Attraction to Zenith (UC,Mi/L,TEEN) Letter Q 9/8 [WIP]

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Attraction to Zenith (UC,Mi/L,TEEN) Letter Q 9/8 [WIP]

Post by Ashita » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:20 am

Title: Attraction to Zenith, and Everything in Between
Disclaimer: The characters and concepts of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, and 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended and I make nothing off this story. Just having a bit of fun.
Beta: The lovely Whims! Thanks for everything!
Pairings: Michael/Liz; Implied M/L
Rating: Teen
Summary: Drabble-verse; A challenge to write a different drabble based on every letter in the alphabet; the ABC’s of Michael and Liz. I saw this for a Veronica Mars site and liked the concept and decided to apply it to the Roswell-verse.

AN: Drabbles will be alphabetical order but not necessarily chronological order.

A is for appeal. He didn’t get it when he was younger and couldn’t see what Max had seen in her over the eight years he’d had to listen to him wax poetic about her hair, her smile, her eyes, her sweet disposition and intellect - although he'd been intrigued by the flashes of fire that surfaced on occasion, belying the quintessential good girl persona. But staring into determined chocolate eyes as she stepped in front of him undaunted, he couldn’t help but feel a spark, a flash of admiration that despite the visible tremble wracking her body, she didn’t back down.

Flicking a cool glance over her pinched, hesitant features, he swallowed thickly, his stomach jumping when she shifted forward, frantically appealing to his common sense, pointing out how foolish running would be at this time, and he felt that admiration grow in spite of wanting to shove this interloper out of his life. She was a challenge, an enigma and she didn’t fit into his carefully scripted, guarded life, and that terrified him, made him act far harsher than he intended, his words dripping scorn as he smirked at her.

She didn’t even flinch, even as her kooky friend stepped back, intimidated by his words and manner, but she gazed at him, resolved to stand by them no matter how much he pushed her, no matter what hateful words he flung her direction, and in that cold, darkened alley he finally understood everything Max had been saying over the years.

A is for Approval. He had craved it all his life. To know that he fit somewhere, that there was someone that could accept him, flaws and all. Max and Isabel accepted him because he was like them, they had a secret that forced them together, but despite their past ties, he had never truly felt they approved or even fully respected him as a person. They always treated him as a somewhat misguided, aberrant little brother who had to be watched constantly; someone they couldn’t trust fully despite the fact that his well-honed instincts had garnered them more information than all their apathetic attempts.

His first taste of full acceptance was surprisingly from her. Max wanted him to be more responsible. Isabel wanted him to take fewer chances. The Evans saw him as not quite good enough to associate with their children. Hank saw him as a freak and nothing more than a paycheck. But she didn’t expect anything from him other than what he was. She didn’t prod or try to guide his actions, and while she may not always agree with the way he handled things, she stood in his corner. It was baffling, yet freeing.

And every time he faced the flash of disappointment or disregard from his so-called siblings’ eyes, he remembered the flash of concern and apprehension in hers when she stood outside his home, one he never let anyone see, and warned him about Topolsky and felt vindicated that he had an ally, someone willing to stand beside him through it all.

A is for Avoidance. He had spent all his life not only hiding what he was, but also the less savory aspects of his life with the town drunk – his abuse, both mental and physical, never having enough, never being enough. Isabel and Max thought they knew him so well, but the truth was, they had never even scraped the surface of his mask. They never made it past the strategically cultivated lie that concealed the scars from a life he didn’t choose, but was forced to embrace because the alternative would leave him vulnerable.

So it was no surprise that he chose to avoid her and the entire situation, keeping his thoughts and emotions buried behind an impenetrable stonewall. Avoid connections, avoid astute, intelligent eyes that saw far too much, knew too much and threatened the carefully crafted façade without even trying. But she was everywhere, poking her nose in places it didn’t belong, discovering secrets she had no business knowing and poking holes into that wall of ice he maintained to keep the world at arms length.

She became the first human he trusted; and although he’d never admit it, her presence in his life terrified him, shook him up and the wall, once stronger than granite, was beginning to erode, to crumble around him.

A is for Apology. He never said the words, preferring to convey his sentiments in action since words often failed him and it was too easy to conceal intentions with carefully crafted sentences. What were words really other than yet one more way to lie? But expressions, body language, actions, they spoke more than the actual words ever could. So he didn’t bother to say them to her as he handed her back her journal.

Rather, he told her that he considered her a friend, smiled faintly, looked at her warmly and openly for the first time, allowed her to see behind the frigid mask for the briefest moment, because that small acknowledgment was worth a thousand platitudes. He saw her acceptance in the softness of her smile, the tilt of her head as she studied him contemplatively and the shy glow in her eyes as he lightly teased her before walking out the door. He could have destroyed the journal, it probably would have been smarter, but touched by the insight he gained to her heart and soul, he couldn’t bring himself to destroy the tome.

It was an apology, despite the words never being uttered between them and he knew the message was received when Max told him the next day that she had called him a good friend. He admits, it was a test, to see if she would keep his secret, that she would accept his words in the light he intended and he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face to learn that he had been right to trust his instincts.

A is for Acceptance.
Last edited by Ashita on Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:46 pm, edited 19 times in total.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, AU, Mi/L, Teen) Letter B 1/21

Post by Ashita » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:51 pm

K - Love it! Thanks so much for the comments and hopefully we'll see something from you soon? Please? I am not above begging and bribery.

Whims - Thanks so much for your work on this and the others, although I apologize for infecting the muse once more. But then again...considering that you got me hooked on Veronica Mars and Moonlight (unintentionally because who could resist Jason?), so we're even. ;)

AN: Just want to make it known again that this series of drabbles won't necessarily be in chronological order but will be in alphabetic order, so there may be some jumping around. Also, this is AU, as will quickly become apparent.

B is for Balance. That’s what they called the ceremony to bring him back from being sick, a realigning of his body, bringing him back into balance. He barely remembers seeing his friends appear one by one, but the moment she stepped onto the wheel, something had changed irrevocably inside him. He remembered turning to face her, standing directly across from him on the spoke of a wheel, her eyes leveled on him nervously, their gazes holding for a tense moment before Max moved, drawing them out of their reverie.

She was the yin to his yang, their personalities opposites in so many ways – she was order while he was chaos, she was logic to his emotion, light to his dark, strategy to his action. All of their ragged edges and loose ends smoothed and merged into a balanced state, a synergy that became greater than their parts for one perfect moment, both of their masks completely gone as her eyes traveled back to his before his head swam and he was awake, lying in the cave feeling incomplete as they fell back into their roles.

Later, Max said he was surprised to see her there as Riverdog told her to step out of the circle because he was worried her fear would do irreparable damage to Michael, but he knew that she was the one who had completed the circuit and would never let him down. Whether she stepped in willingly, or was called to his side by something greater and beyond them both, he knew she was meant to be there. But he simply nodded in acknowledgment and kept his thoughts to himself, because how do you tell your brother that the love of his life balanced you, and if she hadn’t been on that plane, you wouldn’t be there to have this conversation?

B is for Betrayal. The word defined their existence – past and present. In his previous life, he had been a prince, a warrior, a respected man who was second-in-command of his planet and later, a martyr when his betrothed and his cousin, a man that coveted his position by the throne, betrayed the ones they proclaimed to love. They were slaughtered in cold blood, executed in front of the people, including his traitorous wife-to-be when Khivar finally got what he wanted.

It should have ended there, but they were beloved and their people couldn’t let go of a Golden Age yet to be seen and recreated them, sent them to the tiny, helpless, blue planet they had been studying for years in a neighboring solar system, although the why of it remained unknown.

They were once again betrayed here by people who were supposed to care for them, first by their protectors who abandoned them without a clue as to who and what they were - Kal when he dumped the dupes and made his own life in lieu of honoring his obligations; Nasedo when he made a deal with the devil that killed them. They were doomed to repeat the cycle before they left the pods.

He was betrayed once more when his so-called family deserted him in the desert to go with people they had no idea they could trust, leaving him with a sense that this was wrong; they had things to do and Isabel and Max abandoned him and their life for a fantasy. Although to hear them tell it, he was the one that balked, he was the one who didn’t embrace them and subsequently abandoned them. But he knew the truth.

Betrayal came once more in the form of a blonde girl, one he once called sister, when the man he once admired in two lifetimes made promises to a pretty brunette, then cruelly turned to another because it was his ‘destiny.’ The same girl who later killed a friend and ally without thought because she had turned on them and embraced the other side, wanting the queen-ship more than she wanted family ties and friendship.

So, could anyone really blame him for having trust issues?

That was why the fact that she had breached his walls in the first place, and that she remained the person he trusted most, was nothing short of a miracle.

B is for Beauty. He stared down into her face, his chin propped in one hand as he drew his fingers through molasses strands, her face peaceful and innocent in her repose, cheeks flushed and glowing. Despite the life they’d lived, the harrowing events, the pain, the distrust, the anger, the danger his kind placed her in every day, she still managed to retain a semblance of innocence and softness. Drawing a line over the curve of her cheek, his breath stuttered and heart warmed as her lips curved softly, his name a murmur on her lips as chocolate eyes fluttered open. Beautiful, she was so beautiful.

But more than just a pretty face. The real gem lay in the beauty of her heart and soul, one that had absolute faith and trust in him in spite of it all and eyes that overflowed with love and contentment as their hands laced together, sealed and bound by a passion and emotion greater than anything he’d ever felt in either lifetime.

B is for Bride. He had never seen himself as the marrying kind; his life was far too complex, complicated and dangerous to have someone waiting for him at home. It was his excuse to Maria when he stopped their relationship before it had a chance to take off, but his tiny brunette snuck past all his arguments and good intentions until he couldn’t see a life without her by his side.

And as he stared down the aisle, his heart nearly stilling at the vision, swathed in ivory lace with gold thread and blue bead accents, he wondered if that had been his problem from the beginning – imagining that his wife would sit quietly at home waiting for him instead of fighting his battles at his side. She was not one to wait silently, and never would; wasn’t one to let him face his demons alone, but would step in front of him and defend him at all costs. His own warrior princess, the queen of his heart – she taught him that real love meant accepting that while you can never predict how life will turn out, and that the real danger lies in never opening yourself up to its possibilities.

B is for Baby. When Isabel had the baby scare, he had planned to stand by her, no matter how terrified the idea of children made him; it was the right thing to do. But he couldn’t describe the relief that flooded through his body when Max came through those doors and told him that there was no way that Isabel and he could create life through the power of dreams alone; he had wanted hit the ground and thank God or the fates, or whomever you wanted to believe in, when he found out.

He and Liz were still new at that point and the last thing he wanted was to hurt her with the news of an unexpected and unwanted (on both his and Isabel’s parts) pregnancy. He knew that she’d understand, and that she’d step aside to let them raise the child, but trying to live without her would have broken something fragile inside him when he had just started to trust that his life could be something other than a tragedy. At that time, he hadn’t been ready for the responsibility.

Now, staring at the little pink bundle in his wife’s arms, joy and trepidation coursing through his veins, he traced his daughter’s delicate features and grinned at Liz, counting himself doubly blessed that things played out as they did. He didn’t know what he had done to deserve this life, but studying her weary, flushed face, and listening to the snuffling noises coming from the baby in her arms, he knew better than to question it.

B is for Bounty.
Last edited by Ashita on Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, Mi/L, Teen) Letter C 1/28

Post by Ashita » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:25 pm

Thanks Barbara! :) Glad you're enjoying this series of drabbles. It's been a fun challenge.

C is for Crashdown. He’d spent many days in that booth, pretending to be human, pretending to not care about the whispers about him, pretending that his foster dad wasn’t a drunk out for all he could get, pretending the pretty waitress that served him really saw him and not the taint of his less-than-savory home life. Sighing, he turned away from the bright blue-green vinyl benches to survey the rest of the room, silent of laughter, whispers, clattering dishes and the smell of greasy, fatty, fried foods, his heart panged slightly to see the beginnings of change in the air.

He knew it as the place where life as he knew it ended within a split second and the sharp rapport of a gun, nearly killing a nosy, exasperating and stubborn small town waitress who had pushed, prodded and shoved her way into his life. That one event tipped his world on his axis and he’d been reeling ever since, trying to find a hold in his world of choice if not actual birth. Had someone told him years ago, that Max healing that tiny human girl would be the best thing that ever happened to him, he would have scoffed (maybe even zapped them for their stupidity) and had them committed.

But staring into sparkling chocolate eyes as he hit one knee, her fingers flying to her throat in surprise, he can see that momentous event for what it was. It wasn’t an ending, but a beginning; and as he slid the tiny diamond on her finger, a watery giggle and acceptance tumbling past her lips, he knew he no longer had to pretend. He had everything he dreamed about in this life.

C is for Catalyst – a person or thing that precipitates an event or change. She was always babbling about things like that, often making his head hurt with her long, drawn out theories of cause and effect and the results. If event A had never occurred, then how would that affect B? Would it have happened? Would it have had a different taint or tilt? Would they have met, argued, hated, fought, became allies, became friends, became lovers, became each other’s everything if she hadn’t been in the way of a bullet that day?

The possible scenarios she dredged up made his head swim sometimes. He on the other hand, didn’t think about such things. It did happen and they did meet and they did fight and spar and eventually shared that fateful kiss and fell in love. He’d learned at a very young age, that questioning past events will only drive you crazy, and that it wouldn’t change a damn thing. All he cared was that it did happen, and he was grateful to whatever being or event or catalyst that set him on this path.

C is for Conceal. It was another word that defined their life and his life in particular; he felt like he was always hiding something from the world, from his family, from the girl he loved, although she had no idea that he loved her.

He had to hide his alien origins because the species that dominated the planet didn’t tolerate anyone or anything different or more than themselves. He couldn’t even begin to understand why his people sent them to Earth. It made no sense. Why would you send your hope for salvation to a planet that hated you and was intent on shooting you first and asking questions later, if you happened to survive their tests and experiments? Unless you never expected them to come back. But whatever their misguided reasons, the truth was, he was viewed as an abomination by this backwater planet and it forced him to conceal who he really was instead of seeking the answers he desperately needed.

Abuse – it followed him all of his life. It was his dirty little secret that he kept under wraps for many years, thinking that no one would ever believe him and even if on the half chance they would, there was nothing they could do to save him.

As a child, he hadn’t known Hank’s behavior was wrong or out of place until he’d had the opportunity to watch the Evans with Isabel and Max, but by that time, the damage had been done. It became his normal and like most victims of abuse, he believed that there was something wrong with him and that he deserved the slaps, the punches and the mocking words, so he concealed it in the hopes that his friends wouldn’t find him unworthy.

But she always seemed to see right through him, found out every secret he’d hidden away without even trying, soft, compassionate, searching irises that followed him around a room, peeling back the carefully crafted mask one layer at a time, until he was laid bare, ugliness, scars and all visible to all-too-knowing eyes. And yet she hadn’t run, hadn’t viewed him as broken or unworthy. He fell in love with her for that, but given the feelings of his pseudo brother, he’d had to conceal that as well.

C is for Cry.
Last edited by Ashita on Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, Mi/L, Teen) Letter D 2/4

Post by Ashita » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:53 pm

AN: The next few letters are linked.

D is for Desire. Unspoken lust. One insane, heated moment between them that they had hidden from the rest of the world. An accident really.

He had kissed her. It was a quiet night at the Crashdown, the two of them cleaning up after hours. No one had seen nor heard about it because they agreed to say nothing by unspoken agreement. She had been pushing her way into the back room, as he was coming out to see if she needed any help finishing the front when they collided. Hands clutched at his arms for balance, his wrapped around slim hips, their chests pressed together, soft exclamations and apologies were made, a rueful chuckle bubbled over her lips, he smirked and commented on her grace, she smiled.

It would have been fine if they had left it at that, had moved away from each other without looking up, if their eyes had never met; but they had and her wide, confused, warm brown eyes, glossed pale-pink lips and flushed cheeks had been his downfall.

D is for Drown. Drowning in emotion, drowning in sensation, drowning in the sweet taste of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, of the ultimate forbidden fruit as their lips met hesitantly for the first time and hers parted, inviting him to taste and tantalize, drenched in sweet scent and fevered flesh. His breath snagged, his head swam, his heart pounded and his blood pulsed as her body molded to his, hands tangled in each other’s hair, damp breaths mingled and converged as lips met again and their mouths fused, the entirety of his world tipped on its axis as the kiss grew in intensity and rose to a fevered pitch, nearly searing him from the inside out.

Lost in her eyes, in her feel, her taste, adrift, over his head, floating, and drowning in the revelation that nothing could ever be the same again. They crossed a line, forged a bond and the desire that he’d banked for years, knowing his best friend liked this tiny brunette, burned with the force of a wildfire. He was destroyed.

D is for Devastated. It’s what he’d felt when they pulled away and realized what they had done; something awakened that should never be and a feeling that had to be repressed because duty prevented his pursuit of that fleeting happiness. She wasn’t his to worship and never would be. They pulled apart, avoiding each other’s eyes, skirting around each other, discomfited by the fire still burning inside; a feeling quickly banked by distress at their actions and the potential ramifications. So he left and they never spoke of it again; they couldn’t afford to break the group up for one perfect moment. After all, it was a fluke, a moment of madness, a passing fancy - they had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

D is for Denial.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, Mi/L, Teen) Letter E 2/11

Post by Ashita » Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:25 pm

Thanks Barbara and K! D is my favorite and Whims loved that one as well. :)

E is for Error. That’s what they’d chalked that night up to, a lapse in judgment, something in the air, the heat getting to their brains (yeah…heat, not touching that one), one small breach, a blunder, a minor indiscretion. It was forgotten, shuffled aside, brushed under the rug for the good of their sanity and the benefit of a group of friends that would never understand the madness that bewitched them that night.

But his lips burned in remembrance, and his body ached; a rush of endorphins running through his veins every time he caught sight of cascading molasses hair, a shy smile and teeth nervously set into pink flesh as she nibbled on her lip thoughtfully.

E is for Elude. It was what she had been doing for the past week when he finally gave into temptation and sought her out, just needing to reassure himself that he hadn’t imagined that night, and that the fire burning in chocolate irises was real. He had to know she felt the same heat and that he wasn’t alone, and he intercepted her flight, dragging her into the Eraser room despite all his previous good intentions. Never again, had lasted mere weeks.

She stared at him wide-eyed, startled, but the electricity the crackled over his skin at her light touch gave him the answer he so desperately needed and he threw caution to the wind, pinning her against the door and committing his second faux pas.

E is for Elemental. It was the only word he could use for the force unleashed when their lips touched for the second time; it was primal, hungry, a jolt, a spark that couldn’t be denied by either of them this time, couldn’t be blamed on the heat of the day or a whimsy as it grew out of control and threatened to consume them both. She couldn’t explain it away this time. And he reveled in every minute of that caress despite knowing that he was going to get burned.

E is for Enraptured.
She was like a drug, a terminal disease that spread through his veins, imprinting every cell in his body with her brand. She had crawled beneath his skin, burrowed into his heart and set up residence in his brain with the mere touch of her lips on his, the glide of her tongue against his, with her scent and taste imbedding into every pore of his being so that he would never be free of her enchantment. And truthfully, he could happily live bound to her if it meant he could live in that moment forever.

E is for Envy. He had said it before, but never had he felt it more than in that moment as he trailed soft kisses over gold-touched skin and he realized that for all he discovered, how real this moment was, he still couldn’t do anything about it. No matter how much he coveted the petite girl pressed against him, she was out of reach, inaccessible, unavailable, nothing more than an elusive dream.

Drawing back, he rested his brow against hers, his breath rough and ragged, cursing his susceptibility to her charms, for exposing his secret longing and for letting himself forget all the reasons why they had silently agreed to avoid one another for the past few weeks – they couldn’t afford the fallout that would erupt from their momentary insanity.

So, he set her away from him gently, stroking her cheek one last time as he bit back the bitter defeat swirling sickly in his stomach and walked out of the room, heart heavy with disappointment and frustration, desperately ignoring her confusion as he tried to figure out how he was going to forget those stolen moments, all the while knowing it wasn’t possible – she was a taint in his blood, a strain he couldn’t live without and a lifetime without her touch suddenly looked bleaker than when he had lived with Hank.

E is for Empty.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, Mi/L, Teen) Letter F 2/19

Post by Ashita » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:53 pm

Yas - Glad you liked it? I hope? LOL! Love the single word reactions. :)

Barbara - I love Michael too. It's fun to get into his head and explore the possibilities. Thanks!

AllINeed - Glad to hear you liked D and E! Yeah, it is heartbreaking, but don't worry; I'll make it all better. :)F isn't for Fixed yet, but it is for Fortify. We'll definitely see the change in tides here.

Whims - LOL! Yeah that beta thing is nice in knowing the end game. I'll get you more letters as soon as I finish Hunted and the next update to Moonlight. So close...

F is for Family. He stepped back and ignored her, treated her indifferently when they were forced to be in the same sphere, even started up a brief flirtation with another girl in order to forget her out of loyalty, because he didn’t want to force her into a decision that would hurt the only family he’d ever known. So it was ironic really, that it was also family that brought an end to their impasse.

F is for Fallible. His brother broke her heart, kissed another girl, got in over his head, made an irreparable mistake that sent her running out the door and straight into his arms. He had stood befuddled as she hovered there on his front porch, drenched hair plastered to her cheeks, soaked to the bone, shivering delicately as she chewed that damn lip again. It had been raining all day, which accounted for the damp clothing, but he could see from her red-rimmed eyes that the moisture on her cheeks weren’t just raindrops.

Indignant anger coursed through his blood as she relayed her story, his hand clenching and his heart thrumming wildly as he gently lead her to his room, turned on the shower and left her some sweats and a long-sleeved shirt to wear so she wouldn’t get sick. He wanted to hold her, touch her, kiss the pain away, but she was grieving the end of her relationship and didn’t need him to add to her already heavy heart.

F is for Fragile. She looked so tiny in his clothing, the shirt hitting her knees, the sweats barely hanging on her hips despite tying them as tightly as she could. She had never looked more beautiful. But at the same time, she had never looked so hurt, disillusioned and broken as she stood in the doorframe to his room hesitantly. He could gladly kill his kin for putting that expression on her face for the hundredth time.

Walking over to her, he gently took her hand and tugged her over to the couch, where he wrapped her in a blanket and sat her in the corner, handing her the remote as he went and grabbed the cup of tea he’d steeped from the kitchen counter and handed it to her silently before taking his own seat, allowing her to decide what she needed from him.

F is for Finality. Her quietly spoken words floored him. It was a phrase he never expected to pass her lips, her tone hollow but resolved as she twisted the untouched tea in her hands, her eyes blankly fixed on the steaming liquid. She looked up at him with a small half-smile when she noted his expression before his eyes danced away from hers, unable to quell the little jump in his heart when she said it. He had wanted this from the moment they’d kissed a couple months ago, but not at this expense.

Breath hitching, he met her eyes, opening his arms wordlessly and allowed her to sink against his chest, his heart thumping noisily as she pressed her cheek to it and stroked her wet, tangled hair awkwardly, making a bumbling attempt to comfort her despite knowing that having her so close was going to be a slow, sweet torture.

F is for Freedom. She finally had it and he was happy. He never wanted her mixed up in his secret, involved with the danger and death associated with his family and he hated watching her in his brother’s arms. If anything came from destiny’s arrival, she was now free to pursue her own goals and dreams again, which was why he had to tread carefully. It was far too easy for them to remember and act on stolen kisses.

F is for Forgiveness. She sat curled in his lap, breathing softly, evenly as she absently stroked his arm, and half asleep in the aftermath of turbulent emotions. Shifting so he could stretch out his legs and get comfortable, he slid down and laid his head against the cushion, pillowing her against his chest as he tightened his arms around her. Pursing his lips, he shook his head at his brother’s actions and wondered what he was thinking to push her aside.

Of any of them, he knew the importance of his alien past and finding out their roots, but he couldn’t believe that his brother could be so cruel as to tell her that he loved only her and then run off to another girl. It was harsh and unforgivable.

Shaking his thoughts off, he tucked her into his arms and closed his eyes, a smile briefly flitting across his lips as she snuggled deeper into his chest, his name the faintest whisper on her lips as she slid into sleep. Who knew that it would take family to bring him his greatest wish, at least for the night?

F is for Fantasy.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, Mi/L, Teen) Letter G 2/26

Post by Ashita » Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:31 pm

Thanks Yas and Barbara! As always I love seeing your comments. It totally makes my day! Sorry for the short note, but I just posted the next installment of Spoils, In Pieces, and just want to get this up. lol!

G is for Gratitude. It was what she said she felt when she woke up that next morning, slightly disoriented in his arms, hazy dark eyes blinking in confusion as she tipped her head and stared into his before the events of the night before slammed into her and her eyes darkened, her lips curving into a weak smile. But much to his bewilderment, she didn’t move out of his arms immediately as he expected, but stayed there, toying with his t-shirt absently as she nibbled thoughtfully on her lip.

He wasn’t about to protest the soft, warm weight in his arms, although his leg had long fallen asleep, because waking up with her was a dream come true, even if it wasn’t how he’d always imagined. And when she finally stirred, propping herself up and began to get up, he couldn’t help the little murmur of discontent that sent her eyes flying back to his in surprise before that tentative smile widened a touch and she leaned over, brushing her lips over his cheek before running into the bathroom.

G is for Gift. He touched his cheek in surprise as he got up, his body creaking and aching due to their night on an uncomfortable couch (he made a mental note to rectify that soon) and went into his bedroom, his hair sticking up comically as he dried her clothing with his powers, slightly surprised that they had come to him so easily and without thought. He usually had problems controlling them because of his highly emotional nature, one he kept hidden behind a wall of indifference, but that was her gift to him – she calmed him, made the feelings of inadequacy quiet.

Laying her jeans and shirt on the bed, he closed the door and sat on the couch, waiting for her to finish dressing so that he could walk her home, sneaking her up the balcony and into her room silently so that her parents never knew she was missing. Standing in her room made him feel a little awkward as it was the first time he’d been there – at least conscious. The last time didn’t count because he was sick and couldn't appreciate the soft scents and insights to her character as he looked around.

Shifting quietly, he touched her cheek and smiled, saying nothing about the night before as he turned to leave, only to be tugged into a warm hug and more gratitude for knowing just the right thing to do. And maybe that was his gift to her – understanding exactly what she needed without her ever saying a word.

G is for Grace. He loved watching her move through the dining room, her step light, her movements fluid and sure as she weaved around customers and tables effortlessly. It was like watching an intricate dance. Even on a day like that day, when her mind was a million miles away, she moved with nimbleness and charmed her customers, flashing a bright smile, even if it didn’t reach her eyes, and making each individual feel important in the space of those few minutes her attention was turned on them.

Her ability to see the good in everyone, to find a way to push past the bad in her life and find a silver lining always awed him, made him wonder how she managed to bear all of their secrets on top of her own and still face each day with a smile. Grace under fire, grace under pressure – there is beauty in that.

G is for Glance. His heart stilled when her eyes flicked up, leading him to whip his head back to the grill seconds too late to avoid being caught watching her, his cheeks flushing as her lips quirked, the smile reaching her eyes for the first time that day. It elicited the same response from him when she glided up to the order window, watching him quietly as she handed over a new order, a shy smile lighting her face when he crossed the kitchen to take the ticket from her hand.

She could have just left it on the wheel, but he was glad that she hadn’t as their hands brushed and awareness jumped between them for a moment and startled eyes met, a connection formed, scenes and feelings zinging back and forth rapidly before their hands dropped and she stepped back with a gasp. Studying her curiously, he watched as she turned, running a hand over the back of her neck nervously as his mouth dropped open in the light of startling revelations and feelings she never intended to make known.

G is for Gape.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC, Mi/L, Teen) Letter H 4/5

Post by Ashita » Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:49 pm

AN: So this was a bit sappier than I intended, but I blame that on the song I was listening to when I was writing, Fall Again by Glenn Lewis. And Whims was in a similar mood, thus sweetness for you.

H is for Heat. He lay on his bed, dark blond hair plastered to his temples as he stared at the ceiling, a trickle of sweat sliding down his cheek, and a hundred thoughts whirling through his brain, as he tried to make sense of the past two weeks. Hiding his feelings for a certain petite brunette, who had occupied all of his brainpower since the night she ran to him in tears, had been much easier when he wasn’t aware that his fragile, soft feelings were returned in spades.

How was he supposed to overlook that simmering heat that burned low in his gut when he knew they were reciprocated? And had they been there before Max had ever entered her life?

Groaning, he dropped his arm over his eyes, swiping at the sweat-kissed skin impatiently as he stood, wondering when he, the king of impulse and action, had become such a girl; it was humiliating to a degree. He should just get off his ass and do something about it; confront her (and maybe steal another kiss just to make sure that this wasn’t all in his head), ask her if what he saw was real rather than angsting like a pre-teen.

Recalling the soft burn of lips on his own, he paced restlessly, his gut churning as he wondered why exactly he’d been holding back on seeing her, why he’d let her play the avoidance-dance for this long. It wasn’t in him not to go after what he wanted, when he wanted it; so all this hesitating was…pointless. He wanted her, and according to her flashes, she wanted him as well. So, really, there was only one thing to do when all was said and done.

Grabbing his keys off the nightstand, he slammed out the door and turned down the street, headed toward a balcony, above a little diner, that ensconced a certain, small town waitress that was intent on driving him crazy.

H is for Honesty. He’d been staring at the fire-escape ladder for the past two minutes, his earlier resolve melting under the weight of too many thoughts and doubts on his way over, the years of systematic abuse and belittling, washing away that first burn of confidence and making him wonder what he’d been thinking. He could never be Max; could never be the perfect son, the white knight, the prince charming that surely she was used to, and deserved after everything she’d been exposed to, everything she lost due to the alien abyss.

He didn’t have much in the way to offer her; he was the emancipated foster son of the town drunk, with a crummy apartment that not even roaches wanted to inhabit, two part time jobs that lead to no where and a whole slew of problems, both of the human as well as the alien variety. If he cared about her, and he did, suspected he might even love her, or at the very least be close to it, he’d walk away and let her live as normal a life as she could.

Scuffing his foot against the nearly bubbling concrete, he nodded slowly, making up his mind as he shoved his hands into his pockets before looking up at her balcony one more time, startled to find her watching him with a faint smile.

“Coming up?” she asked huskily, cocking a brow, her eyes gleaming softly at his hesitance. “Or are you planning to stay down there all night? ‘Cause I have to tell you, the whole hanging around my balcony thing like a stalker is kinda creepy and far too reminiscent of another alien that shall remain nameless. Please tell me you didn’t read the same book on how to romance human girls, because it failed miserably in conveying our true desires.”

“What? Are you saying that Max’s overtures were less than smooth, Parker?” he quipped lightly, a grin tugging at the corner of his lips when she rolled her eyes and shook her head disparagingly, her chocolate eyes glinting with a touch of humor. “Besides, I don’t need a book. I have more than enough skills on my own.”

“Yes, that’s why you’ve been staring at my ladder all broody for the past two minutes, rather than getting your ass up here to actually talk to me,” she snickered, leaning her elbows against concrete wall, resting her chin in her cupped hands and smiled indulgently, the hint of a challenge in those fathomless eyes. “I’m convinced, really.”

“Maybe, I was just a little unsure of my welcome,” he replied seriously, figuring he’d just lay it all the line and be as brutally honest as he could, his features growing closed and stoic, heart pounding in his ears as their gazes clashed and held. “After all, you have been avoiding anyone with green DNA the past few weeks; not that I blame you after everything. And I can’t help but think that you’re better off that way.”

Serious brown eyes regarded him thoughtfully, her bottom lip clenched firmly between her teeth as she seemed to mull those words over carefully, her head cocking contemplatively before she nodded, “You’re right, I have been avoiding everyone lately, and not just those of the out of this world persuasion. I needed the time away to get my head straight and make a few decisions. Know what I discovered?”

He cocked a brow at that question, a silent invitation to continue and his heart stilled when she smiled that soft, Liz-smile, the one that lit her eyes brighter than any star he’d observed. “Max is right, we do make our own destiny and while I no longer believe that mine includes him, I hope that it does include you.”

He swallowed thickly, his mouth running dry and breath snagging at the simple honesty in her words and he blew out a heavy breath, his mind reeling at how much she’d revealed in that quiet statement, floored that she’d want to give him a place in her life after how much pain they’d brought into it. Shaking his head in wonder, he looked back up into sparkling topazes when she cleared her throat with a smirk.

“That is, if you can get your ass up here and stop creeping me out, because seriously, not the way to a girl’s heart.”

Chuckling softly, he strode over to fire escape, reveling in her bright grin as she moved away from the wall, and heart fluttering, swiftly climbed to the top, that same heart filled with endless possibilities and dreams.

H is for Healing. He watched her from the corner of his eye, sitting with Kyle and laughing at something inconsequential, enjoying a day off that, for once, didn’t include alien melodramas, or even normal teen angst and he couldn’t help but grin as those silvered notes reverberated through the café. It was a good sound, one missing all too frequently through her on again, off again romance with Max and it was nice to see the hollows and shadows disappearing more and more with each passing day. Happiness looked good on her.

Sighing, he leaned against the counter top and turned his eyes away from the petite brunette, his girl, even if she didn’t yet know it, and studied the reason they hadn’t made it official and become more that friends, frowning when he caught his pseudo brother mooning over her once more. If there was anyone that knew how to dig his heels in and ignore reality, it was Max, and his inability to let go was starting to grate his nerves.

He got it, really he did. After spending the past few months of movie nights, ice cream dates, quiet walks, and nights just laying under the stars and talking, he understood just how difficult it was to lose Liz. But there came a time when you had to stop beating a dead horse and let go already; before he did it for him.

Glancing away from the Moonstruck Marauder, he smiled as chocolate irises met his, a slow, sweet smile spreading across her face and her cheeks tinted a delicate pink as she glanced away shyly, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear and his heart warmed knowing he was the reason behind that smile. He’d been waiting, impatiently biding his time for a sign that she might be ready for more than just the simple friendship they’d maintained while she exorcized her demons, or one demon in particular.

She hadn’t flinched when Max walked into the building, loudly, in an effort to make himself known; she hadn’t even looked up when he laughed, didn’t even acknowledge him except with a brief nod and smile before turning back to her conversation. He couldn’t help the little jump in his heart to see that she seemed to be healing just fine and hoped that one day soon that smile would be followed something infinitely sweeter.

H is for Heartfelt. Tonight was the night. No, not that night. Not that he wouldn’t be all for it if she were interested (he was a healthy teenage male after all and by no means a saint), but that was still some time away; they still hadn’t shared more than a handful of kisses as he hadn’t wanted to rush into a relationship despite the crazy attraction between them. In all honesty, she had been slowly driving him crazy over the summer with her little shirts, and even tinier shorts if it were at all possible. He was shocked his brain hadn’t imploded on more than one occasion, the minx.

No, tonight he was done with the ambiguous friends, pseudo-boyfriend-girlfriend stage and he was claiming her for his own. Yes, she’d probably accuse him of being a Neanderthal if she could read his thoughts, but he couldn’t help it; he was tired of watching guys trip over themselves to get her attention and not having any options for…well lets be honest…no right to beat the crap out of them if they touched her. He wasn’t going to lose her now.

That’s not to say that she’d paid them any mind; in fact, she never seemed to see anyone other than him when they were together, her attention always firmly fixated on him and he knew her well enough to know it wasn’t an act. It was a quality that he loved about her; and did wonders for his sense of self-worth, making him feel warm inside, proud that this beautiful, vibrant and intelligent girl not only spent time with him, but also genuinely liked and admired him.

He could never find the words to adequately describe how it made him feel.

He probably never would. Words were never his forte; he was more the show them exactly how you feel, as words always seemed to fail him at best and get him in trouble at the worst of times. But she never made him feel inadequate when he failed to get his point across, usually chuckling softly and shaking her head in amusement when he put his foot in his mouth, and then kissed his cheek gently, telling him not to worry. She understood.

Is it any wonder why he was crazy about this girl?

Turning towards her, his breath caught when she came into his arms easily, her eyes flashing with an inner knowledge as she wrapped her arms around him and leaned into his body, resting her chin against his chest gently and stared up at him tenderly, as if she too could feel the shifting of their relationship. Brushing a strand of her hair behind one ear, he smiled, basking in the dreamy glow of hers and closed his eyes, gently pressing his brow to hers, content to just get lost in her and in the scent of warm vanilla and spice that always played havoc on his insides.

No more dancing around, Guerin.

Cupping the delicate lines of her jaw in his hands, he lowered his head, brushing his lips against her experimentally, gasping softly as the subtle caress sent off sparks inside his head, igniting the ever-present fire that burned low in his gut. Pulling back slightly, he searched her eyes for any resistance and sighed happily when he found none before capturing her lips for a sweet, slow kiss, wrapping his arms around her tightly as she leaned up into his mouth and initiated the deepening their embrace, sending his head spinning and senses reeling. Home. He was finally home.

H is for Haven.
Last edited by Ashita on Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC,Mi/L,TEEN) Letter I 9/25

Post by Ashita » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:31 am

So, it's been a long while since I've posted as life got out of hand and I'm still trying to get back into a regular writing/posting schedule. My apologies for the long absence, but due to personal issues it couldn't be helped. I'm still not completely satisfied with this entry, but I'll only end up nitpicking forever if I don't just post it.

So here we are, Letter I.


I is for Immersion. From the moment she entered his world, he’d felt that he had been shoved into the deep end of the pool. Emotion had always been something easily boxed away, placed into a deep, dark compartment and labeled hands off, easily ignored and his infamous stonewall impenetrable – until she entered his life.

And then there was chaos.

The flux and flow of emotions – first resentment and irritation, followed by grudging respect and admiration, and then a slew of truly uncomfortable feelings including longing, desire, enchantment and dare he say it…love – all sought to overwhelm, crush, bury him within its wealth and leave him gasping for breath, struggling for air, only to find there was no escape. Her mere presence seemed to suck all the oxygen out of the atmosphere, leaving his head swimming and heart beating madly.

It was frightening, intense, confounding, discomfiting and a whole lot of other words he had never felt before, and never really wanted to either, and yet they all revolved around an equally intense, diminutive school girl that couldn’t leave well enough alone. It was more trouble than it was worth at times, and more times than not, he was torn between wanting to tie her to a chair to keep her from nosing around in places she shouldn’t and kissing her until they were both breathless. It was aggravating, agitating, confusing, annoying, and…all too damned endearing for his comfort.

And yet he couldn’t resist diving back in for more.

I is for Illumination. He’d like to say that love came to him gently, as a soft progression that flowed naturally from one point to the other and in easily definable moments. But let’s face it – he was never one to be in touch with his emotions and all the touchy-feely crap that girls (and Max) liked to wax on about poetically was a vast mystery. The amount of insight he possessed into the softer emotions could fill a thimble – if he were lucky. And if he could somehow justify fleeting lust into that category. Calling him stunted in the emotional category would have been an enormous understatement.

No, love, when it finally came was like a swift kick to the head. And hurt just as much.

It’s not to say that he didn’t feel these things; it’s just that he didn’t really identify with them given his upbringing. Being the unwanted meal ticket to a man that would rather drink than feed, clothe and soothe a helpless child, doesn’t exactly lead to a loving environment. So one had to forgive him when he failed to recognize what was staring him in the face. In fact, it did take an actual head-on collision for him to finally grasp it.

The flash of emotion that blazed through him when their lips first touched, sent him reeling, standing over a chasm for one brief moment before freefalling into the unknown left him breathless and aching for more. It burned; raged through him with a sudden clarity that ripped him in two, then shredded every preconceived notion he ever held about his feelings for the catalyst, the girl that initiated this monumental reaction.

It stunned him, how much a split second could change the very fabric of your world and how a simple action could bring so much unfettered joy, yet lead to utter devastation in the matter of the next. The kiss had lasted all of ten seconds at the very most, yet it was devastating to the core – it was more than he ever dreamed of having, but everything that he was to be denied because of their positions in their tight knit group.

It was amazing and beautiful; it was staggering, and illuminating, and tragic. It was…

I is for Inevitable. Despite his deep connection to his alien past, he wasn’t one to believe in the destiny line that Tess and Nasedo spewed. He didn’t believe in meant-to-be, he didn’t wish on stars, he didn’t hold onto the idea that there is one person meant for another; soulmates and fated love were nothing more than sand castles and fairytales, fed to children so they could feel better about the very cold, bitter world around them.

Too entrenched in reality, he didn’t buy the lines people sold him about happily ever after no matter how prettily they smiled. He couldn’t afford to blind his eyes to the harsh truth surrounding him on a daily basis; react too slowly and he would end up bruised, bloodied, pain screaming through his body as he choked back the tears burning in his throat. He couldn’t afford dreams – they only ended in grief.

But even he should have seen that they would eventually run smack into each other. Opposites attract and all that nonsense. Although he had wanted to leave her in the dust, keep his fragile heart locked away, their lives had become too irrevocably entwined and he really should have seen this coming. If for no other reason than it would prove that the gods, fates, or whatever, truly were laughing at him.

Why would this have ended any differently for him?

But then again, hadn’t she always been…

I is for Irresistible. The first thing he had noticed about her was her smile – soft, sweet, shy with just a touch of uncertainty – that started with a small quirk and then broadened as she grew more confident; white teeth flashing against pale golden skin, lighting up her whole face until it reached the second thing he noticed about her – dark chocolate, sparkling eyes. They glowed and shined in a way his never had, knowledge with just a hint of innocence still clinging in the corners, confidence mingling a hint of nerves and yet a courage that belied the heart that had to be pounding in her chest.

Those eyes had captured him in an instant as she turned to him on the playground and glanced at him coyly from a fringe of sable brown locks, peering up at him from that tangled, glossy curtain as she smiled and apologized for running into him in the hall. Her regard had startled him, stunned him completely given that he was used to being overlooked and forgotten, that people only saw the shell and not the scared kid underneath desperately seeking a place to belong and someone who loved him unconditionally. That nugget of friendly warmth was irresistible and touched him in ways his mind couldn’t yet fathom.

The moment was over in the matter of seconds, but lived with him for years until his hormones learned to appreciate other things about her. The smile, eyes and hair captivated him still, but then he, being a typical teenage boy, couldn’t help but notice her other charms. Oh, they were nothing to write home about, nothing like Max had made her out to be for certain. She wasn’t the prettiest girl, or the most voluptuous, or even the most fit – those titles belonged to other girls – but as a teenage boy, he had to admit to a dream or two with her in the starring role.

Lightly glossed, pink lips beneath his, soft tanned skin under his fingers, subtle curves molded to flat planes – they were easy fantasy material, although he never held the total absorption and reverent awe that Max held for the girl. The innocent shine that drew him like a moth to a flame, had dimmed as she got involved with boys that didn’t deserve the glint of intelligence and subtle spark of mischief in her eyes. He, himself, had come to think her no more than your average girl, until a darkened alley renewed his interest and he was struck dumb by molasses-colored irises flashing with courage and challenge, despite an underlying current of fear.

The third, and most important, thing he noticed was her heart. The innocence faded, the bright eyes took on a slight cynical glint the further she traveled the alien abyss, but it didn’t diminish the golden glow of her heart. It had stayed remarkably intact in spite of everything, the tragedies that would have sent a lesser person screaming for the hills. It held the innate kindness and charm he’d recalled from their youth, even if it had wised up over the tears and heartbreaks that could have easily left her hard and bitter.

But the most irresistible part of her was the care she showed him time and again; even when he pushed her away; the way she trusted him without question; the way she turned to him for comfort and it was his arms that held her when Max had been missing; the way she accepted him without thought. It was intoxicating, unnerving and made him feel as if he could move mountains if he tried. And most of all, above everything else, it was the way she looked at him, as if she really saw him, as if nothing else mattered in her world.

I is for Infatuation.

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Re: Attraction to Zenith (UC,Mi/L,TEEN) Letter J 11/15

Post by Ashita » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:24 am

Keepsmiling - I am thrilled that you read despite being a Dreamer. I know that I, myself, have had difficulty reading stories that aren't my preferred pairing (although, there are a couple of writers that have managed to make me like Max.), so I'm thrilled you've been open-minded enough to give it a chance in spite of the pairing. :)

Mary - The same to you. I've always appreciated your support on the other site even knowing that I write Polar. As for Maria, you know, I never really planned to write her in or out. This was supposed to be a generalized Polar exercise and a storyline just seemed to developed against my will. I'll likely get around to addressing Maria's presence or lack of presence as I get further in. :)

Yas - I am indeed back and trying to, at the very least, finish the stories I have open. Another fandom has been calling to my muse these days, but I hate leaving stories unfinished. I hope J lives up to the rest. :)

AN: The last few letters have been linked, but that wasn't really the true intent of this exercise. After this one, I'm going to try to make these a bit more generalized Polar opposed to a specific story line. Although, knowing me, they'll still stick close to the story unfolding.


J is for Justification. He had counting the days down, just waiting for this moment, the time when Max would try to justify his actions to Liz and keep her firmly under his thumb. Max was so predictable by now and so adept at pulling the wool over his own eyes, wallowing in self-denial, that Michael could nail it down almost to the second. It was the same story, different day, just the players were different. Instead of Max justifying his actions to him or Isabel, it was Liz and Tess. Really it did get old after the hundredth telling.

“…it was hard to explain…almost like I couldn’t control it…”

First Max would panic, knowing he’d done something wrong, but always unable to face up to the consequences of his actions, he’d shut down, flee and deny it ever happened. It wasn’t real, it couldn’t be real, he’d never do anything so thoughtless, so hurtful. After all, he was Max and Max always thinks things through, he is cautious and analytical and…well you get the picture. It’s never his fault really, it was due to extenuating circumstances. Obviously.

“I mean, I was just drawn to her and I couldn’t stop myself…”

Then, he’d brood. And when Max brooded, it was a several day process. He locked himself up into his room, put his favorite brooding music (Isabel swore if she heard that Counting Crows CD one more time, she was going to snap it in two) on and wallowed, mentally beating himself up, aghast at how his life had gotten so out of control. And this led to Michael’s favorite part of the Max justification process…

“It was like being under a spell…”

It wasn’t him. Really it wasn’t, it couldn’t be, because after all, Max is perfect – the perfect student, the perfect son, the perfect brother, the perfect best friend – he would never belittle or tear another person down (despite the fact that Michael and Isabel had been on the sharp end of that all too careless tongue several times). So, if it wasn’t him, it had to be alien! Yes, that’s it…it was an alien reaction; something else was governing him and well, if it were an alien quirk, of course he couldn’t help himself. He didn’t understand his past or biology, so how could he control it? Really it all made perfect sense – for a mental patient.

“I didn’t even know she was going to be there…”

J is for Jealousy. Smirking to himself, he hovered quietly near the door, surreptitiously listening to the nervous babbling explanation, shaking his head in wonder. Sometimes he did hate being right. He had to admit, Max sold a good story when he really wanted. If he hadn’t been on the receiving end so many times, he’d have even bought the act. So perfectly contrite, so perfectly humble, all the while a calculating and manipulative brain was processing his intended prey’s actions and movements so he could effectively tailor his arguments and sob stories to the appropriate audience.

You had to give the man credit; he did know how to make himself look good no matter his foibles and slights. It was a skill Michael envied, never having been able to string words together as effectively. Words weren’t his forte and he had never grasped the subtle art of making nice. No he had always been an act now, think later sort that believed that actions spoke louder than words. Which is probably why he never fell for the Max act. Words can lie, actions cannot.

“You have to understand…”

Soft tone, sweet words, a tremble to the voice – it was all effectuated, yet always seem to hit the targets mark. A slow, acidic burn built in his chest as he listened to Max spin his web, oh so carefully inviting his prey into his living room with false platitudes and promises, all the while knowing that he had been able to talk Liz around before and could very well make a believer of her once more. Max had to have been a politician in his past life or the equivalent of the used car sales man or snake charmer.

He just made it sound so good.

Bile rose in his throat, casting a sour note in the back of his mouth. It sickened him, ate him up in side that people fell for his lines over and over again; but more, that Liz fell for it time and again. She deserved better than condescending platitudes. An ill feeling swirled in his gut, adding to the fire, the burn of pure, unadulterated anger and jealousy blazed through his chest as he heard Liz humming and hawing as he stumbled through his story of the other night. He could almost picture her face, so sympathetic and understanding, the hint of tears in her eyes as she touched his hand softly, soothing is fears and telling him it was okay, she understood. It was enough to make one scream.

And then Max made a fatal mistake…

“It’s you I care about…

J is for Jeer. The words seemed to echo through the room despite the fact it was barely more than a shy whisper. Even he had to wince at the blunder, knowing that it was a bad idea to state your feelings in such a lukewarm, apathetic way when you had just been avowing love and a lifetime together just days before. He may be repressed and stunted emotionally, but even he could hear the falseness to that statement and as astute as Liz is, she was bound to pick up on the half-hearted proclamation.

“Care about?” came the slightly incredulous musing, forcing me to repress a snicker. “Interesting how in the matter of days it’s gone from love to you ‘care about’ me.”

He knew that was going to snag her attention. There was no way that Liz was not going to see through that particular statement. One had to be blind not to pick up on the change in his stance on their relationship. It all but screamed ‘Yes, I want you, but you know, the blonde is rather hot as well and I’m curious.” Really Maxwell, you could do better.

“No, I mean…yes, of course I love you. I just meant...”

Ah, and here comes the backpedaling. So much for eloquence.

“Save it, Max,” she firmly stated, pausing for a moment before continuing on in a wry, implacable tone. “Okay, so you felt a pull towards her, you couldn’t resist her, she ‘put a spell on you, or whatever you want to call it – they’re called hormones. There is nothing mystical or alien about them. So, you’re drawn to her. It’s perfectly natural. It’s okay, really. I get it, I really do.”

He couldn’t help but chuckle softly at the dressing down. Is it any wonder he was enamored of the girl – intelligent, analytical, logical – it was refreshing.

“Liz, I knew you’d understand…”

He wouldn’t bet on that.

“But, you still kissed her. Despite the fact that you told me I was the only one you wanted, you went right over to her and kissed her anyway. And if it happened once, it’s likely to happen again. That is what I can’t overlook.”

J is for Jewel. She was rare, priceless; some would even claim she was a diamond in the rough, but he disagreed. Diamonds were far too plentiful, commercialized and lacked a certain panache, not to mention seemed flashy and cold. To him, she was more like an opal – a black opal – rare, precious, with hidden depths that burned in all the colors of the rainbow if you held it in the right light. A cool, quiet beauty at first glance, until you know what that placid façade masks, and far more enchanting than the glimmer and glitz that came with the more popular gemstone. It’s a shame few get the opportunity to see them, to see what I see.

“It won’t…I promise…”

“Don’t make promises we know you can’t keep Max.”

She couldn’t have been more right. Hadn’t they for all intents and purposes made the same vows and promises, albeit silently rather than with words? It had failed miserably for them and given the fire in Max’s voice when he mentioned Tess’ name, he wouldn’t have believed his words either. It was too easy to forget pacts made in the silence of night when everything you desire is standing right in front of you desiring the same.

“You don’t know what might happen when you see her again.”

Max’s silence spoke for itself; it seemed to ring through the room with an honesty that even the most skilled story weaver couldn’t contradict. And he remembered all to well where platitudes and avoidance had landed the two of them; he still burned from stolen kisses, ached for what should have never happened, intoxicated by the scent of vanilla and rain, haunted by the taste of strawberry, desire and forbidden dreams.

“I tried. I tried being what you wanted. When you said it couldn’t happen, I tried to respect that, but we could never really leave each other alone. I’ve given into your whims, compromised despite it hurting me, allowed you to step back twice….”

And yet, Max still could not see what had been staring him right in the face. Still couldn’t appreciate the gem that he’d once held within the palm of his hand. He took her for granted; assumed that she would always understand; that she would be waiting in the wings while he dallied with destiny. But he’d always misunderstood her, never seeing the true beauty, the quiet strength that silently shone in those fathomless eyes.

Michael knew that he wouldn’t make the same mistake.

“There is a lot I would have given up for you, but not my pride. I won’t be second best to anyone. Not even for you.”

J is for Judgment.