putting a wild puma in a matchbox.

Maria returned her focus to the road. Everything that was going on in her head had to stop. Especially after the meeting they all had in the Crashdown last night. Max had spoken to one of the doctors and the message was very clear. The man had said that things had to change or Michael would be doomed to live his life in his bed for ever. The rehabilitation wouldn’t work if he didn’t cooperate. And as stubborn as he was, he didn’t… So his friends formulated a plan and that was why she was on the road. She was heading to Las Cruces.

She was heading his way.


TBC
Last edited by Eva on Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:40 am, edited 26 times in total.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 2 3/27/09

Post by Eva » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:51 am

Thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate it! And Ginger, I can promise you some fire-works in this chapter!


Chapter two

Is something wrong, she said
Well of course there is
You’re still alive, she said
Oh, and do I deserve to be
Is that the question

Pearl Jam - Alive



Maria took a deep breath. Here she was. Before her was the door to Michael’s room in the rehabilitation center, behind her was the rest of the world. She closed her eyes and leaned against the door frame for support. Her courage was disappearing. Yesterday, and even in the car on the way here, it all seemed so easy. But now, now she didn’t know anymore.

Would she still recognize Michael? And more importantly how would he react? Would he be glad to see her? And in what condition would he be? So many questions. And the answers all lay behind this door… The urge to run grew with the minute. For the second time she took a deep breath. Maria knew that she would feel sorry afterwards if she didn’t do this. That knowledge gave her strength. She took a sniff of one of her oils. Smoothed her clothes one last time to make sure everything was perfect. And then, with a ‘now or never’, she pushed open the door.

When she entered his room, she found Michael lying in bed, his eyes closed. She took some time to study him. Her eyes slipped from the white sheet to his face. She recognized him immediately but it wasn’t the same Michael that she used to know. Subconsciously she compared him with the guy she knew five years ago. His long hair was gone. But even though his hair was now short it still had a will of his own and pointed in every direction possible. Like it was when he was sixteen. It defined his often affectionate and stubborn character. His cheekbones were more pronounced, more masculine than they used to be. The boy had obviously become a man. Even being in a hospital bed didn’t detract from his rough masculinity.

She shivered. After all those years, it took just two seconds before she was feeling that same old attraction.

“Seen enough? Then go away!” His harsh voice broke the silence, however his eyes stayed close and he never looked at her.

Though she was shocked by his sudden outburst, she wasn’t planning on leaving. She was staying put.

“Goddamn it! Get out! Beat it! I don’t want to see anybody!” He barked.

“Still as charming as ever, I see!” she replied calmly. “A good day to you too, Michael!”

Her voice shocked him and he opened his eyes. He looked at her briefly and quickly turned his face away. “Maria, I’m not in the mood.”

Maria didn’t let him put her off and she took a step closer to the bed. “Michael…” she began.

He stopped her immediately. “Maria, show’s over! You saw I’m alive. I don’t need any tourists. There’s the hole in the wall they like to call ‘door’!” He gestured widely to emphasize his words.

When he fell silent, she carefully placed her hand on his bed. Her fingers gently stroked his arm.

“And you can keep your pity to yourself!”

Her resolve to remain calm snapped. She gave him a push. “The only person in this room who pities you, is you, Michael! It’s just self-pity you know.” She let her words settle for a moment. “And it doesn’t suit you!”

“Fine!” he softened after his outburst “Damn it, Maria, you can’t imagine what it is to lie here…”

Michael immediately clammed shut. His stone wall rose within seconds. He had already said too much. For the second time he turned away from her and stared out the window. He wanted her to go. He had no desire for visitors and most of all not her.

After his accident, he just wasn’t interested in anything any more. He didn’t care at all. If he could have, he would have pulled the plug on the machines that had kept him alive. But life is never that simple…
He saw her reflection in the window. Still the same small and slim figure. Her blond hair curled on her shoulders. They framed her fine and delicate face. The face with the bright, green eyes that, like a radar, seemed to notice every small detail. Just like now…

She was staring at his back and gripping a small present in her hands. Suddenly she looked up and met his eyes in the reflection. Her eyes flashed. Different emotions showed in them. He couldn’t read them all. But to his surprise he found no pity in her gaze.
He had feared that most of all. He had feared the day Maria would appear beside his bed. She knew him inside out. With those bright eyes of her, she could look right through him. And in no time she would tear his stone wall down with an unfaltering enthusiasm. She would challenge him to take hold of his new life in a wheelchair. That’s the way she was.

In the past he would have let her drag him along. She would deflect all of his worries and problems. But now he got the chills only thinking about it. He wasn’t ready for his life as a disabled person. Just the word itself made him already nauseous and vomiting. ‘Disabled’… He used to be so active and now… Was life still possible without the use of his legs? Was his life still meaningful? What prospects were there for him? God yes, he still was alive. They had shown him pictures of the crash. When he saw what was left of the car and his motorcycle… It was a wonder he was still alive. He got himself through the eye of a needle. He had been fortunate. At least, that’s what everybody kept telling him. And they said there was still some hope left. But he didn’t believe in miracles. Never had. His life had just been stuffed with more bad things than good ones… So he didn’t feel fortunate. Not at all as a matter of fact… He felt more rotten and wretched…

He had to get her out of his room as soon as possible. She had to leave the hospital and his life. As far away as possible. Before she got too close… Michael swallowed when he took another look at her image in the window. And then he met her eyes again.

The eye contact gave Maria strength to proceed. “Why do you just lie here like this?”

“I flunked walking. Anything else?” He couldn’t be any blunter.

She didn’t even attempt to respond. She just stared at him. He could be so stubborn. But then again so was she.

Eventually, Michael was the one who started talking. He spoke so quietly that she had to make an effort to hear each word.

“What are my choices?” His voice trembled a bit and he repeated with a stronger voice.
“What are my choices, Maria?” He wrinkled his forehead while he scratched his eyebrow, visibly agitated.

“I’m a laborer, a carpenter. I like to work with wood and I’m good at it. Give me a piece of material, a milling machine or a format saw and I’m happy. What kind of fucking profession can I do now in a fucking wheelchair? Do I retire at twenty-four? Or am I going to fold up boxes in a rehab center? Or even better, a job in an office! Damn!”

She could hear the bitter sarcasm and sharp mockery in his words.

“You know as well as I do that those things don’t suit me. I’ll be dead after only one day in a fucking boring office. And even if I liked it I just couldn’t do it. My hands are my tools.”

“Well, you still have them, don’t you?” She blurred out.

“What?” He wrinkled his eyebrows in incomprehension. His brown eyes full of questions.

“Well, your hands?” She paused to reinforce her words. “Use them! Your legs are paralyzed, not your hands!”

This was Michaels’s cue to scare her off. He pressed home his advantage.

“God dammit, Maria! Like always, you know better than everybody else on this planet! Little Miss Perfect, descended from her high cloud, came in to let me know how I, stupid disabled one, has to rearrange my life!” He spat out sarcastically.

Maria was impressed. It was true. She had come to spell out some stuff. To prompt him so he would start living again. They had all wanted to shake him awake. And it seemed to be a good plan. Yesterday. Now as she stood besides his bed, where he furiously expressed his displeasure, it didn’t seem so simple. She felt smaller and smaller in the face of his rage.

“This has to stop, all those fucking people who want to interfere my fucking life. I have had it completely! And now, on top of it all, Maria comes to do her bit of motivational speeching. You just love to interfere with everybody’s lives.”

His words hurt her. She thought back on all the moments they had shared in the past. She had always been there for him when it didn’t work out with Hank or when he had problems with his former girlfriends. Michael had called her any time he needed somebody. And every time she had been there and made time to listen him. Had he always thought she was interfering?

After ranting some more, he suddenly grabbed a glass from his bedside locker and threw it at her. It missed her by inches and smashed loudly against the wall behind her. The room stood still for one moment. They stared speechlessly at each other for a moment. Maria was the first to recover. In a split second she saw her teen years passing by. How she and Michael had teased each other and how he, just like now, always got her blood boiling. She didn’t think about his accident or on the fact that he was lying in bed, paralyzed from the waist down.

Maria just remembered the fiery interaction between the both of them. Her reaction was instinctive, a reflex on the spur of the moment. Without thinking she grabbed the first thing she laid her hands on, the gift wrapped CD she had brought along, and threw it at him.

It hit him in the shoulder. Then Maria turned around and fled from the room.

She left Michael completely dazed. Though this was what he wanted, it left him with a sore feeling. As if his attempt to frighten Maria and keep her at arms’ length had somehow blown up in his own face.

At the same moment Maria stood behind the other side of the slammed door. The loud noise brought her back to her senses. Wearily, she leaned against the door and closed her eyes.
“Fuck!” was the only thing that went through her mind. "Fuck!"
Last edited by Eva on Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 2 3/27/09

Post by Eva » Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:30 pm

I know I’ve chosen the ‘Worst scenario of the year’. People just don’t like to read stories about handicaps. But the idea got stuck in my head, so I’m writing it anyway. :D Unless of course everybody thinks I’ve got to stop…

To xmag: I disagree with your remark if you don’t mind. I don’t think I portrayed Maria as a ‘doormat’. A ‘doormat’ doesn’t argue and it doesn’t counter an attack either. Ok, she stiffened one moment but then again, which girl wouldn’t when facing a raging Michael?

To RosDude: Thanks again for the great banner. I put him before the first chapter. So everybody: check it out! Chad did a great job!


Chapter three

Come
As you are
As you were
As I want you to be
As a friend

Nirvana – Come As You Are


Two months later


Maria took a deep breath. Here she was again. Same rehabilitation center, same door, on the outside the same woman. It was déjà vu. But Maria wasn’t that same woman anymore.

After she left the center, doors slamming behind her, Maria had tried to forget about him as much as possible. She had thrown herself into work. But she couldn’t completely forget Michael. On the contrary, thoughts of him haunted her. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she some how had failed him. That she, as his friend, had to do better. She should have acted differently at the rehab center. She should have been more understanding. He had just a severe accident after all. Then she would tell herself that she had done the right thing, there was no point letting him wallow in self-pity and sugarcoat him. Back and forth her thoughts went.

It was two months since that last fatal visit and she had no idea what to expect on the other side of the door. She knew that something must have changed, if the bouquet she received yesterday was anything to go by.

She had moved back home after graduating college. It worked out well for her. She got along with her mother and she could save some money towards getting a place of her own later. Besides, her mom went to a lot of conventions, so she wasn’t around that much. Just like yesterday...

She had came home from school, weary after her long day and had settled on the couch in the living room for the evening intending to make the most of having the place all to herself . She had curled up on the couch with something to drink, to nibble and her laptop. Within minutes she was completely drawn into a fictional dream world by reading her favorite fanfic page and was so absorbed that she wasn’t even aware of the doorbell at first.

She had slouched to the door, and mumbled her greeting inarticulately.

“Maria Deluca?” The man at the door asked.

Before she could confirm that she was, the man had pushed a multi-colored bouquet in her hands. Confused, she had thanked him and signed for the flowers. In a daze, she wandered back into the living room. She removed the attached card and read it in disbelief. And then a second time… ‘I’m sorry – Michael’

It was such an un-Michael Guerin thing to do!

So here she was. Again.

Hesitantly Maria opened the door of his room. Her eyes immediately flashed to the bed. But the bed was empty, the blankets thrown back. She pushed the door open further and looked around the room. Her eyes stopped at the sight of a man in a wheelchair sitting close to the window.

Michael slowly turned his wheelchair and looked straight into her eyes. “Hey Maria.”

“Michael…”

He looked at her. ‘His Maria’. Though he had really tried to scare her off last time, here she was again. Fierce, firm, combative, passionate and of course, like always, very emotional. And although she tried to mask it, he could see Maria was a bit on guard too. He couldn’t blame her.

“Please, enter my kingdom.” Michael invited with a smirk on his face.

Slowly and still on guard she stepped inside. He waved her to an empty chair. Shakily she took a seat on one of them while he maneuvered his wheelchair closer by.

They spoke simultaneously.

“Maria, I have to…”

“I’m sorry, Michael…”

They looked at each other and Maria started to giggle. It broke the tense atmosphere.

Michael got straight to the point. “Sorry girl, I shouldn’t have attacked you last time. I had no right to do that. Not to you anyway. But you scared the hell out of me.”

She frowned, questions on her face.

“Maria,” he explained, “you just know me too well. You know that. You can see right through me. And I just… I just wasn’t ready for that. You were making me see things I wasn’t ready to face up to. I’m really sorry.” She met his eyes and saw the sincerity of his words and relaxed.

“Michael, stop apologizing. Please. I wasn’t that nice to you either.” She chuckled. “If I recall, well… that glass and that CD… God, we are like two children in kindergarten.”

“Children? I was thinking more like a couple of terrorists,” Michael laughed.

Maria looked up, completely surprised to hear him laugh.

“I had a hard time explaining it to the nurses, I can say that much,” he said.

Carefully he reached out his arm in her direction, but stopped short of touching her hands. Time stood still for a moment and then gently, he placed his hands on hers. He smiled, his eyes shining. “Thank you.”

“Hey! Who are you and what did you do to the real Michael?” She joked. She wasn’t use to an apologetic Michael.

He grinned and shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I have had a lot of time to think about things in here. A bit too much time actually.” He was completely serious again when he continued. “So thank you. You were the only one who told me the truth and didn’t baby me.”

She shrugged her shoulders too. “That’s why we are friends.”

“Yeah…”

“That didn’t sound convincing. What’s wrong?” Maria prodded.

“Nothing.”

“Michael, don’t give me that look! Just spill it, will you!”

Maria kept staring at him, convincing him to explain what was going on in his mind.

“I’m just a bit disappointed.” He finally admitted.

“In me?” She asked defensively.

Michael shook his head.

She continued, “Max? Isabel? Liz?”

“No, no, it’s not them.”

“Hank?”

“Hell no! I got from him what I expected in the first place, nothing!”

Suddenly she was beginning to see the light. “Courtney! It’s about her, isn’t it?”

He nodded. “She is the cherry on the cake of everything that went wrong these last four months. According to Max she never came to see me when I was in the coma. When I finally woke up, she gave me one lousy visit. It took me less than a minute to realize that I couldn’t count on her anymore.” Michael shook his head showing he didn’t understand her behavior. Not even now, weeks later.

“I can’t get my head around it. We were together for almost five years. Five years, Maria. Can you imagine? She said she couldn’t handle my condition!” He silent for a minute. “And if she can’t take it, what am I suppose to do? Kill myself so I can escape my own life?” He slammed his hand on the table to enforce his words.

“Could be a solution to all your problems! Need any help?” Maria smirked, eyebrows raised.

“He, he! Thank you very much!” He smirked a bit but she could see he didn’t welcome her honest remark.

“Just helping you out, just helping you out.” she tried to look innocently while apologizing, hands weaving in the air. But she couldn’t help teasing him. “So, if you’ve no plans to die very soon, what’s your next move then?”

“I’m going to wish Courtney to the moon. And if my body had allowed it, I would personally kicked her all the way there!” He tried to pass it off as a joke but his eyes flashed angrily and the hurt was evident in his voice.

“Well then, she can be happy you’re in that chair then. And now, cut the crap; what are you really going to do with your life?”

“Just living it I suppose. What else can I do Maria? At the moment I’m going from the occupational therapist to the physiotherapist and back. And that’s a chore.” He took a deep breath. “My psychologist was very pleased after your last visit. She said you shook me awake and I’m supposed to thank you on her behalf.”

“And now you’ve snapped out of your funk?”

Michael pulled a face. “Don’t push it. I do what I have to do but don’t expect anything more.”

“Where’s my old friend who had so some much energy in his teens? You used to walk every where. I remember you walked six miles one time to see a girl you were interested in. So, tell me, where is the old Michael?”

“He died in the crash.”

“Michael Guerin!” She exclaimed and jabbed him.

“Ok, sorry, that was over the top. I know,” He laughed now. His smile made his face shine. It was such a relief to see him like this. Maria had only seen this face a couple of times in the past. And only when he felt really comfortable. It gave her hope.

“Funny, huh, after all these years we can still argue and quarrel like this?” he said.

Maria chuckled. “I know, neither of us has changed. We’re both passionate. Or I am at least. And I have the feeling you are too. You just don’t show the same fire anymore. Except maybe when I’m around.”

“What do you want from me, Maria? Superman?”

“No, but I want to see the old Michael, who enjoyed life. The Michael I knew wouldn’t want to live his life without any spark in it. ”

Michael watched her intently, absorbed in her argument.

Maria carried on. “The Michael I knew didn’t even understand the meaning of ‘no’ or ‘impossible’. He just went on and on. He was stubborn and persistent and pig-headed. And…”

He interrupted her: “Hold on Maria. I get the picture; you don’t have to give me the whole book.”

“So?” Though Maria wouldn’t agree the fact she was very much like Michael, she really was. Every word she had used to describe him, fitted her as well.

He hesitated. “Maybe you’re right.”

“Maybe?” Her eyebrow rose.

“You’re right about one thing. In the past when I got something in my head, I was a stickler. I never took ‘no’ for an answer. But just look at it from my point of view, Maria. Be honest. How can you still pursue your dreams if you haven’t any left?”

The grim expression on his face said it all. Now Maria had heard him out, she could understand him more. She didn’t agree with him though. But she could see what he felt.

Encouraged by her attentiveness he continued, “You know, I miss having something to look forward to. The things I do here are practical but not fun to do. It’s just like being back in school. And you know I hated that place. The only things I enjoy at the moment are my drawings and wheelchair basketball. Never expected myself to be an enthusiastic sportsman but it isn’t that bad. I push myself to the limits; I actually feel free doing it. But basketball is like drawing. They’re just hobbies. Only a very certain few get to make a living from their hobbies. And even then…” He trembled. To his surprise he had said much more than he originally had planned. But then again, this was Maria. That girl always got under his skin. No matter where he was or what he was doing.

This time she stopped provoking him. Instead she took his hand and squeezed it. “Michael, I’m glad you told me. I can’t change everything. But I’ll be there. Just like always.”

Maria lifted her hand and caressed his jaw. To her surprise Michael didn’t back off. “But can I give you some advice though?”

Michael smirked. “I don’t suppose I can stop you.”

“That’s right, mister.” She smiled briefly before sobering. “Tear down that stone wall of yours. Not all the way if you can’t handle it at the moment. But just a little. Just enough to let your friends come and see you. You don’t realize it but you kinda need them. And we certainly need you. We miss our grumpy bear. Please?”

Michael just couldn’t say no to the sweet puppy-dog look she gave him. He inhaled deeply before saying “Well, I survived Hurricane Deluca, so what the heck? Nothing else can be that bad. Maybe Isabel, after the stunts I pulled.”

She squeezed his arm and glared at him but he didn’t back down. “Kay. Send them over. On one condition though.”

“And that will be?” Maria wondered.

“Saturday, I’m playing a basketball game. You’re coming with me.”

“It’s a deal. Mmmm… nice sweaty sportsman! A dream come true.” A combination of irony and laughter shimmered in her remark.

He laughed again. “You’re still unbelievable, DeLuca!”
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 3 4/3/09

Post by Eva » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:40 am

To *Blondie*: I hope you’ll enjoy the next parts too.

To xmag: You’re right. Michael did see a shrink. If he was pleased having one? I really doubt it, knowing Michael just a bit. But it’s standard procedure in a rehab center to work on both the mind and the corporal issues.

To DeDePR: Nice to know you like the interaction between Michael & Maria. You will get a lot more of that in the future.



Chapter four
Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
And nothing else matters

Metallica – Nothing Else Matters


The excited cheers reached her even before she could open the swing doors. Impressed by the game she paused for a moment at the entrance before she walked over to the grandstand.

She had tried to imagine what to expect but the reality was completely different. Nothing could beat the real stuff. With astonishment she looked down at the players who skilfully pivoted their wheelchairs on the basket field.

She quickly found Michael amongst his team-mates. He handled his wheelchair easily. Michael was completely focused on the game and he was utterly absorbed by it. Every muscle in his upper arms tightened and glistened with sweat. He always had been muscled but now, when he was totally dependent on his arms…well, it was a very nice view.

Without looking away from the court, Maria found a seat among the other spectators. She was soon engrossed in the game.. The players rushed from one basket to the other with pretty impressive speed. No doubt a ‘normal’ basket player couldn’t beat that. In their desire to reach the ball as fast as possible the wheelchairs occasionally crashed against each other. To her surprise the crashing of the metal didn’t sound awful. If anything, it provoked the spectators of both teams even more in their desire to win the game.

Under the basket the players drummed to acquire the best shooting position. All of a sudden Michael’s wheelchair clicked backwards in the drumming. Maria covered her face with her hands and held her breath. All sorts of worst case scenarios went through her mind.
But after scoring a team-mate gave him a hand. They both laughed. Michael lifted himself and his wheelchair straight up. Her panic had been needless. She saw him smirking boyishly for the score and she heaved a sign of relief.

It was at that moment Maria noticed that Michael, and of course the other players too, were all tied down in special wheelchairs with diagonal placed wheels. She didn’t get much more time to think about it though.

The tension on the field arose again. Once again she was enthralled by the magic of the game and she jumped in fright at the sound of the final horn.

The buzzer of the clock echoed through the basket court and it ended the very noisy competition. Michael’s team had won. The players high-fived enthusiastically in triumph before rushing off in the direction of the dressing rooms. They passed by Maria, who was standing next to the court. A few of them whistled in her direction. Their remarks were very colorfull, to say the least.

“Hey, Guerin, nice catch!”
“Lady, ditch that sonofabitch!”
“Yeah, party with us!”

Michael pulled the brakes of his chair just a couple of inches from Maria’s feet.

”Hello beautiful,” he welcomed.

She snickered. “Macho!”

“Who, me?” Michael asked innocently. She could see the twinkle in his eye

“Unbelievable. You come here and insult me and I don’t even get an hello. Women.”

Maria tried to punch him playfully but he evaded her deftly. “You’ll have to be a bit quicker than that. By the way, how about a kiss?”

“A kiss? Is an ‘hello’ not enough anymore?”

“You can look at the kiss as interest on the hello I still have to get.”

Maria rolled her eyes and shook her head. “You’re an idiot, Michael Guerin. Luckily I like you.” She leaned to his level and with a theatrical flourish he kissed her cheek and rubbed his wet sweaty face against hers.

“Gross, Michael.”

He laughed out loud when she grimaced expressively and grabbed a towel to clean the sweat of his forehead. “You know what? Go to that meeting place.”

She looked at him inquisitively.

He corrected himself. “I mean the cafeteria here in the centre. Can you order me a Snapple? I’ll just go freshen up and I’ll see you over there. Alright?” He sped out of the gym before she could respond.

Shaking her head she watched him leave. “Unbelievable.” she mumbled to herself. Michael Guerin was obviously back. And in a more exuberant way than she had ever seen him. Oh boy.

****

Maria was already sitting at one of the tables when Michael entered the sport centre’s cafeteria. She was playing with a piece of paper but he could see her mind was elsewhere.
Quietly he pushed himself in her direction. He touched her shoulder briefly before wheeling himself into the empty spot opposite her.

She was startled. “Hey you, didn’t hear you coming.”

“That was pretty obvious,” He said gently. He looked at her in concern. “Are you alright?”

She waved his concern away and gave him immediately a typical Maria-smile. “Yeah. No problems. I was just thinking about something.”

“O-oh. Thinking? About me? Please let bygones be bygones.” He smirked a little. “Just leave it.”

She protested at what she felt like an unfair insinuation. “But I wanted to say something positive for once.”

Michael raised his eyebrow. “Something positive? Coming from you? Well, let’s hear it.”

Maria searched for the words and she didn’t notice Michael’s intrigued face. To his astonishment she was very serious.

“I… I just saw you joking and playing around. First with your team mates and afterwards with me.”

He wanted to interrupt her but she didn’t let him. Maria directly lifted a finger to his mouth to shut him up.

“And I liked it, Michael. I know you had a tough time, and that’s probably an understatement. And God only knows the tough moments you’ll face in the future. You have the right to be grumpy and cynical. You really do. But it feels incredible good to see you having fun.”

He nodded, agreeing strongly with her words. “Well, it feels nice to have some fun.” A grin came on his face. “It’s like I turned an imaginary switch in my head. My accident happened. I can’t do anything about that. And it doesn’t matter if I like it or not. I can’t ignore my wheelchair. But my life hasn’t stopped with the chair. I still got my future in my own hands. And I want to run the thing for all it is worth.”

Her mouth dropped open. Speechlessly, she stared at him. His self-confidence and determination impressed her. What the hell happened to him in just one week? she wondered.

Michael interrupted her thoughts, “Jesus, DeLuca, did you loose your tongue? That would be the first time ever.”

Maria recovered quickly. “Can’t I be impressed, Michael?”

He scratched his eyebrow. “Of course, you can. I’m just not used to seeing it.”

“And I’m not used to seeing you like this, being so firm. Don’t get me wrong. I like what I see. But where the hell did you get it in just one week?”

“You were right.”

“Say that again,” She gaped in surprise.

Michael chuckled. “You want to hear that again? Fine by me, You.Were. Right. You heard it?”

“Loud and clear.”

His grin broadened at her dry reply.

“Come on. Spill it. What was I right about?” Maria asked impatiently.

He took a deep breath. “That I needed my friends. You were right. I do need them. It was a mistake to keep you all at a distance.”

“So they came?” she butted in.

“Yeah, they all came together.”

“Ohhh, Michael.” The blonde woman threw herself at him. Sobbing she clutched him for dear life. The emotional outburst made him stiffen. Uneasy and insecure he glared at the young man besides his bed, his hand helplessly patting Isabel’s back. ‘Help.’ obviously written all over his face.

“Short version, Isabel was crying.”

The man just grinned at his panicked expression. “Well, she missed you just a little,” Alex said, holding his hands wide apart to show how much.

Alex chuckled even more. He found it amusing to see Michael being frightened at Isabel’s behaviour. It served Michael right after all those months Alex had spent comforting Isabel. And definitely for kicking her out his hospital room.

But before he could take it further, Kyle ruined his fun.

“Whoa, Guerin, you see all those nurses -…” He stopped, glancing at the small curly blonde beside him.

“Finish your sentence, Kyle,” Tess said. It looked like she was mad but everyone, except Kyle, could see her eyes twinkle.

“Uh…. His face reddened the more he trapped himself in it. Finally, he just flashed his biggest smile.


“…Alex and Kyle making fun…”

Everybody burst in laughter. It broke the awkwardness.

“Hey, Michael, nice to see you.” Liz winked at him, one hand squeezing Max’s.

Afterwards they talked and joked for hours. When they had gone he had really missed them. But he would never admit that to anybody.


“Max, Liz and Tess just being themselves. It was great though having them over and joking around. I actually missed it”

Or maybe only to Maria…

“But please, if you want to know more, phone Izzie. She’ll tell you everything in minute detail. Like you girls can chat about everything. But that’s not what I wanted to say.’

Michael gazed right into her eyes. He was completely serious now. “The point is I was wrong for the last four years. I’ve been a lousy friend. I took our friendship for granted.” He swallowed heavily after every word. Like he was choking in them.

Michael, apologizing? That didn’t happen oft. And now she had heard it twice in a week. A miracle.

Maria smiled at him, showing him it was alright. That she understood. He sighed in relief.
“Friends again?”

She let him of the hook. “You never lost me, Guerin. You never did.”

“Good. Because I’m in need of a Maria Deluca at the moment.”

Maria chuckled and played along with him. “Mmm, are you?”

“Yeah. If she wouldn’t mind helping me out.” A boyish grin appeared.

“I don’t know if she will have time though.”

He tickled her before she could carry on. She threw her hands in the air “I surrender if you stop tickeling. I’ll do what ever you need me to do.”

An evil grin came on his face. “Anything?”

“Ouch. Almost anything. Ok?”

“Deal,” He accepted and he stopped tickeling.

“So, what do you need me for?”

“Well, here’s the thing. In two months they will probably release me from the rehab centre. That’s if I have a place to go to. And that’s where I have a problem. Max sold my old apartment in Las Cruces on my behalf. First of all I’m not interesting in living in a city. To be honest I actually hated living there. Secondly, it wasn’t suitable for my wheelchair. I also can’t return to Hank’s trailer. Not that I would even if they paid me. I got an offer from Mrs. Evans though. She offered me Max’s old room. It’s empty since he moved in with Liz. I’m thinking about taking it but only if I’m sure it’s a temporary thing.” Michael grinned. “I really need to know that I have someplace to escape to. Because I know it won’t be easy living there.”

“Of course. It will get on your nerves that Mrs. Evans will be constantly worried. You will freak out and drive her up the wall. Sounds about right?”

“Yeah, basically.” Maria was pretty accurate. But he had already admitted she was right once. He wouldn’t give her anymore satisfaction. So he immediately moved on. “So, what I’d like to do is to find a house or something like that in Roswell.”

“Roswell?” she repeated surprised.

“Gee, Maria, you sound like an echo. Why are you surprised? I really want to come back.”

“I see. And are there any restrictions I’ve to consider?”

“It has to be entirely accessible for my iron horse.” He slammed once on the arm rest of his wheelchair. “And like I said, it has to be in Roswell. Preferably not far away from a gym or a basket court where I can still do some practice. I’m not willing to let go the only thing I like doing at the moment.”

“Then I suggest we look on the net, in the newspapers and so on the see what’s available and -”

“I already did that, smarty-pants. I actually need your good taste in things while going house-hunting. If you’d like to do it, that is.”

“With pleasure.” She confirmed, smiling and rubbing her hands in each other thinking about the house haunting. “That’s nothing I like to do more. Spending somebody else’s money.

Michael smirked. “Hoped so. Moving on, what did you think of the game?”
Last edited by Eva on Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 4 4/17/09

Post by Eva » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:35 am

To tequathisy: Thank you!

To xmag: I’m glad you like this Michael. You’ll notice I don’t like to wander dreadfully. Hope you’ll enjoy it.

To DeDe PR: Michael is not back yet but he will be soon.


Chapter five

Feels like home to me
Feels like I'm on my way back
where I belong.

Chantal Kreviazuk

Maria closed her eyes and inhaled the fresh air, enjoying the silence. Only the sound of birds in the bushes broke the silence in the little garden. Behind her she heard Michael’s wheel chair riding through the back door on to the terrace. Maria glanced over her shoulders at him.

“So?” he asked “What’s your opinion?

“Cosy little house. Not too big, not too small. You could really feel home here. What are you thinking yourself?”

He shook his head approvingly. “Not too bad. Certainly not too bad. It’s the best thing we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks.”

Indeed, there he had a point. But that wasn’t so hard. In the last two weeks they had seen several houses at which they had both stared in disbelief. Some little more than slums.
Michael and Maria could write a book about their encounters during house-hunting.

Maria still got sick thinking about that one house where mould grew on the walls.
Michael had joked “Whoa, Maria, they can harvest mushrooms here.” but the stiff real estate agent hadn’t laughed at his remark.

Or that one house the agency had recommended as being perfectly accessible. And indeed, on paper it had looked perfect. Large, airy rooms. No stairs indoors. The realtor had just forgotten to mention the ten steps leading up to the front door. It had been a real disappointment.

And with some laughter she also thought back to the apartment on the fourth floor. It had looked quiet good and they had been pleased to have found something so easily. The feeling lasted until they took the elevator back downstairs.

When they went up, the rickety elevator had amused them. But their laughter faded very fast when they got stuck on the way back. The old elevator held them hostage for more then two hours before a worker could save them both. Maria could laugh about it now but at the time she had clung to Michael for dear life. And every time the elevator had descended with sinister shakes she had squeezed him to death. Michael had found the whole elevator situation very hilarious but he was smart enough not to let her see that just then. He could see she was terrified. So he kept his big mouth shut and just took her in his arms.

They had almost given up their search when Maria noticed something on her way back from school. A bungalow from the seventies was for sale, not far from the centre of Roswell. Maria had called Michael immediately and he had contacted with the real estate agency. And that’s why they were there today.

Maria followed Michael back inside. “Tell me, Michael, what’s the deal? I’m not an expert on this stuff. It looks alright to me but is the house in good condition?”

He looked around the kitchen, deep in thought.

“The kitchen is totally worn out. But that’s actually a good thing because I want adjustable cupboards and cabinets so I can access them easily from my wheel chair. And maybe, if miracles do happen and I could escape this damn thing I could put them up high again.”

He took the curve to the living room and continued his journey through the house.
“The living room is very spacious and there’s no door separating the kitchen. So that’s positive too. The door to the hallway is broad enough. It should be seven inches wider, but well, it’s OK. The toilet is too small to enter with my wheelchair but that’s not really a problem as the bath room is spacious enough to do some adjustments.”

“What needs to be done there?” she asked in interest.

“There’s a small wet room instead of a shower. That’s already perfect. So I just want to adjust the toilet.”

Lingering she added, “But isn’t that too much to do? You’re up to that?”

“Adjusting two rooms is a piece of cake. The other rooms only need a coat of paint. What do you think? Don’t hold back.”

“Well, you’re right. The living room is perfect. The wooden floors are charming. There’s lots of natural light. I can see a bench and some chairs over there. A table and seats in that corner. Some nice colours on the walls. And most of all no posters of Metallica.”

He smirked before he looked on in amusement at her as she whirled around the room. She really looked great. Her eyes sparkled. Her enthusiasm was so apparent. His thoughts surprised him. He had never seen her more then a friend. And now… Well, he wasn’t sure anymore.

When she realised he was staring at her, she broke the silence. “And what’s next to do?”

“Right now?” he asked. “Well, right now we’re going to a pub and I’m buying you a drink. When you were in the garden, I called the realtor and placed a bid. He accepted.”

“So you’re saying you already bought this house?” she asked in astonishment.

“Yeah.” he nodded affirmative. “Well, I do have to sign some paperwork but yeah… You can congratulate me with my new purchase.”

“You impulsive jack-ass.” she punched his shoulder playfully before she threw her hands in the air in an exaggerated fashion. “Why did you even bother to invite me here? Why did you need my opinion when you already made a decision before you heard me out?”

His smile broadened. “Well, first of all, I can’t drive a car at the moment and you’re one heck of a driver. Most of the times that is.” Michael evaded her neatly when she tried to poke him in the ribs.

“Sponger,” she teased.

He grinned playfully at her. “Secondly I saw your beautiful eyes shine like they approved what they were looking at. They started glowing the second we stepped in this place. And thirdly, it’s a great house.” He looked at her in triumph.

She laughed. “What am I supposed to do with you, Michael Guerin? A leech and a charmer at the same time. My God, What did I start here?”

“Something very nice. So let’s finish it. I’m taking you to a nice place. Well that is, you’re driving, I’m treating.”


******


Some time later Maria parked her car beside a bar between Roswell and the rehab center. She grabbed his chair and unfolded it quickly. Michael slipped into the seat and rotated himself in the direction of the entrance. Maria walked alongside him. In the past weeks she had learned not to jump up and help him. Michael wanted to do everything by himself. Even when it got tough. Most of the time it was hard seeing him wrestle his chair but after he had yelled at her once she didn’t interfere again unless he asked. But he was a stubborn guy so that didn’t happen quiet often.

They took a seat at a nice table in a corner. A stern looking waiter showed up to take orders.
Maria read the menu with a lot of interest before deciding. “I’d like a Cherry Coke.”

The waiter wrote down her order and addressed her again. “And what will he have?”

“HE’LL have a beer.” Michael was at the verge of exploding.

Maria saw his temper rise within the minute. But the waiter didn’t react to Michael’s provoking answer. His face stayed straight. Even his eyes didn’t blink. He just turned around and walked speechless to the counter.

“Can you believe it?” Shaking her head she looked at him. “Some people don’t think, do they? Or are they just unsure because they don’t know how to handle a person in a wheel chair?”

“Unsure my ass.” Michael barked. “If I hadn’t promised you a drink and there were other places we could go, I would have left. But I’m never coming back to this pig sty.”

He gestured wildly as he spoke. “Sometimes I really think I got a sign ‘mentaly retarded’ pinned to my forehead. Actually I should put a sign on saying ‘Don’t feed. Can think on his own.’”

Maria laughed.

“What’s the matter?”

The annoyed look on his face made her laugh more. Between giggles, she explained “Nothing. Really. But I was just imagining it. And it was quiet funny to say the least. Can I paint the sign though?”

Her answer dissolved his temper and he laughed along. Still a little on edge but he laughed.

The waiter delivered their drinks wordlessly. Maria lifted her glass and clinked Michael’s. “To your new house.”

“To my new home. I know I’m a long way from home but I took the first step and it feels great. I actually have something to look forward too. Living at the Evans’s house doesn’t feel as suffocating as before. Whenever Mrs Evans starts mothering me, I know I have someplace I can go now.”

“Nice huh.” She said affectionately, enjoying the contented smirk on his face.

“And I have some other plans too? Wanna hear them?”

“No doubt about it. Make my day.”

“I’m going to inquire about getting my driver license back.”

“You, driving?” Maria looked at him in confusion. “But you can’t use your legs. How can you drive for heaven’s sake? Don’t get me wrong. I know you can do whatever you set your mind on. I’ve seen that in the past. And right now too. But is that even legal?”

“Sure, if I pass the test. I can get an adjusted car. You can get you accelerator put on your steering-wheel instead of a pedal. Or they can build in an elevator system to stow the wheel chair away. Thinks like that. I think I’m going to ask Kyle about it. He can do wonders with a car.”

Maria nodded. “You’re right. That would be great. A car would give you great freedom. It doesn’t matter if you are in or out a wheel chair.”

“And you know me, huh, freedom above all things.”

“Hey, Michael, sorry to interrupt but we should start going. Otherwise it will be too late and I have to drop you back at the rehab center.” She changed the subject.

“Can you believe I don’t feel like it?” Michael asked.

She nodded her head. “Totally. But you know what? Next week will be your first weekend at home with the Evans family. Let’s make some arrangements for Saturday. I can rent a movie and we have a cosy evening at my place. My mom is gone for the weekend. Interested?”

He rubbed his hands. “Of course. But can I take it a step further?

She leaned forward and stroked her finger along the palm of his hand, teasing him playfully. “Course you can. Obviously you want some extras, booking a penthouse room in my luxurious hotel. With an exquisite seven courses dinner, a long massage and to finish off, hot steaming sex?

Michael smirked, his eyes twinkled. “Be my guest. I’m always up for that. Ok, for real now, are you going to fetch me at the center on Saturday?”

“Instead of Mr or Mrs Evans?”

“Uh huh. I’m a big boy, you know,” He said with a straight face.

She smiled. “I believe that.” She turned serious. “It’s a long drive to Las Cruces. So let’s say I could be there about eleven o’ clock. Is that ok for you?”

“It’s a date.”

She rolled her eyes. “Whoa, a date with Michael Guerin. A dream come true.” she joked as they left the bar.
Last edited by Eva on Sat Apr 25, 2009 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 5, 4/24/09, pg. 2

Post by Eva » Fri May 01, 2009 2:29 am

To chanks_girl: Michael will indeed take his life back. But just like in real life, it will be with ups & downs.

To xmag: Michael worked for more then five years. So he has some savings. And he also sold his old apartment. So he doesn’t have to worry about paying the adjustments in the house.

To DeDe PR: Can you believe that the piece about the waiter was based on a real-time event?

To tequathisy: Michael is dealing it well at the moment but like I said, it will be with ups & downs.



Chapter six

We spend all of our lives
Goin’ out of our minds
They live, they stood up for love

Live- They Stood Up For Love


Maria sped into rehab center’s parking lot, cursing under her breath. The clock on her dashboard declared it was past one o’clock. Michael was already at the entrance waiting. The minute he saw her, he put his bag on his lap and with a powerful motion he started riding in her direction.

Instead of parking, Maria just pulled up in the middle of the lot and hopped out of the car. Michael could see she was completely stressed out.

“Sorry, sorry. I know it’s inexcusable. I’m very late but the traffic was murder. There was an accident. It caused a traffic jam and I couldn’t get through. And I really hate to keep a person waiting. Are you alright? And…” Her hands waved in the air to underline every word she was jabbering.

He rolled his eyes. “Maria, I’m just in a wheel chair, I’m not sick. For heaven’s sake, calm down.”

But she didn’t seem to hear him. So Michael took her shaky small hands in his. He brushed them gently with his thumb. She barely noticed it. And like she knew him; Maria was also an open book to him. Most of the time anyway.

So without saying another word he threw his bag on the ground and pulled her on his lap. His arms safely around her slim figure. Speaking softly, he tried to soothe her. “Shhh. It’s no big deal, you being late. I prefer to see you in one piece late than not at all. Come on. Pull it together, girl. It’s alright.”

She obliged, taking a deep breath. “Sorry, Michael, I just freaked out because I’m way too late.”

“I’m not running away, you know. I waited. I’m not going anywhere.” He made sure she understood the message between the lines. And to change the mood he continued in a lighter tone. “Except back to Roswell.”

Maria, like always on a see-saw of emotions, snapped out her mood very quickly. She pulled herself together and gave him a kiss on the cheek as a ‘thank you’. Michael gazed at her to see if she was really alright and she smiled to reassure him.

“Sorry for all the drama,” she muttered, her eyes trained at the ground below.

Michael shrugged. “Nah, don’t worry. I’m used to a Maria DeLuca. So are we off?”

“Yes. Definitely before I make a bigger ass of myself.”

She watched him closely now. He looked good. His light brown untamable hair was, as always, a mess. Every once in a while he ran his right hand through it. Though instead of tidying it up, it just caused his hair to spike up more. Maria thought it suited him.
She had to control the urge to brush his hair. Thinking about it she felt the tension rise between the both of them. Recalling her previous declaration of love to him and his frank reaction on it, she suddenly jumped off his lap, breaking the moment.

Luckily Michael didn’t notice her flushed face. He was already arranging his affairs in her trunk.

The ride home passed without incident. As usual Maria chattered all the way, Michael just listened. Hell, there wasn’t much else he could do. The nickname ‘Hurricane DeLuca’ fitted her well.

They decided to pick a DVD before getting some Chinese food. It took them over thirty minutes to choose a movie they both liked. Michael wanted an action movie, Maria a chick flick one. Maria debated like she wanted to be elected president and finally won the discussion too.

“Hell, just pick what you want. If it will shut you up for five minutes” Michael had growled.

Maria rolled her eyes, tried to look offended. But he could see a smile hiding on her lips when she took the DVD from the shelf although she tried to hide the smug grin of victory.

And so, nearly five hours after she had picked Michael up from the center, Maria drove her car into the driveway of her home. She sighed, weaving a stray lock of hair out of her face. “Oh, I never was so glad to be home.”

“Tired?” he looked at her. Maria’s pale face worried him a bit. “Do you want to postpone our date?”

“Nah,” she shook her head. “It’ll be alright. Just hungry and the driving has worn me out.”

“Oh, it wasn’t the talking and arguing?” he asked innocently. She pretended not to hear him.

Gathering her purse and some belongings she climbed out of the car. “Let’s go inside. What do you need to bring in?”

“As long as you bring me in, I’m satisfied.”

“Well, lucky you have a wheelchair, because I’m sure as hell not carrying you,” she joked.

“Yeah, lucky I have it.” he murmured softly.

Maria didn’t give him a chance to sink into gloom. “Unless you drink a Red Bull of course.”

“A Red Bull?” Michael questioned.

Her face shined. “Yeah, ‘cause a Red Bull will give you wings.”

He chuckled. “Nice one. I’ll have to remember it to mail to the guys in the Center. ‘Cause honestly I heard the most gross and bawdy jokes about handicaps over there. Really un-be-liev-able.”

Michael’s dark mood disappeared before it had the chance to grow. They continued joking and teasing each other while entering the house.

“Whoa, it’s been a very long time I was here.” He wandered around to see if he could see any changes.. “I can’t believe it hasn’t changed a bit.”

“Well, you know my mom, huh?”

Maria went into the kitchen while saying “Settle yourself in the living room, Michael. I’ll fetch cutlery and drinks.”

“Mmm… Being served by the lovely Maria DeLuca. It has been years.”

Michael’s grin made her giggle.

“Well, don’t get to used to it.” She tried to look severe but you could see her eyes twinkle.

“In that case, Miss, I’d like one Cherry Coke and some Chinese food. Just hurry. And bring it to the couch. I’ll be waiting there.” He said with a smirk on his face.

Maria, who was already in the kitchen, peeped her head round the corner. The surprise written all over her face.

“The couch? You’ve already got a chair, don’t you?”

“Yeah” The smirk broadened. “But I’ve already spent most of the day in this thing. It doesn’t feel comfortable after a while. It’s like a pair of shoes. In the evening you’re always glad to take them off.” He explained.

“Ohhh. Point taken. Never thought of it that way though.”

When Maria returned after a couple of minutes, she froze when she saw him sitting on her couch. The way he sat. If she didn’t know about his condition, she would never have guessed.

Michael sat nonchalantly and relaxed. One leg was placed on the other. His black shirt tightened round his broad shoulders. Michael had always been very muscled. But his upper body had become even more powerful because he constantly used his arms to move now. His jeans were not as tight as when he would use his legs every day. But then again, he always wore jeans. He still looked as hot as always. Whoa. What was she thinking?

Maria quickly stopped staring and took a seat beside him. After finishing their dinner they turned on the movie and were soon engrossed in it.

When the closing credits appeared on the screen, Maria was crying. “So pretty.”

Michael laughed when he looked at her. “Whoa, Ria.”

A couple of tears rolled along her cheeks. Swiftly she wiped them away with her sleeves.

“It was so beautiful. Besides I always cry at emo-films.” Maria sniffed. Without being ashamed of her emotions she proudly added “Actually, when I think of it, I cry at everything that is more or less touching. I’ve even cried at news reports.” She blew her nose loudly.

“Can you stay a bit longer too talk some more? She asked. “Otherwise I’m going to keep thinking about it and be too sad to sleep.”

Michael glanced at her begging eyes. Her whole act made him shake his head in laughter. He knew she was a bit of a drama queen but he had never expected her to be so emotional about a stupid movie.

Before he could make his mind up, she realized something. “You’re not going anywhere without my car and my excellent driving skills. So let me get some more drinks. Beer is good for you?”

She went into the kitchen to grab him a beer without waiting for a response.

He shook his head while mumbling “Incredible.”

He yelled at her so she could hear him while standing in the kitchen “You do know I suck in small talk, right?”

“Yeah, no problem. I’ll do the talking for both of us then. I’m good at it.” Her dry remark made him smile.

She came back with a beer for him and a soda for herself and a bowl of candy for them to share. She slouched down next to him.

“Are you going to the Crashdown tomorrow?”

“Maria, what did I just tell you about small talk?” Michael asked.

She stared at him in confusion. “You said you sucked at it. You didn’t say I couldn’t ask questions.”

The twist in Maria’s mind made his eyes roll. “No, but…”

“So, are you?”

He paused for a very long time.

Maria persisted. “Come on, it’s not a trick question. It’s just the Crashdown. It’s not that I’m asking you to go naked.”

Her persistence made him explode. “God damned, Ria, put a sock in it. Have you ever thought about the wheel chair? That maybe I’m not happy in it?”

‘Don’t give me that. In these last few weeks you’ve been to a sports centre, several houses AND a bar.”

He growled “Yeah, but...”

Maria stared at him. She really didn’t see the problem. “And? There’s a difference?”

He didn’t respond, his eyes pinned to the floor.

Not only did Michael suck at small talk, he also flunked expressing his emotions. Always had. In the past he had only opened himself to a few people. Actually he could count them on three fingers, Max, Isabel and Maria. And even Max and Isabel didn’t know everything. Most of the time the rest of the world thought he was emotional retarded. When things got too intense, he closed himself completely off from everybody. Like now. Maria could see his stone wall clam up.

“Stop it right there, Guerin. Talk to me.” Maria’s voice was kind, but firm.

“They didn’t know me there.” He finally croaked out.

“ Ohhh.” She glared at him with her mouth agape and her eyes wide in wonder. His confession hit her. The wheel chair. Most of the time she just didn’t notice he was using it. To her, Michael was still the same person. With or without the stupid thing. But apparently he disagreed.

His anger that hid his vulnerability faded away. Michael’s expression softened. “Look, Maria, I just don’t like to be the centre of attention. Never have been. And certainly not now sitting in that freaking thing over there.” He pointed at the chair.

“Maybe I’ll try it in a couple of weeks. When I feel more relaxed. More at home. ‘Cause you’re right. I miss hanging out with my friends. But I just don’t feel ready to actually go out yet. It’s the other people I’m more worried about.”

“So you know, we miss hanging out with you too.” Maria mused. “We used to have so much fun, hanging out together. In school or at the Crashdown. All of us - You, me, Max, Isabel, Liz, Alex, Kyle and later Tess too. When I think of all the stuff we used to get up to.”

Remembering those fun times, Michael’s anger faded. “You remember that time we all went to that music festival? We camped in that old large tent Kyle’s dad had bought from the army.” He recalled enthusiastically.

She nodded. “The camping thing sucked big time. I’m still not that big on living in a tent but the music rocked. Remember that one night? When a bunch of drunken people danced right through our army tent?”

He grinned. “They came in one side and straight out the other out. And we all looked up for just one second and went right back to sleep because we were completely worn-out.”

Maria laughed at the memory. “Yeah. And the morning after we all thought we had dreamt the whole moment. Until we realized that we had all had the same dream.”

She paused for a moment. “Actually it would be a lot of fun to go again. With everyone of course.”

Michael took a sip of his beer and nodded at her suggestion. “You can count me in. But not immediately though. Maybe at the end of the year or something like that?”

“You’re on.”

“But I want to be with all of you guys. I’m not interested in a separate spot with all the handicapped people.” He insisted. “You know, at a lot of festivals you can see they’ve got a special platform where the handicapped ones can sit and watch the show. They have a better view over there. Well, I tell you this, I’m not going to sit there.”

She frowned. “I understand what you’re saying but I don’t know if that’s gonna work out. You can turn it over however much you want but it will stay the same in the end, you have a handicap, Michael. You can’t…”

“Restriction,” he corrected her. “I’ve got a restriction, not a handicap.”

“As you wish.” Maria started giggling. First silently and then harder till she couldn’t recover anymore.

“Hey. You’re laughing at me. You laugh outright at a handicapped man.

“Handicapped? Two seconds ago you had just a restriction. Things change very fast with you.”

Michael threw a pillow in her direction. They pushed each other playfully and tossed the pillows at each other. They got a little too much into it and lost their balance. With a yell from Maria, they tumbled off the couch. Michael instinctively tried to break Maria’s fall with his body. Pulling her close with one arm.

Lying on the floor, with her above him, he kept his hold on her. With his other hand he softly tucked an escaped curl of hair behind her ear. Their breath caught and they gazed at each other with wide eyes. Completely astonished by the power of attraction between them.

Afterwards, they couldn’t say who had made the first move. But somehow their lips found each other. It was hesitant at first, but it grew more passionate and heated. They completely lost themselves in each other. Their tongues tangled in a greedy give-and-take.

Their hands started roving each other’s body. Exploring it, determined to learn every curve of it. Maria slid her hand in his hair, pulling him even more close to her body while Michael let his fingers roam till they were underneath Maria’s tank top.

And then, completely unexpected Michael backed off. As if the touch of her naked skin had burned him.

“Sorry” His rusty voice broke the silence.

His words worked like a cold shower. But she couldn’t react. Maria was still in a state of shock. Not completely aware of the fact she had just made out with her best friend. And while she was recovering, she literally saw him do what he used to do when somebody got to close. He ran. Or back away as quickly as he could.

Speechlessly she watched at him trying to lift himself back on the couch. Bit by bit. Though it wore him out, he persisted stiffening his jaw in concentration. It was awkward to watch. But she knew it was out of the question to help him.

When he finally maneuvered his body onto the couch, Maria opened her mouth. Before she could call his name though, he stopped her. Keeping his head down, Michael closed his eyes. “If it’s all the same to you, Maria, I really don’t want to talk about it.”

To his surprise she kept her mouth shut. She could feel her body shaking from emotion.
Love, happiness, disappointment, and finally anger. It was all there.

He looked at her uneasily. She was still sitting where he had left her. She was so beautiful. Even now, her face flushed from the kiss they had shared. Her jaws clutched to contain the emotions inside. “Oh, Maria,” he thought, “what have I done?”

Eventually her silence creped him out.

“Are you angry?” he snapped at last.

“Yes. No.” She yelled. “I don’t know,” She finally mumbled.

“Which is it?” He asked, sounding rougher then he wanted. Somehow he just couldn’t control his voice anymore. As if his feelings had taken over. Completely.

“Yes for the running part, no for the kissing. Like my answer?” she replied, matching his harsh tone.

Startled he gazed away. Not knowing how he had to respond. Not knowing how he could get them both out this mess they created. Her honesty had shocked him to his core. She didn’t regret kissing him.

After what seemed to be an eternity, it was Maria who started talking. Just like usual. “Michael?”

He blinked and looked up.

“Yeah?” She could hear the hesitation in his tone.

“What are we going to do?”

Her simple question was asked with so much emotion, he couldn’t resist looking at her. Her eyes bright in the darkened room. They searched his.

Michael swallowed. He knew he wasn’t good with finding the right words. But she deserved an answer. An honest one. So he tried.

“I really don’t have any clue. I really don’t.” She could hear him looking for words to express what was going on in his mind.

He rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. “My first impulse was to forget what happened. All of it. You know, to run from it as far as I could. So I didn’t have to think about it.”

Quietly she asked “And your second?”

He exhaled loudly. “There wasn’t a second… Sorry.”

She sat still, lost in thought. Her green eyes looked at the ground before her. He could see tears glitter in them. Though she tried to hold them back, they rolled down her cheeks after a while.

Helplessly he slapped his hand on the arm-rest. The sound startled her.

After what felt like an eternity, he turned her question back on her. “And you, Maria, what’s your feeling?”

She mustered her courage and lifted her head up, to look at him right in his face. “I would try it.”

“Try what? A relationship?” Disbelief echoed in his voice.

“Why not? We’re good together, Michael. It feels so damn good. On every level. I know you feel it too. Just give us a chance, will you? Just try it. Step by step. We’ll see how it turns out. At least we gave it a try. Besides, what can go wrong? We like…”

Michael interrupted her. “That’s what freaks me out. I can’t act on my feelings and destroy our friendship.” He paused and ran a hand through his hair. “It’s all I have, you know. Those last months, when I was under the weather, you were my only ray of light. I can’t jeopardize that. I can’t afford to loose you. I just can’t. But, but on the other hand… You’re right. It did feel amazing. The two of us…”

His last words gave her hope. In all those years it was the first time she saw him struggle over their friendship like this. But she understood him. Slowly she came closer.

“I understand what you’re saying. I really do, Michael. But have a little faith in me.” She amended “Have faith in us. I’m not going to walk away. I promise. Even if this turns out to be a bad idea.”

Maria leaned closer to him, taking his hand in her own.

“If you don’t want this, you’ll just have to stop me.” She whispered. Then pressed her lips gently against his. She tried to convey all the love and affection for him in the kiss.

It didn’t take long. Michael growled and pulled her back into his arms. Placing a kiss against her temples. “What did I do to deserve someone like you?” He asked rhetorically.

He quickly reclaimed her mouth with his own. And this time it was no accident. This kiss held every shred of passion, love and emotion they both felt for each other.

This night was theirs. No questions, no doubts, no fear. The world outside the living room could wait.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 6, 5/1/09, pg. 3

Post by Eva » Fri May 08, 2009 11:12 am

To nibbles2: Thanks for everything!

To *BLONDIE*: Yeah, Michael and Maria are always very cute when they have that great interaction between them, don’t you think?

To chanks_girl: Well, let’s say that new development will not take the easy road. But, hell, it’s Michael and Maria we are talking about. Easy doesn’t suit them.

To tequathisy: If you like unexpected things, stay tuned.

To mary_mary: Well, thank you!

To xmag: Thank you for keeping up with my story.




Chapter seven

You're almost happy
Almost content
But your head hurts

K’s Choice – Almost happy

A month later – New Years’ Eve


Michael caught his reflection in the mirror. It was odd to see himself sitting in his wheel chair. He was never an idle guy. More or less the opposite actually. Normally he didn’t give a damn how he looked like. On a normal day he was happy if he found some clean clothes, not even caring if they matched.

But today he glued himself to the mirror, like the freaking thing could answer all of his questions. Feeling tense, he looked at the reflection of his wheel chair in the mirror. The metal ruthlessly glittered in his face.

Though he would never admit it out loud, and maybe even not to himself, he was scared.
Tonight he was going out with his friends to a New Years party in town.

His first time out after his accident. The first step back in his old world.

The world... To be honest, he hated the world and he had the feeling it was mutual. The only good thing that came out of it, were his closest friends. The rest was just screwed up.
It started at an early age. His parents, God only knows who they were, had abandoned him. Just like that. Like a random piece of garbage. And that’s the way he felt for a long time: garbage. Even now, he had a hard time believing he was worthy.

As a little boy, he had been unsociable, a loner. He never trusted people and kept everybody at a distance. So nobody had looked further than his outside stone wall. Due to his strange and distant conduct, he was never adopted and was taken into welfare. To end up with Hank, the worst foster parent ever. And with his heartless and abusive behavior Hank reinforced every negative feeling Michael had about himself.

Another thing he despised about the world was the fact that everywhere he went he got labeled: the social case, the poor one, the one from the wrong side of the track, the lost case, the loner, the rebel,… and now also the handicapped one.

“Damn,” he cursed inarticulately.

He was startled from his dark thoughts by the door bell. From afar he could hear Max shout: “I’ll get it!”

Instinctive he glanced at the clock. “Eight o’ clock: that’ll be Maria.”

Maria… The last four weeks had flown. Just like a dream. After his discharge from the Center he had seen her almost daily, either alone or with their friends. But to his joy mostly without them.

Slowly and tenderly she had broken through his stone wall. It hadn’t been that difficult for her anyway. Maria took already a big part of his heart. They always had been best friends. To his surprise, it had always clicked between them. And now more then ever. They had both dropped their defenses. Instead of tackling each other over every minor word or gesture, they had found mutual understanding. And since they had kissed, also love.

The kiss – He had really doubted it. Well, ‘had’, maybe that was the wrong choice of words. He still had some doubts. On one hand he was happy they both risked the jump. He liked Maria a lot. He felt at home with her. And if he hadn’t been in a car crash with all the consequences attached, he wouldn’t have questioned his relationship with Maria. Oh no, the opposite actually… But now?

Michael still had the feeling something was wrong. Something didn’t feel right. It felt like it was too good to be true. And how could they take the next step? In his eyes a relationship was more then kissing and hugging. Would sex work? Would he be able to give her that kind of pleasure? And what about the future? Had he the right to mortgage the life of such a dynamic and unbelievably sweet girl as Maria with his handicap? Maria would be a hell of a mom. But, would he be a good father? With the baggage Hank left him in addition to his wheelchair? Above all, would he be able to have children now? So many questions.

“Hey Guerin, the mirror will crack if you keep staring at it!” Alex’s voice interrupted the merry-go-round in his head as he peeped round the corner. “Are you coming? We’re all in the living room waiting for Kyle and Tess. They’re late, as usual. I hope they’ll hurry up. The girls wanna play a game before we go party.”

Michael nodded and followed him. In the hallway they met Max who was on his way to open the front door. “Hey, you two, at last, some guys to the rescue! Our girls are getting completely out of the control.” He pointed at the door of the living room to reinforce his words.

And indeed, when Alex and Michael stepped into the living room, it was a joyful chaos. They chuckled at what they saw. The Evans were away for the evening and while the cat’s away… The stereo, usually turned down low, was blasting full force. Mrs. Evans’ preferred easy listening radio station was now playing loud, pounding rock.

Isabel, Maria and Liz set the table with snacks and board games while dancing and whirling on the music. They were completely living the moment to the fullest.

When he saw her dancing, Alex immediately moved towards Isabel doing all kinds of hilarious moves at the same time. When Alex, the clown, reached his graceful Isabel; he pulled her by the wrist and started to rock-and-roll with her. Isabel’s laugh filled the room as Alex spun her around.

“What do you all want to drink?” Liz’s voice sounded over the music.

“Beer, of course! Do you have to ask?” Kyle’s spontaneous answer pulled the attention of the others to the newcomers.

The laugh on Maria’s mouth widened when she spotted Michael. She swiftly wiped her hands on her bright and colorful dress and headed towards him. Michael quickly pushed his doubts to the corner of his mind. With a pull on his wheels, he started rolling towards her.

“Hi gorgeous!”

Maria blushed and kissed him on the mouth “That’s me!”

Before she could take another step, he hauled her on his lap to deepen his kiss.

“Hey, get a room!”

“Somebody wants to get laid tonight!”

Max and Kyle joked around while Alex whistled on his fingers.

“Oh! They’re just jealous ‘cause I’ve got the prettiest girl tonight!”

Tess slapped Michael’s shoulder. “Oh, it’s not your fault your vision got handicapped too!”

The girls roared with laughter. But before anyone could respond to Tess’s comment, Max butted in. “Before this starts World War III I suggest we start playing.”

He clapped his hands with “Come on, kids, let’s start!”, he pulled his most severe look on his face and grabbed the handles of Michael’s wheel chair. Without waiting for a reaction, he pushed Michael and Maria to the table.

Isabel dimmed the music and they all gathered around.

“Girls, made up your mind yet? Which game will it be?” Max asked. “We got monopoly-”

“No way, I’ve got bad memories of that one!” Michael snapped.

Without even looking at Michael, Max proceeded. “Pictionary-”

“Out of the question! Michael can draw pictures with his eyes closed.” Now it was Kyle’s turn to react.

“Are you guys ‘the girls’? ‘Cause if you ask me you’re not the ones wearing a skirt.” Max pointed out impatiently.

“Have you seen my legs in a skirt?”

“Gross, Kyle, the thought alone!” Maria shook her head in laughter. They all laughed now.

“Game of the Goose?”

“Too childish!” (Isabel)

“Trivial Pursuit?”

“Boring!” (Maria)

“The Game of Life?”

“No way!” (Liz)

“Hey, anyone another idea?”

“Well, since I’m the only ‘girlfriend’ left, maybe I can help out.” Alex pointed out, a grin on his face.

“Last month I found a new game on the net and I bought it. It’s called ‘Carcassonne’. The game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game starts with a single terrain tile face up and seventy-one others shuffled face down for the players to draw from. On each turn a player draws a new terrain tile and places it adjacent to tiles that are already face up. The new tile must be placed in a way that extends features on the tiles it abuts: roads must connect to roads, fields to fields, and cities to cities. You can go in any direction you want to go. And you can place followers on tiles to claim property. The game ends when the last tile has been placed. Every claimed property gets a score and the one with the most points wins the game.”

“Sounds complicated.” Maria said doubtfully.

“Nah!”

Max as. “Well, Whitman, I suppose you have it with you?”

Alex nodded. “It’s in the car.”

“Please, go and get it if we still want to play something before going out.”

Fifteen minutes later everybody was engrossed boarding in the game. They had chosen to play individually rather than in teams and as usual, it lead to playful rivalry.

Everybody had their own style. Kyle and Isabel were born competitors and they both played to win. Max, Tess and Alex were typical strategists. Liz hesitated with every single piece. And Maria and Michael just played as spontaneous and impulsive as they were in real life.

They yelled, gestured, called each others ‘cheaters’ and had fun.

They totally forgot track of time until Liz caught sight of the clock.

“Guys, it’s already past ten o’clock. If we want to celebrate New Years at the party we have to start moving soon.

“Sore loser,” Kyle teased.

“She’s right, you know.” Max added. “We should start getting ready.”

The others nodded in agreement but Kyle wasn’t convinced yet. When he was playing sports or games, he always got completely engrossed with it. The child within always popped up at that moment.

“Can anybody give me a good reason?”

Tess answered right away. “Of course, sweetheart. I’ll buy you a beer and the first slow dance is yours. And the sooner we go, they sooner we can return and… then we could do some other stuff? Fun stuff? Like in our bed?”

With a charm offensive like that, Kyle gave up and took Tess in his arms. “Well, if you put it like that.”

Everybody laughed at the interaction between Tess and Kyle.

They worked together and the living room was cleaned and swiftly returned to its original state. And after a run to the ladies room, they were ready to go. Because each couple had other plans for after the party, they all drove separately.

****

“Michael, what’s up?” Maria’s voice broke the silence in the car.

“Nothing.” He shrugged.

“Don’t give me ‘nothing’. You lost a game and you didn’t even flinch. That’s so not you. So again, what’s wrong?”

“I said ‘othing.” She saw him clenching his jaw, the irritation written all over his face.

Maria didn’t back down. “Is it about the party? Going out for the first time after the accident?”

Stubbornly, Michael held his tongue. He avoided looking at her. Damn, she was persistent. And too clever for her own good, he thought. But he didn’t want to admit she was right.

“Am I gonna have to drag it out of you?”

“Goddamit, Maria! Yes, you’re right. And no, I don’t want to talk about it. Just drop it and let me be.” He barked. “Please?”

“You’re lucky we’re here.” Maria said while parking her car next to Max’s.

“Lucky?” he muttered.

But Maria ignored him. And got out the car. With the help of Max, she pulled his chair out the trunk.

Michael took a deep breath before unbuckling his belt. After a short hesitation he prepared to lift himself in the wheel chair.

Max immediately noticed his internal struggle. “If you don’t wanna go in, you have to say it. It’s no problem. We’ll do something else instead.” He watched Michael closely and waited his response.

“No, it’s good.” Michael shook his head. “I have to do this. I can’t stay at home my whole life.”

Max nodded.

At last Michael gave the ok signal they made their way inside.
Last edited by Eva on Fri May 08, 2009 1:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 7, 5/8/09, pg. 3

Post by Eva » Fri May 15, 2009 2:12 pm

To chanks_girl: I think my job as a social worker starts to rub off on my writing. :lol: But thank you for the compliment.

To tequathisy: Yeah, Michael really made some progress but he still has a long road ahead of him.

To xmag: You got that right! The lyrics will give you already a clue in which direction this chapter is heading.



Chapter eight

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here

Radiohead - Creep


The group of eight friends entered the party together.

The noise of the crowd and the music pounding loudly through large speakers grabbed them when they walked in. A few heads turned to the newcomers but most of the people partied further on.

They tried to cross the room, but it wasn’t easy. The crowd was large and pressing together tightly. The difference in heights between Michael and the rest of the crowd counted against him. Most of the people didn’t notice him sitting in his wheel chair; others looked very accusatory in the direction of his chair - like the damn thing was the problem they couldn’t move properly.

Finally they found a place large enough for them to stand together. The girls immediately threw themselves on the nearby dance floor. Alex joined them and, like always, went completely crazy moving to the music. He was the only one who called his moving dancing though.

The girls were more natural dancers, though in Michael’s opinion Maria was the best. He watched her whirling around with a natural grace and feel for the rhythm. Her blonde curls bouncing on her shoulders. With her eyes closed she turned around, circling on the dance floor. Her moves blended completely in with the song. As if she became one with the music.

“Hey Michael, you want something to drink?” Max’s asked, his voice snapping Michael out his daze.

“What?” he asked scattered. Not willing to let go, he kept staring at ‘his’ Maria on the dance floor.

Grinning Max shook his head while he looked at his best friend. “It’s like you’re seeing her for the first time. And she’s been your best friend for over what? Seven or eight years?”

“I know. I know. But then she was just… I don’t know. She was just Maria. Plain, simple, annoying Maria.”

“Dude, Maria was never plain and simple.” Kyle smirked. He started counting on his fingers. “Annoying? Yes! Spirited? Yes! Furious? Yes! Weird? Definitely! Do I have to continue?”

To his own surprise Michael continued Kyle’s list. “She’s also carrying, sweet, extremely beautiful, loving, passionate…”

“Oh boy, you hit the jackpot!” Kyle and Max laughed out loud now and started teasing him mercilessly.

“Can we try her out once?”

“Is she a great kisser too?”

“She sounds too good for a loser like you. Let’s find her a better boyfriend, man. Guerin, what do you think about that one?” Kyle pointed to a handsome guy who was dancing towards Maria.

To his friend’s shock, Michael exploded. He turned his wheel chair furiously without caring if he hit somebody in the process. And without saying another word, he took off. His body language radiated anger.

“Holy shit, what did I do? I was just joking..” Kyle questioned, shrugging his shoulders.

“Don’t worry! I’ll get him before Maria kills you.” Max patted his shoulder.

“Would she?” Maria’s possible fury seized Kyle with alarm.

“What do you think?” Max said with a straight face, trying to hide the amusement he felt.

“Go get him! Hurry!” Kyle was panicking now.

Shaking his head in laughter Max moved in the direction Michael had disappeared. The crowd made it difficult to track him down but he was persistent and kept moving through the room.

“Incredible,” he thought. His friends still acted the same as they were kids. Kyle the teaser, Michael grumpy and edgy and he himself always got stuck in between as some sort of peacekeeper. Just like now.

Eventually he found Michael on the other side of the room.

“Hey, Michael, come on. Why do you let Kyle under your skin like that? He didn’t mean what he was saying. You know that. You know Kyle better than that.”

Between his teeth Michael mumbled. “But he was right.”

The loud music had drowned Michael’s response. “What‘d you say?” Max yelled.

“Nothing.” He didn’t convince either of them though.

But Max also knew it was no use pressing the matter. It wouldn’t get him an inch further. There was even a chance the whole thing would turn on him. So he let Michael off but not without persuading him to rejoin the others.

“Come on; let’s go back to the others. And for God’s sake, change the look on your face. You look like you’re at a funeral instead of a New Year’s party enjoying yourself with your best friends. If not for you, do it for Maria.” Max looked at him to see if his remark penetrated his headstrong friend’s thick head.

As a response Max got a completely fake grin from Michael. As if he was saying “I’m laughing. Happy now?”

Grinning Max patted Michael’s shoulder. “Come on, happy boy, let’s fetch ourselves some drinks.”

Max made his way back to the group’s spot. He refused to watch if Michael would follow but from the reaction of the people round him, he knew Michael did. To his surprise he heard some very blunt remarks from people he passed who didn’t seem to care if Michael could hear them or not.

“Watch out! Let the poor thing through!”

“Make some space for the cripple!”

“What a pity, such a young guy!”

Max clenched his fists against his body, forcing himself not to hit anybody out of anger. He was beginning to understand what had gotten in to Michael. If he constantly had to listen to those kind of remarks, he would freak over an innocent joke too. Even if it came from a friend.

When they returned to their spot next to the dance floor, the girls were still dancing. Luckily they hadn’t noticed a thing.

Kyle on the other hand looked nervously towards Michael. Though Michael was still bad tempered, he wanted to reassure his friend and he simply nodded.

Kyle heaved a sigh out of relief. And because he wanted to make up for his remark, he started taking orders to get everybody a drink.

Ultimately he ended up with Michael of all people at the bar to order their drinks. Michael was supposed to carry the tray back while Kyle would push the wheel chair. Needless to say it was an arrangement sort out by Maria DeLuca.

Kyle had tried to persuade Maria that he was completely capable of getting the drinks on his own. But Michael had shaken his head, saying “Don’t think you’re going to win this from Maria, Valenti. Come on, let’s do this together and get it over with.”

Unfortunately Michael and Kyle heard some people talk, while they waited at the bar. Two girls they both knew from West Roswell High were gossiping together. Not carrying who could hear them talk.

“Did you see Maria DeLuca? She really can do better than that Michael Guerin guy.”

“Indeed, how can you love a social case in a wheel chair? He’ll always be dependant on her.”

“Not only that. What kind of future are they going to have? What can he possibly offer her?”

“A trailer at the trailer park?”

Kyle looked at the face of his friend, paling more by the minute. Michael had heard everything those stupid women had said. Luckily the two girls walked away before they could pound on Michael’s heart any further.

“They’re just cruel because they are lonely and jealous of anyone who’s got a relation, you know.” Kyle said, trying to cheer Michael up.

“They’re not cruel, just honest.” Michael grumbled in defeat.

“No way!”

“Valenti, thanks for defending me but they are. Believe me. They just said out loud what’s going through mine and everybody else’s mind.” He barked. “And now give me that freaking tray and start moving.”

After delivering the drinks to the others, Michael sat suspiciously quiet, staring at the floor. His face looked grumpy, his lips pressed against each other.

“Are you alright?” Maria asked, worried.

“Don’t baby me!” he yelled at her.

“Hey! Who bit you?”

“Sorry, I’m just tired, I think. It’s been a long day.” He apologized. He tried smiling to her in an effort to soothe her. But his smile didn’t reach his eyes.

Maria didn’t believe for a second what he was saying. Michael had always had an endless amount of energy. He couldn’t be that tired at this hour of the day. Besides she could see something else shimmer in his eyes. But she didn’t want to bother about it. Not that night. It was New Years’ Eve for crying out loud. This was supposed to be a moment of fun and laughter.

Michael bluntly interfered her thoughts. “Can we just go home?”

She looked at her watch and stated “Michael, it’s almost New Year. In twenty minutes they will start the countdown. You can forget going home before that, pally. I’ll drive you to whatever you want to go afterwards. But for now, let’s party!” And with that she left him alone.

Until the DJ started to play a slow dance. At that moment everybody hurried to the dance floor, grabbing their loved ones as they went.

Maria looked at Michael and offered him a hand to lead him to the dance floor. One way or the other she would find a way to slow dance with him. And to relax him in the same time.

But he shook his head and pulled his hand free, and backed away. Disappointment appeared on Maria’s face but Michael refused to give in. And when another guy eventually came to ask her to dance, she agreed. Just to annoy Michael.

And it worked. From his spot, he jealously glared at Maria and her dance partner. Although he had refused to dance with her, Michael hated seeing her in the arms of somebody else.

After a couple of minutes he couldn’t watch it anymore and he left. Without saying good-bye.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Part 9, 5/22/09, pg. 4

Post by Eva » Fri May 22, 2009 1:20 am

To chanks_girl: Your remark was very accurate. The way to deal with his situation will be long and hard. Wouldn’t be true to life if it went complete smoothly.

To xmag: Exactly! I couldn’t describe it better than you did.

To tequathisy: Unfortunately you find crappy people everywhere.

To DeDePR: Yeah, the baggage Hank left him doesn’t make it any easier to deal with everything that’s happening to him.



Chapter nine

But if you love me
with all of your heart
There’s no need to worry
why do you have to make it so hard?

Arid – Silent reproach


Breathless and worried Maria made her way outside. Her eyes quickly scanned the dark and lonely streets around. But she didn’t find what she was looking for. There wasn’t a glimpse of Michael.

He was really gone.

“Damn!” She cursed inarticulately. “Stupid jack-ass! Where did you go?”

Maria knew it would be insane to pursue him on foot. First of all, she didn’t know which direction he was heading. “Hell, would he know it himself?” she wondered. Secondly he had become really skilled at using his wheel chair. The thing went faster then a man could walk..

So Maria didn’t waste time, she hurried to her car and jumped in.

With grim determination she drove through town, street by street.

At last she noticed the lonely figure of the man and his wheel chair fleeing through the streets of Roswell, like the devil himself was chasing him.

Michael.

She clenched her teeth together, trying to keep herself in control. After she drove passed him she pressed on her brakes and skidded to a halt right in front of him, stopping him right in his tracks. The headlights of her car blinded him. Within the second he turned around but before he could make another move, her loud voice startled him through her open window.

“Michael Guerin! Don’t you dare walk away from me!”

He flinched.

Maria jumped out of her car and approached him.

“Michael Guerin,” she stated, emphasizing every syllable of his name, “There’s something wrong. Big time! So don’t even try to deny it.” Her voice sounded sinister.

He took a deep breath. “Maria…” Michael knew he couldn’t escape her anymore. Not this time.

“Maria,” he said again, assertively. “ I think we have to talk.”

Maria narrowed her eyes. “You do, do you?” Her sarcasm was tangible. She crossed her arms and tapped her foot impatiently, making it very clear to him that he couldn’t mess around.

She tried to look him right in the eyes but he avoided her, staring at the sidewalk instead. His hands fidgeted nervously in his lap. The seconds ticked away. Time seemed endless.

Eventually his strained voice broke the silence. “I lied, Maria.”

Of all the things he could have said, Maria hadn’t expected this. Not grasping the meaning of his words, she scowled.

Michael turned his head and looked her in the eyes. His gaze showed his vulnerability, the hurt within. She knew at that moment it wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation.

“I told you I had turned a switch in my head. I told you I gave my accident a place in my mind. Well, I lied. I lied to you, to myself, to everybody.”

He swallowed deeply and suddenly, like a river bursting its banks, the words tumbled from his mouth.

“This,” he said, gesturing angrily to the chair he was sitting in, “is hell for me! I absolutely can’t put up with the fact that I’m stuck in the freakin’ thing! And I can’t put up with the fact that I can’t do anything alone anymore. That these stupid legs of mine won’t cooperate. That I can’t do the most simple things in my fucked up life! I can’t do it! I really can’t, Maria!”

Maria could clearly hear the frustration in his voice.

“Do you know how I feel?” he asked her.

He didn’t wait for her answer though. He just ranted on. “I feel like half a man. An incomplete man who’s chained to a rolling prison. An incomplete man who isn’t worthy of having a girlfriend. What do I say? Who can’t even have a girlfriend!”

The words crushed Maria’s heart. They were completely and totally out of the blue.

Stunned she stared at him, as if she could not believe what he had just yelled at her. She opened her mouth to reply but no sound came from her lips. Her mouth couldn’t find the words she was looking for.

The sudden silence calmed Michael a little. He closed his eyes and spoke in a softer voice. “We can’t do this, Maria… I can’t do it.”

“Then you can tell me why not.” Maria spoke in a calm voice but it radiated pure rage and fury. “Because I love you, Michael Guerin. I love you with all of my heart! And I’m one hundred per cent sure that the feeling is mutual.”

She looked at him questioningly, awaiting his response.

“That doesn’t matter!” he barked out. In frustration he banged his hands on to the supports of his chair.

But Maria didn’t flinch.

Her calmness forgotten, she yelled at him. “Goddamned, Michael! It does matter! It’s all that matters!”

Tormented, he gazed at her. “Maria, look, we can’t start something right now.”

“In case you didn’t notice, we’ve already started,” Maria pointed out, her voice still sounding loud in the lonely and dark street.

Softly he mumbled. “Fuck, Maria, I’m sitting in a freaking wheel chair! I can’t offer you a thing. I’m a nothing, a miserable loser, a worthless piece of shit. I can’t even dance with you at a party-”

“Is that what’s bothering you? ‘Cause you can stop it right there, mister. I know you’re in that wheel chair. From the start, we fuckin’ both knew it.”

Maria hunkered down to be on the same level as Michael. She deliberately made eye contact, trying to show every shred of emotion she had to him. To convince him he was wrong. That in her opinion, he was everything.

“Let me tell you something, Michael. I don’t give a fuck if you’re in or out that stupid thing. I wouldn’t care even if you were blind, deaf or completely wrapped in cloth like a mummy. It really doesn’t matter to me. I love you, Michael, not your chair. And all the other bullshit can vanish in thin air for all I care.”

Maria could see he didn’t like her answer. That he didn’t agree with what she was saying.

His forehead wrinkled, frowning he shook his head. “You say that now, Maria. You’re young and full of energy. But as long as I can’t build my own life properly, I’m worthless. Incomplete. And I can’t and won’t do that to you. You deserve somebody better than me.”

Sadness sounded in his last words. It made her even more stubborn.

“What I deserve or don’t deserve, is not for you to choose. It’s my decision, and my decision only, Michael.”

He looked at her bitterly. “Not if I have anything to do with it!”

He lifted his right hand to scratch his eyebrow with his thumb. Maria could see he was trying to search the words to express his feelings.

“Look, call me old fashioned if you want to, but in my eyes a relationship contains two equal partners. And at this moment, I’m definitely not one of them. I’m only worthy of you, if I feel like I’m an equal, complete man. A man with a stable future. A man who can give you whatever you deserve. A man who can take care of you and not the other way around. A man who can fuckin’ sleep with you and make love to you until you only see the stars. Don’t look at me like that! This is the fuckin’ reality, Ria! I love you and I can’t even make love to you. Isn’t that fantastic!”

His sarcasm bit.

Different kind of emotions pushed each other away in Maria’s mind. She boiled with rage. But at the same time an incredible powerlessness boxed her ears. Every single word he said had hit her with an unknown force. She had to clench her teeth together to prevent screaming. Or to knock some sense in his stubborn head.

At last she turned her head in the opposite direction. One tear slipped away from the corner of her eye. Swiftly she swept it away with the palm of her hand.

“Oh, Maria, please understand.” Michael was begging now. “Let me just be your friend. Nothing more. Not right now, anyway. I’m really sorry.”

“One month.” She whispered the words. “One fucking month. Twelve year olds have longer romances!”

“But we are still friends. Aren’t we?” he tried.

Maria maintained a stony silence. Tears sprung out of her eyes. She felt she couldn’t stop them anymore. Shameless she let them run over her face.

“Maria?” She could hear the despair in his words.

“Maria?” Michael tried again.

“I – I don’t know if I can do that.” Her voice broke.

“But you promised!” Disappointment echoed in his words.

Pissed off she replied. “And who promised to give us a chance, Michael? Who did that? Tell me! One stupid party, one lousy evening where things don’t go smoothly and what do you do? You run. Well, thank you very much!” she spit out.

“So, that’s it? Is this the end?” He provoked her.

Helplessly she kept her mouth shut. His emotionless voice had broken her completely.

Michael nodded to himself. As if her silence confirmed his thoughts. And without saying another word, he turned and started wheeling his chair to disappear into the dark streets of Roswell.

Maria kept staring at him. The pain in her heart shown on her face.

“Happy New Year to you too, Michael.” She mumbled while she watched him disappear from view.
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Re: Incomplete (AU, CC, M/M, Teen/Mature) Ch. 10, 5/28/09, pg. 5

Post by Eva » Fri May 29, 2009 10:19 am

To chanks_girl: Is it really over? The 5000 dollar question! I think you’ll have to wait and see.

To nibbles2: Yeah, things like that never go easy with Michael. It’s true, he has a lot to deal with and he always thinks he has to do everything on his own.

To mary mary: Well, Michael isn’t the easiest person on earth to let somebody else help him. But I think time and friends will be the only companions he’ll have.

To xmag: I hope he will hear your advice. He’ll need it if you ask me.

To DeDePR: It really was bad. You see that the both of them have completely opposite ideas about the same situation.

To tequathisy: Indeed, it wasn’t unexpected. The situation was like a volcano waiting to explode.


Chapter ten

Don’t need to scream
Don't need to cry out
Don't need to tell you why
Don't like good byes

Tom Helsen - Night and day


What do you do if you, metaphorically, just got slapped in the face by the man you love? If the love of your life kicked you out the door because he felt inferior? Difficult questions - Certainly if there’s still love in the game, on both sides.

After the disaster on New Year, Maria kept herself in the background. Out of self preservation she created a distance between Michael and herself. She found it better not to see him for a while instead of being constantly reminded to the feeling of powerlessness that surrounded her every time she saw him.

In her vision there were two people needed to start a relationship. And if one of them didn’t want to cooperate, the other one just stood with her back to the wall. Even if that person didn’t want to. And that’s how she felt. Completely stuck. Jammed.

Unfortunately Maria's avoidance provoked a reaction in Michael. In his eyes he had scarified their love to do the right thing. To protect her, to set her free so she could live happily ever after. Something he thought she could never be if she stayed with him. ‘Cause he wasn’t happy either.

In his naïve thinking he had thought he had done them both a favor. Not caring how hard the decision had been for him. And how awful and lonely he felt afterwards.

Therefore Maria’s silence was a punch in his face. A punch he could hardly take. First it made him disappointed, then angry and finally furious. In the end he projected every bad thought and frustration on Maria. It was his way of dealing with it. Of getting his feelings back in control. And it was also the easiest way to ignore Maria with an unseen stubbornness.

In the past Michael had always been very pig-headed. If something got stuck in his head, it wasn’t easy to persuade him differently. And in this case he became the height of stubbornness.

The next two months became a string of icy silences and awkward moments. And in the small group of friends it affected everyone. Every meeting leaded to problems and discomfort.

Michael ignored Maria completely, he was blunt and rude. He didn’t care. Or he didn’t seem to care. Even weeks later, when she greeted in a friendly manner, he didn’t react. He just acted as if she wasn’t there.

She tried to phone him, talk to him but whatever she did, it got her nowhere near him.

All their friends stayed on the sideline, watching, teeth clenched and helpless. Nobody volunteered to interfere. Nobody dared to risk themselves in the cross fire.

Michael’s face spoke for itself and frightened everybody. “Mind your own fucking business” was written in big letters all over his grumpy face.

Eventually it was Isabel who took the first step. She just couldn’t watch it anymore.

“Guys, we have to do something.”

Max, Kyle, Alex and Isabel were sitting in a booth in the Crashdown when Isabel spoke the words out loud. One look on her face and they could all see she was very serious.

Max chuckled inside although his heart tightened at the same time. He loved his sister but when something got stuck in her head, she could pull off a ‘Michael’ anytime. A pit-bull couldn’t beat her.

Because he knew he couldn’t flee her, he responded lazily. “And what do we have to do something about?”

Isabel could have shaken her calm brother in frustration. Luckily she could keep it in.

So patiently she explained. “Well, about the situation between Michael and Maria.”

Kyle raised his eyebrow. “And what does her highness wants us to do?”

Isabel didn’t pay attention to Kyle’s teasing. “Well, I was thinking; if Liz or I could talk to Maria, then you three can chat with Michael. While watching a hockey game or whatever.”

“How, how… could you repeat that again?” Alex’s voice revealed that they had understood her properly but that they didn’t like what they were being told to do.

Isabel repeated “Well see, if I go to Maria -”

“No, no, the other part. The thing about Michael.”

“Well, invite him. Go out. And when you’re drinking a beer, start talking about Maria and his attitude towards her.”

“No way,” came the answer simultaneously from the three guys.

Isabel could see she would end up nowhere if she didn’t change her approach. So she tried to convince them one by one.

First she turned to Alex. She put on a loving face and kept looking at him. Forcing him to give in.

“Isabel, no way! You know I love you and I would do everything to please you but you can forget this one. Talking to Michael about his love life is like a suicide-thing. And if it’s ok with you, I’d like to live a couple years more.”

Next she tried Max. She knew too well her puppy-dog face look was irresistible to him. In the past he had never been able to refuse her anything when she looked at him like that.

“No, no, don’t look at me for this one. I can tell you right now what’s going to happen. Michael will notice it the minute I say the word ‘feelings’ or ‘Maria’. I’ll just end up giving him a lecture and he will storm off, smashing the doors in the process. And he will shut himself off, even more than he is right now.”

“Besides, Isabel, guys don’t talk about their feelings.” Kyle added.

He then scratched his head and corrected himself. “Well, maybe Bill and Ted over here,” he jerked his thumb at Max and Alex. “No offence, guys, but you’re both wusses.”

He continued on before the guys could protest. “Guys aren’t like chicks. Do you know what real guys talk about?” He didn’t give her a chance to answer. “Well, I’ll tell you: sports, booze and women. That cliché, that plain and simple.”

Max took pity when he noticed Isabel’s disappointed and stunned face. “Come on, Izzy, you know what? We’ll take care of Michael. We’ll see he has a good time and that he hasn’t got time to pity himself. We’ll take him out, keep him busy. We’ll take him to the party that’s on next Saturday. Things like that.”

Kyle nodded. “In mean time you can do your chit-chat with Maria and everything will turn out just fine.”

And for once, Isabel couldn’t do more than nod, completely staggered by the male logic of the three friends.


****


“I tried everything, Liz, he’s just so stubborn he doesn’t react to anything. I’m pretty sure if I walked by naked, he wouldn’t even notice.” Maria changed her cellphone from one ear to the other and tucked a stray curl back behind her left ear.

“And by the way, this time it’s his –” She jumped, startled by an unexpected sound at the front door.

“Hey, Lizzie, hold on a sec. There’s somebody ringing at my door.”

With her phone clutched between her shoulder and head, she opened the front door. On her porch she found Isabel Evans.

“Isabel? Is there something wrong with Michael?” Maria asked frightened, looking at the girl’s severe face.

“Something wrong with Michael? Well, you could say so. And with you too if you ask me. Can we talk?”

Perplexed Maria gestured for her to come in. At the same time she ended her conversation with Liz.

“Hey chica, can I call you back? Ok. See you later. Bye, Liz.”

Isabel got directly to the point, the minute she walked in the DeLuca’s living room. “Maria, I don’t have to know what went wrong between Michael and you. And honestly, I don’t want to know. But the question is: what you gonna do about it?”

“Do about it?” Maria’s voice sounded frustrated while she automatically repeated Isabel’s last words. “What am I gonna do about it?”

“Tell me, Isabel, how would you plan something like that? I know Michael is like a brother to you, but Michael can be a real…”

Carefully Maria searched for the right words. She didn’t want to offend Isabel, but she wanted to say what troubled her.

“Pain in the ass. I know.”

Maria giggled at Isabel spontaneous answer. “It’s not exactly the word I was looking for but you got it close.”

She turned serious again and continued. “Look, Isabel, I’ll tell you what went wrong. It’s no secret. I’m surprised Michael didn’t tell you. But then again, it’s Michael we’re talking about.”

Thinking back on Kyle’s words Isabel leaned her head a bit on the right and tried to lighten up the moment with a sarcastic comment. “Boys, huh? They always suck in expressing what they feel unless it’s about sex, beer and basketball. I’ve been told by an expert.”

A smile appeared on Maria’s face, but just for a second. “That’s even an understatement. But at any rate, Michael made an exception on New Years. He was obviously well aware about what was going on in his fucked up mind and for once he hadn’t any trouble expressing it out loud. And it wasn’t about the subjects you named either. It was about himself. About us.”

Maria exhaled deeply before she carried on. “Isabel, Michael has it stuck in his head that he isn’t worthy of having me, of loving me. All because of that stupid chair. So, we can’t date. The fact we love each other, is totally beside the point and doesn’t matter at all.”

Maria noticed Isabel’s astonished look on her face. “You don’t have to look at me that strange. It’s not my opinion. These are Michael’s words. And then you come waltzing in and ask me what I’m going to do about it…”

“Sorry…” Embarrassed, Isabel closed her eyes for a second.

But Maria went on, like she hadn’t heard Isabel. “I really don’t know what to do anymore. In the beginning I was too fucked up and pissed off to see him. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but I’m only human, you know. I was so angry with him. I felt so hopeless. Literally with my back against the wall. I knew I had to back off, just for a little while. And when everything calmed down, I tried talking to him. But it was too late. For him anyway. He ignores me like the plague since then.”

Isabel nodded to confirm what she heard. “I noticed that. And I’m not the only one.”

“Well, yeah, you know Michael. He only thinks in black and white. He doesn’t know the color grey. Or, rather, he doesn’t want to know it. You’re either with him or against him. And I know what I’m talking about. When he was seventeen, back in school, I refused to congratulate him when he asked me to. He never forgave me and didn’t speak to me for several months.

“If I recollect it right, wasn’t it a love thing?”

Maria nodded in affirmative.

“But how did you get blown away?”

“Michael had a lot of problems at that time with Hank. He got beaten up a few times and each time he ended up at my place. It really wasn’t easy. Not to say very rough. At the same moment rich, spoiled Angela got it in that stupid head of hers, that she needed a boyfriend. One from the wrong side of the track. She picked Michael. I knew she was just using him. She didn’t want Michael for who he was. She just wanted him as a trophy, an object. Something you can parade with. Of course, Michael didn’t believe me. Said I was just jealous. Which I actually was, but that was beside the point. And ‘cause I didn’t want to give in, he said I was against him. That I didn’t want him to be happy. And he just cut me out of his life.”

“Can I ask how you fixed it?”

Despite everything Maria’s mouth flickered in a ghost of a smile. “Yeah, sure, you can ask. But I have to disappoint you. I don’t know the answer. You could say that the fact that Michael eventually realized I had been right all along, did it. But it still took me a lot of time, energy and effort to get things back to normal. And what did eventually turn the scale? With the best will in the world I can’t answer that. You’d have to ask Michael that one. If he knows it himself, that is.”

Maria rubbed her face. “But now it’s even more complicated. In those days we were just friends, now we are lovers. Well, were.”

“Maybe it can make it easier too.” Isabel suggested.

“Who knows, who knows…”

Emotional and touched she covered her eyes with her hands.

“But this time he can make the first move. I can tell you that, Isabel. I can’t keep talking to a stone wall. I always say I’m Teflon but it actually hurts like hell to see him ignoring me. I wish I could smack his big, stupid, -

“You still love him a lot, don’t you?” Isabel asked quietly.

Maria nodded, unable to say a thing. A couple of tears started rolling over her cheeks. And although Isabel wasn’t her closest friend, she pulled Maria close.
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