Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or any of its characters.
A/N: Hey all my loyal and annoyed readers I can not tell you how sorry I am that it took me so long to update but I have two very good reasons the first one being that, I was forced to take a little hiatus because I took extra courses this semester at school so that I could get as many done as possible before the baby came. I wanted to be able to take a lot less courses next semester so that I had more time to devote to my son and my brand new baby girl. Who in fact arrived just two weeks ago, she is perfect and everything went pretty well with the delivery, if you discount the fact that I fractured my tail bone. Don't laugh it's actually a lot more common then you might think. But no worries I'm back to writing again and I've even started work on the next chapter. So again I want to thank everyone who reviewed I love all of you, even the ones who made me feel guilty for not update sooner. Well on with the fic.
Aaralyn had been enjoying the bit of freedom she felt without Michael around, such as at the moment she was enjoying a real bath, instead of simply sponging herself off like she did when Michael was around. Being completely naked was simply not an option with the way Michael had of sneaking up on her, besides if he caught her in the river like this he'd probably have a fit. The thought of what Michael would say if she told him about the man she had talked to in the woods the day before and she imagined a lot more than a fit over that. Michael had always been very kind to her but way to overprotective.
As the gentle waves of the river lapped against her skin, Aaralyn's mind turned towards how much she loved taking baths, it made her feel so light being in the water, when she was on land it was always like the whole world pressed in on her. She was constantly having to be aware of everything around her but when she was bathing all she truly had to feel was the gentle flow of the water and the sand beneath her feet. Another thing Aaralyn had always loved about bathing was the singing, she remembered as a young girl when the women of her village would gather together to bathe themselves and their children the way they would sing the entire time. Today being surrounded by the cool water of the river, which was welcome against the heat of the day, Aaralyn felt like singing too, besides it wasn't as though anyone was around to hear her.
Having just finished one of her favorite songs, Aaralyn lets out a contented sigh and begins to make her way towards the shoreline. A shiver runs thorough her as she leaves the water, the little droplets left on her skin are evaporating quickly in the summer heat. She walks the few steps to the tree where she had hung her clothes to dry, that was another nice thing she'd finally gotten the chance to clean all of her clothes. Her hands finally came into contact with the still slightly damp garments but she still pulled her things from the branches and began to put on her undergarments.
Half way through the process of dressing Aaralyn thinks she hears a twig snap not to far away, turning her head in the direction of the sound, her heart is pounding in her chest at the thought that someone might be watching her. She listens closely for a while but when she doesn't hear anything else she decides it was probably just one of the small animals that live the trees. Nonetheless Aaralyn doesn't waste any time getting dressed and heading back to the cave.
When Aaralyn arrives at the cave she sets straight away getting everything together to make dinner, especially since Michael had said that he'd be home today. A little smile comes to her lips when she starts to think of Michael again, sure he could be an annoying, overbearing pain at time but she'd actually rather missed him. One very good thing about Michael was the way he'd listen to her stories about home, in fact there were times that he would practically beg her to tell him a story to pass the time and she missed talking with him.
It was nearly an hour after Aaralyn had arrived at the cave when the sound of footsteps approaching reached her ears, a little shiver of excitement went through her stomach, "Michael is that you?" she calls out.
"Yes," comes the somewhat tentative reply but Aaralyn doesn't even notice the slight worry in Michael's voice as her face breaks into a grin.
"I'm so glad that you're home," she says rushing over to greet him at the entrance of the cave.
"So am I," Michael responds quietly letting Aaralyn pull him inside.
"Did your hunting trip go well?" she questions as they both sit down by the fire so that Aaralyn can continue cooking.
"It was… fine," this time Aaralyn doesn't miss the sound of hesitation in Michael's voice.
"Did something happen?" she asks sympathetically as she seeks out his hand.
When Aaralyn's hand comes in contact with his knee instead, Michael jumps as though she'd hurt him and he pulls away slightly. "No I said everything was fine," there is a certain pained quality in his voice that completely surprises Aaralyn. She hears him hastily stand, "I have some work to do outside, I just wanted you to know that I was back," Michael begins to walk away but then stops just short of the cave's entrance, "I'll return in time for dinner."
Aaralyn just sits there listening to Michael's retreating footsteps wondering to herself what she could have done to upset him so, was he still angry about their fight or did something happen on his hunting trip?
In the back of Aaralyn's mind a little alarm kept going off telling her that perhaps this hunting trip was not exactly what it seemed to be. In the few months that she had lived with Michael, there had been several odd things that he had said or done that made Aaralyn suspect that Michael may very well not be what he seemed to be either. But Aaralyn would always push her suspicions away because they were so irrational almost to the point of insanity, how could Michael possibly be a… Wraith. No! he couldn't be it didn't make any sense, why would Michael pretend to be a human if he were really a Wraith or in that case why would he even care about the life of a blind human woman. All of her life Aaralyn had been taught that the Wraith cared nothing for humans other than as a source of food but her Michael seemed to genuinely care about her, but that strange feeling that something wasn't right kept plaguing her. What if he was though? Would it change everything she felt towards him? But what if everything she'd been taught about the Wraith was wrong and there was good inside of them?
'No this feeling is just paranoid,' Aaralyn told herself and just went back to cooking.
Dinner had been ready for nearly an hour when Michael finally returned to the cave. Aaralyn turns her head towards the approaching footsteps, she is glad that he is back but she can't seem to shake this knot in her stomach.
Michael's footsteps stop just inside the cave entrance, his voice is soft as he speaks, "you didn't have to wait for me."
"I wanted to wait for you," Aaralyn's nervousness over what Michael is going to say making the knot in her stomach grow even tighter, "I missed you."
The silence that hung over them for several moments was almost deafening, "I… missed you too."
Michael's words were soft and hesitant but at the same time Aaralyn could tell that he meant them and a little smile came to her lips, "then come and eat dinner with me."
Turning to get them something to eat, Aaralyn felt Michael's hands on her shoulders stopping her movements. Michael turns her around to face him but still doesn't say anything for several moments.
"What?" Aaralyn finally asks beginning to feel a bit worried and wanting to break the silence that had descended between them.
"Before I left," Michael began a ragged sigh leaving him. Aaralyn's nervousness returning as she is sure this is about their fight, "I promised you something."
A huge sense of relief swept through Aaralyn and she couldn't help the little laugh that escapes her lips, "is that why you've been acting so weird?"
Michael makes this slightly amused sound before answering, "well… it's one of them."
Aaralyn's smile fades a little as she brings her hands up to rest against Michael's chest and she feels him shudder under her touch. "Michael," she says his name softly hoping to calm him, "don't worry… it really doesn't matter to me what you look like." Letting her hands slide up to the back of Michael's neck she continues, "you are my dear friend and I don't know what I'd do without you."
Suddenly Aaralyn feels Michael's hands caress either side of her head and he shifts to lean closer to her. Michael's breath sweeps over her face and a strange sensation hits her low in her stomach as an odd idea creeps into her mind that Michael is going to kiss her.
Michael's words that follow this uncommon display of affection do little to push that thought from Aaralyn's mind, "this isn't the easiest thing for me to admit but I um… you… have become very dear to me as well… and I think that I'd be very lonely if you weren't around."
Trying to swallow down the lump that had formed in her throat, Aaralyn could feel her eyes begin to fill with tears. Michael had never said anything like this to her before, in fact he never even wanted to talk about his feelings at all. The only way she ever had of knowing that he cared anything about her was when he'd get upset with her when he thought she was doing something to dangerous.
Michael leans forward a bit more and that odd sensation comes back even stronger this time, almost as if by instinct she closes her eyes and lets her lips part only a little bit but Michael's lips never reach hers instead he places a gentle kiss to her forehead. A cold stab of disappointment quickly replaces the warm exciting sensation that had been building inside of her and a few tears slipped from beneath her eyelids, half the tears were happy ones because Michael had finally admitted caring about her, but the others were because she was upset that he didn't feel more for her.
As Michael pulls back Aaralyn tries to hide her feelings behind a watery smile and quickly swipes away the tears still on her cheeks. "We should eat it's getting late," she says turning around to get them dinner, all the while mentally berating herself for allowing such a stupid, childish notion to have ever enter her head.
None of the men on her world had ever felt like that towards her because of her blindness, why should she even hope that it would be any different with Michael. Aaralyn couldn't help but remember how it had stung when she had discovered that she was considered an unsuitable choice for a wife, because everyone thought she would not be unable to protect her family if the Wraith were ever to attack but wasn't it ironic now that she was the only one left.
Dinner was a rather subdued affair that night, not like usual when he'd describe what he did all day or when she would tell him stories of home. Aaralyn had tried a couple of times to get Michael to tell her about what happened while he was gone but he just kept giving her vague answers followed by long stretches of awkward silence. As a consolation it did give her a chance to think of reasons why it was good that Michael hadn't kissed her. Aaralyn's first reason had been that it would greatly complicate things between them because she wasn't entirely sure how she felt about him yet. She wasn't sure if her feelings really went beyond friendship, it was hard to tell because she'd never been in any kind of romantic situation before. Then there was also the matter of her more worrisome suspicions about Michael what if he wasn't what he said he was, did she really want him having those sort of feelings towards her. However, that notion still seemed so absurd that it was quickly dismissed from the list of possible reasons.
Aaralyn had been so lost in her own thoughts that it took her mind several seconds to catch up to the fact that Michael had said something, "what?" she asks her head snapping towards the sound of Michael's voice.
"Are you finished eating?" Michael asks for what Aaralyn is sure is at least the second time.
Aaralyn feels a bit of an embarrassed blush make it's way to her cheeks because she realized that she'd probably only eaten half of the food on her plate, "yes I… I guess I'm just not that hungry tonight."
She can hear Michael let out a heavy sigh, "well then it's getting late why don't you go ahead and get ready for bed while I clean up."
"No Michael I should do that, you've just come back from a long journey," Aaralyn tries to reason with him.
"No we agreed when you started living here that whenever you cooked that I would clean," Michael says firmly as though expecting her not to argue but then he adds, "and I think we both know why you're the one who always does the cooking."
In spite of how emotional the last few hours had been for her Aaralyn couldn't help laughing at Michael's joke, "no I don't think that I need to guess," she says with a smile she just can't seem to get rid of now. Michael had a way of doing that too, he'd do something annoying but then he'd make some sort of a joke to make her laugh. Standing up she begins to make her way to the blankets where she sleeps, behind her she can hear Michael gathering the dishes together. "Michael," the sounds of the dishes stops so she knows he's listening, "I really am glad that you're home."
Michael is quiet for a moment but then says, "I'm glad that I'm home too… goodnight."
Aaralyn says a soft, "goodnight" as she slips under her blanket and closes her eyes trying to allow sleep to claim her but it doesn't come easily tonight. Her mind keeps filling with thoughts that make her cheeks blush, she keeps imagining what it would feel like it Michael actually had kissed her, how it might feel to run her hands along his warm skin as he held her and she even allowed herself to wonder what his hands would feel like on her skin. Though Aaralyn never would have admitted it to anyone but she had always been very curious what it would feel like to be made love to or that she wasn't completely oblivious to the mechanics of it either.
The strange feeling Aaralyn had earlier came back when she was thinking about Michael touching her and now she finally had decided what it felt like, it was almost like an ache inside of her but not a painful one, more pleasant really.
It was some time later before sleep finally claimed her and just as she was slipping off she couldn't help wondering what sort of interesting fantasies her mind might come up with while she slept that night.
A/N: In case ya'll didn't notice the later chapters are going to get steamier, hence the reason this fic has an M rating. Also someone wrote me (I'm sorry I can't remember who) and pointed out that Michael seems out of character when I write from Aaralyn's point of view, that's because I meant for it to be that way. Not only can Aaralyn not see Michael's facial expressions to discern his moods but I'm also writing from a feminine perspective which is much softer than Michael's male perspective.