|UnMasqued: Son of M&M 'Little Shop' fic
Author: kLyn PM
Sequel to Masques. Michael finds out he's not quite who--or what-- he thought.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - Chapters: 54 - Words: 210,926 - Reviews: 200 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 09-24-07 - Published: 03-06-02 - id: 641822
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
--Disclaimer: Oh, come on. You don't really think that Michael, Maria and all the other characters from the Roswell books and show are mine, do you? They belong to Melinda Metz, Jason Katims and the good folks at the WB network. I'm only borrowing them.
I do own Bob, Teddy, and assorted other people who you don't recognize from the TV show.
--Distribution: Ask first, please.
--Author's Notes: This is the sequel to my story "Masques", and starts up about about a week and a half after it, in later November, 2000. It's an alternative Season Two story, so nothing that was broadcast during seasons two or three applies. Michael's hair is still spiky. And his apartment is much smaller than Season Two would have us believe.
Special thanks to everyone at the Random Roswell Ramblings fanfiction board who gave me such great support and feedback, and to my sister who allowed herself be subjected to the story, chapter by chapter, debating plot points, characterizations, and grammar. Thanks, sis!
The dreams still came, over and over throughout the nights, startling him awake and leaving him staring dull-eyed up at the ceiling. They grew out of his usual nightmares, swirling him off to a place where there was nothing around him except for the voice. It was the same voice, shatteringly familiar in its tone. It sounded like an enemy, a woman now dead. Once an accusation, its message now was one of forewarning. The word was the same, but the meaning was entirely different.
Maria DeLuca absolutely floated down the hallway of West Roswell High. Never mind that it was Monday, her absolutely least favorite day of the week. Never mind that it was a gray, gloomy day, unusual for Roswell, New Mexico. Never mind that the DeLuca family Jetta was once again experiencing technical difficulties and she'd had to walk to school that morning. And definitely never mind the major History test scheduled for the end of the week.
What did any of that matter? It was her first day of freedom after an intense twenty-three day period of grounding, school was over for the day, and she was on the way to meet her somewhat anti-social--and surprisingly complex--boyfriend. What more could a high school junior ask for?
Her happiness swelled up and burst out in a joyful giggle, so boisterous that she clapped a hand over her own mouth to stifle it. But she couldn't control the sparkle in her eyes or the lightness of her soul as she mentally repeated the word. Boyfriend. She could actually use that term in reference to Michael Guerin. She was in a relationship with Michael Guerin. And if pressed, he might even admit it.
She actually hadn't seen that much of him since they'd gotten back together ten days earlier. Her grounding and his unofficial banning from the Crashdown Café where Maria worked had pretty much limited their contact to school hours. And Michael was being unusually circumspect in his behavior around her. Sure, except for one clinch in the school hallway during their sophomore year, he'd never been one for public affection--years of hiding the fact that he was an alien hadn't exactly left him open--but he hadn't even taken advantage of the school's most notorious private make-out spot, the eraser room. Other than the heart-stoppingly wonderful kiss after he'd told Maria he wanted to be with her, he'd kept his lips to himself.
In fact, if you didn't know Michael, you might not even realize that they were a couple. But he had spoken to her before and after each of the two classes they shared daily, and he'd sat next to her at lunch every day at school. She hadn't even had to ask him. He'd done it on his own, and that, for Michael Guerin, was a whole heck of a lot.
The only thing that had come between them during the past week was the Thanksgiving holiday. Maria had badly wanted to spend the day with Michael, but of course her grounding got in the way of that, too. She had spent five days begging and pleading, to her mother's great annoyance. Amy DeLuca had finally unbent enough to offer her daughter a choice: a Thanksgiving with just the two DeLucas, or an extra week of house arrest. Maria actually took some time to consider the proposition, but after much internal debate she finally opted for a faster end to her punishment, and she and her mother spent a quiet but pleasant Thanksgiving together.
Maria had been somewhat mollified to find out that Michael's best friend, Max Evans, and Max's sister Isabel had extended their annual invitation for Michael to spend the holiday with them. It didn't really surprise anyone when Michael turned them down again. He claimed he'd been scheduled to work the entire day at the Lift-Off gas station since he was the only employee with no family, but Maria suspected that he'd volunteered for the extra-long shift. Not because he particularly cared about the other employees' holiday plans, but because it was difficult for him to watch families celebrate together. And the double-time holiday pay wouldn't hurt either.
Like Michael, Max and Isabel were aliens, but they'd been adopted into a loving family and raised just like normal human beings. Of course, since Mr. and Mrs. Evans had absolutely no idea that aliens existed, much less that their two children were alien-human hybrids, that wasn't really unexpected.
Michael, on the other hand, had been shunted from foster home to foster home until he'd been dumped into the 'loving care' of Hank, an abusive drunk who'd taken out many of his problems on the defenseless boy. Hank had disappeared last year; Michael, finally free from years of secret beatings, now had emancipated minor status, an (albeit shabby) apartment of his own, and--Maria almost danced at the thought--a loving and feisty human girlfriend in the person of one Maria DeLuca.
Stopping off at her locker, Maria grabbed her math textbook and piled it on top of the History book she was holding. Not that she expected to get a whole lot of studying in during her first afternoon off of house arrest, but she knew better than to show up at home with no books. Then she headed off down the hall towards Michael's locker, to meet him.
On any normal day, she wouldn't have had to meet him at all, since they shared the last class of the day; today, however, Michael had been called out of class by Vice Principal Sutter and had just enough time to mutter, "After school. My locker," before following the man out of the classroom. A small crease appeared in Maria's forehead, only slightly marring her joyful expression. What had the VP wanted with Michael?
A familiar little tingle deep down inside told her that her boyfriend--and an answer to that last question--was near. Rounding the corner, she saw him leaning on his closed locker, paying no attention to the students who filled the hall around him. He had a blank look on his face as he seemingly stared at the wall across from him, but Maria knew him well enough to know his thoughts were elsewhere. Either that, or he had regressed back to the moments of forced abstraction that had been plaguing him just a few weeks ago...
He turned his head and caught her eye, and she gave a small sigh of relief. Nope, he'd just been thinking about something, that's all. Not a big deal. Walking up to him, she planted herself firmly in front of him. "Hey, Michael," she said.
He returned his usual laconic greeting. "Hey."
She stood for a moment looking up at him. He wasn't conventionally handsome, not in that movie-star kind of way, but he was tall and strong and determined, and to her he was beautiful. He would kill her if he knew she used that particular word about him; Michael could be just as touchy as any other guy. But it was a good one. And from the looks he was getting from some of the other female students passing by, Maria wasn't the only one who thought he was attractive.
Huh. One of the glances coming their way wasn't at all appreciative, and it wasn't just aimed towards Michael. The glare came from Pamela Harris, Maria's recent nemesis during West Roswell High's production of Little Shop of Horrors. Despite Maria's assurances--even so much as to make a very public announcement in the cafeteria one day--Pamela had never really believed that Maria and Michael were together. Almost reflexively Maria's hand shot out and grabbed Michael's. She'd show the delusional senior what was what!
Michael looked down at their linked hands and then firmly detached his from hers. Maria couldn't help it--she felt abandoned. It was just holding hands, that was all. Nothing shocking. And yet Michael couldn't even--
This thought was never to be concluded. Maria felt her textbooks being pulled away from her, and a strong arm wrapped itself around her waist. She looked up just in time to have a warm pair of lips pressed firmly--if briefly--on hers. She blinked rapidly in confusion.
"Better?" Michael asked calmly. When she didn't answer, he gave the tiniest nod in Pamela's direction. Maria turned to look; the girl was staring at the two of them, chagrined. Turning back to her boyfriend, Maria grinned up at him.
"Oh, yeah," she breathed, then admitted, "I've just got some lingering issues with Pamela, I guess."
"I'm not that fond of her myself," Michael put in.
"But if you really want to know," Maria said mischievously, "your technique could use some work. The form is nice, but you could stand a little more time before the dismount."
"Hey," Michael objected. "That was just for show. Besides," he added, staring down at her, "if you have any problems with my so-called 'technique', blame yourself. You're the one who taught me."
"What?!?" Maria yelped. Just because she was the first--and only--person he'd ever kissed didn't make this her fault. He'd proven on more than one occasion that he was a natural at the sport. She opened her mouth again to give him a piece of her mind, but stopped as she noticed the slight smirk of his lips and the hint of amusement in his eyes. She shook her head, chuckling.
"So," Michael said, leaning back against his locker once more, "you're not grounded and I don't have to work. What do you want to do?"
"You mean besides perfect your 'technique'?" she teased. He gave her a pointed look. "Okay, okay. Well, we're kind of limited, since we have no transportation. I don't know. What'd you have in mind?"
"There's something I want to show you, but it'll have to wait until we've got wheels. Maybe Max will lend me the Jeep," Michael thought aloud.
Maria's curiosity was instantly engaged. "What?"
"You'll see when we go there. It's in the desert," he said meaningfully, with a glance around the hallway.
Oops. Must be something alien-related then, if he wasn't willing to discuss it in public. "We could go to a movie," she suggested.
His answer was quick. "No money."
"No," he cut her off. Michael was becoming very stubborn about this sort of thing. She suspected it had less to do with male chauvinism and more to do with his growing disinclination to be indebted to anyone.
"We can just hang out, then," she said decidedly. For this first day, it didn't much matter what they did, just that they were together. "Where?"
"The park?" Michael suggested.
She shook her head. "Too cold," she objected. "It is almost December, you know."
"My apartment?" he suggested, somewhat diffidently this time.
Flushing, Maria told him, "That's still off-limits for now. My mom may have unwound enough to take me off punishment, but it's going to be a while before she relaxes with the new rules." She looked up at him. "We'll go to my house," she decided.
He frowned. "I can't go there. Your mother hates me."
"She doesn't hate you, Michael. She's just worried about me, and you confuse her."
"I confuse her?" he muttered in an incredulous tone.
"You have no idea how much," she commented with a smile. "Just be grateful she doesn't know everything about you."
"Why? You think my background might be a little too much for her?" he smirked.
"Actually, I don't know. She does make a living from little plastic aliens, after all."
"But a real live...Czechoslovakian...might be pushing it?" he said, using her code word.
"I don't know," she repeated, more seriously now. "But I promised you I'd never tell, and I won't." Michael nodded. "Besides," she said, her mood shifting suddenly back to a happy one, "she'll be at work, so she won't even be there. My house it is!" she cried triumphantly.
He looked at her for a moment, shaking his head in exasperation, before pushing himself away from the wall of lockers. "Come on, then," was all he said.
Together they headed outside and began the walk to the DeLuca residence. Maria wasn't sure if Michael realized that he was still carrying her books. She snickered. How very 1950s of him. He sent an inquiring look in her direction, but she just gave him a cheery smile and said nothing.
Her voluble nature didn't allow her to remain quiet for long, however. "So what did Mr. Sutter want, anyway?" she asked.
Michael scowled. "Nothing."
"He pulled you out of class, Michael. He had to want something."
"I don't want to talk about it right now, okay?" he barked abruptly.
This couldn't be good. But if there was one thing Maria had learned in the last few months, it was not to push Michael. So she backed off. "Okay, Spaceboy," she said airily, dropping the subject.
Putting a hand on her shoulder, he stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and studied her suspiciously. The tense look on his face slowly drained away, leaving only surprise and relief...and maybe just a tiny bit of tenderness? His mouth worked for a moment as he tried to find the right words, then he shrugged in a most Michael-like way. "Thanks," he said simply.
"No problem," she said smiling up at him. Then grabbing hold of his jacket sleeve, she continued down the sidewalk, pulling Michael in her wake.
It really didn't take them all that long to get to her house; or maybe it just didn't seem that long because they were together. Unlocking the back door, Maria dropped her bookbag on the counter and headed over to the refrigerator.
"You can set my books on the counter," she told Michael, then grinned at his reply.
Yep, he'd forgotten he had them. Suddenly wondering just what was on his mind that was so distracting, she frowned, but pulled out a can of Coke and held it out to him. He took it wordlessly and popped the top, taking a large gulp. Setting a pitcher of iced tea on the counter, Maria pulled a bottle of Tabasco sauce from the cupboard and tossed it to Michael, who caught it reflexively and then stood staring at it.
"I put it on the grocery list last week," she told him. "I figured we'd need it sooner or later. I don't even know how you can eat that stuff, alien genes or not."
He continued to stare at the bottle, his mouth working as if he didn't quite know what to say. Then Michael set it carefully down on the counter and began advancing on her. She didn't even try to move, and he cornered her against the refrigerator door. Holding her face in his hands, he bent down and kissed her gently.
Well, gently at first. Her hands snaked up to cradle his shoulders, and he pulled her closer, one arm sliding down to her waist and the other hand cupping the back of her head as he teased at her lips. Then they were devouring each other with hot, hungry kisses until Maria wasn't sure where she left off and Michael began.
When they finally broke apart, both panting for breath, she leaned against the refrigerator to keep her knees from buckling and smiled shakily at him. "Wow," she managed. "It was just a bottle of Tabasco, Spaceboy." He didn't look all that calm and collected either, and she continued, "Guess I'll have to buy it more often."
At that, Michael actually smiled, a crooked half-grin that she wasn't sure she'd ever seen before. "So no more complaints about my technique?"
"Uh-uh. No way. Your teacher did a fine job," she said breathlessly. "Of course, we wouldn't want you to lose your touch, so I'd say plenty of practicing was in order, wouldn't you?"
His expression became serious, and he answered, "Let's take things slow, okay? That kinda got out of hand there--" He must've seen the look on her face, because he rushed on, "I mean, I liked it. More than liked it. But I meant it when I said I wanted to be friends, too, so..." He gave her a teasing smirk. "Besides, I don't know where your mom's hidden the killer newspaper."
She laughed at that. "Okay, friend. Grab your soda--and your Tabasco sauce--and head into the other room. We can watch some TV or something."
Pouring herself a glass of iced tea, she followed Michael into the living room. He was already sitting on the couch, legs stretched out in front of him, as he channel-surfed. She climbed over his outstretched limbs, managing to snag the remote on her way by, and plopped down on the couch next to him.
"Hey," he objected, but made no move to reclaim the remote. She didn't offer it back either, but kicked off her shoes and curled up to do a little channel-surfing of her own.
She was debating the relative merits of a sleazy-looking talk show and an ancient episode of "Scooby-Doo" when Michael spoke.
"Grades," he said abruptly.
Maria looked away from the TV set. "Huh?"
"That's what Sutter wanted to see me about. That and my attendance," he added, carefully not looking in her direction.
Maria made a small non-committal encouraging noise.
"Seems the three days I was AWOL the week before last were the final straw. I was a topic of discussion at a teachers' meeting last week, and one teacher had something positive to say." He gave a bitter little laugh. "One teacher. And I don't even have a class with her."
"Ms. Bedinger," she guessed, thinking of how hard Michael had worked on the plant puppets for the recent play. The drama teacher had taken a liking to him, Maria knew.
"Well, what are you going to do about it?" she asked reasonably.
"Nothing? I don't get it, Michael. You're not at all stupid, and yet you barely get enough passing grades to squeak by. It's not inability, and I know it's not laziness, so why?"
"Just never seemed important."
"Michael! It could affect your whole future! You don't want to end up in some minimum-wage scut job for the rest of your life, do you?"
"I always figured that this place was temporary, that some day I'd be going home," he admitted softly.
She swallowed. "That might still be true," she acknowledged. "But what if it's not? Or if it's not for a very long time? Don't you think you deserve a good life until then?"
"Want--maybe. Deserve? I don't know." His jaw clenched. "Look, it's my problem. Don't worry about it."
"Worry about it?" she repeated. Her eyes narrowed. "You don't think you could do it, do you?"
"Of course I could do it," he retorted, stung. "I've got an eidetic memory."
"Eidetic. Photographic memory--same thing. Means I'm good at visual recall. I could do it. I just don't care about it, that's all."
"You don't care--Michael, I know you better than you want me to, and I don't buy that. You're just afraid, that's all. Afraid of actually being successful at something." Her tone grew acerbic. "Well, maybe you're right to be afraid. Maybe you couldn't do it, after all."
"I told you I could--" he ground out.
"How much are you willing to bet on that?" Maria demanded.
"You say you can pull your grades up. I say you can't. Winner gets to determine the penalty. You in?"
He raised one sardonic eyebrow. "You sure you wanna risk that?"
"It won't matter, because I won't lose," she said firmly. "You in or not?"
"Oh, I'm in. I'm definitely in," he vowed.
"Then it's a bet!" she cried, grabbing his hand and shaking it. Then she calmly turned back to the TV. Shaggy and Scooby were being chased by a mummy.
She could almost see Michael realizing just what he'd let himself in for. "You set me up, didn't you?" he accused.
She grinned at him. "You catch on quick, Spaceboy. Just not quick enough."
"But if you lose--"
"Oh, I will lose. I'm sure of it. But I don't think you'll do anything too horrible to me. Whereas I--" Here she turned sternly to face him. "I would have absolutely no hesitation in coming up with the most horrible, embarrassing, humiliating penalty for you should you decide to throw the bet. Be warned." She gave him a feisty smile. "So what are you going to do about it, Michael?"
He blinked for a moment before standing and striding from the room. He was back in seconds, though, and he was carrying her History text. Dropping it to the floor, he picked Maria up and unceremoniously dumped her on the other end of the couch before reclaiming his seat.
"I wouldn't look so smug if I were you," he said as he opened the book. "Because if--no, when I win, I'm gonna get some help deciding your penalty. I'm sure Alex will have some interesting ideas."
Had he been looking at her, he would have found her suddenly concerned expression to be quite entertaining.