The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M,Mature)Ch 98 1/27/15 Complete

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 30 - 9/7

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:24 am

Spacegirl23 – Marcos is a cool boss and a kind of a friend for Michael. Not the kind to talk to about private stuff and to drink with, but a cool guy who’ll put up with Michael and his special personality.

Eva – He is going to come back. And it’s going to trigger some very important moments.

Nibbles2 – Michael is going after a known terrorist. Someone who knows how to fight and he is on his turf. It’s not going to be easy.

Mary mary – And men accuse women of gossiping and obsessing over clothes and here they prove that they can be the same!

DeDe PR – Gabriel likes to keep an eye on people he sees as civilian and innocent.


Part 30

Father Augustine was an older man with a partial ring of white hair on his head and blue eyes that had seen unspeakable things yet still retained an inherent kindness. The dark brown robes he wore reminded Maria of the clothing worn by monks in monasteries in movies that she had seen.

He walked with a slow, unhurried gait, pausing here and there to speak with the few people scattered in the cathedral. It was old, but well-cared for and there was a feeling of acceptance and welcome that had enveloped her the moment she had stepped through the doors.

"Gabriel, how good to see you again," he greeted, his voice as soft and kind as his eyes.

"How's it goin', Padre?"

"Good, very good. I had hoped for more volunteers to help out with Christmas dinner, but unfortunately, we seem to be a bit thin in that area this year."

Maria watched them, in awe of Gabriel's gentle manner with the priest, and by the sheer contrast they presented. Differences in height, stature, and aura… the two men were complete opposites, but here, in this place, they were almost equal.

"Well, maybe I can help you out, Padre. I'd like you to meet Maria; she's a friend of a friend and she's lookin' for a place where she can do some good."

Father Augustine reached out to shake Maria's hand, his grip firm despite his frail appearance. "Welcome to St. Vincent's," he said with a gentle smile.

"Thank you." Maria smiled as she looked around. "Your cathedral is beautiful."

"Thank you." Amazing. The old man was sending soothing vibes; it was so comforting.

"Hey, Padre, I can send most of my girls down to help with Christmas dinner if you need the extra hands," Gabriel offered.

Father Augustine chuckled as he ushered them further into the building. "No, no, Gabriel, you do more than enough, Son, and it's not really volunteering if you send them down here, is it?"

"No, I suppose not, but if you need the help…"

"I'll help," Maria offered, eager for the opportunity to help out.

"Well, I'll leave you two to talk," Gabriel said as he shook the Father's hand again. "I'll see you at work tomorrow night, Maria."

"Let me show you around." Afterwards Father Augustine led her through to the small office he kept and they spent the next couple of hours talking at great length. When Maria left she felt better than she had in days and as she drove home she had a genuine smile on her face.

*****

Indigo Jeffries hated Los Angeles with a passion, but on the rare occasions when he had a charter that took him through the overcrowded metropolis he always made sure to stop in at Azrael's Sanctuary. He pulled the door open and stepped inside, grinning at the big man who moved forward with the intent of confiscating any weapons that he might be carrying.

"You really gonna pat down a one-armed man?" he asked, grinning from ear to ear.

"Indigo, you old bastard," Raphael greeted him. "What're you doin' in town?"

"Lookin' for a cold beer."

"Well, you came to the right place." He slid the bin containing Indigo's weapons into a locker and slammed it shut before locking it. "You've got locker number twenty-three."

"I owe you a beer later," Indigo said as he entered the dimly lit interior of the bar, his eyes scanning over the crowd to see if anyone he knew was hanging around. He was making his way to the bar when his gaze landed on the small blond standing at the end of the counter, talking to a customer who was paying his bill.

"Y'know, I had a feelin' you'd still be around," he said as he leaned against the bar.

"Indigo!" Maria quickly handed the credit card back to the customer and wished him a good evening before running around the counter to give the big man a hug. "What're you doing here? Michael said you hated L.A."

He returned the hug, laughing. "I do hate L.A." He snorted. "City of angels, my ass. But, charters are slim this time of year and rich people pay very well, so, here I am." He settled on one of the stools when she asked him what he wanted to drink, watching her as she moved back behind the counter to get it for him. "So, Guerin hasn't said anything about you still bein' around… what's up with that?"

"Michael can be surprisingly silent when he chooses to be." She unintentionally placed his whiskey on the counter hard enough to make it spill over. "He can also be the biggest asshole I've ever known."

"What's - "

"Just a minute, Indy; I've got a couple guys who are in need of another round." Maria turned around, rushing off to take care of her customers, and leaving Indigo to watch her pensively. A voice interrupted his thoughts, drawing his attention away from her.

"What could've possibly blown you through my part of the world?"

Indigo chuckled when he heard Gabriel's raspy voice and he turned to look at the other man. "Money, what else?" He stood and gave the man a one-armed hug. "What've you been up to?"

"Whatever I can get away with. How's the charter business?"

"Slow this time of year as usual, but as long as there are rich people willin' to part with their money, the charter business will continue to be a cash cow." He motioned at the activity around them with the claw as he reached for his drink with his right hand. "Looks like things here are goin' well."

"It pays the bills, y'know?"

"Right." He nodded at Maria. "So, how long's Maria been workin' for you?"

Gabriel's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "You know her?"

"Guerin brought her around several months back, but he was pretty evasive when I asked him what he was doin' with her." He chuckled. "I had a feelin' she'd still be around."

"She's been workin' at the bar for… well, it'll be three months here pretty soon."

"He brought her to you?"

Gabriel snorted. "No, no, no, he brought her to me for a job; she's livin' out at his place."

Indigo's gaze swung from the bar owner to the waitress and back again. "You're kiddin'! She's livin' with him?"

"Weren't expectin' that, huh?"

"Fuck, no." He chuckled. "As much as that girl talks I'm surprised he didn't pawn her off on you. When I saw she was workin' here I just figured she was livin' with the rest of your girls."

"Oh, no." Gabriel grinned. "Guerin was adamant that she didn't need a place to stay."

An interested smile spread across Indigo's face. This was good, really good… teasing material good! Oh, Guerin wouldn't escape him the next time he saw him! "Really? She hasn't managed to drive him insane yet with her incessant chatter?"

Gabriel laughed at Indigo's question. He obviously knew the girl! "Apparently not. Although it probably helps that he's been outta town for the past couple of weeks."

"Where's he at?" he asked negligently while eating a handful of nuts from the bowl on the counter.

Gabriel's expression turned serious.

He seemed worried about Michael's new mission, Indigo realized. He wondered why. Michael was a pro among pros; the man had nine lives and he had beaten the odds at every turn.

"Rumor has it he's in Cairo with Marcos… Basara's been spotted and Xavier sanctioned a hit."

Indigo swore. Motherfucker! Basara?! This wasn't good. The guy was a dangerous terrorist and one hell of an adversary. "Two weeks and no one's heard from 'em?"

Gabriel shook his head. "Nothin' on my end, but if anything had happened, Cailyn would've said somethin'; you know Marcos is keepin' in contact with her."

"Good point." Yeah, if something bad had happened, Marcos would've told Cailyn, and she would've contacted Gabriel. So far, they hadn't heard anything from her, and that could only be a good thing. He turned his head to have a look at Maria, still busy talking with the customers.

Gabriel couldn't help but smile when Indigo's attention moved back to the waitress. The Michael and Maria saga was turning into the gossip of the year at the bar. Some were even taking bets as to how they had known each other and how it was going to end up between them. He wondered if the retired agent had any information that would give him an edge in the betting pool. "So, no idea what the story is with Guerin and Maria?"

Indigo watched the man. The big guy seemed amused by Guerin and his mystery girl. Since when was he interested in the guys' personal lives? "Not a clue. She talks a lot, but she didn't really give anything away; I'm thinkin' they knew each other before he signed on with the Company."

So, Indigo had deduced the same thing that he had. Hmm… interesting. "Why?"

Indigo carefully scratched his ear with the claw while nibbling on a handful of chips. He answered with his mouth full, unconcerned with his lack of etiquette. "He threw a fit when he thought we were talkin' about him."

"Yeah, he's been hangin' around here a lot here lately. Gave me some bullshit excuse when I asked what was up with that." He shrugged. "Contrary to what he said, I got the feelin' he was hangin' around to make sure no one was messin' with her."

Indigo laughed and tossed back the last of the whiskey in his glass. "I can just imagine what's been goin' on out at his place; I don't think I've ever met two people more stubborn than those two."

"You want somethin' to eat?"

"Nah, I think I'll see if she wants to go get a bite to eat after her shift."

Did Indigo have a death wish? Friend or not, Maria was Guerin's girl. Taking the girl out was entering the danger zone. "Guerin's liable to take your head off if he finds out you took her out."

A loud voice interrupted their discussion. "If he gets back."

Both men turned to look at the owner of the new voice, frowning at Hawkins when he sat on a stool further down the counter.

"What the fuck are you goin' on about?" Gabriel growled.

"Please," Hawkins scoffed as he took a drink from the bottle in his hand. "I think it's safe to say from the rumors goin' around that there's a very good chance Guerin's gonna come back in a body bag. I've heard about Basara, and his list of kills is - "

"Any chance you're ready to take her out for dinner now, Indigo?" Gabriel asked, interrupting the man speaking.

Indigo followed Gabriel's pointed glance, barely catching a glimpse of Maria when she hurried through the swinging doors that led into the kitchen area. It was obvious that she had overheard Hawkins running off at the mouth and it had upset her. He nodded in response to the bar owner's question and he waited until Gabriel had disappeared into the back before he looked at Hawkins.

He shook his head, disgusted with Hawkins for opening his mouth with Maria around. "You still ain't learned when to open your mouth and when to keep it closed."

"At least I've still got both hands," Hawkins sneered.

Indigo stood up when Maria walked out from the back, pausing at the end of the counter as Gabriel held her jacket up so she could slip her arms into it. He stood and walked over to them, pausing to kick the stool out from under Hawkins and stepping out of the way when the man was thrown to the floor. "Better start watchin' your mouth and your back, smartass."

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 31 - 9/14

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:19 pm

Eva – Indigo and Gabriel are what Michael considers as friends. Notice that they aren’t in the field anymore.

Spacegirl23 – Gabriel is an interesting character. Broken by his job and trying to help people in his own way, because of what he has done in the past.

Mary mary – We like to update regularly. We try to keep that schedule, even if it’s hard.

DeDe PR – Hawkins isn’t a fan of Michael and a real bastard.


Part 31

Maria would've laughed at the stunned expression on Hawkins' face as he scrambled to his feet, but the fear that she had been keeping leashed since Michael had taken off kept her amusement in check. She was quiet as she walked outside with Indigo, only turning her attention to him when he reached out to touch her arm.

"What?" she asked, realizing that he had asked a question and she hadn't been listening the first time he had voiced it.

"I was just askin' if you had someplace specific in mind."

"Oh." Maria looked around the parking lot, her gaze pausing for a few moments on the Range Rover before she shook her head. "Would you mind walking for a bit?"

"Not at all."

They walked in silence for quite a while before Indigo spoke, his voice breaking into her thoughts. "You seem to have somethin' on your mind," he said, starting slowly to see if she wanted to talk.

"Do you know anything about the terrorist Michael went after?" she asked after several minutes.

Indigo sighed as he scanned the neighborhood around them, searching for any possible threats as he debated the best way to answer her. He could see the fear in her eyes as she looked to him for reassurance and he could feel the weight of her stare as she waited. This was the reason why the majority of people in dangerous professions like theirs avoided relationships that required emotional ties. Most of them only got involved on a physical level to avoid messy entanglements, explanations, and reassurances like the one she was asking him for.

"Michael's damn good at what he does, Maria," he said finally. "He's been doin' this kinda work - "

"Indigo, I have a pretty good picture of his capability in the field." She paused and stopped walking so she could turn to face him. "I want to know if this terrorist, Basara, is better than Michael. I've heard the talk going around at the bar and it seems like this guy's one of the most dangerous - "

"They're in the same class, professionally speaking."

"So, theoretically, he's good enough to - "

Indigo interrupted before she could finish that sentence. "Don't go there, Maria. Look, it doesn't matter how good you are; there's always gonna be someone out there who's better and faster than you. Just remember that Michael's at the top of the game and he's trained well enough to go up against Basara." He shook his head. "Xavier wouldn't have allowed him to accompany Marcos if he had any doubts that they could complete the mission with success."

They resumed walking in silence and Maria looked around when she realized that they were nearing St. Vincent's. She hadn't intended to take their walk in the cathedral's direction, but it seemed that her feet had led her there anyway. She motioned to the entrance as she looked up at her companion. "Do you mind?"

"No, not at all." He followed her inside, wondering how she knew about the church. "How do you know about St. Vincent's?" he asked curiously, his voice hushed as they were surrounded by the powerful silence within the building.

"Gabriel brought me here and introduced me to Father Augustine." She smiled as she took a seat and after a moment he sat down beside her. "I had asked about doing something at the bar for Christmas and I think he was afraid I was going to decorate it if he didn't redirect my attention."

Indigo smiled in understanding. He could just imagine the thoughts that had gone through Gabriel's head when she had mentioned decorating Azrael's Sanctuary; the guys never would've let him live that down. "And has he succeeded in redirecting your attention?"

"For now."

He shook his head and chuckled at the mischievous grin that accompanied her words. "I just knew Guerin was gonna have his hands full with you."

Maria's expression sobered. "Better me than some terrorist trying to kill him."

"Hey, you can't think of all the things that could go wrong; that'll just drive you insane. Michael was trained by the best and he's survived missions that in all reality shouldn't have come to an end with anything but a pile of dead bodies."

Was that supposed to be comforting? "Who would be notified if anything happened to him?" She sighed quietly and shook her head. "I know you're trying to be… positive so I don't worry, and I appreciate that, but just tell me the truth."

"Most of us don't have anyone to notify; the type of ops we work aren't generally handed out to agents with families waiting for them at home."

"Because it makes explanations easier for the Company when their agents come home in a body bag?" Her voice was low out of respect for the church, but it was filled with anger nonetheless. "How can you be part of an organization like that?"

"It's a job that has to be done, Maria; I could sit here and try like hell to explain it to you, but you're never gonna understand it." He rubbed his eyes and glanced to the side when a woman walked past them and made her way to the front of the church. "People walk around every single day, takin' freedom for granted, but it has a cost that they don't wanna know anything about. As long as their lives aren't interrupted by the uglier side of life they prefer to remain blissfully ignorant. If we were to release what we do to the public… if we were to make it known that we take an aggressive stance and remove threats usin' the methods that we use, the very people that we work to protect would turn on us."

"What?"

"I remember your reaction the day I told you that Michael was a sniper." He nodded when her gaze shot to him. "I didn't need verbal confirmation to know that you didn't approve of his occupation then and I don't need it now. If you break it down to its simplest form, he's paid to kill people… it's what the Company pays most of its agents to do. Not every assignment requires a kill shot, but there are enough of them that do… and you don't approve of that."

Maria sighed. Most of what Indigo was saying was true. It was easier to turn a blind eye to the sordid reality he was depicting, but now that Michael was involved in that picture she didn't know what to think; life wasn't black and white anymore. "I'm not so naïve that I think terrorists can be reasoned with, Indigo… I know that it's necessary for covert organizations like the Company to exist to protect freedom, but…"

"But, you'd be a lot more comfortable with the idea if you didn't know anyone involved in it, wouldn't you? Once you can put a name and a face to those who are charged with the safekeeping of liberty you can't pretend to not know the cost any longer."

"He's been gone for two weeks…" She sighed in frustration. "I guess I can see why so many agents remain unattached."

"Hell, most agents don't even screw the same person on a regular basis."

Maria instinctively denied what Indigo was implying. It was an easy, albeit mistaken, assumption to make considering Michael's way with women, but they were not sleeping together. Absolutely not. "Oh, no, Michael and I aren't…"

Indigo let that go but his thoughts were running rampant as he faced the front of the church. If Guerin wasn't fuckin' her, why was she still around? The man wasn't the type of person to form attachments that lasted more than a few hours… a night at the most… so what other reason was there for her to be livin' with the man?

Maria could read the thoughts written so clearly on his face. "You're wondering why I'm still around, aren't you?"

"The thought crossed my mind, but it's really none of my business." He grinned as he glanced at her. "Unless you wanna tell me."

She shook her head. "Nope."

"Didn't think so."

They started walking again, both lost in their own thoughts. Maria raised her head to look at the sky, wishing that Michael was with her. Which Michael? She shook her head, not wanting to think about the answer to that question. "So, are you gonna be around for Christmas?" she asked.

Indigo smiled like a little kid, happy to switch to a more pleasant subject. "Huh-uh, I'll be flyin' back home tomorrow mornin'. I've got three ladies at home that'll be waitin' to spoil me rotten over Christmas and since Christmas Eve is just a couple days away I can't risk not bein' there. What about you? Got any plans?"

Maria sighed. There was nothing much to do for her… no Michael, no Mom, no Liz, no friends… no one. "I'm gonna help Father Augustine with his Christmas dinner for the homeless. After that I don't really have any plans."

Reading the loneliness on her face, Indigo decided that the poor girl needed a friend. And some company. "Well, can I talk you into goin' to dinner with me tonight?"

Maria smiled at him. "I think you already have."

*****

Michael reclined back on the bed in his hotel room, the fingers of his right hand drumming against his chest as he tried to focus on anything but the boredom that was nearly driving him out of his mind. They were rapidly closing in on a month in Cairo and they still hadn't found Basara; there had been several times that they had come close, but the terrorist was just as good as his reputation claimed he was.

Without his permission his mind wandered to Maria and he wondered what she was doing. He felt the weirdest twisting, knotting sensation in his chest and he quickly sat up, swallowing hard as he shook his head and shoved himself to his feet. No. There was no way that he missed that mouth on legs… it was too absurd to be plausible. She talked all the damn time, she refused to have sex with him, and she was always comparing him to his counterpart and finding him lacking in some way or other. He nodded to himself, feeling better after listing some of her faults. Of course, on the other hand, she was an amazing cook, she was actually pretty good company at times, he had started to almost enjoy having her around the house… He frowned when his mind took off on its own journey and when he realized that the strange feeling in his chest was starting to feel constricted he stood and started to pace. He didn't miss her… he didn't!

He glanced at the bedside clock before grabbing his shoulder holster and sliding his arms into it. It was way too early to be dragging Marcos out, but he had to do something; he was going out to rattle some cages and see if he could get some Intel. He pulled a jacket on to cover the weapons, grabbed his key and shoved it in his pocket, as he reached for the door.

*****

Maria leaned against the counter and watched the people in the bar as they stayed within their own little groups; it was rare for any of them to step outside of their chosen groups or for the ones who preferred their own company to really associate with anyone else. That hadn't changed at any point during Christmas and now, even as the New Year was quickly approaching there was no festive atmosphere; it was business as usual and no one questioned it or seemed interested in changing it.

"No big plans for New Year's Eve?"

She straightened up and looked at the woman who had spoken, surprised to see Stone sitting on one of the bar stools. She hadn't seen the agent in a couple of weeks and she had assumed she was on an assignment. She wondered if Michael had been in contact with the woman sitting on the other side of the counter. "No, I told Gabriel I'd work since a couple of the other waitresses did have plans and I wasn't really doing anything anyway. What about you? I haven't seen you around in a while."

"How about a whiskey neat?"

Ooookay, so they weren't going to discuss that topic. Maria moved to get the drink, rolling her eyes at the woman's tone.

Stone chuckled quietly as she watched the waitress; she had been in a couple of nights before when the woman had been off so she had heard the rumors going around about Basara. "It's killin' you to not ask, isn't it?" She was certain she was right when Maria tensed up before forcing herself to relax. The glass of whiskey was carefully placed on the counter in front of her, but her sharp gaze detected the slight tremor in the woman's hand as she pulled it back. "Michael can handle himself," she said before taking a drink of the amber liquid.

"I didn't ask," Maria snapped.

"Uh-huh, and you don't go to St. Vincent's every night and light a candle for him either, do you? Prayer doesn't save anyone, kid."

Maria frowned at the agent's cynical tone. "You don't know that."

For just the briefest moment the expression in Stone's eyes shifted from anger to fear to anguish, but then they turned cold and hard once more. "Don't tell me what I know; you don't know me and we're not about to become friends and share our personal thoughts and feelings with each other."

Maria shook her head, annoyed by the woman's behavior. "Why are you even talking to me?"

"I have no idea." She turned her head to scan the bar once more, frowning when no one caught her attention. She finished the drink and motioned for another, forcing her mind to avoid moving into the past and treading on memories that were still too painful to disturb.

"Maybe I could help if you'd tell me who you're looking for," Maria offered when the woman's gaze swept over the patrons again.

"Someone to fuck." Her predatory gaze swung back to the waitress. "I doubt you'll be very helpful in that area."

"Hmmm, as tempting as the thought of pimping you out is, I think I'll pass." Maria ignored Stone and went back to her customers, doing her best to avoid the thoughts that kept wanting to surface. It had been more than a month without a word from Michael and the constant speculation surrounding the length of his mission and Basara wasn't helping her to sleep any better at night.

*****

Marcos stood over Basara's lifeless body, satisfied that the potential threat that the terrorist had represented in regards to his future had died with him. He had been looking into the man's eyes and he had seen the moment of fear when he had delivered the man's death sentence. True to his word, Michael hadn't taken the shot until Marcos had made his statement, and the terrorist hadn't been quick enough to avoid the sniper's bullet as it had hit him right between the eyes.

They had lured Basara out in broad daylight, risking retaliation by any of his associates so that Marcos could have his revenge. Five weeks of back alley meetings, information that had lead them in circles, and several traps set up by third parties had left them worn out and exhausted, and he knew he owed Michael big after this mission.

He waited with the body until Xavier's cleanup crew arrived to dispose of the body and settle any questions that the authorities had. Several hours later he was finally able to make his way back to the hotel and he knocked on the door to the other man's room. It was opened within seconds and he entered without an invitation.

"Everything go okay?" Michael asked, unconcerned. He had gone back to the hotel after taking Basara out, ready to get his things together so they could leave Cairo on the first available plane.

"Xavier covered all the bases as usual, so we're in the clear. I'm gonna pack and take a shower so we can go home; the plane'll be on the tarmac within the next hour."

"How long before you're ready?"

Marcos stared hard at the younger man, barely making his features out under the interior lighting of the hotel room. "Since when are you in a hurry to get home?"

"Since I've been in this shithole for five weeks," Michael snapped, unwilling to examine his reasons behind wanting to expedite their departure. "So, if we could hurry this along I'd appreciate it."

"All right," Marcos agreed, unwilling to start an argument that would put Michael in a bad mood for the entire trip home, "give me half an hour and I'll be ready."

They were crossing the tarmac to board the plane an hour later when all hell broke loose and bullets started ricocheting off of the ground around them as they ran for the steps that led up into the plane. Marcos misjudged the last step and tripped, dropping out of the gunman's sights momentarily. Michael turned to fire at their would-be assassin, keeping him occupied until Marcos could get inside.

He swore when a bullet hit one of the rails and ricocheted off, hitting him in the side and burning like hell as it embedded itself beneath his flesh. "Fuck!" He dropped down out of sight as he reloaded and before he could stand up again he heard a barrage of gunfire coming from the opposite side where the shooter had been firing from.

He looked behind him when Marcos' hand settled on his shoulder. "It's more of Xavier's guys; he said they'll take care of it and we're free to go."

"Who the fuck was shootin' at us?" Michael snarled as the co-pilot shut the door behind them, locking it into place before heading back to the cockpit.

"One of Basara's people." Marcos narrowed his eyes as he looked at Michael. "He didn't get you, did he?"

"Nah, man, I'm fine; a few scratches that I think I'll clean out once we take off, but other than that I'm good." He ignored the pain in his side as they settled into the plush seats on opposite sides of the plane, belting themselves in for takeoff. As soon as they were in the air Michael grabbed his bag and stood up. "I'm gonna hit the head to clean up…" He shook his head when he realized that Marcos was already on the phone with Cailyn.

With the way his luck had been going for the past few months he'd probably spend the entire flight listening to the man's conversations with his soon-to-be-fiancé. Since they had been spending so much time together he had come to the realization that Marcos was completely out of his mind. He shook his head as he entered the small lavatory and he pulled his shirt up to get a better look at the wound. Marcos had always seemed highly intelligent and job-oriented, but now he knew better, and the next eighteen hours were going to be excruciating, he could just feel it.

He had to twist from the waist up to see where the bullet had entered and he frowned at his reflection in the mirror. Damn it! His medical kit wasn't gonna help him one damn bit because he wasn't gonna be able to get the fucking bullet out. It had entered too far back and there was no way for him to physically remove it. He cleaned up as well as he could before packing gauze over the still bleeding wound and taping it heavily so he wouldn't bleed all over the place. He would deal with it when he got home, he thought as he pulled his dark shirt down to cover the gauze.

Michael walked back out to take his seat, reaching it just as a wave of dizziness swept over him. It had to be the altitude making him dizzy. It wasn't the bullet wound… he was just exhausted.

"Hey, you okay?" Marcos asked when Michael stumbled and practically fell into his seat. He shrugged when the other man mumbled something about taking a nap before he slid to one side.

Michael felt his grip on consciousness slipping away and he knew he was losing the fight with the darkness trying to pull him under. Fuck, he thought as the darkness swept over him, this wasn't supposed to happen; he didn't wanna leave that Maria girl alone… It was his last coherent thought for several hours.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 32 - 9/21

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:33 pm

Mary mary – It was bad to stop where we stopped, huh? Don’t worry, Michael will survive. We won’t kill him a second time.

Spacegirl23 – Why is everyone thinking that we are going to kill Michael? We did it once and it was agony, for us so nope, not going to kill him again.

Eva – Even if he knows that he is part human and not 100% alien, Michael isn’t ready to let anyone examine him or heal him.

Nibbles2 –
He was at the plane on the way home and now you decide to shoot him. No fair.
That was cruel, huh? But necessary for the story. And besides, with his work, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

DeDe PR – Don’t underestimate Maria, she has seen and lived lots of things, she won’t freak out. Well, she will but she’ll do anything to help Michael.


Part 32

Maria slept fitfully, waking throughout the night with the unshakable feeling that something had happened to Michael. It had started the day before and she had gone to Gabriel to ask if he had heard anything, but he hadn't had any information to share with her.

She had been distracted most of the evening during her shift and he had finally sent her home early, instructing her to get some rest and promising to call her if he heard anything. After wandering around the house for a while she had taken a bath hoping it would help her relax so she could sleep.

She was up and down most of the evening and well after midnight, unable to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. It was during one of the brief sleeping fits that she heard the garage door opening.

*****

Michael moved slowly as he stood and carefully swung his leg over the seat; he was doing his best to be as quiet as possible as he unlocked the door and walked inside. He knew Maria was asleep and he didn't want her to wake up and see him like this. He didn't examine his feelings on that subject any closer, ignoring them as he tried to avoid bumping into anything.

If he could make it past her bedroom and into his without waking her he'd be home free. His vision was graying out at the edges but he knew he had to patch himself up before he passed out again. He stumbled into his room and grabbed the edge of the dresser when he felt his knees begin to buckle.

"Michael?"

He winced when he heard her speak up behind him.

"What's… oh, my God, you're bleeding! What happened?" Maria tried to contain the panic that automatically rose to the surface at the sight of him bleeding, but it wasn't easy.

"What happened?" he snapped, pain making his temper flare. He wasn't going to be able to do this himself; the bullet was in his side and he couldn't reach it to remove it. "I took a fuckin' bullet and I haven't got it out yet." He drew several shallow breaths. "There's a surgical kit in the bathroom, in the cabinet behind the door… get it and get some towels."

Maria forced her mind to focus on the task at hand and she hurried to get what he needed. What on earth was he doing here? Didn't Marcos have doctors to help the agents who worked for him? Unless… she chewed on her lips as she cast about for an answer. Michael wouldn't want to risk going to a doctor, not even one mandated by Marcos, even though any physician could potentially be paid to keep quiet about mysterious blood abnormalities or other weird happenings.

"Put the towels on the bed," he panted. Sweat was breaking out all over his body and he was starting to shake. He reached up, trying his best to get his shirt off with one hand.

"Here, let me help you." Maria quickly stripped the shirt off of him and helped him over to the bed. He fell back against the mattress and she leaned over him, patting his cheeks insistently when his eyes slid closed. Fear seized her as her brain replayed images of Michael's last moments, paralyzing her. "Michael, I need you to stay with me… tell me what to do."

"Get the bullet out," he whispered harshly.

Maria's gaze slid to his side and she swallowed hard when she saw the blood-soaked gauze taped to his side. Oh God, he was serious! He wanted her to remove the bullet? Hysteria started to rise. She wouldn't be able to do it, she wouldn't! Oh, God, why did he have to ask her to do that? She raised her eyes to watch him and saw his face turn grey with pain. She took a deep breath. She had to do it. There was nobody else around and she wasn't going to lose him again. With trembling hands, she carefully removed the gauze, unable to look away from the blood seeping out from the open wound.

"Bullet's not in very deep," he slurred. "Just under the skin."

Her stomach rolled sickeningly and she just knew she was going to lose her dinner. She opened the kit and looked at the stainless steel instruments inside, horrified by what they represented, and wondering how many times he had used them on himself.

"Get the ones that look like a combination of scissors and tweezers." He nodded when she held them up. "Good. Take 'em in the bathroom and pour alcohol over them, but don't dry 'em off." He forced himself to focus on his breathing until she came back out.

Maria followed his instructions without questioning him; he obviously knew what needed to be done. "Now what?"

He shifted onto his left side and his right hand settled just behind the wound. "I'm gonna hold the bullet still, but I need you to go in and get it."

"How will I know - "

"You'll know when you've got the bullet, believe me. You just aim for the spot directly between my fingers and you'll find it." He reached up to still her trembling hand. "You can do this, Maria. If I pass out, just get that bullet out, clean the wound, pour alcohol over it, and bandage it. After that, just let me sleep, okay?" He stared directly into her eyes. "I'll be fine."

Maria swallowed hard and her free hand settled over the one he was using to keep the bullet steady. She felt nauseous as the steel instrument slid into the open wound and she froze when the pointed tip nudged something solid and she felt him groan. She forced herself to open the pincers and she felt them lock around the bullet.

Slowly, she pulled the bullet from his body and she felt his hand go lax beneath hers. She dropped the instrument on the towel beside him and leaned over him again, terrified that he wasn't breathing. Relief flooded her system when she realized that he was breathing and his pulse was steady and strong. She hurried to clean the wound out and coat it with an antiseptic before packing fresh gauze over it and taping it down.

Finished with that she cleaned everything up and sterilized the instrument she had used before putting it away, praying she never had to see it again. She pulled the towel out from under him and carried it to the laundry room, starting the washer and throwing it in. Going back to his room she stood over him, staring at him as he slept. She knelt down to unlace his boots and pull them off before maneuvering him fully onto the bed; she reached up to unbuckle his belt, unsnap and unzip his cargo pants, pulling them off and leaving him in just a pair of boxer shorts before covering him up.

On trembling legs, Maria walked back to her own bedroom and collapsed on her bed, anxious and exhausted. Tears rolled down her cheeks, the emotions too great to contain after seeing him like that. She could've lost him… again. The pain that seized her in that moment was so great that she didn't feel as though her physical body could contain it and she rolled over, crying into her pillow and sobbing until she was unable to hold onto consciousness any longer.

*****

Michael groaned as light registered through his closed eyelids and he wondered what had caused him to sleep so late. It took a moment to remember what had happened the day before and he bent his right arm at the elbow as he gently prodded his side around the bullet wound. He forced himself to sit up, his movements slow and careful as he tried to control the nausea that rolled to life with even the slightest motion.

"What're you doing?"

He was holding onto the edge of the nightstand, testing his legs to make sure they would support his weight when Maria spoke up from the doorway. "Tryin' to get vertical," he growled.

"You shouldn't be out of bed," she scolded, secretly relieved to see him standing upright.

"Would you rather I piss on myself?" He shot a warning look in her direction and shook his head. "Don't even offer to help; I'm more than capable of takin' a piss by myself." He glared at the wide expanse of floor between him and the bathroom.

"Will you let me help you to the bathroom door, at least?"

"Look, if you're that desperate to get your hands on my dick I can certainly accommodate you, but not like this." His jaw was set stubbornly as he shook his head again. "I don't need any help takin' a piss. Fuck no."

"Suit yourself," Maria snapped, wishing she could control her emotions where he was concerned.

"Why don't you make yourself useful… go make me somethin' to eat."

Maria was fuming as she stormed through the house after being summarily dismissed by the temperamental hybrid. God, he was so infuriating! "Go make me something to eat," she mocked, snarling the words under her breath. "Yeah, I'll make you something to eat, you pissy, ungrateful, arrogant ass."

She was opening the refrigerator door when she heard a loud thud and she immediately forgot that she was angry with him as she ran back through the house towards the bedrooms. She found him on his knees in the bedroom, his right hand braced on the floor while his left hand was splayed wide over the gauze bandage that had a quarter-sized red spot in the center.

"I don't wanna hear one word about how you don't need any help because you're gonna get it, like it or not." Her hands slid against his sweat-slick skin as she struggled to help him up onto his feet.

Was this normal? Michael wondered, leaning heavily on her. The wound wasn't that serious, so why was he so weak and disoriented?

"Because you've been unconscious for sixteen hours and who knows how long it's been since you last ate."

He scowled at her chastising tone, realizing that he had spoken his thoughts aloud and he glanced out through the windows. Sixteen hours? The sun was hanging low in the western sky which meant that it was way past morning. "What time is it?"

"A little after five."

He braced his left hand on the mattress as he was carefully lowered to a sitting position and he winced when he shifted and his side reminded him that he was injured. He was silent as she urged him to lie back, hating that he needed her help, but resigned to the fact that he had no other choice for now.

Maria glanced at him, recognizing the look on his face; she knew he didn't like having to accept her help but there was nothing he could do about it until the wound had healed enough that it wouldn't require a bandage. Vulnerability was not something that he handled well, something that was apparently universal to any Michael Guerin. She easily identified the signs of discomfort and she knew that allowing someone else to take care of him was as foreign to him as it had been to her Michael at one time.

She peeled the medical tape from his skin and removed the bloody bandage, discarding it before leaning over him to check the wound. Thankfully there were no signs of infection, no redness or fevered skin, so she cleaned and redressed the wound before leaving him to fix dinner.

Michael's left hand settled over the newly-bandaged wound and he stared at the ceiling as he considered Maria's actions. He hated feeling vulnerable, hated feeling like his well-being was in someone else's hands, but she hadn't made a big deal of taking care of him or made him feel as if he owed her for her help. Something inside of him responded to her gentle, caring touch, but he wasn't prepared to deal with it so he shoved it back down where he wouldn't have to think about it.

He stared at the cabinet that housed the television, frowning when he recalled that he hadn't yet replaced the batteries in the remote. Damn it! He was gonna have to go in the living room so he could find something to watch with the added convenience of a working remote control.

*****

Maria put the finishing touches on the pot of homemade chicken soup and stirred it for several minutes before putting the lid on it and turning the burner down. She left the soup to simmer while she went to check on Michael to see if he felt up to coming to the table to eat. She doubted it, but she also knew that he wouldn't appreciate it if she just assumed he couldn't make it to the table and took his dinner to him.

She had just passed her bedroom when she heard the hushed voices coming from inside and a glance to her left revealed the muted light coming from the television set that she hadn't left on. She pushed the door wide and stepped into her bedroom, unprepared for the sight that awaited her.

Michael was sprawled out in her bed, sound asleep, while the television played in the background. He looked so peaceful that she hated to wake him, but he was already weak from a combination of blood loss and not eating. The longer he went without eating the weaker he was going to get so she knew she was going to have to wake him up and try to get him to eat something.

She was certain that he had been on his way into the living room when he had probably started to feel like he was going to pass out, and instead of calling for help he had just detoured into her bedroom.

He stirred when she called him and she was pretty sure that was a good sign. If nothing else, at least he was coherent enough to respond to her calling his name. He had most likely been asleep for the past hour and knowing his tendency to react like a wounded bear when awakened she wasn't looking forward to getting him up. She tipped her head to one side, studying the excessive amount of bare, tanned skin available to her searching gaze. Was it wrong to notice him this way while he was practically unconscious? she wondered. She shook herself out of her thoughts and called his name again, raising her voice just enough to catch his attention.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 33 - 9/28

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:35 am

Spacegirl23 – Things are going to get better, and something very important is going to happen soon that will…in a way, secure their relationship, making it take a new turn.

Nibbles2 – There will be some comfort offered, but you might be surprised by the way it’s going to happen. But what’s going to happen was necessary. Not saying what, though, just wait and see.

DeDe PR – Michael and Maria will make progresses, now, don’t worry.

Eva – Yes, Michael isn’t immortal, he can be hurt and Maria can see that. He is trained, he knows his job but he can be injured.

Mary mary – Michael never had anyone to take care of him but Maria won’t take no for an answer. She won’t let Michael Guerin, from any universes, suffer.


Part 33

Michael opened his eyes, blinking slowly as he looked around the room in confusion. He vaguely remembered coming into her bedroom because the living room was just too far away and despite the desire to snap at her and somehow place the blame for his current location on her he still felt tired and worn out so he let it pass.

"Hey, dinner's ready and I know you probably don't feel like it, but you need to try to eat something. The longer you go without eating the weaker you're gonna feel." She watched him push himself up into a sitting position, breaking out into a sweat when it took more of an effort than it should have. "Do you feel like eating in the kitchen or do you want me to bring your dinner to you?"

He started to swing his legs over the side of the bed but a wave of dizziness caused the room to swim drunkenly before his eyes so he slowly leaned back against the headboard. "Maybe I'll just stay here," he muttered. "Hey, did you happen to pick up that new movie that I said I wanted to see?"

She nodded affirmatively. "Do you want me to bring it in here so you can watch it?"

"Why else would I ask that question?" he snapped irritably.

Maria had to bite her tongue to avoid lashing out in response to his tone but she managed to hold it in until she got to the kitchen. God, why did he have to be so damned difficult? She placed the bed tray on the counter and filled a bowl with soup before sitting it on the tray along with a saucer containing a handful of crackers. After pouring a carbonated soda into a chilled glass she placed it on the tray and carried it to him, stopping in the living room to retrieve his movie.

"What the fuck is this?" he snapped when she settled the tray over his lap and moved to put the movie into the player beneath the television set. "I'm not a six-year-old who stayed home from school with an upset stomach."

"No, you're a twenty-five-year-old man who's acting like a six-year-old. The flight from Cairo took, what, nineteen or twenty hours? Then another hour to get home, which, by the way tacks on another eighteen hours. So, you haven't eaten in probably forty hours, give or take an hour or two; you're weak and nauseas no matter how much you deny it, and if you eat a heavy meal, trust me, you're gonna regret it."

Michael dragged the spoon through the bowl of soup and as the scent wafted up to tease his nose his mouth watered and his stomach rumbled in anticipation. He glanced up when the remote for the DVD player landed on the bed next to his right leg, frowning when he realized that Maria was on her way out of the room. "Where're you goin'?"

"You're not in any mood for company so I'm gonna go watch TV in the living room."

His appetite faded into the background when she continued on her way out of the room and he turned his attention back to his dinner. It wasn't soup out of a can, he thought as he dragged his spoon through the noodles, small chunks of chicken, diced celery and carrots. He had noticed that she hardly ever used anything that came out of a can, claiming that it was processed, full of preservatives, and lacking in any inherent nutritional value.

He suddenly became annoyed when she didn't come back as he had expected her to do and he glanced around, looking for something he could use to get her attention. He winced as he reached for the book on the nightstand and he felt his wounded body protest against the movement. He transferred the book to his left hand and threw it as well as he could, snarling under his breath when it hit the doorframe and fell to the floor. He looked around for something else to throw, even going so far as to consider using his rarely-used powers to do so as his gaze settled on the tray in front of him. She's gonna be pissed. He didn't care. He was tired of sitting around by himself and if she was gonna be around anyway she could at least make herself useful and keep him company.

He took the crackers off of the saucer and stacked them on the tray before picking the saucer up and throwing it just by willing it. Satisfied that he had made enough noise, he nodded. Those powers came in handy now that he had started to get a grasp on them. Like the book, it hit the doorframe, but it clattered loudly as it hit the floor and Maria was standing in the doorway before the saucer had settled into place.

"What're you doing?" she asked as she leaned down to pick up the saucer and book he had thrown. She glanced at the tray as she walked around the bed to put the book back on the nightstand. "You're not eating."

"You said you were gonna watch this movie when we saw the previews."

Maria bit back a smile at his petulant tone. "You're also irritable and not in the mood - "

"Yeah, whatever. You could at least stick around while I eat. What if I choked on my food?" He pointed at the saucer in her hand. "See what I had to do just to get your attention? I could die in the time it takes for you to get in here."

"Fine," she gave in, shaking her head as she set the saucer on the nightstand. "I'll stay in here and watch the movie with you as long as you eat your dinner and be quiet. And eat slowly because if you eat too fast you're not gonna keep it down."

He didn't argue with her for once; he just settled back more comfortably and followed her directions, eating slowly and savoring every bite. He paused the movie when he was finished, intending to start it again when she came back with a second bowl of soup.

Maria waited several minutes before she walked back to her room, empty-handed. She had been pretty sure that he wouldn't stay awake for very long after eating and she had been right. He had slid down under the covers, curled up on his side facing the TV, but he was sound asleep. She crept around the bed and placed her palm against his forehead, checking for any sign of fever. Once she was convinced that he was fine she turned the TV off, tugged the blankets up over his shoulder, and because she couldn't help herself, she leaned down over him and pressed a kiss to his temple.

*****

Michael was dozing on the couch a couple of days later when the sound of jingling keys woke him up. He rubbed his eyes as he sat up, noticing that it was early evening.

"Where're you goin'?" he asked when Maria came in and replaced the glass of lemonade on the coffee table with a fresh glass.

"I've gotta go to work," she answered, anticipating his arguments. "I've already called in twice this week to stay home and take care of you. Which I didn't mind," she hurried to add, "but you're doing just fine now and Gabriel needs me because he's short-handed tonight."

"What am I supposed to do for dinner?" he asked, pouting because she wasn't going to be there to take care of him.

Maria sighed. She was afraid that she had spoiled him. "There's a casserole in the oven and a salad in the refrigerator; let the casserole bake for an hour and then take it out. All you have to do is take it out of the oven and put it on a plate. Oh, and there are a couple of movies on the coffee table; I picked them up for you when I ran to the store earlier. The clerk assured me there was plenty of action, violence, and guns, so you should enjoy them."

Michael wandered through the house after she left, and for the first time in his life he was unnerved by the silence.

*****

"How's Guerin doin'?" Gabriel asked after everyone else had left for the night.

"Much better. I think he's finally getting over that cold." Michael hadn't wanted anyone to know that he had been wounded on his last assignment, so he had told her to make something up if anyone asked about him.

"Well, it's that time of the year again, and if he had that bug that's been goin' around I can understand why it knocked him on his ass." He watched her as she twisted the strap of her purse around her hand before untwisting it and doing it all over again. He knew she wouldn't have left Guerin alone if she didn't think he was well enough to be left on his own, but he had a feeling she would've been much more at ease if the man had been at the bar where she could've been keeping an eye on him.

"I'd better get going, Gabriel."

Maria drove in silence, stopping at the twenty-four hour supermarket in the small town about half an hour from home. She wanted to pick up some fresh strawberries for breakfast; Michael loved them on his pancakes and she knew they were out of them. She was studying the available selection of strawberries when a young couple caught her attention. They were arguing over something that was probably trivial but seemed monumental in that moment. The girl suddenly turned and stalked away and the guy shook his head and sighed in exasperation before chasing after her. He grabbed her arm, holding her still so he could move in front of her.

"Y'know you're gonna forgive me," he said, his tone teasing.

"Maybe later, but right now I don't even wanna see you."

"Ah, c'mon, y'know you love me, honey."

Maria snorted with laughter when the girl capitulated, going willingly into his arms and hugging him tightly. Come on, honey, we don't have to lie. The memory of Michael's words came back to her and she smiled at them. His voice, low and gruff as he implied that there was more to the scene their friends had walked in on than there really was. It wasn't until much later that she had realized that he had done it to get a rise out of her and to prevent anyone from detecting that something real had happened between them.

The smile began to fade when she felt something in her chest begin to tear and she turned to hurry from the store. She bypassed the Range Rover in favor of walking along the deserted streets of the small town, her arms wrapped tightly around her chest in an effort to hold herself together. The pressure in her chest was building and the feeling that something inside was being torn only increased as the pain she had been burying for so long clawed to get out.

Without even realizing it she began to run, paying no attention to where she was going, just knowing that she needed to outrun the pain. She entered a small park, the chains on the swings creaking ominously as they swayed back and forth, put into motion by the cool wind blowing across the playground.

She stumbled along, uncaring of the branches that slashed against the bare flesh of her arms and not feeling the cold air as it brushed over her exposed skin. The tear in her chest was getting bigger and she felt like she was being shredded from the inside out as the pain slowly dragged itself to the surface, refusing to be denied any longer.

She tripped on one of the railroad ties that had been placed on either side of the path that wound through the park and she hit her knees when she lost her balance. Her hands shot out to stop her descent and bits of gravel dug into her palms as they slid against the uneven ground. The physical pain went unnoticed, and after several attempts to push herself to her feet she gave up and shifted around so she was sitting on the hard ground.

Tears ran down her cheeks, forced from deep within despite her attempts to contain them. She had managed to avoid dealing with losing Michael for months, focusing only on her belief that she could change time, events, and alter her own reality to bring him back, but time was passing and she had achieved none of those things. He was still lost to her and as she sat there in a crumpled, hopeless, and shattered heap on the ground, the pain that she had been denying for so long finally broke free.

The grief hit her in unrelenting waves, stripping away all of her defenses and leaving her feeling broken and more alone than she had ever felt in her life. Any awareness of her surroundings was lost as the first choked, agonized sob was ripped from the very depths of her soul.

Images of Michael, his body broken and bloody as he lay on the ground next to a river intertwined with images of another Michael, wounded in a gun battle and suffering alone for hours as his life slowly bled away. Why could she save one but not the other? Why had she been sent to a place where she would have to deal with the possibility of losing him all over again? It was beyond the boundaries of what should ever be asked of any one single person.

Her fisted hands pounded against the ground in a sad mimicry of the pain that was assaulting her in a constant, unending onslaught. She leaned forward over her hands, her forehead braced against them as she rocked back and forth in an effort to shield herself against the pain. It was too much to control and she suddenly realized that she was tired of trying to hold it in, trying to prevent the pain from gaining a foothold. It had already escaped the confines holding it at bay; it was free, and it demanded recognition.

She never registered the sound of her own screams as they split the cold night air, unaware of anything beyond the bottomless well of pain and agony that had been laid open, leaving her soul raw and exposed.

*****

Michael sat up in bed and listened to the silence for several minutes before he reached over and turned on the lamp that sat on the nightstand. He glanced at the alarm clock to the right of the lamp and frowned when he saw that it was nearly four in the morning.

Where was Maria at? A quarter past three wasn't that unusual, but she was much later than normal and that wasn't like her. He glanced around, looking for his cell phone and then remembered that he wasn't in his own room. He had no understanding or explanation for his sudden preference for Maria's bed because it wasn't like she had changed her mind about them having sex. But, somehow, since the first night she had let him sleep in her bed while he was healing from the gunshot wound, he had managed to find his way back in there and she hadn't kicked him out yet.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, stretching before going in search of his cell phone. He found it on the coffee table next to the movies she had picked up for him and he frowned when he checked it and didn't see any missed calls. He dialed her number and waited, counting the rings until it went to voicemail. Why wasn't she answering? She never got home this late and he was sure she would've called if she had run into trouble.

He paced back and forth in front of the television and for the first time it didn't occur to him to wonder why he was worried about her. He absently rubbed his palm over his chest, attempting to soothe the tight feeling that had taken up residence. Maybe she forgot her phone. That made sense, he thought. She was always forgetting something and running back for it at the last minute. He moved through the house once more, searching for her phone without considering that if she had left it he would have found it when he was looking for his own phone a short while ago.

Okay, maybe she had it with her and she just forgot to charge the damn thing. He nodded to himself, satisfied with that answer. That was the most likely reason… No, it still didn't explain why she hadn't made it home yet. His left hand shot out to grab the back of the couch when his chest contracted again, the sensation almost crushing in its intensity. "What the fuck is goin' on?" he hissed under his breath. He doubled over, his fingers clenching in the cushion under his hand as he fought to catch his breath.

Stop fighting it. The words whispered across his subconscious and he obeyed them without question, opening his mind to… well, he didn't know what exactly he was opening his mind up to. Something was wrong with Maria. He didn't know what it was, but he was certain of it. He grabbed his cell phone and the keys for the motorcycle before running out to the garage and hitting the button to open the door.

It didn't occur to him that he had no idea where he was going until he hit the paved road at the end of his driveway. He only knew that heading towards L.A. made sense because she would've come home from work the same way she went to work. As he drove his eyes were continually scanning both sides of the road for the truck, hoping to see that she had pulled over for some innocuous reason like a flat tire.

He didn't pay much attention to the easing pressure in his chest until he drove through the small town where he shopped anytime there was the option of avoiding the overcrowded stores in L.A. As he passed the city limits sign for the town the pressure in his chest tightened once more and he slowed down. He located a side road and turned around, the sole of his left boot barely skimming the asphalt as he leaned into the turn and went back into town.

The town was silent, the traffic lights blinking red or yellow in deference to the late hour. He drove slowly, letting the feeling in his chest guide him. He turned into the parking lot of the twenty-four-hour supermarket, momentarily relieved when he saw the truck. He parked next to it and rushed inside, grabbing the first employee he could find and demanding any information the woman had. He walked back outside mere minutes later, having discovered that Maria had been in the store an hour earlier but had left without making a single purchase.

Unlocking the drivers' side door he leaned inside and quickly located her purse and cell phone lying on the passengers' seat under her jacket. He sat behind the wheel for a few minutes, scanning the area around the supermarket. It wasn't cold out, but it was cool enough that exposure to the temperatures for an extended amount of time was certain to be uncomfortable.
Why would she just take off? It didn't make any sense for her to do anything like that. She could have been kidnapped, taken by someone who intended to hurt her in ways that he didn't even want to contemplate. He had seen plenty of the ugliness that existed in the world and he didn't want to think about any of that in connection with her.

He slid out from under the steering wheel and locked the door before slamming it shut. He walked around the truck, testing the pressure in his chest and realizing that it lessened considerably when he moved north. Pocketing his keys he took off in that direction and he settled into a jog, his pace quickening the more the pressure eased. He was getting closer to her, he could feel it, but while the pressure was dissipating a sense of urgency was quickly replacing it.

A scream ripped through the silence of the early morning hour and his movements quickened in response to the agonized sound. He slowed to a walk when he entered the city park, looking around for anything that seemed out of place. He knew he was in the right vicinity because the pressure was completely gone; he didn't understand how this thing worked, he just knew that it was responsible for him locating Maria.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 34 - 10/5

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:55 am

Nibbles2 – Sometimes, when people lose a beloved one, they just don’t… feel it at once. Well, they do, but it’s like something in them just stops, to prevent them from just dying inside. But the pain just builds up, slowly, until it just explodes.

Mary mary – Michael won’t become perfect just because Maria is in pain. But he’ll show a side that has always been there and he is on the right path. But it won’t be immediate because he is Michael Guerin, after all.

Eva – Michael is on his way to find her so yes, he will take care of her. He’ll be a bit lost because it will be the first time he’ll do this but he is learning.

Spacegirl23 – Maria has managed to keep her pain at large because she thought that she could get her Michael back. But it’s been months now, she doesn’t know if what she is doing there is going to help her and now she is exhausted and she collapsed.

DeDe PR – Hmm, let’s just say that actions speak louder than words, for Michael and that seeing Maria in such pain over losing her Michael will make him think deeper about love.


Part 34

Another scream shattered the stillness, weaker than the one before, and he ran towards it. He had been around enough violence to tell the difference between screams; she wasn't screaming as if she were being attacked. The sounds being issued from her throat were soul-deep, filled with agony and despair, but his heart still stuttered in his chest when he came upon her crumpled form.

He knelt down next to her and his right hand reached out to tentatively rest on her shaking shoulder. At least with a physical attacker he would have known what to do, but he was completely lost in this situation. There wasn't an attacker that he could fight, tear to shreds for hurting someone smaller and weaker.

"Maria." He called her name as he tried to lift her up from the ground. Blades of grass were clenched between her fingers where she had grabbed onto the only solid thing she could find in an effort to anchor herself. He had seen enough people suffering the emotional devastation of losing loved ones to battles, natural disasters, disease, and a multitude of other deadly thieves, to know that losing her lover had finally caught up with her. Something had finally triggered the switch on the ticking time bomb she had been carrying around inside of her for months.

He couldn't tell if she was physically hurt, but her skin was cold to the touch and she was completely unresponsive. He glanced around when another, weaker scream was ripped from her hoarse throat and he hoped like hell that no one called the cops and reported all the noise because it was going to be difficult to explain the situation.

Okay, what was he supposed to do? He always made sure that he had no involvement with the people they were sent in to help, leaving all the touchy-feely crap up to people who actually gave a damn one way or the other. If he could get her back to the truck without attracting any unwanted attention he could take her home and put her to bed… that would work, right? If she just went to sleep then everything would be fine when she woke up the next morning. Yeah, that made sense.

He looked down when she started to hyperventilate and he realized that his plan wasn't going to work. She was going to pass out at this rate, he thought as he crouched down beside her. He had no idea how this was supposed to work, but he knew he had to get her back home before someone came along and wanted to know what was going on.

Okay, he had seen people comforting others plenty of times and it hadn't looked all that difficult. He studied the way her body was folded over and frowned as he tried to work out the mechanics. Somehow this always looked a lot simpler when it was someone else doing the comforting. What the fuck was he supposed to do?

Put your arms around her, you moron! He reached down and pried her hands free of the ground before wrapping his hands around her upper arms and pulling her up. There was enough light from the basketball court on the other side of the playground to see that she was a mess. Her face was filthy from being on the ground; her tears had mixed with the dirt to leave muddy tracks on her face, her nose was running, her eyes were bloodshot, and her gaze was unfocused as she stared at him.

He felt completely stupid as he awkwardly put his arms around her and he tried to remember what he had seen others do in situations like this. They always pulled the person close and hugged them really tight, sometimes rocking them, sometimes not. They never seemed to notice the gross stuff, he grumbled silently. Things like mud and snot getting wiped on your clothes.

Closing his eyes tightly and forcing himself not to think about it, he pulled her closer and frowned when her arms continued to hang limply at her sides. Her breathing was still harsh and uneven and this position was a lot more uncomfortable than it looked. His arms were stiff where they were wrapped around her shoulders and he couldn't imagine how this helped anyone.

Moron! You have no idea what you're doing! Like he needed his conscience to remind him of that little fact! He had no problem knowing what to do with his limbs when he was presented with any sexual situation, but this? Hell, he had no clue how to do this; he didn't know how close to hold her, where to put his hands, or what the fuck he was supposed to say to her.

He glanced down at the top of her head when he felt her begin to shake and heard the sobs being wrenched from her throat. He lowered his head when he heard broken words rushing out along with the painful, choking breaths she was forcing in and out.

Okay, c'mon, Guerin, you can do this! You've lived through wars and survived in situations you never should've walked away from, so surely you can handle this! He took a deep breath and shifted around so he was facing her directly and he tried again.

"C'mon, Maria," he whispered gruffly. "Work with me here." This time when he wrapped his arms around her they settled into place with a little more accuracy and it didn't feel as forced. His right hand moved to the nape of her neck, sliding under her tangled hair and exerting just enough pressure to pull her in closer to his body. Her arms still remained at her sides and he knew that the lack of response wasn't good. He had to reach her, he thought with just the slightest hint of desperation. What was he gonna do if she went into shock? "Maria, you need to calm down, okay? I need you to try to focus on me… try to…" He shook his head. This was stupid and it wasn't working.

"Don't leave," she choked out.

Leave? Where the fuck did she think he was gonna go? He shook himself out of his thoughts when he realized that she wasn't talking to him. "C'mere," he muttered, pulling her snug up against his body. "Shhh, Maria… shhh… 'm never gonna leave you, Maria… never leave you…"

After a few minutes he felt her arms move as they crept around his waist and moments later her fingers dug into his shirt as if it were a lifeline. She began to calm by degrees and after a while he heard her breathe in, the sound congested and wet. He winced as he thought about what that meant to the front of his shirt, but he didn't loosen his embrace.

"We need to go home," he said when her breathing settled into a ragged, but even, rhythm. She nodded weakly but made no move to get up and he realized that in her condition she wasn't going to be able to walk back to the truck. It would be a lot faster to go get the truck and come back for her, but he couldn't just leave her in the park.

"Okay," he grumbled as he stood and lifted her up in his arms, "but I expect a damn good massage after all this because my back's gonna hurt like hell after luggin' you around." He walked for almost a mile before he made it back to the supermarket and when he placed her on her feet on the pavement he had to pin her to the side of the truck with his body to keep her from falling down. At any other time he would've thoroughly enjoyed having her body plastered against the front of his, but this was probably… no, definitely, the most non-sexual position he had ever been in with her. He shook those thoughts off and unlocked the passengers' side door, opening it wide enough that he could place her inside… He frowned as he glanced between her and his plush all-leather interior. And he didn't have anything to cover the seat with before putting her inside. Okay, that is not the important thing here; leather can be cleaned, and you need to get her home as soon as possible, he reminded himself.

He pushed her purse and jacket onto the floor and picked her up once more, settling her in the seat and belting her in before closing the door and hurrying around to the other side. He paused when his gaze landed on the motorcycle and he was hit by another moment of indecision. He didn't like leaving it there but he couldn't exactly drive both vehicles and Maria was in no condition to make the trip on the back of the motorcycle.

Damn it! If anything happened to it… He sighed and slid in behind the steering wheel. He'd just have to hook the trailer up to the truck and come back for it after she fell asleep. He turned the key in the ignition to start the engine and leaned over to check on her before he pulled out of the parking lot and headed for home.

Maria was still conscious when they pulled into the garage, but she made no move to get out on her own. He went to unlock the door to the house, leaving it standing open while he went back to get Maria. He leaned inside and was reaching across her body to unfasten the seatbelt when the lights inside the garage illuminated her features.

Hell, he couldn't just put her to bed in this condition, he mused as he stared into her dull, listless green eyes. "Okay," he muttered, moving back without releasing the seatbelt, "just stay here for a couple more minutes."

He ran through the house and flipped the light switch on in his bedroom and then the bathroom as he made his way to the bathtub. He turned the water on, setting it to the right temperature before redirecting the water to the shower head. He adjusted the spray and grabbed a couple of towels, tossing them on the counter before moving to his closet and snatching a tee shirt off of a hanger. He tossed it into the bathroom where it landed on the towels before he moved into her bedroom and switched the lamp on so he could see to pull the covers back.

He paused in the laundry room to remove his boots, socks, and shirt. He unbuckled his belt and undid the snap and zipper on his cargo pants, stepping out of them and dropping them on the washer before glancing down at his boxer-clad dick. "This is in no way related to anything sexual," he said in a warning tone. "Don't you dare do a goddamned thing except what you're doin' right now." He stepped back down into the garage and walked around the truck to open the door again. He gathered Maria up in his arms and carried her inside, relieved when he set her down on her feet in the bathroom and he didn't have to hold her up as he had before. It concerned him when he started to remove her clothes and she didn't make a single protest.

He kept his thoughts focused on everything but the woman he was undressing, forcing them to stay as far away from anything with a sexual connotation as possible. She didn't say a word as he walked her over to the bathtub and helped her to step inside, holding her steady as he joined her and maneuvered her back under the warm spray.

He was completely out of his element here and his movements felt uncoordinated and awkward. He had showered with women before, of course, but they had never been even remotely connected to an effort to get clean. On the contrary, shared showers had always been about getting down and dirty. His dick gave a twitch of interest and he quickly shoved those thoughts aside and glared at it in warning as he reached for the shampoo on the built-in shelves in the corner. He frowned at the different bottles and finally just reached for his, squeezing some into the palm of his hand and tugging Maria out from under the spray and turning her around so her back was to the wall.

He worked the shampoo into her hair, his fingers massaging her scalp as the shampoo turned into a foamy lather. Her breath whispered across his skin as she dropped her forehead down to settle against his chest and his eyes rolled back in his head as he fought for control.

He was not this fuckin' noble! How much was he supposed to take? He took a deep breath, feeling control settle over him once more. Okay, he could do this… he could! He finished washing her hair and walked her backwards so he could rinse the shampoo out. Once that was finished he grabbed the little round fluffy thing she used and he squeezed a healthy amount of body wash onto it, rubbing it between his hands to work it up into a good lather. He shrugged as he studied the soapy thing, not certain that was the way it was supposed to work, but pretty sure that it would work for tonight.

He started a mental inventory of every ugly woman he had ever met in an effort to keep his dick under control as he started to run the fluffy soapy thing over her body, wincing when he saw the cuts, scrapes, and bruises she had collected from her meeting with the ground. He rinsed the soap out of the thing and hung it back on the hook before turning back to check on Maria. Satisfied that she was completely rinsed off he turned the faucets off and shoved the curtain back, stepping out onto the rug and moving across the room to grab the towels. She would bitch about the wet spots on the rug the next morning, but at this rate, he would welcome her fiery attitude if it meant that this silent person would go away.

He stepped out into his bedroom, stripping off the soaked boxers and drying off in record time before pulling on a fresh, dry pair of boxers. He hurried back into the bathroom and dried Maria off before wrapping a towel around her and helping her out of the bathtub to towel dry her hair. It wasn't until he pulled the tee shirt over her head and was doing his best to maneuver her arms through the short sleeves that he realized tears were still falling from her eyes.

He unknotted the towel he had wrapped around her and was tugging the tee shirt down over her bare hips when she suddenly leaned into him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Oh, what're you doin'?" he whispered hoarsely. She was gonna fuckin' kill him, touching him like this! He had to get her into bed before his dick made its interest in her known by standing up and introducing itself. "C'mon, you need to get some sleep."

She didn't release him so he extricated himself from her arms and picked her up, carrying her to her bedroom and placing her in her bed. He pulled the covers up over her, tucking them close to her body before leaning over and switching the lamp off. The sky was beginning to reveal the first pinkish-grey streaks of dawn and for the first time in longer than he could remember he didn't go out for his morning run by his own choice.

Instead he walked around the bed and sat down on her other side, leaning over Maria's still form to pick up the TV remote. He aimed it at the television and turned it on, making sure the volume was down low as he flipped through the channels looking for something to watch.

He propped a couple of pillows up behind his back and slouched down, his left arm flung over his head as he turned to look at the woman beside him. She had finally slipped into a light sleep and he could tell from the way she was breathing that it wouldn't be much longer before exhaustion pulled her all the way under.

He was beginning to doze off himself when he felt her roll over towards him and before long her hand had sought his out, linking their fingers together as she sighed peacefully. It wasn't long before he followed her into sleep, forgetting all about his plans to rush right back out to rescue his motorcycle from its abandonment in the supermarket parking lot.

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 35 - 10/12

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:23 am

Mary mary – Thank you, glad that you liked this part.

Eva – Michael isn’t the kind of guy to know how to act with someone as desperate as Maria was. But he did his best.

DeDe PR – Maria will feel better now. Up until now, she hadn’t really grieved. She had been functioning on auto-pilot, focused on believing that the Granolith had a mission for her and that she would get her Michael back. It helped her going on. But she hadn’t let herself feel the pain.

Spacegirl23 – Thank you, Michael and Maria always are a fantastic image to picture.

Nibbles2 – It’s true, this Michael is intense, angry, childish sometimes and we’ve rarely seen him showing his other side that we know he has. But that’s because up until now, he never had the opportunity to.


Part 35

It was midmorning when Michael awoke and he turned his head to the side to check on Maria; she was still out cold and sleeping heavily. Sometime during the night she had moved closer to him and her right arm was draped over his stomach, the side of her face pressed against his ribcage. His first instinct was to push her away because the feelings that washed over him as he looked at her, lying against him so trustingly were unfamiliar and unwanted. But after a few moments he realized she was tensing up in response to the tension in his own body and he forced himself to relax once more.

He had never gone so far as to actually sleep with any woman because it just created too many complications the next morning. He had never even allowed himself to just doze off for a little while after sex, conscious of the way that women might view such an act of vulnerability. This felt different though and he could hear the internal battle being waged over the decision to either accept it or run from it.

Still undecided, he carefully eased out from under her arm, gently settling her against his pillows and tucking the blanket around her curled up form. After searching the covers he located the remote and turned the television off and set the remote on the nightstand before quietly leaving her room.

Dressed in a pair of loose-fitting jeans with the knees ripped out and an old gray tee shirt he padded barefoot into the kitchen and began the search for food. He couldn't identify half of the things in the refrigerator but whatever the stuff was, Maria managed to turn it into incredibly delicious meals. He finally settled for a bowl of cereal - one of the very few junk food items she let him put in the grocery cart when they went shopping - and a couple slices of toast along with a glass of orange juice.

When he was finished eating he rinsed his dishes and placed them on the rack in the dishwasher, then went back to the bathroom so he could gather up all of the clothes scattered around on the floor. He carried them back through the house and started the washer before dumping them inside along with his clothes. He was just closing the lid on the washer when he suddenly remembered that his motorcycle was still parked in the parking lot at the supermarket.

"Aw, fuck!" He kicked the side of the washer without thinking and then swore again when pain shot through his bare foot. He hopped up and down on his left foot for several seconds before he grabbed onto the washer for balance and leaned over to check his right foot. Bending his leg at the knee he brought his foot up and he rubbed his abused toes, trying to soothe the agonizing pain shooting through them.

As soon as the pain began to ease up he lowered his foot back to the ground and winced when his weight caused his toes to feel like there was too much pressure inside of them. Great, that felt just fuckin' wonderful! He hobbled back to Maria's bedroom and stepped inside, checking on her before closing the blinds tightly to keep the sun out. He leaned over her and debated whether or not he should wake her to let her know he had to run out for a little while. Nah, he thought, he'd just leave her a note and let her sleep. God knew she needed it after last night.

He went to get a piece of paper from the desk and scribbled out a brief note, folding it in half and placing it on the nightstand where she'd see it if she woke up. Once that was done he finished getting ready and went outside to hook the trailer up behind the truck. He ran back in the house to double check all of the locks and to check on her once more before stopping in the kitchen to grab his wallet off of the counter.

She needs to eat. That thought stopped him in his tracks and he scratched his jaw as he glanced between the cabinets and the refrigerator. He had to go to the store anyway, he rationalized. He could just grab a frozen pizza. He was on his way out the door when another thought stopped him cold. You can do better than that; she sure as hell did better than that when you were recovering from that bullet wound.

What was wrong with pizza? he questioned silently. It's not that it's pizza, it's that it's frozen pizza, dumbass! Did she give you soup out of a can? No, she made it herself. "Yeah," he snorted, "I'm gonna make a homemade pizza." He paused on the threshold, prepared to step down into the garage, when it occurred to him that it couldn't be that difficult to make a pizza at home. Right?

He walked back into the kitchen and located the cookbook Maria used, rubbing his right hand over his chin as he thumbed through the pages. He finally located the section he was looking for and flipped through the pages several times over before he found one that sounded good. He scrawled the ingredients down on the notepad she kept on the counter and ripped the page out of the book before shoving it in his pocket and heading out to the truck.

*****

An hour later Michael was wandering through the aisles of the supermarket, trying to locate the items on his list. He had made quick work of loading the motorcycle on the trailer, relieved that it hadn't come to harm while it had sat unattended for so long.

It had taken less time to do that than it was taking to find a dozen ingredients that they probably already had at the house. But he didn't have the slightest idea where to look for anything except the basics, and Maria would have a fit if he messed up her organizational system.

"You look lost, young man," an elderly woman spoke up next to him as he stood in the aisle where the baking goods were shelved.

Michael glanced at her and shrugged. "You ever made a homemade pizza?" he asked, his eyes scanning over her bent form. She held onto a walker with a little basket attached to the front so that she could pick up a few things on her own.

"Of course." One frail, trembling hand extended in his direction and settled on his arm, patting it in a consoling gesture. "A word to the wise," she offered with a smile. "Don't stress yourself out over a homemade crust."

He frowned and looked down at the ingredients list again. "Well, the recipe said…" He trailed off when she shook her head.

"Trust me, young man, she'll appreciate the effort whether the crust is homemade or not."

"What? No, it's not - "

"Not for someone special?" she interrupted with a smile. "Of course not." She deftly removed the list from his hand and in a large, uneven scrawl, wrote out a couple of words before handing it back to him. "You'll find that over in the frozen food section; it's the best pre-made pizza crust you can buy." She chuckled. "If you're anything like my Earl, your good intentions with this homemade crust will turn her kitchen into a floured nightmare, and this will be much more appreciated."

After the old woman went on her way, her walker rolling and scraping against the floor with every other couple of steps, he looked down at the list again. Okay, well, it didn't seem quite so intimidating if he didn't have to make the crust from scratch. The recipe book had said something about kneading the dough… like he knew what the fuck that meant. This was much better.

He finished picking up everything on the list and hurried back home, running inside to check on Maria before dumping the groceries on the counter and going back out to take care of the vehicles. That finished, he washed up and emptied out the bags, carefully lining everything up on the counter and then checking the items off against the recipe.

He turned to lean against the island, his gaze sweeping over the cabinets as he tried to remember which one contained the baking pans. He always cooked his frozen pizzas on a sheet of tin foil, but the recipe said he needed a pan, so he had to find one. He knew they had one because Maria had been very specific about what she wanted when she had dragged him through a huge store at the mall that only sold kitchen stuff a while back. He didn't see what the big deal was; in his opinion, one pan was as good as the next as long as it did the job it was supposed to do. But, no, apparently there was a world of difference between dark, light, glass, aluminum, Teflon, and whatever other kinds she had gone on about. Admittedly, he hadn't paid much attention to her while she was rambling on about the importance of quality cooking pans. He had spent most of his time leaning on the cart and watching her, wondering if she was as fiery in bed as she was out of it.

He sighed as he pulled himself out of his thoughts and started to rummage through the cabinets in search of the pizza pan. He frowned when he finally located not one, but two pans. What the fuck? The recipe just said pizza pan, it didn't say anything about deep dish or regular. How was he supposed to know which one to use if the fuckin' recipe didn't tell him? He glared at the ingredients scattered across the countertop as if they held the answer he was searching for.

Where was that damned pizza crust at? He walked over to the refrigerator and pulled the freezer door open, grabbing the square box and jerking it out. He scanned over the colorful packaging, searching for any indication of whether or not it was regular or deep dish. Nothing. Fuck. Well, it would be safer to use the deep dish pan then, he decided. At least that way, if it was deep dish it would be contained by the high sides, and if it wasn't… well, it couldn't hurt, right?

"Whatever," he muttered, putting the crust away and retrieving the deep dish pan and setting it on the counter. It was too early to start cooking so he put the refrigerated items away and left the rest on the counter before going back to check on Maria again.

She was awake, but she barely moved when he entered the bedroom and sat down on the bed beside her. He didn't know what he was supposed to say or if he should even say anything at all; he wasn't the kind of man who really talked about stuff like this. He looked down when he felt her shift beside him and his eyes followed her hand when it inched closer to him, clenching and unclenching uncertainly.

He slouched down a little further and turned his hand over next to hers, letting her decide whether to take it or not. He could almost feel the emotions warring inside of her as her fingers twitched uncertainly next to his.

Maria stared at his big hand, her eyes tracing over it as she fought with her conscience. He wasn't her Michael, she knew that with every fiber of her being, so was it wrong to pretend that he was hers just for a few minutes? It couldn't be, right? Her hand moved, closing the distance between them and sliding her fingers through his and her heart clenched in her chest when he closed his hand around hers loosely. Tears welled up in her eyes and spilled over, running down her cheeks to drip off of her chin when she felt his flesh against hers. It was no use; she couldn't even pretend. Sure, there were plenty of similarities between the two men, but there was just no way to fool her heart into believing that he was her Michael, not even for a short while.

Michael frowned when she pulled her hand free and rolled over to face the wall. He had seen the tears on her face and he could see her body shaking under the covers. Was this some sort of delayed reaction from the night before? he wondered.

"You want me to bring you somethin' to drink?" he asked gruffly.

"No." Her voice was barely a whisper.

"Okay." His hand hovered over her trembling shoulder, uncertain as to whether he should touch her or not. He patted her shoulder awkwardly and leaned over her to motion at the cell phone on the nightstand. "I'm gonna work in the shop for a while; just call me if you need anything." He waited until she nodded before he stood up and left the room to go in search of something to occupy his time.

He puttered around in the shop for a while but he couldn't keep his mind focused on anything for very long. Less than an hour passed before he found himself back in her bedroom, but this time he settled in the rocking chair in the corner. She was asleep again, curled up tightly and clutching the covers to her chest.

He leaned forward, elbows braced on his knees as he studied her ravaged features for several minutes. He stood and retrieved the framed photograph from the nightstand, returning to his seat and slouching down. He stretched his legs out and crossed them at the ankles as he stared at the picture in his hand.

What was it with her and his counterpart from that other universe? He chewed on his thumbnail as he tipped his head to the left. He had dismissed their relationship without a second thought but he had witnessed her emotional break the night before and there had been nothing contrived about it. Hell, he had seen women lose lovers and husbands after fifteen or twenty years together who hadn't reacted as strongly as she had reacted to losing a guy she had only been with for four years.

She was trapped here in a reality that wasn't her own, without her friends or her family, because she believed that it was going to help her bring her lover back. It wasn't just a teenage thing, he thought as he stared down at the picture. But, it wasn't just a sexual thing either, though it was obvious that they had been involved to that degree. No, the way the kid held her spoke of something deeper than the raging hormones of a horny eighteen-year-old boy. What he had seen the night before had been complete and utter devastation; for her to suffer such a shattering and emotionally-draining episode there had to be something… more between them. Something that even he in all of his cynicism was beginning to believe might actually be… love.

Fuck! he thought when realization hit him between the eyes with the force of a jackhammer. If this kid, this other version of him, was capable of loving this Maria girl with such depth and intensity… did that mean the same capability existed within him?

Now that was a scary prospect. And one he didn't wish to examine any further. He placed the photograph back on the nightstand and checked to make sure Maria was still asleep before he left to go get dinner started.

In the kitchen he turned the stereo on and turned the volume up a little before he opened the cookbook up to the page he needed and laid it on the counter. He turned the oven on to the indicated temperature and greased the pan before going to get the crust. He tossed the box on the counter before grabbing a beer out of the refrigerator along with all of the ingredients he had put away earlier.

After brushing olive oil on both sides of the crust he put it in the pan and squished it around to stretch it so that it was touching on all sides. Next came the tomato sauce, spread over the crust with just a little more than the recipe called for because it didn't look like enough to him. The barbecue sauce was optional, but he decided to use it since it was good on just about everything anyway. He laid the mozzarella cheese on thick because there was no such thing as too much cheese on a pizza. The same rule applied to onions and since he saw no possibility of kissing Maria in the near future, he piled them on. Bacon was optional and he decided that didn't sound as interesting as the other toppings so he vetoed it. He strained the pineapple chunks, draining as much of the juice as possible before spreading them over the pizza. Next, he added a layer of cubed ham followed by more mozzarella cheese and lastly he doused the whole thing with Tabasco sauce.

Finished putting it all together he stood back and eyed his handiwork, pleased that it actually looked like a pizza. Now all he had to do was put it in the oven, wait twenty minutes, and voila! Dinner would be ready. He paused as he reached for the pan, wondering if he should go make sure Maria was awake before he put it in. Yeah, he should probably do that, he decided.

He washed his hands and dried them on a dishtowel, tossing it on the counter as he walked out of the room. He entered Maria's bedroom and walked around the bed, crouching down and meeting her green gaze directly. "Hey, you're awake," he said in a gentle tone. Was that his voice?! "You feelin' any better?"

Maria watched him as he waited for her to respond, his demeanor undemanding and almost… kind. "A little, I guess," she admitted, her voice still a little hoarse.

"You think you'll feel up to eatin' here in a little while?"

She shook her head. "Don't feel like cooking, sorry."

"No, you ain't gotta cook; I've got it covered. I just didn't wanna put it in the oven until you felt like sittin' up and eatin'."

He didn't wanna put it in the oven, she thought. He must've gone into town and gotten something that he could cook. Well, he had obviously made an effort, so it would be rude to not eat whatever frozen delight he had purchased. "I need to wash up a little first," she said, motioning to her tear-stained face.

Michael nodded. "Half an hour be enough time?" He shrugged. "I can wait if you need more than that."

"No, that's fine."

"Okay, I'll bring it in here when it's ready, and we can watch a movie… your choice."

Maria wiped away fresh tears after he backed out of the room. She wasn't sure if it would be better or worse to deal with him being this nice. She sighed as she threw the covers back and sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. It was getting harder to ignore him as it was, if he started being nice it was going to make it downright impossible.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 36 - 10/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:49 am

Mary mary – The Granolith has a plan. The thing is, what’s the plan?

Nibbles2 – Their relationship is better. It’s going to be even more than that but there will be moments when it won’t look like it.

DeDe PR – Michael is making a real effort for Maria and it’s the first time for him.

Spacegirl23 – So you like this Michael? Not too macho for you?


Part 36

It wasn't until she stepped into the bathroom and examined her reflection in the mirror that she realized she was wearing one of his tee shirts and nothing else. She glanced around the room and images from the night before came rushing back as heat flooded her cheeks. He had found her and brought her home, but he hadn't just put her to bed. Her eyes swung to the shower and fresh tears filled her eyes as she remembered the gentle and awkward way he had taken care of her. Not a single crass remark, no biting sarcasm, no anger in his words, nothing rough about his hands as he had cared for her, and now he had even made dinner. Something from the frozen food section, no doubt, but the fact that he had made the gesture spoke volumes.

She washed her face and ran the brush through her hair but decided against changing into something else. The tee shirt was too big, but it was soft from years of wear and it was perfect for lounging around in bed. When she was finished she went back to her bedroom and crawled into bed, stacking the pillows up against the headboard and making herself comfortable under the blanket. She was reaching for the remote when she noticed the note on the nightstand. He wasn't supposed to be this thoughtful, she thought, placing the note between the lamp and the alarm clock after reading it.

"Anything worth watchin' on TV?" Michael asked, entering the room with the bed tray. He leaned down to settle it over her lap, glancing over his shoulder to see what was on the screen.

"Old comedies, but…"

"Not really in the mood," he guessed. "Right. Well, I can go grab a movie." As soon as she rattled off a title he hurried from the room to retrieve it.

Maria looked down at the two plates on the tray and her eyebrows lifted as she inhaled the savory aroma of the pizza. Hawaiian, if she wasn't mistaken. Deep dish, piled high with all of the good toppings, and she could smell the barbecue sauce hidden beneath the toppings. She tipped her head to one side, studying the cheese that was practically dripping off of the thick crust. Frozen pizzas didn't look or smell that good… which meant that he had actually made it himself. She glanced up when he came back with the movie, then watched him load it into the player as she took her first bite.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed around a mouthful of the pizza. It was perfect; the flavors blended together to create a flavorful sensation, the cheese was piled on the way she liked it, and the onions had been generously added on. "Michael, I had no idea you could cook like this! Why didn't you tell me you're such a good cook?"

His expression was a mixture of confusion and pride as he settled down next to her and grabbed his own plate. "I'm not," he mumbled around his first bite. "Fuck, that is good, isn't it?"

He chewed in silence, wondering about his sudden ability to do things he couldn't remember ever being able to do. Last night, some connection or something had let him know something was wrong with her and then it had led him to her location, and today, he was cooking like he knew what he was doing. Something was happening to him, something he didn't understand, maybe even something alien, and it was connected to her. So, maybe this thing that had been happening to him wasn't some illness, maybe he wasn't sick at all.

*****

They watched the movie in companionable silence and when it was over Michael carried the bed tray and dishes back to the kitchen, rinsing them off and stacking them in the dishwasher before grabbing a couple of beers from the refrigerator and going back to her bedroom.

He handed one of the chilled bottles to Maria and made himself comfortable next to her. He glanced at the TV, noticing that she had left it on and muted the sound. He took a drink from his bottle as he considered his thoughts from earlier.

"Maria?"

"Um-hmm."

"What was your connection with him like?" he asked.

Maria took a drink from her own bottle and contemplated her answer as she tried to hide her surprise. He had eased off of the derogatory comments in regards to her relationship with her Michael, but it was the first time he had asked about it with such a lack of animosity.

"It was intense," she said finally and smiled. "But, then again, everything about Michael was intense."

"So, could you guys, I don't know… feel each other when you were apart?"

"Yeah, there's a definite connection that exists between humans and their hybrids. I mean, Liz could feel Max from the other side of the country - "

"When he died or whatever, right?" She had mentioned something about that before when they had been talking about her past, her friends, and her experiences with the hybrids in her universe. "What if Michael was hurt or somethin'? Could you feel it?"

Maria's expression turned sad as she thought about the day her Michael had died. "More than I wanted to sometimes. We could feel each other whether things were good or bad, but the more intense the situation, the more intense that feeling would get. At times it would even manifest itself physically."

Michael's right hand tightened on the bottle he was holding balanced on his thigh. "How is that possible?"

"We just figured that it happened because of our connection to each other. Michael and I had it and so do Max and Liz."

"So, it's definitely alien related," he mused.

Maria turned her head to look at him, watching him closely and wondering why he was suddenly so interested in Michael and her. What was really going on in his mind? He was usually easy to read; his thoughts generally revolved around sex, food, motorcycles, and work. But here, there actually seemed to be something deeper behind his questions, it was almost as if something was bothering him. "Why all the questions? Have you ever felt that for anyone?"

"No," he answered quickly, "you were sayin' somethin' about it in your sleep last night. Besides, how do you think I'd ever have that kinda connection with anyone if I don't get tied down by relationships?"

Right. One-night stands were just a part of his way of life; it was kind of hard to forget that. So, what was the point of these questions that seemed to be so… out of the blue? "Just because you don't let yourself get that involved physically doesn't mean that you've never experienced that - "

"Physically is the only way I get involved, Maria; don't try to romanticize my interest in the opposite sex." Her explanation about the connection shared between hybrids and their human mates was unsettling and he didn't want to talk about it any longer. "Well, you need to get some rest so I think I'm gonna go to bed."

Maria frowned when he rolled off of the bed and got to his feet. It was the first time that he had gone to sleep in his own room since the night after he had come home wounded. She hadn't argued with him when he had made himself at home in her bed every night since because it had been nice to not be alone in the big bed, to feel his big body close by and let her mind fool itself for a few hours each night that she wasn't completely alone.

She sighed as she slipped further down in bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. She stared at the ceiling for several minutes before she rolled over onto her side and picked up the remote control, aiming it at the TV and scanning through the channels.

*****

Michael threw himself down on his bed and stared at the ceiling as he thought about what Maria had been saying. He steered clear of those thoughts before long and focused instead on what it meant to be a hybrid. He hadn't given it much thought before, but he suddenly realized that he had never really asked for clarification about what that meant. Obviously it implied that he was only half alien, he thought as he held his hands up and stared at them, but what did that mean about the other half? The human half?

He shifted onto his side and tried in vain to find a comfortable position. "This's ridiculous," he muttered as he finally admitted defeat and sat up again. He had spent a fortune on his bed and he couldn't remember it ever being so uncomfortable. Maybe it was time to invest in a new mattress.

Or maybe you've gotten used to Maria sleeping next to you, his conscience whispered. He rejected that thought outright; it implied that he was becoming dependent on her and nothing could be further from the truth. No, obviously she just had a more comfortable mattress. He nodded to himself. Yeah, that was an acceptable reason and the best thing was that it made sense.

His thoughts shifted back to their original topic and the fingers of his right hand drummed against the mattress. Half human… how did that happen? There had to be an explanation, right? He wasn't from Earth so how was it that he was half human? How had his race, his people, gotten their hands on the raw materials needed to create a cloned human body?

He glanced at the door to his room and debated whether to go and wake Maria up so she could explain it to him. He knew she needed her rest because she was still exhausted from the night before, but after a few minutes he got to his feet. He couldn't wait until the next day; if he didn't get answers tonight he was never gonna be able to sleep.

Maria looked up when he suddenly appeared in her doorway and she tried not to think about the feeling of relief that washed over her when she saw him. She couldn't reconcile her feelings where he was concerned; while he wasn't her Michael she was beginning to get comfortable with him and she missed him when he wasn't around. He had been sleeping in her bed with her for the past few nights and she had gotten used to his presence. It was making it harder to sleep now that he wasn't there, but she wasn't about to admit that aloud.

The more time she spent with him, especially since he was beginning to warm up to her and treat her nicely, the more conflicted she was feeling. On the one hand, it was nice to spend time with him and not feel constantly on edge, just waiting for the next cruel thing to come out of his mouth. But, on the other hand, she felt as if she was being disloyal to her Michael and the guilt was beginning to creep in.

Michael folded his arms over his chest as he leaned against the doorframe, watching her as she pushed herself up into a sitting position. "You're still awake," he observed, but it came out sounding more like a question.

"Just haven't been able to fall asleep yet." She motioned for him to come in and ignored the feeling of calm that settled over her when he sat on the bed next to her. "What's on your mind?"

"I wanna know more about my… I don't even know what to call it… human donor, maybe? I'm half human, right? How did that happen?"

"Your human donor's name is Charles Dupree."

He listened as Maria went on to explain about Dupree's abductions, his contribution to Michael's existence, and how she and her Michael had been involved in saving the man's granddaughter. He frowned when she explained that they hadn't been able to meet the man because he was dead in her universe.

"What're you thinking?" she asked when his expression turned contemplative.

"He could be alive here though, right? You said yourself that not everything was the same between your universe and mine."

Maria thought about that for a minute. "Y'know, I hadn't really considered that, but it is possible." She scrambled to get out of bed and follow him when he jumped up and left the room. "Michael, what're you doing?" she asked when she found him in the living room, sitting behind the desk in the corner.

He pointed at the screen as he logged into some database that she had never seen or heard of before. "Chances are good that if this guy's still alive I'll be able to find him usin' this database." He drummed the fingers of his left hand on the surface of the desk while his right hand was busy clicking on the appropriate selections to get him to the search engine. "Okay, spell his last name for me."

It was the first time Maria had seen him use the computer and she was surprised by the ease with which he maneuvered around the sites. She watched him as he typed, surprised when his fingers flew over the keyboard; she had expected the stuttered peck-peck-peck that her Michael had been limited to.

"What kind of database is this?" she asked, sitting on the corner of the desk. She placed her left hand on the surface and used it to brace her weight when she leaned on it.

"It's used to track anyone of interest." He shrugged. "You said this guy claimed he was abducted multiple times, right? So, he probably drew some attention to himself with all of his crazy talk."

"You have access to a database like that?"

"Uh-huh." Michael shook his head when the search came back without any hits. "Okay, he's not in Tucson; any suggestions that'll help narrow it down?"

"No, in my universe that's where he was."

"Well, we'll just have to plug his name in and let the database run the search. Dependin' on how far it has to search it could run all night, so if you wanna go to bed…"

"You wanna watch a movie? I'm not really tired."

Michael brightened up at that idea. "Popcorn?"

Maria rolled her eyes. "You pick a movie out and get it ready; I'll go make the popcorn."

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 37 - 10/26

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:08 am

DeDe PR – Michael has questions about who he is. He is finally allowing himself to pursue that quest.

Mary mary – Michael can be nice, yes, but he also likes to wait to show that part of him!

Eva – It’s true that Maria breaking down awoke something in him. That mysterious connection which allowed him to find her… it intrigues him. Who is he, really? Yes, Maria told him but she told him her universe’s version. He wants answers, now and he’ll start with Dupree.


Part 37

It wasn't until several days later that the database search paid off and Michael stared at it in disbelief. Maria was at work so he couldn't share the information with her, but he printed off everything the database had gathered and grabbed his keys as he walked through the kitchen on his way to the garage.

He didn't recognize or question his decision to take the information to her; he just knew he couldn't wait another six hours for her to get home. The drive that normally took an hour was made in less time and before he realized it he was pulling into the parking lot at the bar. He relinquished his weapons at the door, growling at Raphael when he gave him his locker number and put his gear away for safekeeping.

He made a quick visual sweep of the interior and located Maria without any trouble; she was serving the group he normally hung around with when he came to the bar. He frowned when he noticed that Novak had joined them and he was grinning at Maria and saying something that she only shook her head at before moving on. He moved to the bar to order a beer while he waited for Maria to make her way back from her customers and he looked up when he felt someone settle on the stool next to his.

Stone was leaning on the counter with a teasing grin on her face as she watched him. "I just passed your kill total," she bragged as she downed the shot of whiskey she held in her right hand.

He shook his head as the woman behind the bar placed his beer on the counter in front of him. "Not possible; you were one behind me. So, if you had a kill shot on your last assignment then you only tied with me."

She smirked. "I took out two targets and that puts me one ahead of you."

"Thirty-one confirmed kills?" He took a long drink from his bottle as he thought about that. "Hope you're not plannin' to hold onto that for very long." He turned his head to follow Stone's predatory gaze when she locked onto something across the room and he wasn't surprised to see that she had zeroed in on the man talking to Gabriel.

"Who is that?"

"Detective Lawson," Maria answered, overhearing the question as she stepped back behind the counter. "He came by to see if anyone had heard anything about some break-ins in the neighborhood."

"Well, there you go," Michael said, nudging Stone's shoulder, "he's a cop, you're an agent, you've both got handcuffs… go for it."

Maria could've happily gagged when Stone just smiled at Michael and ruffled his hair affectionately before sliding off of the stool and making her way across the room. She shoved the jealousy aside; she was no longer denying it, she just didn't want to deal with it. "What're you doing here?"

He took another drink from his bottle and leaned forward over the bar. "I found Dupree."

Maria froze, staring at him in disbelief. "Wait, you found him… he's alive?"

"Alive, allegedly crazy, and livin' all alone outside of San Angelo, Texas." He pulled the folded papers out of the inside pocket of his leather jacket and laid them on the counter for her to look at.

Maria glanced through the papers before looking at him. "What're you gonna do now?"

"Go see him and get some answers."

"By yourself?"

This was the tricky part, Michael thought. He wasn't prepared to just ask her if she wanted to go with him because then she'd think he wanted her to go and that was the last thing he needed her to think. "Why? You don't think that's a good idea?"

"Well, what're you gonna say to him? You don't know how he feels about… things, or how receptive he's gonna be to meeting you." She wiped the counter down and shrugged one shoulder, trying to act nonchalant. "I'm just saying that it might be good to get an idea of his actual state of mind before you go barging in there."

"So, you're sayin' you wanna invite yourself along for my trip?" he asked, frowning. That's right, play it cool and make it sound like you're annoyed by the prospect of her presence on your trip. He scratched his chin as he waited for her to speak, acting like he was considering it.

"Why not? I'd like to meet him too, y'know, and I can help you get in to see him."

"How?"

"I can go out to his place, pretend I'm there doing research into alien abductees or something, and that way we'll be able to tell if he's gonna be willing to even listen to what you have to say."

Michael folded the papers over when she handed them back to him, putting them in his pocket and considering what she was saying. "Hmmm, I hadn't really thought about it like that." A complete and utter lie, but she didn't need to know that. "So, you'd just go in and do a little recon… I guess that'd be okay." He nodded. "We can fly out there and then I thought maybe we could rent a motorcycle, drive to Santa Fe, visit with Indigo, and then see if I can con him into bringin' us back to L.A. How's that sound?"

Maria didn't comment on his slip of the tongue, hiding her smile when she realized that he wanted her to go but didn't want her to think it was his idea. "Sounds good. I'm off the next three days, but I can talk to Gabriel after closing if you think it's gonna take any longer than that."

"Nah, we should only be gone a couple days at the most." He finished his beer and stood up. "Okay, well, I'm gonna head home then and make flight reservations for first thing in the mornin'."

Maria shook her head and smiled as she watched him walk out of the bar, stopping near the entrance to talk to Gabriel first. She wondered if the feeling of anticipation had to do with the trip itself, or if it was because she would be with Michael.

*****

Maria followed Michael to the elevator at the hotel in San Angelo, too tired to even bother asking if he had gotten one room or two. As soon as she had gotten home he had insisted that she pack and get ready to go so they could get to the airport in plenty of time for their flight.

They stepped out on the second floor and she leaned against the wall when he stopped at one of the doors and pulled the key card out of his shirt pocket. He swiped the card, reached inside to turn the lights on, and entered the room to look around for anything that seemed out of place. Once he was satisfied that everything was in order he dropped the key card on the dresser and turned to look at Maria. "I've got the room next door, so if you need anything…" He shrugged and moved past her and back out into the hallway, pulling the door closed behind him.

Maria was too exhausted to even be surprised by his unexpected behavior as she sat down on the bed, kicking her shoes off and crawling under the blankets. She was asleep before she had time to formulate a single thought.

When she awoke several hours later it was early afternoon and she was hungry. Shower first, she thought as she rolled over and stretched. She turned the television on to a local news station to check the weather while she got her things together. After a nice long, hot shower she dressed in a comfortable pair of jeans and a colorful blouse, and then went to knock on Michael's door.

He answered the door wearing a pair of cargo pants, the snap undone and causing them to hang low on his hips. The towel in his right hand and the droplets of water dripping from the ends of his wet hair indicated that he had just gotten out of the shower. "I'll be finished in a few minutes," he said as he waved her inside and closed the door behind her before walking back to the bathroom.

Maria moved to the table in the corner, looking over the equipment stretched out across the polished surface. "What's all this?" she asked.

"Wiring equipment," he called, raising his voice to be heard.

"You're wiring something?"

"Yeah, you."

She jumped when he spoke up from right behind her and as she turned to face him she blamed her rapid heartbeat on his unexpected presence. "What're you talking about?"

"I mean you're not goin' in there unless I know what's goin' on at all times, so you're gonna wear a wire."

"Michael, he's like eighty-some years old, what do you think he's gonna do?"

"The point of goin' in prepared is to circumvent anything that he might do; if he's really who you say he is and he was actually abducted by aliens, we have no idea what he's capable of." His hands rested on his hips as he stared at her, trying to read her expression and decide if she was gonna give him a hard time. "You wear the wire or you don't go in."

"What?" Maria shook herself. She was having a difficult time concentrating with him standing so close. Bare-chested, fresh out of the shower… he looked and smelled good enough to eat!

Michael reached around her, intentionally crowding her and bringing his body right up against hers. He wasn't blind to the look in her eyes; his entire body had reacted to that look, and he was more than willing to postpone meeting some old crazy guy if it meant they were finally gonna set the sheets on fire.

Maria cleared her throat and squeezed her eyes shut when he practically plastered the front of his body to hers as he reached for something on the table behind her. God, he was gonna kill her… she could feel every hard inch of him pressed against her, his big body as hot as a branding iron right out of the fire, and it was taking everything she had to keep her hands at her sides.

"Don't you have something smaller?" she rasped when he finally moved back, even though it wasn't enough to create space between them.

"Not a chance," he growled, purposefully misunderstanding and making it a point to make sure she could feel his erection.

"I'm talking about your wiring equipment, you egotistical swine," she snapped, annoyed that her body was heating up in response to his proximity.

"Oh, good, we've already reached the no part of the day." He gathered all of his equipment up and carried it over to the bed, carefully placing it where he could reach everything and motioning for her to join him.

Maria moved, but stopped with more than two feet still between them, wary of being so close to him after reacting so strongly to him just minutes earlier.

"You can get closer; I might bite, but I've had all my shots." He reached out and snagged one of her belt loops and pulled her to stand between his knees.

"I really don't think all of this is necessary." Maria heard the breathless quality in her voice and she hated herself for it. Bastard could get under her skin in less than a second!

"It is if you're plannin' to go into this guy's territory without me at your back. Now," he made a downward motion with his right hand, "unbutton your shirt."

"Excuse me?"

Michael smiled at her incredulous tone. He was making progress with her, he could see it. She was affected to the point of not seeing reason and taking every word he said as a sexual advance. Yep, her mind was definitely going in the right direction as far as he was concerned. "It's gonna look kinda obvious if the wires are on the outside of your clothes." He huffed in irritation. "Look, it's not like I haven't seen it before and you already said no. What the fuck do you think I'm gonna do? Force myself on you?"

Maria shook her head and reached up to unbutton her blouse. It wasn't so much a fear of him as it was a fear of her response to him. She looked down to watch him as he straightened out the wires he intended to use and she forced herself to bring her breathing under control.

Michael kept his gaze focused on the wires he was busy connecting. He could've easily used a wire in the form of a pin she could put on her shirt but unlike her Michael he wasn't a saint and he had no problem lying to see some skin. He could feel the nervous energy running through her body where his knees were pressed against her legs, holding her in place.

He lifted his head and swallowed hard as his gaze slid over the bare skin of her midriff and traveled up over her lace-covered breasts. Why was he doing this again? he asked himself as his heartbeat sped up. He smirked when his fingertips brushed against her skin and she tried to jump back, but his grip on her legs prevented her from moving. That's right, he was proving a point… that she wanted him just as much as he wanted her.

"Don't you dare," Maria warned when he slid two fingers beneath the front clasp that held her bra together.

"Relax, princess, I need to run the wire under your bra." He held the clasp away from her skin and slid the wire beneath it before reaching up to hold it in place so he could slide his fingers free of her bra. He turned to grab a small roll of medical tape off of the bed and tore a strip off, pressing it over the wire where it rested between her breasts. The backs of his fingers brushed against her breasts intentionally before moving down to secure the wire against her body in several more places.

He took the loose end of the wire that was dangling from the last piece of tape he had placed against her skin at her waist and hooked it into a small square, black box. He made a couple of adjustments to it and double checked the connections before his hands settled at her hips.

"I think you're getting way too much enjoyment out of this," she sniped.

"Well, my dick's not complainin'," he said in an agreeable tone as he stood and wrapped his arms around her.

"What the hell are you doing now?"

He grinned, knowing she couldn't see his expression. "Gotta get your box wired."

Maria groaned, blaming it on his choice of words and not the fact that the only thing between them and full skin-on-skin contact above the waist was her bra. She squeezed her eyes shut when his thumbs slid into her waistband and she fisted her own hands to keep from grabbing onto him.

Michael had to bite his bottom lip when his thumbs brushed against her skin and he quickly finished attaching the box that carried the signal for the audio to her waistband and secured it to her belt loop as additional security. His hands were fisted right over her back pockets and he briefly toyed with the idea of behaving, but temptation won out and he uncurled his fingers and slid his hands down, splaying them over her ass. "Y'know, we could always go see the old guy later," he murmured suggestively.

"This was just a cheap tactic to cop a feel," she snarled, finally pulling herself together and shoving him away. "Your behavior is disgusting and I can't believe that after all the time that we've spent together your only interest is pawing me like some… some…"

"Look, it's not a one-way street, baby; you wanna cop a feel…" He took a step back and held his arms open wide, "go for it. Matter of fact, give me a couple of seconds strip down and then you can really feel it all."

"Would you just get ready so we can go?"

Michael had the audacity to smirk at her. "You wanna know why you're pissed? You're pissed because you want me to nail you through the mattress and you're getting tired of always sayin' no."

"I'm pissed because you refuse to respect my feelings, Michael! God, why can't you just be like you've been for the past week? Why do you have to go and turn every little thing into something sexual? Do you honestly think it's easy for me to be around you and not think about what it would be like to just take what you've offered? I'm only human, Michael, and you're not stupid; you have to know what it does to me when you act like this." She ran her hands through her hair as she paced around the room, agitated by his behavior. "You look like my Michael, sometimes you talk like my Michael, and you feel like my Michael, but you'll never be him and you'll never replace him! I don't care what the Granolith thinks, you're not him and you're never gonna be able to replace him!"

"I don't give a fuck about replacin' him." He grabbed a shirt out of the small closet in the dressing area and pulled it on over his head. "You wanna spend the rest of your life alone and not getting laid, go right ahead." He paused in front of her and stared down at her. "You think this is what he would've wanted for you? Hate me all you want, Maria, but you're not the one who died." He didn't even try to stop her open palm from cracking against the side of his face this time.

"He wouldn't have wanted me to fuck you just because you look like him and it'd be convenient all the way around." She braced her fisted hands on her hips and glared at him, taking a step backwards when he advanced on her. "Don't touch me!"

"Oh, for fuck's sake, would you quit actin' like some blushin' virgin for five seconds?" he snapped as he reached out to button her shirt up. "Your argument would be a lot more convincin' if your breasts weren't right there, in my face! It doesn't really matter how much you fight it, Maria; you're gonna end up in my bed, screamin' my name…" He leaned in until he was so close that it was almost impossible to focus on his dark, angry eyes. "My name," he snarled.

Maria glared at him, silently telling him to get away from her. "Let's go talk to Dupree; I'm not interested in anymore of your opinions."

"Whatever." He grabbed his equipment and his key card and followed her out of the room.

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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 38 - 11/2

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:38 am

Mary mary – Dupree isn’t stupid, that’s all we are going to reveal right now.

Nibbles2 –
Can't wait to see how the meeting with Dupree goes. This will be the fourth version of the same man that Maria has met, it must be hard for her to keep track.
Damn, but it’s true ! Michael, Rath, this new Michael and now Dupree ! Hard to keep track, as you say.

DeDe PR – Yep, Michael opened his big mouth, that’s so typical of him. He just couldn’t help himself.


Part 38

Maria stared at the mansion that stood several hundred yards back from the heavy wrought iron gate at the property's entrance. It seemed out of place amid the miles of empty space that surrounded it. She walked over to the brick columns on the left side and pressed the call button on the metal box built into it.

The speaker crackled to life after she pressed the button for the third time and an angry voice grated out, "Go away. I'm not interested in buyin' anything."

"No, Mr. Dupree, I'm not here to sell anything."

"What do you want?"

Maria rolled her eyes. Of course, Michael's predecessor would be just as rude as he was! "I'd like to interview you for an article I'm writing."

"Why?"

"Mr. Dupree, if you would just agree to talk to me, I think I could clarify a little better face to face - "

"Are you alone?"

Maria glanced up at the surveillance cameras mounted above the brick columns and wondered why the old man was asking questions like that when the answer was apparent. "I'm standing here by myself, Mr. Dupree." Her gaze swung to the gate when she heard a click and the locking mechanism released in grudging invitation.

He made a sound of extreme impatience. "Well, hurry up then, girl! I don't have all day!" he huffed in annoyance.

"Yeah," Maria muttered as she trekked up to the house, "this guy's definitely your relative."

From his place hidden out of sight of the surveillance cameras, Michael laughed at the old man's tone. It was quite possible that she was right and the cranky old curmudgeon was related to him.

The large oak door was pulled open as she stepped up on the wide porch and she paused with one foot still on the top step as her gaze landed on Charles Dupree. He was in his mid-eighties, his hair was white but he wore it long so that it brushed over his collar, his tall frame was stooped with age, and his weight was balanced carefully on the cane he gripped in his right hand. But, the most striking thing about him was his eyes; deep, dark brown, and burning with intelligence and suspicion as he studied her. Michael's eyes, she realized, shaking herself out of her shock. The resemblance between them was uncanny, but it was his eyes that confirmed his relationship to Michael; she had never seen that much intensity in anyone else's eyes.

"Well? Are you just gonna stand there all day?" he snapped. "I'm not getting any younger the longer we stand here."

Maria stepped into the stuffy interior of the large foyer, waiting for him to close the door and lead the way into the house. She followed him into a sitting room, looking around in curiosity as he carefully made his way over to the chair that he clearly favored. The room was lit by lamplight, the natural sunlight blocked by the heavy curtains pulled tightly over the large windows.

"What paper do you work for?" he demanded, not bothering with pleasantries.

"I'm not actually affiliated with any newspapers, Mr. Dupree. I'm gathering information for - " She froze when he suddenly sat up straighter and his gaze turned predatory.

"You're with them, aren't you?"

Michael tensed at the man's words but he forced himself to sit still despite the fact that his instincts were screaming at him to go in after Maria. He would wait to see how she played it.

"What?"

"Why don't you tell me why you're really here," he suggested, his voice hard.

She should've known that he wouldn't just buy the story and go along with things the way she had planned. "Your name came up in some research I've been doing on alien abductees and I was hoping to ask you some questions."

He relaxed slightly and eased back into his chair, his thumb constantly rubbing over his right eye the only indication that he wasn't as unaffected as he wanted her to believe. "Why me? There are plenty of other documented abductees, so why would you single me out?"

"Who says I singled you out?" she countered. "I didn't say you were the only one I was going to interview."

"You're talkin' in circles, girl."

Maria sighed. "Why were you abducted? Do you have any idea why you would've been chosen?"

"Because that's the kind of luck that I have. How the hell should I know why they picked me to abduct for the purpose of experimentation?"

"Do you know why they did what they did to you?" She sat on the edge of the couch and watched him as he shifted his weight to his left side.

"Because aliens are sadistic creatures without morals and they don't have a single shred of humanity in their warped beings. What other reason would there be to abduct people, do tests on them, return them to their homes, and after time passes, take them and do it all over again?" He shook his head. "They're cruel and their methods of experimentation fall under the category of torture; they treat humans like lab rats, taking us only to return us to our homes until they're ready to poke and prod for more experiments. You have no idea what it's like to constantly straddle the line between reason and insanity, knowing that at any moment you could spiral out of control and begin the descent into total madness."

Michael frowned at the old man's agitated tone; Dupree was getting worked up and he didn't like the animosity in his tone. Listening to him, it sounded like part of his mind had already slipped into madness and he was simply struggling to hold onto some semblance of sanity with what was left.

"Mr. Dupree, have you ever considered that something good could have come from all that you went through? I'm not condoning what they did, I'm not saying it was right at all, but have you ever wondered if - "

"How could anything good have come from bein' tortured and abused?"

"What if there was someone who could prove to you that all of your suffering wasn't for nothing?"

"That's not possible," he denied, shaking his head.

"But, what if there was?" She cursed under her breath when she heard the pounding on the front door and Dupree looked at her suspiciously.

"You're one of them," he accused angrily.

"No, Mr. Dupree, listen to me, please." She felt herself stop breathing when he reached into the drawer built into the table next to him and withdrew a gun. He aimed it at her as he stood with the aid of the cane and moved around the room slowly, moving towards the front door. He hadn't reached the entrance to the room when Michael suddenly appeared there, his own weapon in hand and aimed at the old man. "I didn't give you the signal," she snapped, annoyed by the turn of events. This was not the way this was supposed to go down at all!

"If I had waited for you it would've been too late." He leaned forward and wrapped his hand around Maria's upper arm when she moved to stand between him and Dupree. "You don't stand between two guys with guns; it's not smart."

"Put your gun away," she hissed, placing her hand over his and pushing his hand down, effectively lowering the weapon. She ignored Michael's protests and moved to stand in front of the old man, meeting his gaze directly as she waited for him to focus on her. "Mr. Dupree… Charles… Michael may be many things, but he's not a threat to you despite the fact that he broke into your home and ran in here waving a gun around. He's the proof that I was talking about," she said gently.

Michael held his breath as he watched her extend her hand in the old man's direction, her fingers curling around the gun and exerting gentle pressure that slowly caused him to lower the weapon. "We wanted to talk to you, but we were afraid that seeing Michael without being prepared might be too much of a shock." She shook her head. "He wasn't supposed to come barging in here like this - "

"I thought you were in danger," Michael growled. "I was just watchin' out for you."

Charles ignored the younger man and focused his attention on the young woman urging him to lower his weapon and listen to what she had to say. "Do you often find yourself in situations where subterfuge and heavy-handed tactics need to be employed?"

"It happens on occasion," Maria admitted with a small smile. "And usually it's with him."

The old man chuckled quietly at her answer. "Somehow I have a feelin' that you enjoy getting yourself into these situations."

Michael frowned when Dupree gave just the slightest hint of a smile as he relinquished the weapon to Maria. Was the old bastard flirting with her?! What was it about her that caused this weird attraction between every incarnation of himself and her? "Are we finished here?" he demanded, annoyed by the old man's behavior.

Charles Dupree took several steps forward as he moved around Maria, approaching Michael with a steady gait. He paused less than a foot away, his dark eyes scanning over the younger man as he took in the unbelievable similarities. The kid could be his twin; he looked just like he had when he was much younger. What could possibly account for the similarity?

"Need your glasses?" Michael snapped, irritated by the way the man was studying him.

"Don't need glasses to see what's right in front of my face, you smart-assed little bastard. I can see the resemblance and it sure as hell isn't natural. I don't know why you're here, but if it's to feed me some bullshit story about how you're my illegitimate son or some long-lost grandson so you can lay claim to my fortune, you can just save your breath because I'm not interested. I'm not stupid, insane, or suffering from any loss of mental capacity; I remember my past quite well and there are no children in my past." He shook his head. "And even if there were - which, there aren't," he reiterated, "they sure as hell wouldn't look identical to me when I was your age. You tell me what I wanna know or I swear on every deity known to man that I will shoot you where you stand."

"You can try, old man," Michael taunted.

"Okay, boys," Maria said, stepping between them once again, "let's all calm down here. I realize how difficult it is for either of you to be calm or rational and it is becoming glaringly obvious that your antagonistic, territorial, aggressive nature cannot be solely blamed on alien or human genes, but you both need to back off so we can start this all over from the beginning."

It didn't take as long as she had expected to get them sitting down, Michael on the couch and Charles in his chair, but neither of them had broken eye contact once. They were staring at each other like warriors on a battlefield, sizing each other up as they concluded how much of a threat the other one was.

"I'm still waitin'," Charles reminded them without looking away.

Maria wondered how long they could continue staring at each other before one of them gave in to the need to blink. "You're both too stubborn for your own good," she muttered, shaking her head. "I suppose if I want you two to stop staring at each other I'd have to strip naked - " Uh-huh, that did it, she thought, rolling her eyes when two pairs of identical brown eyes swung across the room to land on her. "Okay, that's a little creepy… although, not completely unexpected. Certainly not from you," she said, shoving Michael's shoulder as she sat down next to him.

"I'm not gonna apologize."

Of course not, Maria thought with an expressive roll of her eyes. Michael Guerin, apologize? Not even a perfect alignment of the planets could make that happen! "Oh, I hope not; it's quite possible the Earth might suddenly stop spinning on its axis if you were to do any such thing."

Michael shrugged, unconcerned with her comment. "I'm not gonna turn down an opportunity to see a naked woman."

"Would you two like for me to leave you alone?"

Maria glanced up at the old man's annoyed question. "Sorry, Charles, your relative here has a tendency to have a one-track mind any time the word naked is mentioned." She waved a hand in response to his glare. "Getting back to the matter at hand, why don't we tell you what we came here to tell you, and then we'll decide where to go from there?"

Charles listened for the next couple of hours as the young woman shared a tale that was unbelievable and shocking, filled with stories of warring alien races, alien devices capable of altering space and time, parallel universes, special government units who existed for the sole purpose of hunting down aliens on Earth, and alien royalty re-created using the genetic material gathered from carefully chosen humans and altered in science labs on a planet called Antar.

His mind was reeling by the time she began to wrap the story up and he settled back in his chair when she fell silent. He didn't know how to respond; there was no point in calling her a liar because the proof was sitting right beside her and there was no denying the younger man's resemblance to him. It was just too much to take in all at once and he sat there staring at them without even realizing it, his mind a tumultuous sea of thoughts.

Michael shifted under the old man's stare, unconsciously staring at the man who had unwillingly contributed to his existence. Even though there were sixty years separating them in age he could see some marked similarities between the old man and himself. At least he still had all of his hair, he thought, unwilling to let his mind wander any further.

Beside him Maria was looking between the two men, cataloging their reactions to the story and to each other. She knew Michael and Charles were both struggling to come to terms with the other's existence and what it meant to each of them. Neither of them looked particularly pleased with the culmination of the afternoon's revelations and they had yet to say a civil word to each other.

"Perhaps it would be best if we left now," she said, standing up. "I can imagine that this has most likely been a shock for you and you could probably use some time to process everything we've told you today."

Charles finally shook himself out of his thoughts and reached for his cane, leaning on it heavily as he stood up. "I think that's a splendid idea, Maria." His gaze followed them as the young woman nudged Michael into a standing position and herded him out through the front door.

When Michael stepped down off of the porch and paused, waiting for her to join him, Charles cleared his throat to get her attention.

"Was there something else, Charles?" Maria asked, turning to face him as she ignored the hateful glance Michael shot at the old man.

"Why did you come here and tell me all this?"

"I know what it would've meant to my Michael to meet you in my universe, Charles. I'm hoping that it'll help you and Michael find some sort of… I don't know… acceptance or peace. What they did to you wasn't right by any means despite the fact that they were only doing what they felt was necessary to preserve their future." She shot a quick glance over her shoulder. "But, he's stuck on a planet without answers just like you are and it's not fair to him either."

Charles Dupree analyzed the young woman's words and her attitude. He reluctantly admitted that she seemed to genuinely care for the alien. "You care about him."

Maria was startled by his observation. Yes, she cared about him. Not the same way she had cared for her Michael, but… oh, hell, not again! She tried to come up with the best possible answer as she looked at him. "Of course; he's a major pain in the ass, but we're stuck with each other and, well, even though he's not my Michael…" She shrugged, not sure how to explain it so she didn't elaborate any further.

"If you don't hurry up I'm gonna leave your ass here," Michael yelled as he continued on his way to the wrought iron gate.

Maria pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and unfolded it so that the hotel letterhead was visible. "This is the hotel we're staying at; I wrote our room numbers down in case you're interested in talking or if you have any questions."

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ArchAngel1973
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The Man Who Didn't Belong (M/M - Mature) Ch 39 - 11/9

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:43 am

Mary mary – well, Michael certainly would win the title for “greatest pain in the ass who could be sweet when he wanted”.

Nibbles2 – Dupree isn’t Michael’s donor for nothing! There are some strong similarities and Michael’s personality isn’t just Rath’s, it’s Dupree’s too.

Spacegirl23 – Yeah, not a huge surprise, huh?


Part 39

Charles stood on his front porch long after they were gone, his expression speculative as he stared into the distance where the sun was setting. He had spent most of his adult life trying to deal with being abducted and experimented on against his will; no one had believed his claims, he had been labeled as insane, he had eventually lost everything that had ever mattered to him, and over time he had found it easier to just hide from the world and everyone in it.

It wasn't until the wind began to blow that he registered the fact that his skin was cold and he turned to make his way back into the house. He moved through the rooms as he made his way to the door off of the kitchen that led down into the basement. He pulled the door open and reached in to flip the light switch before slowly taking the steps one at a time, descending into the area of the house where he had literally spent most of his time up until a few years ago. The agonizing pain of arthritis had started to take its toll on him and as a result he rarely went down into the basement any longer. He snorted as he stepped down onto the floor, pausing to rest his legs for a few moments when the constant, nagging pain in his joints flared up from the trip down the stairs.

The drive to find the answers to his abduction had driven him to the edge of insanity so many times over the years and there were times when he had questioned whether or not he had slipped over that razor-thin edge. He took a deep breath and looked around, taking in the literally hundreds of sketches, photographs, and maps that papered the walls. Everything in the basement reflected his obsession with extraterrestrials and even after several decades of poring over every single clue, every piece of information, every shred of evidence he had been able to locate, he hadn't found a single answer.

He had gotten more information in a few hours that afternoon than he had gotten after a lifetime of searching. He eased down into the chair behind the desk piled high with books and notepads and he looked down at the sheet of paper in his hand. It seemed impossible that the stories he had heard that afternoon could possibly be valid; what were the chances that what she had told him was true? That Michael Guerin had been essentially cloned from his genetic material… that she had traveled here from some parallel universe after losing her own version of the young man. It couldn't be true, he decided. It was incomprehensible that out of the billions of people on the planet that he would've been chosen to contribute to some alien race's last-ditch effort to save their royals. Why him? Why would he have been chosen for such a project?

Maria hadn't known why he had been chosen specifically, only that it had something to do with some genetic flaw that he had, some flaw that was rare, but necessary for the hybridization process. She was also adamant that the reason he had been taken had been a matter of survival for the Antarians. Antar… the place where he had been taken, the planet, it had a name. Its people had been on the brink of extinction because of a war that had broken out and he had been chosen to help save the royal lineage, to preserve one of the most important beings within their ranks.

He had spent a lifetime hating the aliens that had taken him, performed excruciating and at times humiliating experiments on him, and now, after decades of hatred and bitterness, he was suddenly faced with an explanation that seemed implausible: the aliens had never meant to harm him. They had needed human DNA in order to recreate someone whose importance to their cause was imperative, whose survival was a determining factor in their fight against a tyrant, and they had needed him to make that happen.

He sighed as he looked around at the things that comprised his entire life. This room held everything that had been left after his obsession had completely taken over. Decades of fruitless searches, millions of dollars wasted, the few people who had meant anything to him tossed by the wayside, and this was his legacy… this was all he had to show for his life.

His hand swept across the surface of the desk, clearing it with a single swipe. Sixty years wasted and he had finally started to accept that it had all been for nothing. Sixty years of insane ramblings, sketches of the beings who had taken him and the faces of others who had been abducted and held in the same place with him, memories and nightmares of tests and procedures that were too horrible to think about but that his mind couldn't shake, the anger and bitterness that had slowly taken over until nothing else remained.

But, it hadn't all been for nothing, he thought. Michael Guerin existed because of all that he had gone through. Antar and an entire civilization might one day be saved because of what had happened to him. He looked around at the mess he had made and he sighed raggedly as his gaze landed on the scattered newspaper articles that had fluttered to the ground. Was it worth it? he wondered. He had thrown his entire life away to pursue the truth and now that he had the truth, he had nothing else.

*****

Maria followed Michael into the hotel and watched him carefully as they rode up in the elevator. He hadn't said a word since leaving Dupree's house, but it was easy to see that he was agitated. He had brushed off every attempt she had made to talk to him and she could practically feel the maelstrom of emotions warring within him.

"You wanna get something for dinner?" she asked as they stepped out on the second floor and turned to walk to their rooms.

"No." He pulled his key card out of his pocket and slid it into the lock on the door, turning the knob and shoving the door inward when he heard the quiet snick indicating that the lock had released. He slammed the door shut before she had a chance to say another word and she jumped back to avoid being hit in the face.

Great, now he was gonna be in a bad mood for God only knew how long! She went to her own room and decided to take a shower before thinking about what she wanted to do for dinner. She started the water, adjusting the temperature before stripping out of her shirt and looking down at the wire taped to her body.

She shivered as she remembered his hands brushing against her skin, recalling the mixed emotions raging inside of her as he had taken every opportunity to touch her or brush up against her. He wasn't subtle in the least, but she wouldn't expect anything different from him no matter what he was doing. He didn't respect the boundaries she had set, but he always backed off as soon as she told him no; he didn't like being told no but at least in that situation he did listen.
She shifted her thoughts away from Michael and his hands and turned her attention to getting ready for her shower.

*****

Michael alternated between lying in bed and stalking around the room, overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings that he didn't want to deal with. Why had he come here? Why had he insisted on taking this trip to meet an old man who might or might not be his… his what? Father? Grandfather? He had no way of knowing how exactly this man was related to him, but it was kind of hard to ignore the similarities between them. It wasn't like he could pretend that the man had no connection to him; the physical resemblance was there, but there was also some… link, some kind of indefinable feeling of being connected to the old man.

That wasn't what he had been looking for when he had decided to look for Charles Dupree; he had just wanted some answers, he wasn't interested in anything else. It was all Maria's fault. Her and her damn stories! If she hadn't come here and started telling him all this stuff he wouldn't be here now. He wouldn't be tracking down an old, crazy man who obviously didn't want anything to do with him. This was a complication he didn't need or want, he thought as he threw the television remote across the room in a fit of temper.

He ran his hands through his hair as he stood and started pacing again. He didn't want to think about it anymore. Maybe a shower would help. It couldn't hurt, he mused, rolling his stiff shoulders back.

*****

After a hot shower Maria dressed and settled down on the bed to look over the menu provided by the hotel. She flipped the page and scanned over the items listed before her gaze settled on the side that listed the selection of steaks the kitchen offered. She knew without even checking that Michael hadn't eaten yet; he was upset by what he had heard and she had a feeling that he was shaken up by coming face to face with his human donor.

But, was he going to admit it? No.

She finished browsing the menu and reached for the phone, placing an order and asking to have it delivered to Michael's room. As soon as she had replaced the receiver she put the menu away and reached up to scrub her hands over her face. He was going to be an ass, she already knew it, but she couldn't in good conscience just let him suffer through it alone.

She waited another twenty minutes before getting up and leaving her room to walk next door and knock on the door to Michael's room. She wasn't surprised when he jerked the door open and glared at her, his dark gaze demanding to know why she was bothering him.

"Put some pants on," she ordered, moving past him and entering his room.

Michael glanced down at the towel he had wrapped around his hips when she had knocked on the door; he had just gotten out of the shower and he was dripping all over the plush carpet. "Did I ask you to come in?" he snarled, slamming the door and turning to face her.

"Not in so many words, no," she answered, dropping down to sit on the couch. She had no doubts that he was going to go out of his way to be a jerk, it was to be expected.

"Not in any words." He jerked the towel off as he stalked back through the room to the dressing area, too irritable to even enjoy the shock value of that move. "I could be busy doin' any one of a million things and your bein' here is - "

"Michael, you're not doing anything but stomping all over the room because you're pissed off and upset about what happened this afternoon." Maria had to force her eyes to stay focused straight ahead, but she didn't bother trying to avoid following his tall, naked body as his reflection crossed the television screen.

"Why don't you go analyze someone else for a change? I'm not in the mood for another lecture about how your Michael would've handled this so much better."

"Y'know, you need to get off of that and just let it go! I'm not gonna keep going over that, especially not right now. Why don't you just talk to me about what's bothering you for once, instead of acting like a child."

"I don't need you to come in here an' tell me how to act," he snapped walking back out into the sitting area wearing a pair of his favored cargo pants and nothing else. "It was a stupid idea to come here and I should have my head examined for listenin' to you in the first place." He was seething inside as he stalked around the room, wishing that he had something to throw.

"Oh, so now this is my fault?" she asked, annoyed that he was turning it around so he didn't have to deal with it.

"Of course it's your fault! It's always your fuckin' fault!"

"No way, buddy." Maria stood and turned to face him, arms crossed over her chest as she watched him pace back and forth. "I'm not the one who decided to look for Charles, I'm not the one who decided to fly to Nowhere, Texas when you located him, and I'm not the one who drove all the way into L.A. to ask someone that - "

"I did not ask you to go," he denied heatedly. "You invited yourself along like you had any right - " He stopped talking when someone knocked on the door and he pulled it open, furiously glaring at the poor man standing on the other side. "What?!"

"Room service," the hotel employee squeaked out.

"I didn't order any fuckin' room - "

"Michael, back off," Maria said, insinuating herself between him and the open door. She placed her right hand against his bare chest, knowing it would provide a momentary distraction. "Please, come in; you can set up over there." She motioned at the table by the windows and the man scurried to finish his task while she kept the rooms' occupant busy.

"I'm not hungry!" Michael snarled.

"You're pissed off, upset, and confused by everything that happened today, and if you don't wanna talk about it, that's fine, but you're gonna sit down and eat." If nothing else, it would calm him down fractionally. Maria looked up when the hotel employee finished and rushed back to the door, pausing at the threshold to glance at them.

"I hope you don't think I'm givin' you a fuckin' tip," Michael growled, taking a step closer to the nervous man. He backed off when Maria's nails lightly scratched down the center of his chest, but his dark eyes remained locked on the other man.

"Do you have any idea how rude that was?" she chastised once the poor man had taken off and Michael shoved the door shut behind him.

"Do you have any idea how much I don't fuckin' care?" He crossed the room and looked over the plates that had been set on the table before reaching for the bottle of imported non-alcoholic beer that had been placed next to what was obviously his plate. He twisted the cap off and threw it on the table before taking a long drink from the cold bottle. His gaze wandered over the food that Maria had ordered, taking in the prime rib steak, loaded baked potato, broccoli, dinner rolls, and salad.

"Sit down and eat." Maria took the chair on the opposite side of the table, glancing over the lasagna, garlic rolls, and salad. She reached for the glass of wine, taking a sip before setting it back on the table and picking up the cloth napkin and shaking it out.

As she had known he would, Michael slowly started to mellow out as he ate his meal. He was still avoiding every attempt she had made to shift the conversation back to Charles Dupree though. She frowned at him when he leaned over and cut off a sizable chunk of her lasagna before scooping it up. He shoveled the forkful of pasta into his mouth and chewed it slowly before washing it down with a swallow of beer.

"Not as good as yours," he muttered as he cut the last piece of his steak in half. "Look, I know you wanna talk about today, but I'm not interested; he's not gonna call so there's no reason to talk about it."

"Michael - "

"It's been several hours and if he was gonna call he would've already done it."

Hmmm, interesting, Michael seemed to be incredibly touchy about Charles Dupree; it was as if he were trying to avoid the disappointment of being rejected by his human donor by turning the tables and rejecting Charles first. Was is possible that he did, in fact, want Dupree to call? "It was a lot of information for him to take in, Michael. You've gotta give him some time to adjust and to process it all."

"I don't have to give him anything and I have no intention of waitin' around. We're leavin' first thing in the mornin'." Michael's mind was already set on his decision. The old guy didn't wanna deal with him? Fine, he'd just go; he'd take Maria with him and he'd never look back. Good riddance!

Maria rolled her eyes at his declaration as she finished her glass of wine. "You didn't exactly process this information on the spot either, y'know."

"I think sixty years should be plenty of time since he's believed in aliens and abductions his whole life." He was pacing again, his right hand dragging the identification tags he wore back and forth on their chain.

"Believing it and coming face to face with an alien-human hybrid carrying your DNA is two different things. Your existence is validation that he was right all along and that he's not insane regardless of what society thinks."

"He's not gonna call, and even if he does I don't have anything to say to him."

"Fine, Michael, continue living in your little fantasy world where you're unaffected by everything that goes on around you." She sat at the table, shredding her dinner roll into a pile of crumbs as she thought about the situation.

Across the room Michael watched her, sensing that she wasn't finished saying what she had to say. He didn't have to wait long to be proven right.

"No, you know what? You chose to come here and you're gonna take responsibility for that choice. That old man's gonna want to talk to you." She shook her head as she wiped her hands on a napkin and stood up. "He's lost everything in his pursuit of the truth, so you're not gonna just - "

What, and he was to blame for that? "That ain't got nothin' to do with me! He wasn't lookin' for me; he just wanted people to know that he wasn't insane! I'm not responsible for his delusions!"

"It wasn't a delusion though, was it? You're living proof that everything he's believed for the past sixty years is true. You can't just come here, tell him about it, and then just leave without giving him a chance to talk to you."

"He had his chance to talk to me!" he exploded, pissed that she kept pushing him when he had already made his position clear. "What the fuck was I thinkin' when I agreed to let you come with me?"

"Good question," she snapped, throwing the napkin on the table and crossing the room. "Why don't you think about it for a while?"

"Where're you goin'?"

"It was a long day for me too, Michael, and you don't wanna talk about this anyway." She pulled the door open and scowled when he shoved it shut again.

Michael met her irritated gaze when her head snapped up and she glared at him. She was exhausted, he realized as he noticed the tired slump to her shoulders and the shadows under her eyes.

"Let's watch a movie," he blurted out, not wanting her to leave but unwilling to ask her to stay.

"No, thanks." She rubbed her eyes and reached for the door again. "I'm tired; I think I'm just gonna go to bed early." She turned back to look at him from the hallway. "Don't be such a jerk when that guy comes back to clean up from dinner. And, Michael," she yawned, "give him a tip this time."

Michael threw himself down on the couch and stared at the dark television screen. At least watchin' a movie with her would've provided a distraction, he thought, annoyed that she was being so selfish. The least she could've done was keep him company and help him keep his mind off of the days events since it was all her fault anyway. What was the big deal? So, he didn't wanna wait around for a call that wasn't comin' anyway… why did it matter?

"Fuck it," he muttered, lifting his legs and propping his feet up on the coffee table.

Locked