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Softly Stolen

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Added to the Roswell Slash Archive January 20, 2001

Come Undone: Softly Stolen by Meri Lomelindi,
Max/Michael, rated PG-13.
Summary: Max and his room receive an unexpectedly battered visitor. A post-ep to "The Balance" and so has spoilers.
Disclaimer: These two pretty boys belong to Jason Katims and the WB. If I had them, they'd be doing much more interesting things.

Michael had almost died.

Michael had almost died and Isabel was primping, preparing for a night on the town in a dress with a neckline that plunged halfway to kingdom come - in more ways than one. And she had the audacity to presume that Max would react with complacence.

"What's with you?" she asked Max, ruffling her hair in front of the bathroom mirror while he stood in the doorway and practiced his disapproving glare. It didn't work very well; he wasn't used to glaring. The expressionless, wary look had always worked in the past. No longer - a new tactic was in order.

"You're going out," he stated flatly, shrugging his shoulders to work out the kinks. It was late - dark - and Michael had gone home a while ago. A haze of weariness settled over him now, and he resented her carefree demeanor.

Having fixed her hairband, Isabel turned, eyeing him with wide-eyed exasperation. The argument was worn brittle with age; still, he persisted. So did she. "So?"

He was blocking her way out of the bathroom, and that was how he wanted it. Changing her mind was another matter - he fumbled with explanations and then decided on the simplest one. "Michael almost died," he said, his eyes daring her to contradict him.

Annoyance softened into understanding, and she seemed to slump, clutching her handbag loosely in one hand. "I know, Max. Why do you think I'm trying to take my mind off of it?" Her brows crinkled up. "Unlike you, I can't spend my life brooding."

Why the hell not? If he couldn't be happy, what right did his own sister have to go gallivanting around, teasing the male population of Roswell when she knew none of them would ever have her? "But - "

She cut him off, "But nothing, Max," and shoved him out of the way, flouncing out of the house without so much as a backwards glance. Why didn't anyone listen to him? First Michael, now -

"Where are you going?" he called, but she had already vanished, the new door chimes jingling behind her.

Trudging back to his room to drag himself onto the bed and stare into the nothingness of the wall, he felt sullen. He'd ended whatever it was with Liz, unable to stand the look in her eyes any longer. Everything he did with her, did to her, was a lie, and she had hesitated to help Michael - now that, that was unforgiv.. god, no, it wasn't. Anyone would have balked. The constant paranoia was slowly eating away at his sense of logic - it wasn't his fault, really, what with everyone chasing them, wanting their secret.

That was why his hand lingered a little too long on Michael's arm after helping him through the window when he suddenly appeared there, bruised and bleeding. Yes, that was definitely why. Logic had deserted, fleeing into the night with his sister.

"God, Michael - " But he didn't seem to mind the contact; in fact, Michael had just collapsed into Max's arms. They fell against the side of the bed, rough denim bunched under his fingers, a face burrowing into his shoulder, hands clutching at him in mindless desperation. He thought vaguely that he ought to ask what had happened, but Michael was making these half-choked coughing noises that he didn't immediately recognize. Maybe he was ill again, maybe he - oh. Michael was crying.

Then there was no time to wonder why Michael had come to him instead of Maria, why he'd shown up now after so many other times when his friend had vehemently denied that anything was the matter. He just gathered the jacketed shoulders close, tightening his grip. Allowed his shirt to dampen with tears and tried to be impassive, to retain his precarious self-control while another's shattered, while Michael's entire body shook with the effort of suppressing the mere brunt of his sobs.

Composure proved impossible, and his fingers were beginning to twine soothingly in tangled russet hair when the other pushed him away violently, scrambling to his feet. He scrubbed at tear-stained cheeks, blinked the red-rimmed eyes - one of them was blackened, Max noted - and looked positively mortified. "Sorry," he rasped, eyes darting to and fro. Furtive, the dancing light of fireflies that you could never pinpoint in the dark, winking in and out of a shadowy existence.

Max looked up at him, his gaze flitting from the jaggedly scratched face to the bruised arms and torn shirt and then to the floor, where it stayed as he rose to his feet. A faint breeze gusted through the open window, hot and dry against his skin. He wasn't sure what to say, but maybe simple would be profound again. "Shit, Michael."

Breathing slower now, less ragged, Michael eyed the wall and tapped nervous fingers on the fabric of his jeans. "Just forget it, Max. I shouldn't have come." Thin voice, warbling and broken, shoulders heaving and settling with a deep breath. Averted eyes, to keep the farce alive and kicking.

Blood oozed from a narrow line above Michael's eyebrow, the rich redness of copper and rust. He gestured at it. "Why didn't you heal yourself? Did he see that you were.." And there was no real need to ask how it had happened; if it had been someone other than Michael's father, something sinister, he would've mentioned it already.

The roving eyes squinted, flinched against a knife-thrust of something he'd obviously rather not recall. "He was wasted." Edgy and atonal at the same time, rough as leather. "I was - upset. It wouldn't work." A vision of Michael stumbling toward his house filled the space in front of his eyes, Michael with glass crunching under bare feet, bathed in unwelcome lamplight; when he closed them, the image imprinted itself on the lids. He looked down and saw grey, muddy sneakers on Michael's feet - logic deserting him, indeed.

"Let me," he said, a gentle brush of fingers against torn skin to erase the hurt, too faint for the blazing snowprints that he'd left Liz. Hands hovered over the darker bruises in shock, moving just before the reluctant patient would have pulled away and fled. "He threw something at you."

"A glass. It's no big deal." While Max preferred to deal in subterfuge, vague misdirection, Michael was a fan of blatant equivocation. But he didn't comment, continuing with his careful ministrations, wondering if it had ever been this bad before. If it had, why did Michael bother sleeping at home? His own floor had been offered up as shelter many a time, but seldom used.

All that was left now was the face; Michael had refused to lift up his shirt when it was tentatively tugged on, the narrowed glint of eye promising that it would be taken care of later. His hand snaked up to the first gash and then froze in mid-air as he saw what he'd somehow, against all odds, failed to notice before.

Michael had a split lip.

A part of him was laughing, giddy at the opportunity, and he couldn't resist grazing the firm mouth with an errant finger. As the wound closed up, fading into paleness, its owner gave a start.

"Sorry," he breathed, jerking his hand away as if bitten. God almighty, he wished he -had- been bitten.

Michael's lips worked now, oddly, and then he licked them clean.  It was a slow process, ardent tongue tracing the lips invitingly, a tinge of wrongness in the way that he swallowed, Adam's apple bobbing. "It's okay."

Words failed.  It didn't matter, though, because suddenly Michael reached out, fingers digging into his shoulders. Hard, unrelenting mouth smothering him, and he was pressed tightly against the muscled torso. There was no submission here - it was just dark and rough, virile and right, the way he'd always envisioned it. The warm, wet tongue tickled and prodded him with impatient persistence, shoved ruthlessly down his throat as soon as his lips parted, uncut glass and shards of raw need.

When they broke apart for oxygen, his hand still ruffling the short hair in vain, Michael backed into the dresser.

"Michael - " he began thickly.

But the other mind was sharper than his, quickfire scorching the absurdity of the notion. "No, I didn't mean - no. No, Max. This never happened." And Max's eyes flickered shut, head tilted up, standing silent. When he mustered the courage to open them again, the room was empty. Just like Isabel - Michael had left without so much as a goodbye.

If she noticed his swollen lips when she arrived a scant few minutes later, she certainly didn't mention it.

ain't it funny how we pretend we're still a child
softly stolen under our blanket skies
and rescue me from me, and all that i believe
i won't deny the pain
i won't deny the change
and should i fall from grace here with you
will you leave me too?

"Galapogos" by the Smashing Pumpkins

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