PART SIX



Maria rolled over and stared at Michael. It was the second time in two days she had woken up with his arms around her. She was really getting use to it.

She looked down from his peaceful smile and took in his board naked chest. naked. she was naked.

Maria started to panic, 'I just lost my virginity to the boy I hate!. I love. I . I have to find Liz!'

Maria reached around her to remove Michael's arm that was securely wrapped around her. As she move he tried to pull her back but she kept forcing herself out of the bed.

The phone started to ring and Maria instinctively grabbed for it but stopped, "It might be a little suspicious if you start answering his phone.And if you don't stop talking to your self."

The answer machine picked up and Pam Troy's voice came over the speaker, "Michael, honey, I just heard the most interesting thing from Tommy and Paulie. I guess you were mourning the loss of me and I can forgive you for your . easy lay. And I can help you rebuild what'll be left of your reputation. Just get rid of that trash."

As she stood she felt a sudden soreness not only in her body but her heart. 'He doesn't love me. It was a spur of the moment sex thing, and it just ruined his whole reputation.'

As she gathered her clothes and dressed she kept looking at the porcupine that still had a smile on his face.

He looked innocent enough.

*

Maria crawled up Liz's balcony and banged on the door waking up her best friend.

Liz looked at Maria's tear tracks and helped her inside putting her finger over her mouth to signal to be quiet.

Maria nodded as she backed up not looking where she was going and sat down on the bed.

The bed moved.

Maria sat up quickly; her mouth agape. There in Little Lizzie Parker's bed was her boyfriend!

"MAX!" Maria said as quietly as she could.

"Maria my parents are asleep." Liz hissed as she watched her best friend's eyes pop out of her head.

Max sat up tiredly and scratched the back of his head before yawning and stretching.

His dazed smile disappeared when he saw Maria.

"Shit." He said under his breath.

"Max Evans cussing. this is a first." Maria said eyeing him wearily.

"I better go." Max said picking up his shoes and slipping them on.

"I'll see you later?" Liz asked as he walked over to her.

"Maybe sooner." He smiled down at her and kissed her deeply forgetting for a moment that Maria was standing right in front of them.

"Ahem." Maria coughed loudly trying to break their connection.

"Sorry." Max mumbled as he drew back from Liz then kissed her on the forehead.

As he left through the window Maria turned on her friend, "He spent the night?"

"Nothing happened. You saw him when you left he was fully dressed." Liz said pointing at the window through which her boyfriend had left.

"Why did he stay the night?" Maria asked thoughtfully.

"Because he wanted to be close to me and I wanted to be close to him. It's not like we slept together!" Liz hissed sitting on the bed.

Maria's eyes started to brim over with tears.

"Oh Maria, what's a matter?" Liz asked reaching for her friend to sit next to her.

"Ready for a long story?" Maria asked.

Liz looked at her, "Always."

*

"Michael what's the emergency?" Max asked as he entered the door.

"I need you to do something for me." Michael said sitting on the counter.

"What?" Max asked looking around the apartment for the source of distress.

"Will you bash me over the head with this?" Michael asked as he picked up the frying pan next to him.

"Depends on why." Max said seriously as he crossed his arms in front of him.

"I told someone something that I shouldn't have- but they said it back. It was said during one of those times where you are expected to say it but I meant it but then they displayed some serious signs of taking it back. This is gonna cause some huge problems but if they did mean it then the problems would be easier but still there but I can't ask them if they meant it." Michael said quickly and with out punctuation.

". uh huh. " Max said nodding. He was silent for a moment; "You lost me."

"Where?" Michael asked his eyebrows drawn together.

"Right after you told someone something you shouldn't have." Max said recalling the first thing his brain had successfully processed.

"But I explained that I meant it so I was right but they did something to make me think that even after I said it they didn't mean it." Michael said his hands now accompanying his words.

".uh huh." Max said his eyes slightly squinted as he tried to put things in order in his head, "Nope still lost."

Michael let out a sigh, "Never mind."

"Michael what did you say and to whom did you say it?" Max asked as he sat on the couch.

"I told someone that I loved them." Michael said looking Max square in the eyes.

Max's jaw almost hit the floor. He was stunned which was quite obvious because of his engorged eyes and slacked jaw.

It took him several long moments to get his composure back together before smiling.

"You meant it?" Max asked.

Michael nodded his head.

"And they said it back, but then they did something that makes you think they didn't mean it. Am I on the right track?" Max asked his confusion starting to clear up.

"Yep." Michael said looking at the floor.

"So you said I love you, at a time which is appropriate, they said it back. Now they are displaying unloving feelings. Two questions." Max said crossing his arms.

"Shoot." Michael said tapping his rings against the counter.

"Who did you say it to and when was it appropriate?" Max asked smiling in spite himself.

"Maria and when we were having sex." Michael mumbled to himself.

"WHAT!?!" Max asked as his eyes bulged and his jaw dropped once more, "Maria? Maria DeLuca? You had sex with her?"

"What's wrong with Maria DeLuca?" Michael asked standing up.

"Nothing's wrong with her but. You and Maria DeLuca?" Max asked again make Michael smile.

"Yeah, me and Maria DeLuca."

*

"Michael? As in Michael Guerin?" Liz asked pacing her room.

"Yes, for the thirtieth time as in Michael, took my innocents, Guerin." Maria said throwing herself back on Liz's bed.

"He didn't take your innocents." Liz said frowning, "He didn't. did he? Did he make you. you know?"

"He made me fall in love with him. Everything else is of my own accord. my own stupid accord. I should have quit the project when I knew I would be paired with him. What's another year of high school compared to living in purgatory." Maria said quickly as she put a pillow over her face.

"You love him." Liz said sitting by her friend yanking at the pillow.

"Yeah." Maria said weakly.

"And he loves you?" Liz asked.

"He said he did, but then again he was getting laid so it wasn't completely truthful." Maria said propping herself up on her elbows.

"Did he say it wasn't completely truthful? Did he do anything to make you think he lied?" Liz asked.

"He didn't get a chance. I left as soon as I woke up. He was still asleep." Maria said cringing at Liz's shocked face.

"MARIA!"

*

"So. what do I do now Yoda?" Michael asked Max.

Max raised his eyebrows at the nickname; "Listen to me young Jedi."

"What?" Michael asked following Max's eyes to a beeping red light.

"You now press the play button." Max said as he moved forward and did it.

"Michael, honey, I just heard the most interesting thing from Tommy and Paulie. I guess you were mourning the loss of me and I can forgive you for your . easy lay. And I can help you rebuild what'll be left of your reputation. Just get rid of that trash." Pam Troy's voice came over the machine loud and clear followed by, "Message Received 8:30 A.M."

"That could be bad." Max said staring at the Machine perplexed. "Mourning over Pam?"

"I had sex with her too." Michael said as if it was no big deal.

"Who haven't you slept with?" Max asked.

"Me, for one." Liz said as she and Maria entered the apartment through the door that hadn't closed.

"Good thing too, or the young Jedi, die he would." Max looked pointedly at Michael before wrapping Liz in his arms.

Liz and Maria looked strangely at both boys.

"Don't ask." Michael said holding up his hand.

"Hey," Liz said looking up at her boyfriend, "Can I talk to Michael please?"

Max looked at her curiously before shaking his head in the affirmative.

"Hey Maria, want to go for a walk?" Max asked that as he hugged Liz tight then released her going towards the door.

"Liz?" Maria asked looking at her comrade confused.

"It's OK Maria." Liz said smiling.

Maria looked from Michael, who was looking down, to Liz, and then to Max who was trying to get her out of the room.

Maria just shook her head as she followed Max outside and down the hall.

*

There was silence. And Michael didn't make a sound to disrupt it or strike up a conversation so Liz took it upon herself, "She told me what happened."

"I gathered." He said shortly.

"Michael I appreciate what you did to Tommy. You know you put your reputation in danger." Liz said walking towards the counter he was sitting on.

"Rather my rep than her." Michael said shrugging.

"And you had sex with her." Liz said disgusted.

"It wasn't just sex, OK? I wasn't looking to get laid or anything like that." Michael began.

"First of all I was talking about Pam Troy, second if you weren't looking to get laid why agree to do a Casual SEX project?" Liz asked reasonably.

"Fist of all me and Pam was a year ago and I was drunk. I don't remember it. It was the biggest mistake." Michael started, "And the sex project was Maria's idea. and I was interested. I mean Maria's all ways intrigued me but after we got close."

"You fell in love with her." Liz said finishing for him as she tossed him a side ways glance.

"Yeah." Michael said looking her in the eyes, "Then she fled."

"She heard what Pam said- she thinks she ruined your rep and that you'll be mad." Liz said shrugging.

"Why would I be mad? I made a conscious decision." Michael said his eyebrows going up and his face becoming animated.

"She thinks you said that you loved her to get laid." Liz said filing him in on the rest.

Michael's mouth opened and closed a few times before he jumped up and went to the door.

"Michael! Where are you going?" Liz asked trailing behind him.

"To tell her I love her. stubborn little pixie." Michael grumbled as Liz tailed him all the way down the stairs smiling.

*

"So you and Liz, huh?" Maria asked sitting on the picnic table next to Max.

"You and Michael?" Max asked in return smiling wildly.

Maria's face fell and she looked at the blade of grass in her hand peeling it apart slowly.

"He's my best friend in the world. I have grown up with him. He even lived with me for a while." Max said looking the girl over, "He's never said 'I love you' to anyone. Not me, my parents, or Isabel. The last time I heard him say that was at the funer. It's been a long time."

"The funeral. It's OK he told me about the accident." Maria said looking up from her now empty hand to Max, "He told me everything and he loved me, and what did I do? I ruined his reputation."

"He's a big boy Maria. He had a hand in making the decisions." Max said looking at her pointedly, "Besides Isabel will be more crushed than he will."

Maria stayed silent.

Max glanced up and his eyes widened. this wasn't good.

"Hey Maria." Pam Troy said with a sweet smile on her face.

Maria looked up and just glared.

"Making your way around the block with all the guys are you? First Tommy, then Michael, now Max? You were just an easy lay."

"Ignore her." Max whispered into Maria's ear as he saw her eyes narrow.

*

Isabel and Alex pulled over in front of the park seeing Max and Maria. They had been at Isabel's when they had found out everyone was at Michael's apartment.

They got out and walked over just to catch the end of Pam's little dialogue.

"She's not easy." Alex said protectively as he sat down on the other side of Maria.

"Alex Whitman too? God, Maria who won't you do?" Pam said in a look of disgust, "Tommy and Michael I can understand. Max is pushing it, but GEEK BOY?"

Isabel slammed her fist into Pam Troy's face.

"ISABEL!?!" Pam screamed as she grabbed her nose and hunched over.

"I have been just waiting to do that." Isabel said smiling as she walked over to Alex and kissed him.

Liz and Michael walked up and watched as Pam went back to her car and crawled inside the driver side before peeling out.

"What'd we miss?" Liz asked watching the car blaze down the street.

"She came." Maria said motioning to Pam's speeding car, "She saw." Maria said gesturing to her and Max.

"She kicked ass." Maria said nodding her head to Isabel.

"Good Job IZZY!" Michael said smiling briefly.

"Listen. We're gonna head back to Max's." Liz said looking from Michael to Maria, "Alex will you take us back to Michael's apartment to get the jeep."

"Sure." Isabel said looking strangely from Michael to Maria, what had she missed?

As the four other teens drove off Michael sat down next to Maria.

"So." Michael began not knowing what to say, "I heard the message."

"Me too." Maria scoffed.

"Everyone thinks I'm a slut." Maria said her head falling in her hands.

"So?" Michael asked receiving a glare from her, "I know you're not a slut and so do your friends. Besides I don't think that Isabel will let that rumor go too far or even give it that much substance."

"Your reputation is ruined." Maria said looking over at him.

"No. It's not. I'm now dating the most beautiful girl in school. The girl I LOVE." Michael said pronouncing the last two words carefully.

"Since when are we dating?" Maria asked playfully.

"Will you do me the honors?" Michael asked smiling at her.

"Yeah, and I love you too Hans." Maria said smirking at him.

"Not funny." Michael said standing up to face her.

He wrapped an arm around her waist and the other around her back bringing her in for a long deep, sensual kiss.

*

"Mr. Guerin, Mrs. DeLuca, your project gets a D minus." The teacher called out as he went down the row of students, "For refusal to do an oral report."

Maria and Michael glared at the back of his head, their arms crossed over their chests.

"What crawled up his ass?" Michael asked leaning towards his girlfriend.

"Same thing that crawled up theirs'." Maria said motioning to Pam and Tommy.

Pam and Tommy were now an item as they were shunned by all others. Pam had a broken nose and Tommy had numerous abrasions to the face not to mention the rest of his body.

As the bell rang Maria and Michael stood up and walked towards their lockers.

"Hear about the party tonight?" Alex asked as he walked up his arm around his girlfriend.

"Does it matter? the world is ending anyway." Maria said bleakly.

"Still bummed about getting a low grade on your project?" Alex asked.

"Are Max and Liz going?" Maria asked avoiding the question, which had a rather obvious answer.

"I don't even know where the other two love birds are." Isabel said frowning in thought.

"I have an idea." Michael said as he pointed to the giggling Eraser Room.

"Come on." Isabel said grabbing Maria's hand.

As they approached the door they counted to three before screaming, "MAX! LIZ!"

Max and Liz bolted out of the door both looking rather flustered and lecherous.

"I'm gonna kill you!" Max said pointing at both Maria and Isabel who laughed and went to hide behind their significant others.

"Now people, back to the original question- we making an appearance or what?" Alex asked his friends old and new.

Every shook their head in the affirmative.

"You know, Maria, they might even have a pantry there. and since you lost our little competition and all." Michael whispered into his girlfriend's ear resulting in a smack across the head.

"I did not lose, thank you very much!" Maria said pouting as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"God help us all." Liz said laughing as Max and the others joined in on the mirth.

The End