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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list May 16, 2002

TITLE: Fragile
ARCHIVE: Yes, to list archive
PAIRING: Max/Michael
RATING: PG (if that)
SPOILERS: Independence Day
SUMMARY: Michael. Thinking.
NOTES: A couple of lines inspired by Sting's "Fragile", though the song itself is about something quite different. Australian spelling and punctuation.
DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me. Written for love, not profit.
FEEDBACK: Praise and/or critical feedback very welcome.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Heartfelt thanks to Aunty Mib for helpful and patient beta. Remaining peculiarities are my own fault.

        Michael is sitting in his apartment thinking, and only dimly noticing the rainstorm outside. He's thinking about Maria, and about Max, and about how things can turn completely around and land you in places you never wanted to be.

        He hears a sound at the door and looks up to see Max come in. Leaving the door open Max shakes rain from his hair, and then grins at Michael. "I nearly made it in time".

        Michael stands up. "I'll get you a towel, man".

        He comes back, tossing the towel to where Max is sitting on the couch. He sits down next to Max and waits. Max looks down, then across at him, and says, "You weren't in school today".

        "No", says Michael, staring straight ahead across the room, and mentally adding, *Dad*.

        He feels Max touch his shoulder. Michael turns his head, and Max looks serious. Max says, "I just wanted to make sure that you were all right".

        Michael looks down and says, "I'm fine". He can still feel Max looking at him, so he adds, "I just didn't feel like dealing with all that crap today".

        And they should be comfortable just sitting here like this. But Michael isn't. "I was worried about you", Max says. Michael raises his eyes to meet Max's. Max is looking at him, steadily. "I worry, Michael".

        And that's Max saying that he cares.

        Max's hand is still on his shoulder, and Max's eyes haven't left his, and they're dark, intense. Max looks as though he wants to say something more. Something that might tip them over the edge, out of this moment. This moment, so fragile between them. Like something might happen. Like something might break.

        Michael is the one to turn away. His whole life, he's pursued risk. But this is different. He's not going to go there. Not again.

        What's the point in living if you don't learn from your mistakes?

        He remembers, too clearly, what it had been like before. The way Max had affected him just by entering the room, just by speaking to him. Or by smiling. He never wanted to feel that way again - so lost, so incomplete. But now Maria had wormed her way in, and by the time he'd realised it had been too late.

        The truth of his life has been that he doesn't end up getting what he wants. There are things he can do to make it hurt less, though. Not letting people get too close is one that he's stuck to determinedly.

        But maybe he can let it happen. Eventually.

        Just, not with Max.

        Michael sits still and closes his eyes, and feels Max's hand leave his shoulder. His shoulder feels cold; his heart feels cold. He hears Max stand. There's a long silence, and then the sound of the door closing.

        After Max has gone the tears, unshed, remain.

        Outside, the rain falls on and on.

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