So here's a little Michael/Kristina piece, and a million thanks goes out to suerum, who fixed this baby up when it was still all crinkle cut and messy and shaped it into a right piece of work -- I owe you, once again!
Kristina jerks back when Michael first kisses her, a flare of pain in his lip is all the reward he garners, and in that moment his heart drops right to the very bottom of his feet, replaced by a thick, heavy feeling that he's just screwed everything up. So, this is it, he'd miscalculated, his stupid messed up brain had once again seen things completely wrong and now Krissy won't even want to be his sister, much less something more complicated.
She puts her hands on his face, it's a gentle touch, and looks at him with her little creased eyebrows. She sounds worried, caring when she says, "You're bleeding."
Kristina's fingers come away colored a sticky red, Michael sniffs self-consciously, only just becoming aware of the warm trickles of blood oozing from his nose. Even now that the rage has started to fade, Michael can only vaguely remember being hit. Most of the clear shots in his head are of Kristina crying in pain, and the look on Kiefer's face when Michael just exploded from an all consuming anger and jumped him, fists flailing.
"It's nothing." Michael says, a little bitterly. It figures that Kiefer would somehow ruin this for him.
Kristina turns away to rummage in her purse. Michael closes his eyes briefly and pinches his nose, using the sudden flare of pain as a buffer for his annoyance. The moment's vanished now. For a second Kristina had been hugging him and when she'd pulled back there'd been something in her eyes, something indefinable, and he'd thought – well – she leaned forward a bit, hadn't she? Michael could see how her tears, trapped within the fine mesh of her eyelashes, glittered wetly along with the way she tilted her head when he put his hand on her cheek, like it'd been a long awaited and welcome touch.
Michael's eyes open when something soft brushes his face. A tissue. Kristina wipes it over Michael's mouth and he hisses in pain as it crosses over his poor abused lower lip from which a secondary trail of blood meanders down his chin and then he cringes again when she presses it to his nose. "I don't know much about bloody noses." Kristina admits, and it's just the mood he's in that makes him think but you know plenty about bruises in some awfully angry way that would probably set him off again if he said it out loud, so he doesn't. He doesn't want to talk about all that, anyway, about how furious he is at both Kristina and himself because she hadn't trusted him enough to tell him sooner, especially how he's a little scared that he might kill Kiefer the next time he sees him. Instead he grins at Kristina, still pumped with adrenaline and a little sure that there's blood on his teeth. "Don't worry, it'll stop soon."
And it does, just like he said. They keep sitting quietly though while Kristina takes a clean tissue to try and tidy up the rest of the mess on his face. Michael thinks if it were anyone else he would have flown off the handle and demanded not to be babied, but because it's Kristina he doesn't mind. He is beginning to get the feeling there are a lot of things he'd let Kristina do that he wouldn't let anyone else even think of doing.
"Kristina…" Michael starts, when she pulls away, fiddling with the tissues. She must be really out of it because the Kristina he has grown to know (and maybe love) would immediately have thrown them away and demanded they find a place for her to wash her hands. This version of Kristina though is so absorbed in the moment that she is entirely unaware of the dirty, bloody tissues she holds in death grip within her tiny hand.
"Look, Michael – "she says, at the same time. They stare at each other silently for a moment and it's Kristina who breaks eye contact, she bends her head down staring at her shoes, little black Mary Jane's scuffed with dirt and she reflects on how much her mother would disapprove. "Michael, we can't."
It's funny how quickly things happen. How you can be enjoying a trip to a warehouse with your dad, and then suddenly not, or how you can think you know somebody until you realize you don't. Or how you can be walking in a park, furious at your family again, and see your sister getting roughed up by her boyfriend. That's when-without thinking-you beat the snot out of the asshole, and finally man up enough to kiss the girl you've been thinking about kissing for quite a while now, only to suddenly have her say something like we can't. Sometimes Michael was just amazed by how much the world could suck.
Kristina is still looking at him with her big brown luminous eyes, sad and worried – both are expressions she's been wearing all too often recently. "Michael, we're brother and sister, we –"
"No Kristina, we-" Michael stands and runs a hand through his hair, pacing, once again feeling like his skin is suffocating him, holding him back, and if he could just rip out of it then he could have everything he wants including her. "Krissy, look - the way I feel about you, it's not the way a brother feels about a sister, it's so much more, it's – "Michael breaks off and kneels in front of Kristina. "And when you look at me I think – I think you feel the same way."
It feels good to finally say it. There's been way too much in Michael's life that he doesn't understand, that he doesn't know about, that he can't speak of. But this feeling, this need is something else entirely. What's happening now, even though it's as much out of his control as everything else in his life appears to be, he likes it, he craves it, he is determined to have it.
"No Michael, no-" she starts to say, but Michael won't let her fall into that place her mind always reverts to, full of other people's expectations and wants and with no regard for her own desires. He pulls her close, his hands clasped around her small elbows; as Kristina leans forward her hair ripples and falls like an ebony curtain framing the perfect oval of her lovely face. Michael can't resist running a hand though it, something he has never had the chance to do before. From there his hand of its own accord finds the thin curve of her neck, following some invisible trail he gives a gentle upward tug until he's cupping her cheek. "Krissy, let me kiss you?" It's a hushed request, poised between demand and reverence.
Kristina's eyes are damp, blinking too rapidly, and her hands twist and clench where they've settled on Michael's chest, crumpling fiercely in his t-shirt. She nods though, making her an object completely in motion, and Michael hasn't even realized that he's been holding his breath until he sucks in a quiet relieved gasp gladly exchanging oxygen for hope.
"Kiss two," he reminds himself, so this one really has to count because even if the saying was three strikes, he knew as a matter of personal experience that life didn't always give you the number of chances you deserved. If this was it, he wasn't going to blow it.
Michael can feel her breath on his face, and her nails pinching into him nervously. Weird now, that she should be the one so nervous when she's obviously the more experienced participant, when his own attempts at relationships have been few and abortively pathetic. Michael doesn't want to admit that he feels like he's eaten an earthquake, his insides all shaking and quaking. Instead, the space between them disappears slowly, little increment by little increment, and it seems so ridiculous that it is taking so long given how close they already were.
Kristina smells flowery and sweet – a breeze blows through the park and her hair tickles against Michael's throat tingling in a thousand little touches.
Michael wants to erupt, to make his desire tangible by grabbing Kristina by the waist and twirling her around, laughing and lightly touch tickling her all up and down her sides until she laughs too. But Michael can only stay still, wrapped in the moment, and he can feel Kristina steeling herself against him as well, the two of them set like a pair of statues, 'young lovers in the park '-on exhibit now.
They kiss slowly, too slowly, unmatched and a little disoriented, noses bumping awkwardly before they slowly start to slide into the same rhythm. Michael stoically ignores the pain his split lip is telegraphing to his brain, and it works, his longing overrides the persistent stinging sensation and transforms it into a memory, bittersweet, all the better for ultimate recollection. The smooth gloss of Kristina's lips rub against his, sticky with a taste like cotton candy and when they pull apart Michael licks his mouth, thinking about how good it is, wondering how many other flavors she possesses. Hoping she'd be willing to give him the chance to taste them all.
Kristina's cheeks are blushed bright rose, her eyes are still closed. Michael watches her bring a hand to her mouth softly, something unknown churning in his gut.
"Krissy – I – I really like you." Michael ventures. Words don't always work for him, but he thinks if he can say that then he must be doing something right.
Krissy's eyes are warm and tentative, there are still little furrows in her brow which Michael wants to smooth away, but she smiles at him prettily, stealing the breath right from him.
"I really like you too, Michael."
"Good." Michael feels a stupid grin stretching across his face. "So, can I kiss you again?"
And when Kristina pulls him forward by the collar of his shirt, laughing at the way his hands scrabble on the bench in surprise, all Michael can think of is that finally, finally, things are working out just the way he wants them to. He's going to let this moment and the next and the one after that swallow him up, without giving a single thought to what might be right or wrong. He breathes in the enticing scent of Kristina's hair and closes his eyes – it feels good to let go. Kristina's hands, her lips, her face and her trust, it's what's he's been yearning for all these months – everything else that had been consuming him was suddenly irrelevant, this was what he had been searching for.