|posted on 28-Nov-2002 8:14:07 PM by alli balli|
|A Rush of Blood to the Head - At The Stars|
author: Alli aka Lavender
rating: should stay around PG-13
disclaimer: me no own. At the Stars is by the lovely band Better Than Ezra. (one of my favs. )
summary: S1, post-MttM, all couples - both CC and UC
a.n.: Okay, I wanted to try something different. Here it is. If things work out the way I want them to, this should be a series of stories...I didn't want to make it one long fic with "Part One" and "Part Two", that just didn't seem right for this. I don't know where its going. It will go where my whims take it (and that could be a very scary place, lol.) The entire series is going to be called "A Rush of Blood To The Head"...but no, not all the songs used will be Coldplay. The next installment may not arrive for a while. But I beg of you, give feedback! Pleeease?
At The Stars
Blame us because we are who we are
Hate us because you'll never get that far
And who'd suppose you would go?
I've already learned enough to know
As she stared at the little stick in her hand, Isabel Evans could have sworn she felt her heart stop beating.
There was a loud knock at the door. Panic tightened in her chest, although she knew the door was locked. She dropped it into the toilet numbly. "I'm fine," she called out, surprised at the steadiness of her voice.
"Oh -- are you feeling alright, Iz? I was just seeing if there was anyone in here." Her mother. Fuck. Now she had her mother worried that something was wrong.
"Oh, yeah, I'm okay," she replied, turning on the water for a moment to mimic the sound of washing her hands. Bending over to reach into the trash, she plucked out the small cardboard box and pressed her fingertips to the lettering, turning it into a toothpaste package. No evidence.
Of course, if it was true, if the stick had been correct, there would be plenty of evidence in just a few months time...
Isabel unlocked the door and opened it, turning off the light. She smiled at her mother, feeling a pang, not for the first time, at how natural and easy it was now for her to lie to her. "Here you go."
Walking slowly down the hallway towards her room, she felt...calm. This would be alright. She'd be okay. She was a virgin and pregnant, but she was also an alien. It wasn't like she wasn't used to weird stuff.
Michael shifted slightly in his seat, staring at the untouched hamburger in front of him. Baby. Isabel was going to have a baby. His baby.
He couldn't really wrap his mind around it. A baby was a big deal...a huge deal. So why wasn't he flipping out? Why wasn't he panicking?
It just felt so unreal. He half expected someone to fess up that it was all one big joke, just a test of Michael's character.
Feeling a pair of eyes on him, he looked up, only to see a blonde head turn quickly in the other direction. Maria. He'd snapped at her, and he felt bad...but maybe it was for the best. They couldn't be together. Not if...
Max slid into the booth across from him, jerking Michael out of his trance. "Hey, where's Isabel?"
Michael shrugged. "I dunno." But he probably should have. If she was having his child -- well, he didn't want her doing anything that might endanger it.
"Okay, well..." Max glanced around the cafe quickly. "Good news. She's not pregnant."
Michael felt as though he'd been socked in the stomach. In a good way. He slumped forward slightly. "Are you sure? How do you know?"
Max hesistated. "Tess told me. She said that, uh, we have to do it the normal way. Isabel can't get pregnant from the dreams."
Michael's eyes blinked rapidly. No baby. No baby. He dropped his head back against the plastic coating of his seat, rubbing his hands over his face. "Oh man," he groaned. Max frowned slightly.
"That's a good thing, right?"
"It's a very good thing," Michael replied quickly, opening his eyes again. His gaze began to drift around the room, seeking out a familiar blonde head, but another thought brought him back to Max. "Then what are the dreams for?"
Max looked uncomfortable. "Tess says that they're...they're meant to show us our destinies. She said the constellations have aligned and sort of woke up our biological clocks, or something. But they don't really mean anything," he added hastily.
"Then...this whole destiny thing...it still stands?" Michael pressed. "You and Tess, me and Isabel?"
"I belong with Liz," Max stated firmly. "And you..." he drifted off, his eyes moving across the room. Michael followed his gaze, settling on Maria, who was smiling at a little girl in a booth with her mother. "You decide what you want."
"Yeah," Michael said softly. Neither boy spoke, both of their attention still set on the animated waitress as she interacted with the small brown-haired girl. "I gotta talk to someone," he said abruptly, knowing that Max knew full well who he was talking about.
He was at Maria's side in a flash, wrapping his hand around her forearm. "I need to talk to you," he said quietly, tugging her in the direction of the breakroom. She sighed and rolled her eyes, but allowed herself to be dragged into the back. Michael stood in the center of the room, shoving his hands in his pocket, but she hovered near the door.
"What is it, Michael?" she said, sounding exasperated. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she refused to look at him. "I have customers."
Michael swallowed. "False alarm. There's no baby."
Maria looked at him now, sharply. "No baby?"
"Well, is Isabel alright?"
How could she possibly still care? Amazing. "Yeah."
Michael stared at her for a moment, finally moving closer. "Listen, that thing I said about our relationship being stupid..." he began softly. "I didn't mean it."
Maria turned away from him slightly, edging towards the door. "Well, then, maybe you shouldn't have said it."
"Maria, you know...you know I say stupid stuff all the time," he reasoned, letting his hand brush down her arm. She stiffened. "Why does this time have to be so different?"
"Because this time there's Isabel," she blurted out. The world seemed to grow silent. Her eyes widened at her slip and she pressed her fingers to her lips as if she could somehow force the words back down her throat. Michael froze, his fingertips lingering at her elbow.
"You're having dreams about Isabel," she finally croaked, so softly he could barely hear her. Her fingers slipped slowly away from her mouth and off her chin, trembling where they rested at her throat.
Michael stared at her, expressionless. "Who told you that?"
"Liz," she said miserably. "And Max has been having them about Tess."
Michael leaned his arm against the row of lockers on the wall, dropping his head to rest there. "Max." What an idiot. What a stupid, fucking idiot. His eyes closed for a moment, opening again to look at her. "Maria."
She threw her hands into the air for a moment, not knowing what to do with them, finally wrapping one arm around her torso, the other hand tugging at a piece of hair. She turned her head so that her cheek was buried against her own shoulder. He knew that she wanted to say something, but that she didn't know what.
Maria wiped at her eyes quickly. "I have to get back out front," she mumbled, trying to slip out through the door. Michael reached out, grabbing her elbow before she could move.
"Maria, listen to me," he said hastily. "I'm not -- I mean, I don't -"
"Customers, Michael," she interrupted, pulling her arm out of his grasp. She rubbed her hand over the skin he'd touched slowly, still looking at him. They remained frozen like that for a long moment, and Maria turned away, pushing the door open.
Michael watched it swing shut, staring at the closed door for what felt like ages. Eventually he stumbled back to the dingy couch against the wall, flopping onto his back. He closed his eyes.
The back door opened a few minutes later, and Michael's eyes popped open. "Isabel?"
She stopped in the doorway, looking guilty. "Michael. I was looking for you."
"Uh, yeah," he said, straightening up. He scratched at his eyebrow quickly. "I was looking for you too."
They regarded one another nervously for a few seconds. Isabel took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant."
But Michael was shaking his head. "No, you're not. That's what I was gonna tell you. Max said that Tess said the dreams are just dreams. You can't get pregnant from one. No baby." He attempted a grin. "It's great, y'know?" The grin faded quickly. She was looking back at him with an odd expression -- almost frightened. "Is something wrong?"
"Michael, that can't be right," she said quietly. "I mean...I just took a pregnancy test. It said I was pregnant."
"You took a pregnancy test?" he repeated. He could feel the anger flaming up in him almost instantly. "What did you take a pregnancy test for!?" he demanded, his voice rising. "What -" He cut off abruptly. There wasn't even anything else to say.
"W-what?" Isabel repeated, startled. "I -"
"Why would you do that, Isabel?" Michael continued, his growing anxiety visible on his face. "Why..."
"What do you mean, what did I take a pregnancy test for?" Isabel spat back. "I wanted to know if I was pregnant!"
"But if you hadn't, then..." he trailed off desperately.
"Then what, Michael?" Isabel exclaimed. "Then it wouldn't be real? Do you think it was the test that made me pregnant? D'you think it would just go away if we thought it didn't exist?"
Michael was shaking his head again, ignoring her. He was already halfway out the door. "You're wrong. It can't happen. The test just messed up -"
Isabel charged out of the room after him. She came to a halt as she noticed that half of the restaurant was staring at her and her barely-contained rage. Michael was seated in a booth across from Max, talking to him in a low, angry voice. Forcibly keeping her fists unclenched so as not to cause anymore worry among the patrons than she already had, she walked slowly to the booth.
Max looked up at his sister, worry in his eyes. "Isabel? What's going on?"
"I second that. What is going on here?" Maria had suddenly appeared by Isabel's side. "You're creating a disturbance."
"Mind your own business, Maria," Michael snarled, and he immediately regretted his words. Her face grew stony and her spine straightened, stiffened. She opened her mouth briefly and then snapped it shut, seeming to think better of whatever she'd been about to say. "Shit," Michael hissed under his breath, slamming the table from beneath with his hand as she turned on her heel and walked away.
"Isabel, sit down," Max said quietly, tense. She did as he said, sliding into the seat next to him. "Now tell me what's going on."
"I'm pregnant," she said very calmly, staring at Michael.
"That's not true!" he exploded, earning himself a warning glare from Max. "It can't be," he continued, lowering his voice. "You said so yourself, Max. You can't get pregnant from a dream."
Max looked between his best friend and his sister. He desperately wanted to agree with Michael, there was no way this could happen...but Isabel wasn't stupid, and she wasn't a liar. "Are you sure, Iz?" he asked gently.
"Sometimes those tests aren't always reliable -"
"They don't just randomly say you're pregnant, Max," she snapped. "It's when they say you're not that they mess up."
"Well, maybe since our bodies are different -"
"Look, Max, I just know, okay?" she interrupted, looking into his eyes. "I didn't need the test. I just know."
Max sucked in a deep breath and looked at Michael, who seemed to be concentrating on the napkin dispenser next to him. "There's only one way we can know for sure."
"And that is?" Isabel said, crossing her arms over her chest. She was pregnant, she knew it. Just because Michael was too stubborn and immature to admit it...
Isabel stopped her own thoughts. What was she thinking? This wasn't some stupid game of Monopoly. This was real life. She was really pregnant. She was really in trouble.
Why, then, did she want to be right?
Liz flicked the dial on her locker carelessly, pulling out her uniform. She turned to peel off her shirt, and noticed Maria, curled up on the edge of the breakroom sofa.
"Maria?" she questioned, immediately moving to the cushion beside her friend. "Are you okay?"
Maria smiled at her weakly. "I'm okay." Her red-rimmed eyes and runny nose betrayed her already unconvincing words. She sniffled slightly.
"No, you're not," Liz said gently, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Really. What's wrong?"
Maria's head shook slowly. "It's stupid. It's just Michael again."
"What did he do?" Liz was almost afraid to hear the answer. She knew about the complications that had arisen between Michael and Isabel, but as of yet, there hadn't been any indication that something had come of the dreams.
"He -- oh, by the way, Isabel's not pregnant," Maria said, almost reading Liz's mind. "So let's all be thankful for that one. Um, anyway, he just sort of snapped at me, and I was already having a bad day, and that's it." She blinked. "I told you it was stupid."
Liz tilted her head, studying her friend for a moment. "That's not it. What else?"
Maria sighed, rolling her head back. "I asked him about the dream thing, and I think I kind of blamed him for it."
"Maria," Liz said sympathetically. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have told you about that. It would only -"
"No!" Maria interrupted loudly, causing Liz to jump. Her green eyes were wide. "That's just it, Liz. He didn't tell me. It's not the dreams, it's really not. It's that he can't...he was guilty about them, Liz," she said, dropping to a whisper. "Max told you. He had nothing to be ashamed about, they're just dreams to him. But Michael..." She trailed off, unable to speak anything else aloud.
Liz was silent, knowing where Maria's train of thought was headed. She shifted, bringing Maria's head to rest on her shoulder. "It's okay," she murmured quietly, squeezing her around the shoulders. "This is all gonna be over soon."
Michael opened the apartment door, flinging his keys onto the coffee table. He landed on the couch with a soft thud and rested his feet on the table, groping under the pillow at the end of the couch for the remote. Max entered the dingy apartment behind Isabel, and glanced around somewhat apprehensively.
"I don't suppose you have a bed yet," Max commented dryly. Michael turned his head from the television to look at him.
"Nope." His head turned back to the tv. Max felt his fists clench involuntarily. Michael was being a real son of a bitch right now, and his stubborn attitude towards the whole situation was obviously not helping Isabel.
"Okay, Iz," Max said, giving his sister an encouraging smile. "I guess..." He gestured to the stools that Michael kept by the counter, and she sat on the end seat, clasping her hands in her lap. Finding herself unable to match her brother's smile, she bit her lip and looked down at the dusty floor.
"Um." Max moved back and forth in front of her, trying to find the right angle. "This is really weird," he muttered under his breath. Isabel snorted, and he looked at her in question. She shrugged.
Sighing, Max finally opted for the ground. He knelt in front of the stool and rolled up his sleeves. Neither of the Evans noticed that Michael had now turned his full attention to the scene unfolding before him. He couldn't hide the smirk that twisted his features when Max pulled back his sleeves. The guy never did do anything halfway.
"Can you guys hurry up? There's a game on in five minutes," Michael blurted out loudly. Max and Isabel's eyes shot towards him, and the former was rising up off the ground in anger.
"Why don't you shut the fuck up, huh, Michael?" Max demanded loudly, the tips of his ears tinting red. Under different circumstances, Michael would have laughed. "You're being the most incredibly immature, rude jackass you can possibly be at the worst possible time. This is your future we're determining here, so why don't you just shut up?"
The room fell oddly silent. Isabel was staring in shock at her brother's back. In all her years of living with him, she'd never seen Max that angry. Rather than being refreshing as she would have thought, it was a little...not exactly frightening, just...strange.
"Max, it's okay," Isabel said quietly from her perch on the stool. He glanced at her over his shoulder.
"No, it's not okay," he said, his eyes returning to Michael, who was meeting his gaze impassively. "Grow up, Michael." He stared at him a few seconds longer for good measure, before turning back to Isabel. "Okay. Let's get this over with."
Michael remained still for a moment, processing the past thirty seconds. Finally he stood up, a low, serious voice emitting from his throat. "Get out, Max."
Max turned around slowly. "What did you say?"
"I said get out," Michael repeated. "I don't want you here, so I'm saying get out."
Max shook his head and began to say something, but stopped himself. "Fine. Let's go, Isabel." He jerked his head towards the door, and Isabel followed him, feeling numb.
Michael watched them leave, and fell back onto the sofa, expecting a feeling of satisfaction.
Instead, he felt one of shame.
Isabel pulled the door to the Jeep shut, letting her head rest against the back of her seat. Max sat slumped in the driver's seat, staring absently at the wheel.
"I'm sorry, Iz," he sighed, shaking his head. "But Michael needs to realize that it's just as much his fault as it is yours."
"No it's not," Isabel said quietly. Max looked at her sharply. "This is no one's fault," she continued. "Michael didn't ask for this, and neither did I. It just happened."
"That doesn't mean he has the right to treat you like that."
"No, it doesn't," Isabel echoed. She sighed. "Just drive, Max."
He followed her order, pulling out of the small parking lot located out front of Michael's apartment building. "Where are we going?"
She shrugged. "Home?"
"We'll have to be quiet, then."
Max didn't respond, simply changed lanes.
Michael entered the florist shop uncomfortably, shoving his hands into his pockets. He wasn't quite sure how to go about buying a bouquet of flowers, never having done so before.
Not to mention the DeLuca souvenir shop happened to be next door.
"Can I help you?" A bored-looking girl was smacking her gum lazily behind the counter, following him with her eyes.
"Nah." Michael hated it when salespeople talked to him. If he wanted their help, he'd ask for it. Otherwise he just felt like they were watching him, making sure the scruffy boy with dirty boots didn't steal anything.
He wandered listlessly down one aisle, barely paying attention to the various floral arrangments displayed on the shelves before him. The mingling scents were starting to make his nose itch. To his left was a long refridgerator similar to the ones they kept frozen foods in at the supermarket; he opened it and quickly grabbed a mid-sized bouquet of pink roses.
Michael walked back to the counter, glancing furtively out through the window at the front. He didn't want Ms. DeLuca wandering out of her own store and into the florist's. He didn't want to have to answer to her when Maria came home that evening flowerless.
The salesgirl spoke to him, pulling Michael out of his paranoid reverie. "Huh?"
She looked at him oddly. "Thirty-nine forty-one."
Michael's jaw almost dropped open. Flowers were fucking expensive. Sighing, he pulled out his wallet and dropped two twenties in front of the girl. He sadly watched the Pay Per View fight he'd been looking forward to wave goodbye. Isabel had better be grateful for these damned things.
"Would you like a bag for these?" the girl said, poised over the large collection of plastic bags where she was standing.
"That's okay," Michael said, grabbing the flowers and hurrying out of the shop. All he wanted to do was go find Isabel, apologize, give her the flowers, and then run home and hide there for the remainder of the week. He couldn't handle any more stress.
You won't have to, he told himself. Because Isabel's not pregnant. Tess had said it was impossible, and Tess knew, because Tess had Nasedo.
Michael turned right and felt something smack into his body. Jumping back, he realized that he was face to face with Maria DeLuca.
Her soft pink mouth moved soundlessly for a moment. "S-sorry," she stuttered, her eyes pinned to the large bouquet of flowers clutched in his hand. Michaeal wanted to disappear.
"Uh, that's okay," he said off-handedly, a feeling of despair sinking into the pit of his stomach. He transferred the flowers to his other hand self-consciously. He couldn't miss the way Maria was looking at them with a certain degree of expectance, maybe even longing. Mentally sighing, he thrust the bouquet towards her. "Here. They're for you."
Maria took the roses gently, a small smile creeping across her face. She rubbed her nose against the soft petals, inhaling deeply. She looked up at him through her lashes. "Thank you, Michael."
Michael shifted uncomfortably. "You're welcome. I was...I was a jerk today."
"That's okay," Maria said, moving a step closer to him, tucking the flowers under her arm. She started to raise her arms to hug him, but stopped when she realized he wasn't paying attention to her, but staring down the sidewalk over her shoulder. Turning around, she felt her heart sink. Isabel was approaching them, staring directly at Michael.
Maria moved unconsciously closer to his side as they stood in silence, waiting for Isabel to reach them. She stopped in front of the pair, and Michael knew.
All it took was one look, and he knew.
"Nice flowers," Isabel commented. Maria felt herself grow defensive under the taller girl's stare. She turned to look at Michael and saw him throw Isabel a look that told her everything she needed to know. She glanced between the two aliens, unable to ignore the way they were looking at one another.
"Yeah, I thought so too," Maria said shakily, pulling them out from under her arm. She faced Michael, her heart pumping quickly in her chest. "Here," she whispered, letting them fall at his feet. "Now you can give them to the girl they were really meant for."
Here we are, foreign to their world
Straight and composed
Your sermons I can do without
And I've finally found that everybody
Loves to love you when you're far away
Liz lifted her head to see Max hurrying across the cafe towards her. "Hey Max," she greeted him, accepting his quick kiss. At least, she thought it would be quick. But Max kept his mouth glued to hers, bumping the tip of his tongue to her own. She giggled, pushing him away. "Max, I'm on shift," she protested.
"I know," he said, his breath warm against her cheek. "Did you have your break yet?"
She smiled. "Yeah, sorry, you're too late. I ended up spending it comforting Maria. By the way," she glanced around, lowering her voice. "What's up with Michael? He really hurt her feelings today."
Max groaned inwardly. He had come to see Liz to get his mind off of the Isabel/Michael situation, not to discuss it. He masked any recognition of her worries with a shrug. "I don't know. Who ever knows what's up with Michael and Maria?"
Liz pursed her lips. "I'm just worried about the whole Isabel-dream thing. It's really getting to Maria, y'know?"
"Yeah, I know," Max said. He placed his hands on her hips and leaned in closer. "Now, can we stop talking about them?"
There was so much Liz didn't know -- that the dreams had in fact impregnated Isabel, and that somehow Michael was the father. But she didn't need to know that now. There was no use in getting her upset. It wasn't going to happen with him and Tess. He'd make sure of it.
Maria pressed her face into her pillow, hard, fighting the urge to scream.
Just when she thought everything was okay, the alien trauma popped back up again. And this time, things didn't look like they could be fixed so easily.
There was a soft knock at the door. "Maria?"
Maria lifted her head slightly. "Yeah?"
"Liz is here to see you."
"Okay," she called, sliding off of the bed and over to the mirror that hung above her desk. Her mascara was smudged, but otherwise, she looked presentable. She hadn't been able to cry.
Sensing Liz's presence in the doorway, Maria turned to face her friend. If ever there was a time to be strong, now was it.
Could it be we've done something wrong?
We'd make it back to your place before dawn
Please don't drive me home
Please don't take me home...