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touching you I start to bloom

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Michael has spent a lot of his free time at the lab for the past few weeks, trying to learn everything he can about everything out there. Both for Antarans and for humans. But tonight he’s taking a break.

He’s been trying to force himself to get some distance from Alex and it’s making him miserable. He’s feeling things he’d never imagined he’d feel, even for his soulmate,and it’s terrifying. So he’s keeping some distance. But he just misses Alex. He misses his smile and the way his nose crinkles when he laughs. He misses the way Alex’s fingers feel in his hair and the way Alex always makes him feel so safe. He misses everything about his husband. So he’s finally decided to stop being miserable and give in to his feelings.

He makes his way into their bedroom, surprise hidden out of sight behind the door.

Alex is curled up on their bed, looking absolutely delectable, hair damp, wearing a sweatshirt and a pair of shorts, prosthetic, cane, and crutches all within reach of the bed. He’s got a book open and he’s biting his lower lip as he reads.

“Hey,” Michael finally says.

Alex looks wary, but he closes his book and sets it aside. “Hey. You’re home early. What’s going on?”

“I brought you something. A gift.”

Alex’s expression darkens. Anger. But he’s not saying anything.

“I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve been -There’s a lot of things I want to learn. But you deserve better.”

“I don’t want you to buy me off,” Alex says, tone firm. “I don’t own you. You can spend as much time at work as you want. But please don’t try to buy me gifts to appease me.”

Michael nods. “Got it.” He reaches around the corner, pulling out his gift and then holding it out to Alex.

His face softens at the sight of the guitar case. Michael watches as he starts to smile and tears fill his eyes. “I know you wanted to make music. And it took a while to get this in from Earth. If you don’t want it, I-”

“Thank you,” Alex responds. “It’s-” Alex seems to be searching for the words.

“Maybe you can teach me?” Michael asks.

“I’d like that.”

Alex’s smile is the most beautiful thing Michael has ever seen. And he couldn’t have stopped the next words to come out of his mouth if he had tried. “I love you.”

Alex freezes, eyes wide, smile fading. “You what?”

“I’ve tried not to. That’s why I’ve been gone. I… I never thought I could ever feel like this about anyone. And you scare me. But I love you.”

Alex is clearly uncertain. He watches as his husband goes through countless thoughts and responses before settling on, “Are you sure?”

Michael crosses to the bed, leaning down so his face is mere inches from Alex. “Alex, I’m in love with you. I love the way you challenge me. I love how you outsmart everyone we know. I love the way you look at me when you’re thinking that I’m being an idiot. I love you.”

Alex’s face breaks into a smile, tears starting to fall, “I love you too.”

“You love me too?” Michael can’t help but ask for confirmation, moving in closer.

“Yes, Michael. I love you too.”

Michael moves forward, pressing his lips to Alex’s, setting the guitar aside and settling his body between Alex’s parted thighs.

Alex licks into his mouth, hands already exploring, fingers tangling with his curls. Michael slides his hands under Alex’s sweatshirt, feeling that warm skin, tracing over the muscles.

“I want to feel you inside me,” Michael whispers against Alex’s lips. He can feel the smile.

“Are you sure?” Alex asks.

It’s not like this would be the first time Michael’s done that, though this will be the first time with Alex. He’s been thinking about it for a while, wanting to feel Alex inside of him, but he hasn’t wanted to push. “Please,” Michael breathes against his lips.

Alex easily flips him over until Michael is laying back on the bed, Alex in between his legs and, oh fuck, it’s hot how he can do that with almost no effort at all.

Alex rocks his hips against Michael and he can feel him, hard and right, grinding into him.

Alex’s hands are gentle, his mouth and his touch so distracting Michael doesn’t even notice when his clothes disappear. And then Alex’s hand is on him and his lips are on Michael’s and, oh fuck, it’s been too long since Alex has touched him.

“Shh, baby,” Alex breathes and it’s only then that Michael realizes he’s let out an embarrassing whine against Alex’s lips. “Let me take care of you.”

And Alex does as he promises, lips on Michael’s, distracting him from the sound of the bottle of lube opening.

He can feel one finger slowly tracing around his entrance, teasing him, and he whimpers, pressing against Alex’s hand, objecting when Alex pulls away, even though he can feel Alex’s smile against his lips.

So he holds still and waits, lets Alex slowly tease at his entrance until Michael is desperately moving his hips, letting out a pleading whine for more. It’s only then when he feels Alex ease one finger inside him. And Michael is rocking against him, trying to get more, all the while desperate for touch anywhere else.

“Shh… I’ve got you,” Alex reassures him, already teasing with a second finger. “Let me make this good for you.”

Michael doesn’t argue that it’s already good, it’s already better than anyone else. He just lets Alex work a second finger into him, fingers scissoring, opening him up.

When he slides a third finger into Michael, Michael lets out a keening noise, hips rocking desperately, in need of touch elsewhere. But he knows by now that Alex will take as long as he wants.

By the time Alex has worked a fourth finger in, Michael is babbling and practically crying with need, sure he’ll come with a simple touch to his cock.

He curses when Alex’s fingers leave him, but then he’s careful to show Michael what he’s doing. Michael watches as he coats his dick with lube, licking his lips at the thought of that inside of him.

Alex slides a pillow beneath his hips and settles between his legs, slowly guiding himself into Michael.

It’s too much, overwhelming, and Alex is reminding him, “Breathe, baby.” And, once he’s all the way inside of him, his lips are on Michael’s.

Michael feels like he’s surrounded by Alex, inside him and all around him and it’s more than he’s ever felt before. It takes him a minute to remember to urge Alex to move and, after only a couple of thrusts, he’s taken by surprise at his own orgasm being ripped out of him.

Alex keeps moving slowly through it, keeps touching him and whispering reassurances and promises of love.

Finally, he feels Alex coming inside him. And then Alex is pulling him with him as he moves onto his back, holding Michael close and on top of him, hands soothing over his skin, again telling him he loves him.

Michael has spent most of his life dreaming about what it would be like to fall in love. He’s read all the great soulmate stories and seen all the plays. He’s imagined the feeling so much he thought he knew what it would be like. But his imagination paled in comparison to the reality of being loved by Alex Manes. When he’s with Alex, everything else seems to fade away, all his worries, all the racing thoughts. Alex is the only thing that exists. He outshines the brightest of stars.

Alex interrupts his thoughts, pressing a kiss to his curls, “Thank you, Michael. For the guitar. And everything else.”

“You’ll play something for me? I’d really like to hear it,” Michael asks him. He can feel Alex nod, so he asks again, “Do you really think you could teach me to play the guitar? I know I’m difficult to teach, all my teachers always said I annoyed them with-”

“You won’t annoy me, Michael,” Alex smiles. “I’d be happy to teach you.”

Alex’s hands are gentle on his own as he guides Michael’s fingers into place, explaining all the basics. He explains everything as he goes through it, from teaching Michael finger placements to teaching him to read music. And he’s endlessly patient, answering questions in a soft and even voice and encouraging Michael.

Alex plays for him a few times and it leaves Michael speechless. Especially when he sings. Michael didn’t know anyone’s voice could sound that good, so warm and honest and full of emotions. And, yet, it does.

One day, when Michael is having an especially hard day, when it feels like he’s all thumbs and Alex doesn’t once raise his voice or even sound irritated, Michael asks him about it.

“Why are you so calm with me? I’ve fucked up this entire time. If I did this in one of my classes when I was a kid, my teachers would have rapped my knuckles by now.”

Alex flinches at that, but his voice remains even when he says, “Why would I be upset with you, Michael? You’re learning. You’re trying. And, by the way, you don’t have to. You’re doing this by choice.” He pauses, “I learned long ago that…fear isn’t going to help you learn how to do something right. It’s just going to teach you to hide your mistakes. Or fear doing anything that could cause you to make them in the first place.”

Michael thinks about Alex’s father, about the way he treated Alex, about what he’d tried to do to Alex. And he thinks he gets it. That was the whole point of what Alex’s father had done to him. Not to help him grow or learn, because he didn’t want him to. No, his dad had wanted him to fear what would happen if he was himself. To hide who he is. And he almost succeeded. Alex had almost married Michael’s cousin and hidden himself away from the world.

He sets the guitar aside, placing it gently in its case before turning toward Alex and pulling him in for a kiss, “I love who you are, you know.”

Alex’s smile is wide and brilliant, “I love who you are too.”

Alex has gotten messages from Earth during his time on Antar. Maria emails him pretty much daily with all the Roswell gossip, which usually just consists of the ups and downs of Rosa and Jenna’s relationship and who made a mess of the Wild Pony the previous night. He’s certain Maria is also emailing Isobel, though she never mentions it. She’s just far more aware of the Antaran gossip than Alex himself and only one person could be informing her about it. Liz sends him weekly updates, scheduled and organized. He knows she’s also emailing Max, as she regularly gushes about how romantic he is. Kyle emails him constantly, what feels like a few times a day, checking up on his pain levels, how his relationship with Michael is going, not that Alex usually answers him in much detail. And Rosa is sporadic, messaging a lot some weeks and disappearing entirely on others.

But he hasn’t heard from his family much. Or at all. His father and his brothers had left shortly after the wedding without so much as a goodbye and Alex can’t say he’s sorry about that.

So he’s surprised to see a letter, printed and mailed through the weekly shipments of supplies and messages to and from Antar. His father’s handwriting is painfully neat on the envelope.

Alex considers just setting it on fire. But he knows it could be important. So he slides one finger under the edge of the envelope, easing it open, wincing at the way it slices his skin, drop of blood welling. He finishes tearing it before absentmindedly sticking his finger between his lips, sucking the blood away. And then he’s unfolding the letter, opening it in front of him, and skimming the contents.

He can’t make sense of it. It’s filled with faux concern for Alex, comments about hopes Michael is treating him well and memories that have been completely distorted to make them sound happy. It’s talking about how proud Jesse is that his son has helped to bring peace to both worlds. He knows it can’t be meant for him. It has some other purpose, something he’ll need to take the time to figure out.

But it can wait. He has a training session to get to. So Alex sets the letter down on the desk in his and Michael’s bedroom and heads out the door, promising himself that he’ll think about it later.

It seems like all the Antarans want a chance to spar with the one lonely human. They’re so used to fighting with their powers that they enjoy the opportunity to fight without. With someone who knows what they’re doing.

Alex waits, ready, as Stef throws a punch, quickly blocking it, followed by blocking a kick. He knows she’s going to incorporate one of the more complicated moves he taught all of them at one point and, sure enough, she does moments later, sweeping his legs out from underneath him and instantly getting the higher ground, putting all her weight on his chest, legs straddling him. He could easily move her if he tried. She’s still far smaller than him, but he doesn’t, instead letting her revel in her victory as he swipes his sweaty bangs out of his eyes.

And then, all of a sudden, with no warning, she’s clutching her side and searching around the room with wide, hopeful eyes.

“Beka!” she shouts over the sound of people fighting. “I felt that!”

“You what?” the other woman shouts. “You’re my-”

“Soulmate, yeah!” Stef replies.

Beka’s running over and tackling Stef with a hug on top of Alex and he should be in pain or irritated, but the joy on their faces, on everyone’s faces, is infectious.

Michael is still examining the prosthetic leg he’s made for Alex as he walks into their house. He wants it to be perfect, though he knows it won’t be. He’s taken everything he’s learned from studying human prosthetic designs, Antaran prosthetic designs, and Alex’s own prosthetic and hopes that will be enough. That and the knowledge of specific things that bother his husband about his own.

He’s surprised to find Alex isn’t home, even though his husband usually arrives before he does. He walks up the stairs to their bedroom, surprised at the silence in their house. He’ll find a place to hide the gift before Alex comes home. He wants to be able to surprise him.

He’s just heading toward the closet when he sees it on the desk. A letter, laying open.

And he knows he shouldn’t look, but he can’t help what he sees. It’s from Jesse Manes, Alex’s father. And now Alex is gone.

He only knows bits and pieces of the damage Alex’s father has done to him, but he worries that this will have done more. So, yeah, he knows he shouldn’t. But he picks it up and reads it anyway.

He reads Jesse’s comments about his pride in Alex and his hopes for their marriage, can see the lies for what they are. This is not the same man who attacked Alex at their wedding. He knows without question that every word of this letter is a lie. But he also can imagine what it’s doing to Alex, the doubts these words could have placed in his head, the damage this letter could have caused.

Michael drops the letter to the table, staring at it like it’s bitten him. He knows that Alex wouldn’t have left it here, open on the table, if he were worried about Michael reading it. If he thought Michael would believe a single word of it.

No, Alex is good and kind and nothing like his family. But he still worries. He has seen the way Alex’s father has hurt him, only bits and pieces, but still. He has been there when his husband has woken up from nightmares, shaking and scared of the man who left him with so many scars, both internally and externally. He’s worried for Alex, for how this is affecting him, for how the praise from a man who has treated him like he wished he didn’t exist has harmed him further. He just needs to see Alex, to hold him, to know he’s okay.

But Alex isn’t home, so Michael sets the prosthetic aside by the desk and walks toward the door, determined to wait on the porch until his husband returns.

Alex is surprised to find Michael waiting for him when he returns home. And he’s even more surprised when Michael runs to greet him, pulling him into his arms and holding him tight. He doesn’t know why Michael reacted like this, but he just holds him, one hand stroking his curls, hoping that he can give him some comfort.

“I found the letter from your dad and I was worried,” Michael mumbles into his shoulder.

Alex pulls away, just enough to look Michael in the eyes, “I know what it looks like, Michael, but, I swear, I’ve only told you the truth about what he’s done.”

“That never even crossed my mind,” Michael objects instantly. “I just… He’s your dad and I know how he affects you. I don’t want him anywhere near you. I don’t want him writing to you or talking to you. Not ever again.”

Alex frowns, trying to find the right words to explain that he has to deal with Jesse Manes. “He’s my father, Michael,” Alex says softly, taking Michael’s hand and leading him toward the house. “And he’s powerful. He has a lot of far more powerful people listening to what he has to say. This situation is delicate. I don’t want to risk another war. So, if that means I have to play nice with my father, I can do that.”

He glances back to see that Michael is shaking his head, “We’re doing well. We’re happy. I don’t want to risk that.”

Alex leads him all the way to their bedroom, sitting down on the bed, holding both of Michael’s hands in his. “You won’t, baby. I can handle my father. I can play his games to keep the peace.”

“He’s hurt you and I don’t want him to get in your head and hurt you more,” Michael tells him.

And Alex can’t help but melt a little at Michael’s concern for him. “He won’t,” he promises. “I know my dad. I know what he’s capable of and that none of the things he’s saying are real. I know he’s playing a part. And, until I figure it out, I can play a part too.” He pauses, “Michael, I survived a childhood of this. Of abuse one day and manipulation and lies for his image the next. But now it’s so much easier. Because, this time, I have you. And I have your family. And so many people who I can trust.”

He watches as Michael walks over to the desk and picks something up, “I’ve been working on this for a while.” And then Michael turns enough that Alex can see the prosthetic leg he’s holding in his arms, “And I don’t know if it’ll work for you, but I’ve been looking into how they’re made and, if there’s anything about it that bugs you, I’ll try to figure out how to fix it so you can-” Michael cuts himself off, setting the prosthetic down on the bed next to him and reaching for Alex, gently brushing under his eyes with his thumbs. It’s only then that Alex realizes that he’s crying.

Michael kneels on the floor, taking both of Alex’s hands in his own, brushing his lips over Alex’s knuckles. Alex’s breath catches at the tenderness of the gesture. Michael is too good to him, too kind. He treats Alex like he’s precious. “I’m sorry, love,” Michael whispers against his hands. “Whatever I did, just let me know and I won’t do it ever again.”

It takes Alex a minute to realize that Michael thinks his crying is a bad thing, that Michael has hurt him. Alex feels his throat tighten, more tears escaping his eyes. He can’t believe this wonderful man, this man who is too good for Alex, much more than he could ever imagine having before, believes he’s done something that has hurt him. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Michael. I don’t know what I did to deserve being loved by you.” He pauses, extricating one of his hands from Michael so he can trace Michael’s jaw with his fingers, so he can guide his face up until Michael’s eyes are on his, “I know I don’t have a soulmate. But, if I did, I think it would be you.”

That’s when Michael’s tears start. “If I could choose my soulmate, I would choose you.”

Alex doesn’t know how to respond to that in words. So he just pulls Michael toward him and presses his lips against his. Their faces are both wet with tears and Alex can taste the salt as he kisses him, but he just pulls Michael closer, sinking into the feeling that he’s only ever felt with Michael. Like he’s home.

Michael joins Alex for his next training session. Alex isn’t certain if Michael wants to watch or if Michael doesn’t want to let him out of his sight after the letter his father sent, even knowing Alex has his own protection detail. Either way, Alex doesn’t particularly mind Michael’s need to stay close.

He sends Michael to work with Jess, trusting that the tiny woman will keep him on his toes.

And he grabs Beka, asking her to work with him today.

It’s not long before he’s sweating. Beka is a capable fighter, all the women are, and she has given him quite a workout today.

He glances over as he gets a drink of water to see what Michael and Jess are up to and his husband looks so adorably lost, but, oddly, like he’s enjoying himself.

He turns his attention back to Beka, who gives him an amused look before starting to fight again, taking him down and grappling with him until her thighs are tight around his neck, showing him how easily she could knock him out with the pressure there.

When they’ve finished, everyone looks happy, if tired and maybe a bit sore, and Michael runs over to him eagerly. “So, you gonna demonstrate some of that on me when we get home?” Michael asks.

Alex blushes, but nods, pulling Michael with him to the showers, reminding him to focus. They’re having lunch with Michael’s mother. They can do other things later. If Alex wraps his hand around Michael’s length and works him quickly until he’s coming all over the shower stall, well, it’s not like he’s wasting too much time.

In all of Michael’s years of dreaming of his soulmate, of imagining someone who was made to love him and understand him, he never could have dreamt how it would feel to have someone like Alex tell him that he wants to be Michael’s soulmate. That he’d choose to be his soulmate if he had the choice at all. Michael thinks that, maybe, just maybe, they could make that choice. And he’s ready to make it.

So, when Alex is sitting next to Michael, after Mara has caught them up on Isobel and Max’s lives, as well as what’s going on in her own, Michael takes Alex’s hand and asks, “Do you think I could build a new soulmate bond?”

She shrugs, “I’ve heard of it happening when a soulmate dies. I suppose you could try. Though it may prove difficult, as Alex is human.” She smiles kindly at Alex, clearly trying to take away any pain she may have caused with her words. “You’d have to unblock the connection first. And deal with the pain of that loss,” she continues.

Before Alex, Michael wouldn’t have even imagined doing it. But Alex… Michael has never imagined he’d feel this way about anyone. Not even his soulmate. Michael would give so much to be able to feel that connection with Alex, to be aware of him in his head all the time, as if he’s not always aware of Alex anyway. To know when Alex needs him or is in pain. To be able to show Alex how much he loves him. He wishes he could give Alex that certainty that he is loved the way Michael loves him.

“I want to try,” Michael says to his mom. “Can we try right now?”

“Are you ready?” Mara asks.

Michael glances over at Alex, waits for his nod before he focuses on that place in the back of his mind, opening the connection slowly.

He expects nothing. He expects to feel that aching emptiness. But he doesn’t. He feels sudden pain in his back and hip, mild, but manageable. He feels that reassuring presence in the back of his mind.

His soulmate is alive.

Michael’s soulmate is alive and he has left them entirely alone for more than a year.

Alex waits with Michael, sitting next to him, watching the emotions play over his face, waiting to support Michael however he can through his grief.

“I felt them die,” Michael says finally, voice devoid of emotion. “But they’re here. In my mind. They’re alive. My soulmate is alive.”

Alex’s ears are ringing. It’s too hot in here. He needs air. He stands, stumbling backwards, feeling his chest tightening. The room around him is starting to spin. He needs- He needs to sit down. He needs to sit down somewhere where he’s alone. He needs to catch his breath. There are too many people.

He rushes away, ignoring the noises he thinks may be shouts of his name. He doesn’t know. He can’t-

He remembers a spot that was small and dark and hidden and moves as fast as his leg will let him, pain radiating in his hip as he rushes through the halls.

He opens that small hidden space and steps behind, closing it up behind him, leaning against the wall and sinking to the floor, not thinking about how he’ll get up when he’s ready. Not thinking about anything but how it feels like he’s going to pass out.