'These walls are caving in...

Yeah, he'll never hear it like he heard it then,

Not like he heard it then...'

Long Time Comin', Taking Back Sunday

The apartment felt incredibly hot for such a cool day, but Michael supposed the heat might have been something to do with his flushed face rather than the weather or busted heating.

Judith was on his heels through the door, and as soon as it was closed behind them she was all over him. She was sort of soft through her uniform, and warm, and her lips felt nice on his, and her teeth knew what to do to make him even hotter under the collar...

He forced away all thoughts but the here and now.

He didn't tell her he was a virgin and she didn't ask. She just pulled him into his room and kicked the door shut.

His bed was soft and freshly laundered thanks to Maya, and the sheets felt good against his skin as Judith undid the buttons of his shirt. Her long, black curls shone against the dark blue bed sheets.

Her fingers were talented, dexterous, and her lips were red from their kissing. Her eyes were half-lidded, and she smiled as she asked him to take off his pants while she attacked her skirt.

She took the lead. He followed.

He enjoyed the rise and fall of her breasts, and the way she curled her legs around his hips. He felt normal, like a man, unhindered and wanted. He didn't think of what a one-eighty he had done since Gifted and Talented. He didn't want to think of why he was doing this at all.

Michael was shaking, but Judith didn't notice. She only tipped her head back and moaned as he pressed inside of her.

It was the strangest sensation, being so breathless and overwhelmed as he felt her, soft and wet and warm, even through the condom. He knew he wasn't making love, that it was just sex, and so he savoured the way his troubles were non-existent and any stress of his had melted clean off of his naked shoulders.

Judith came apart beneath him with a wail. He didn't have the strength to not follow after.

He didn't even have to ask her to leave before his parents came back. She dressed, leaving him lying naked on his bed, and told him she would see him tomorrow to continue their work on their project, like the thing they had just done hadn't changed everything.

When she was gone and he was left looking up at the constellations on his ceiling, he realised she had rocked his world. And not for the better.

His parents and Lilly came home in quick succession, no one questioning why he was locked up in his room and had left Pavlov scratching at the outside of his door. Everyone knew he was busy and not to disturb him before Winter Carnival.

A noise from his laptop roused him and he looked over to see one of its lights blinking slowly. It needed charging.

Like a sloth, he pulled himself from his bed and put on some shorts, but his mind was ticking over faster than a nuclear bomb. He was going into meltdown.

Why had he slept with Judith, who wanted nothing, and stopped fighting for Mia, who was everything? He'd been discouraged, yes, but broken?

No. He was just a coward.

Michael plugged in his laptop with the air of a man ready to be sent to his doom. He didn't want to work on his project any more, not with Judith anyway.

He opened up the lid. His browser popped up automatically, along with his IM.

He saw he had a psychotic mass e-mail from his sister. Mia was online. He needed to make things right.

These three factors sealed his fate, and his idea – the one that Judith's fingers had quashed earlier? – well, it didn't seem so ridiculous any more. In fact, making Mia something special, something to win her, to get her to notice him, something...romantic, straight out of Beauty and the Beast – it seemed like the greatest idea ever.

He just had to put his fingers to the keyboard.

CracKing: Did you just get that whacked-out mass e-mail from my sister?

Author's note: Just a short O/s exploring 'The Thing That Must Not Be Mentioned' – Michael and Judith, yuck, right? – because I said I would do things from Michael's POV, and this must be included, even though it breaks my heart because I'll be writing his and Mia's eventual argument over this particular scene, and it won't be pretty. There'll be tears and snot and tissues dotted around my keyboard... Yeah, so. Thank you for reading! Back to OOWCtM!