|posted on 6-Feb-2002 8:17:06 AM by care bears|
|Title: Running Away|
Summary: Maria and Michael go on a mission together
Spoilers: It does not have any spoilers
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation to Roswell or anyone associated with it. I'm just borrowing the characters for a little while.
Michael walked the boardwalk on foot. Canter was a small town and it was easier and less conspicuous to simply walk from destination to destination. He was dressed casually in a sweater and black jeans and blended in easily with the towns people. His eyes, hidden by his customary sunglasses, habitually scanned from side to side as he walked. He approached the boardwalk from the south, pausing briefly by a fountain that spurted sporadically to the delight of the young children dashing in and out of the spray. He watched their innocent glee for several long seconds,then walked on.
His eyes focused on Maria before he was aware of looking for her. She was on the boardwalk, leaning back against the railing, with her arms crossed in front of her and her packages at her feet. His steps faltered for one second. She is so beautiful, he thought, amazed again at the very idea she could possibly care for him. Her long hair was piled on top of her head, but the breeze had teased several long strands out to blow around her face. She was dressed simply in a cobalt blue sweater and linen skirt that ended several inches above her knees, showing her long, elegant legs to their best advantage. She was even wearing what were, for her, sensible shoes, nearly flat, which gave him a height advantage. Behind her the Canter Mountains shimmered in the sunlight, reflecting the sun's rays off their snow-capped peaks into a sky nearly as blue as Maria sweater. He crossed the street and approached her. She saw him coming and a smile crossed her face. He felt a slight twinge of pain at the sight. She used to look at me that way, he thought, his mind subconsciously creating a schism between himself and the role he was playing, a long, long time ago.
"Hello, darling," he greeted her, kissing her offered cheek. He glanced at the bags at her feet. "I see you've kept yourself busy."
She handed him one of the shopping bags and gave him a sidelong look. "What else am I supposed to do when you leave me ?" Her tone of voice was perfect slightly aggravated but with an undercurrent of a long-standing jest between a happily married couple.
With his free hand, he caught the loose strands of hair and tucked them behind her ear, the gesture both affectionate and possessive. He looked deeply into her azure eyes for a long moment, drinking in her beauty, then put his hand at the small of her back and directed her down the boardwalk. "Come," he said, "we have a lunch reservation at the café."
The restaurant chosen was on the boardwalk, overlooking a marina and the Canter Mountains. They found a reservation had been made in Michael's cover name; they proceeded outside to a table set out on the sunny deck, centered amid the many diners. Maria gave Michael a quick sidelong glance, wondering at the security of a meet surrounded by so many people, but as they sat and ordered drinks, she realized the wisdom of the choice. A table on the outer rim could be overheard by a casual passerby or picked up by a hidden microphone worn or carried by any of the numerous people lounging on the boardwalk enjoying the weather; the buzz of conversation surrounding their more central table made their low-voiced discussion as secure as possible. Their waiter approached with their drinks.
He placed their drinks down and handed menus to both of them. Michael glanced up and met his eyes. "What do you suggest to eat?" Maria frowned slightly. That was out of character for Michael.
The waiter glanced at the menu in front of Michael. "Any of the specials listed on the inside are especially good. The salmon is fresh today, as are the oysters and butter clams."
Michael nodded courteously. "Thank you." Obviously dismissed, the waiter left. Maria put her elbows on the table, took a sip of her iced tea and gave Michael a what-was-that-all-about stare.
Michael didn't meet her eyes, simply opened the menu and looked over the 'specials' sheet, which was a separate white typewritten sheet of paper clipped to the inside of the menu. Michael slid his left hand under the sheet, opened the clip with his right and pulled his left hand back out, reattaching the clip. His left hand disappeared under the table; in a second she felt his fingers nudge her right thigh. She let her right hand fall casually into her lap and felt Michael pass a small piece of paper to her. She opened the back pack on the floor and withdrew her lipstick and mirror, slipping the paper into her back pack at the same time.
She applied her lipstick, replacing it back in her back pack and gave Michael a bright smile. "So, are we going to order?"
Michael gave her a long look. "Are you hungry?" he asked. His voice had an unexpected sensual overtone. She repressed a small shiver at his implication. She met his gaze and ran her eyes over his face.
"Starving." She saw the heat leap up in his eyes, quickly dampened down and hidden beneath his usual calm exterior. She deliberately ran her nails down his arm, feeling his muscles twitch beneath his sweater.
He caught her hand and brushed her fingertips with his lips. "Then let's order."
Michael sat on the bed in their room at the inn, his computer open on the small bedside table. He used his cellular phone to make a modem connection, and began typing, his fingers flying over the keyboard. Maria stood next him, running her left hand through her now-loosened hair, examining the paper from their contact. It was a photograph of a dark-haired man in his mid-20s. Michael reached into his computer bag and withdrew a small scanner, which he swiftly attached to the laptop. Maria handed the picture to him and he scanned it, then hit the 'enter' key with a small flourish, beginning the download to Alex. He flipped the picture over and they read the few words written on the back.
PETER MASON. THEKLA. 10PM.
"Thekla? What's a Thekla?" murmured Maria. Michael shrugged, leaning back on the bed. He gave a small grunt and sat up again, pulling his gun out from the small of his back. Placing it carefully next to the computer, Michael lay back down, reaching his arms back and over his head. He closed his eyes and arched his back slightly, stretching like a cat. Maria watched him with amusement.
"Tired?" she asked, trying without success to smooth the smile hovering at the corners of her mouth.
Michael cracked open his eyes and propped himself up on his elbows. "Yes. I didn't sleep very well." He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Too much distraction."
Maria felt her cheeks grow warm. Damn the man, she thought with some irritation, he always manages to get to me. She covered her embarrassment with a saucy smile. "You could always sleep on the floor..." she suggested.
He gave her a flinty look. Maria felt her heart beat a little faster at the levity in his eyes; Michael's sense of humor was a rare and treasured treat.
She was rewarded with a small smile from Michael before he lay back down, cradling his head on his hands.
Maria stepped between Michael's knees to peer closer at the computer screen. "Now what?" she asked without turning around.
"Now we wait for Alex to run the picture, and see what information he can pull up," Michael responded.
"How long should that take?" Maria glanced over her shoulder at him. He was still on his back, his eyes fixed on the ceiling.
He shrugged. "Hard to say." He dropped his eyes to look at her, standing between his legs, and she watched his eyes grow warmer. "You have something in mind?" His tone of voice changed slightly, a sensual overlay changing the innocent sentence into something much deeper, more erotic.
She slowly turned around to face him completely, leaning back with her arms braced on the table behind her. She let her voice drop a few pitches, becoming huskier. "Maybe. You?" He didn't respond, just caught and held her eyes with his.
She stood still for a long moment, considering. His words and his body position were as open an invitation as she was ever likely to receive from Michael. He left the decision completely up to her, neither encouraging nor rebuffing her. Slowly, go slowly, she reminded herself. Michael's apparent passivity could be deceiving. For one brief moment he reminded her of a wild animal, coiled to bolt and run at any sudden movement. She felt as if she were walking a tightrope. Turn away, and he may never open this door again. Move too fast, and he would read pity or desperation. His face and eyes were calm and controlled, too calm, too controlled. She had a sudden insight into his psyche. He's afraid. Afraid to be close, afraid to care, afraid of rejection. Keeping her eyes locked on his, she slowly knelt on the bed and began inching her way up his body, her knees straddling his body. She leaned over him, her hair falling in a curtain around their faces. Slowly she lowered her head and gently kissed him. For a long heartbeat, neither breathed nor moved; they both stayed perfectly still, only their lips lightly touching. Maria let her breath out in a soft sigh as she broke the kiss, pulling back slightly. She felt his fingers thread through her hair; his other hand came up to rest on her shoulder, as soft as a butterfly. She opened her eyes to find his intent green gaze on her. He didn't move or speak, gave her no indication if he wanted her to pull away or kiss him again, except for his feather-light touch. She leaned in again, slowly, tentatively, giving him plenty of time to pull away or stop her. He did neither. Her lips touched his again, tenderly, and his fingers tightened infinitesimally on her shoulder.
The computer beeped. "Michael?" Alex's voice sounded loudly in the silence of the room.
Maria jerked back from the kiss at the sound. His fingers closed tightly on her hair and shoulder, preventing her from pulling away from him. Their eyes locked together for a moment, and she could see barely-restrained passion and frustration shining in his gaze. He closed his eyes, stilled his face into its usual blank mask and released his hold on her. She rolled to the side, sitting with her head slightly lowered, hiding her face behind her spill of hair. He sat up and hit a key on the computer.
"Yes, Alex, I'm here."
Maria gave herself one final look in the mirror, adjusted her hair one last time, and left the bathroom. Michael was doing a final status check on the computer before they left. He was dressed in black, as usual. As per Max's instructions, he was simply dressed in black cotton slacks and pullover sweater. His gun was tucked neatly into the back of his pants, and his jacket lay folded on the bed, waiting to be put on.
Michael turned his head and gave her reappearance a quick scan. His eyes were blank, unreadable, but he nodded his approval at her attire. She crossed the room to peer over his shoulder. Sitting down on the bed, she ran over the mission profile as she waited for Michael to finish his conversation with Alex.
Alexs database search had brought up some interesting intelligence on their target. Peter Mason was a 27-year-old professional student. He was presently enrolled at the local State College where apparently his sole purpose on the campus was to recruit new members for the Earth Brigade. According to their informant's report, it should be a easy job.
Unconsciously Maria ran her hands down her black leather mini skirt, adjusted her nylons and let her high-heeled pumps drop off as she swung her feet in the air. The thump of the shoes caught Michael's attention briefly; his eyes caressed her quickly before he returned his focus to the computer. Nikita closed her eyes and ran the profile over and over in her head. One small part of her mind recognized when Michael signed off and closed down the computer, but the touch of his hands on her nearly bare shoulders still made her jump. Her eyes flew open and she turned her head to look at him. He had her coat over his jacket on his arm. She put her nerves under tight control, slipped her feet back in her shoes and got to her feet. He draped the coat over her shoulders, his fingers lingering for a moment longer than necessary. She gave him a quick glance over her shoulder, trying yet again to determine what was real and what was mission. His face, as usual, was inscrutable, completely in mission mode.
He ran his fingers down her back and she repressed the shiver triggered by his motion. He let his hand rest on the swell of her hip as he directed her to the door. "Let's go," he murmured in her ear.
Thekla was dimly lit, smoke-filled and packed with gyrating bodies. Michael and Maria stood on the upper balcony, overlooking the dance floor, seeking their target. The club's clientele was a mixed bunch, everyone from overly pierced and tattooed college students to middle class suburbanites out for a night on the town. The music was nondescript, loud and mostly atonal, and the pounding bass line resounded through Michael's body.
"Shall I get us something to drink?" Although he was using nearly his usual speaking voice, his words barely carried over the din issuing from the speakers.
She nodded in response, mouthing the word 'please'. He gestured to the floor below with a tip of his head and she nodded again, continuing her scrutiny of the dancers. Michael threaded his way through the crowds to the bar, retrieved two glasses of Perrier and began to return to their post. He realized there was trouble as soon as Maria came into his sight. Her back was to the dance floor, her body posture tense, and as he warily approached he could see her hands were clenched into fists at her side. She shook her head and tried to inch away from the man in front of her, only to have another man move swiftly to her side and cut off her exit. Michael paused for a moment, locking his temper under tight control . No trouble, no notice, he thought, knowing the same thoughts had run through Maria's mind. That was the only reason her would-be admirer was still standing.
He moved smoothly and swiftly into the center of the group, standing in front of Maria with his back to her pursuer. "Darling? Here you are," he said as he handed her one of the glasses. His eyes locked with hers; he could read her emotions as she went from frustration to recognition and acceptance of his unspoken order to follow his lead. She took the proffered drink, her knuckles turning white as she clenched the glass hard. He spun around, backing up a step so he was directly in front of Maria. He felt her hand on his back, slipping under his jacket and resting on his hidden pistol. "Was there something you required?" Michael's voice was deceptively calm, his right hand holding his glass idly.
His antagonist eyed him angrily. "Get out of the way," he hissed, apparently mistaking Michael's actions as those of an altruistic on-looker.
Michael let his eyes and face harden further. "I'm afraid not," he replied quietly. "If you have business with my wife, you have business with me." He glanced over at the other man at his side, evaluating the other's intent and potential for violent action.
"Your wife?" His voice was incredulous. Whatever the troublemaker had expected, a declaration of marriage wasn't it. Michael raised his left hand in reply and Maria put her left hand on his, leaving her right hand resting on the butt of the gun. Their matching gold bands twinkled in the flickering light. The man took a half step back and his buddy- so Michael had pegged him- backed off as well. "You let your wife out in public dressed like that?" he sputtered.
Michael moved swiftly, stepping forward and grabbing his adversary's throat. "My wife will dress any way she pleases, and it's none of your damn business," he murmured in the man's ear. "Now you will walk away and take your business somewhere else." Michael let go of the man with a slight shove, gave the friend a get-out-or-else glare and jerked his head towards the door. "Go."
Michael waited and watched for several moments after they left before turning back to Maria. She had stayed directly behind him, her hand still resting on his pistol, equally unsettled and cautious. When he was relatively certain the situation had been resolved, he turned to her and slid an arm around her waist, holding her close, apparently comforting her for the benefit of the curious onlookers.
She released her breath in a hard sigh and he felt her tense muscles relax slightly. She shook her head and her hair brushed his jaw. "Man oh man, what I would have given to slap that creep upside the head..."
He let a small smile curve his lips. He would never have known what hit him. He knew from personal experience how fast and powerful Maria could be. "We need to move in case they decide to return," he murmured. He felt her nod and cuddle closer to him, letting her hand slide from his gun to his waist. They drifted around the balcony to the other side of the room and positioned themselves again to search for their target.
Michael stepped a little closer to Maria and ran his fingertips down her back, stroking the bare skin where her shimmering gold sweater dipped down nearly to her waist. "Well, what do you expect when you dress like that?" he said teasingly, picking up the thread of conversation.
She turned to him, her eyes glowing angrily until she realized he was needling her. The hard lines of her mouth relaxed into a humorous smile. She ran her hand seductively across her collarbone. His eyes dropped involuntarily, eyeing the expanse of skin exposed by the low cut sweater. She put a finger under his chin, raising his eyes to meet hers. He let his gaze drift back to the dance floor and she turned her head to do the same. He felt her body stiffen slightly and followed her gaze. Peter Mason had arrived.
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 6-Feb-2002 9:01:35 PM ]