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The Truth is Right Here

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The ride to the facility Max had asked them to check out didn’t take long, about a thirty minute drive from Starfall ranch. Further into the desert, over dusty old roads, some of which seemed like they hadn’t seen attention in years. 

Michael was driving while Alex sat by the door, frowning at his phone. Maria didn’t love the middle seat but it did allow her to hold Michael’s hand while he drove down straight, long stretches of road. 

“So I did manage to find some of the records. The place was a decommissioned prison,” Alex said as the three of them and Leia climbed out of the truck. “Abandoned in the 40s.”

The facility wasn’t particularly huge but it was imposing . Squat sand-colored buildings that were taking on the bright hues of the sunset. A guard tower looked out over it, wired fencing all around the perimeter. It had that same uncomfortable vibe that all old abandoned buildings had–unsafe and dangerous, and not entirely because it was in disrepair. 

“Weird that it isn’t on the map.” Maria frowned. Feeling just a little uneasy, fiddling with her necklace.

“Why bother?” Michael asked. “It’s abandoned right?” 

“The land was acquired by the air force,” Alex said, a grim set to his mouth. “In late 47.”

Michael sucked in a breath, looking at him. Startled. Even with the necklace on, she could feel how his stomach dropped a little. “You think it’s related.”  

“Considering the source of the intel?” Alex nodded. 

The three of them looked back towards the prison. It seemed a little more sinister now. Foreboding. 

“Are you going to be okay?” Maria asked, reaching to squeeze Michael’s hand gently. Holding on to it, now that she could. 

He swallowed, nodding. “Can’t be worse than the room of clones,” he responded, squeezing her hand back before starting to move forward. Still unsettled, worried. But he was also determined.  

Maria thought of Murphy’s Law and hoped that he wasn’t listening. The day was still warm from the sun but Maria shivered all the same, zipping up her windbreaker. She was never the type to look back but she half wished they were still curled up in the cramped warmth of Michael’s bed, eating pancakes and trading lazy kisses.

Getting through the gate was easy; Michael glanced at it and it parted for them. The parking lot was full of weeds that crackled and whispered as they walked through them. Leia moved ahead of them, sniffing the ground, doing her own investigation. She didn’t go too far, kept glancing back at them and heading over quickly when she felt there was too much distance between them. Pacing around Alex until he caught her by the collar, petting her head to calm her down. 

Probably just not used to being off the ranch, Maria guessed. It was quiet out here. Maybe too quiet.

Up close the dirt on the exteriors was clearer, like dark smears across the facades. The windows were clouded, impossible to see through. 

“We should find the administrator’s offices,” Maria said, focusing on getting the job done. Doing so always helped get her through sites with a bad vibe.

“Right,” Alex agreed with a nod. “Might be something interesting there.”

The admin offices were in their own, small building. It was a wreck -- full of graffitied walls, empty liquor bottles and beer cans, and tipped over file cabinets that, when righted, contained no files. Desks completely bare too, save the odd paperclip or pencil.  

“Weren’t there spots marked on the blueprints?” Michael suggested, as their search brought up nothing fruitful. Michael had relaxed more and more as time went by. Unable to hold the tension and stress in the face of nothing. 

“Yeah,” Alex agreed, pulling out his phone to look at them.

They made their way back outside, Maria taking a moment to orient herself again. It was always easy to lose track of time in old abandoned buildings, like time moved differently in those places than in the outside world. 

Maria frowned at the size of the facility, looked at the sky bathed in the pinks and purples of the setting sun. “Maybe we should split up. To save time.”

“Absolutely not,” Alex said, firmly. “I’ve seen that movie and I don’t like the ending.”

“Now who watches too many movies?” Michael shot back at him, grinning.

“Yeah, tell that to the creepy abandoned prison,” Alex said dryly, heading directly to the building that seemed to match the sketches Max had sent them. There was a door on the side that was painted an ominous shade of red.

“Why is it that we always seem to end up in these places at night?” Maria complained while Michael tried the door, the knob turning in his hand.    

“Night’s when the veil thins, right?” Alex shrugged. “Might be the best time to capitalize on your gifts.”

“Honestly I don’t think my ability to see ghosts is time-oriented, Alex.” But something about that suggestion stuck with her all the same. The visions had a trick to them, clearly, since she wasn’t waylaid by them whenever her necklace was off…

“You both are ridiculous. There’s no such thing as ghosts. Weird alien-experimentation visions don’t count,” Michael said dryly. “We’ll be lucky if we find anything other than bats and rats.” 

Light still streamed in from a row of dust-covered windows, allowing them to see without their flashlights, thankfully. There was nothing in the space but support pillars, a huge puddle of standing water and what she hoped was dirt and not signs of the structure crumbling. For all the light that filled the room, misery and sadness lingered in the air, faintly. It seemed to emanate from the walls like they had once soaked in it. 

Leia whined. Didn’t even go ahead to investigate, staying close to Alex.   

As they moved deeper into the facility, there was a large security gate -- Guerin got them through it easily. Here, the sun cast long shadows over narrow halls, heightening the feeling of being closed in. Maria felt the earlier chill sinking into her as she followed Alex and Michael in. 

She tried to shake off an oppressive sense of foreboding, wondering why this place was affecting her so much. 

No she wasn’t the only one feeling it -- Michael and Alex had fallen silent instead of indulging in their normal banter. Their footsteps echoed in the quiet, overly loud. 

“Guerin, you mind?” Alex asked as they got to another locked prison gate. 

“I’m trying. I can’t ,” Michael said, looking back at them, eyes a little wide. 

“What do you mean?” Maria asked. 

“I don’t know. It’s just -- like it’s not listening to me?” Soft, bewildered panic lay under his voice, though he was keeping it tightly reined in.

“The door’s interrupting your powers?” Alex asked, frowning.

“No,” Michael said. Then paused, looking very disturbed. “Yes?” 

He frowned, pulled out his phone, and let it float above his palm for a second or two. Snatching it out of the air, he refocused on the door. But it stayed stubbornly closed.

“I...I dunno.” Michael kept his tone even but she could sense a spike of panic, a growing fear. 

“We’ll figure it out,” Alex told him, hand on his shoulder before moving closer to the door, investigating it. Maria wasn’t entirely sure what he thought he’d find. It looked like an old metal prison gate. The black paint peeling from the bars was the only thing remarkable about it.

“I think we can make some educated guesses,” Michael said flatly. “This place was built to house people like me.” His face was entirely shuttered, shoulders tense. 

“We don’t have to--” Maria started, reaching for Michael. 

“Yes we do.” He shrugged off the concern. More determined now. “Can you guys get through the lock? Never learned how to pick them the old-fashioned way.” 

“I got it,” Maria said, already moving towards the door. She and Alex both kept lockpick kits on them. ‘Cause in their line of work, you just never fucking knew. 

It took a bit of work. It was an old fashioned lock she wasn’t familiar with, not to mention the rust. But she was able to get the gate open, the old metal loudly complaining as she did. 

They moved through a short hallway with barred windows. They were set high on the dirty wall, once-white paint peeling and curling. It all lent to the prison’s oppressive feel. 

But it wasn’t just that. Was it? She could feel something . Something in the periphery of her vision. Maria found herself thinking of Shadow People, always lingering just on the outskirts of perception.  

But it seemed like something was moving, slightly out of focus, walking down the hall in front of them. Maria inhaled sharply, grabbed for Alex’s arm with one hand and her sidearm with the other.

For a moment, it was a person -- a man. And then it was gone, blinking out of sight. 

Everything felt strangely fuzzy , as if Vaseline had been smeared over the lens of her inner eye. 

“Everything okay?” Alex asked, his own gun out too, though he was starting to relax. 

Nothing was there.  

“Yeah.” She nodded, swallowing around a suddenly dry mouth. “Michael.” She waved for him to come over. 

It took him a moment to make his way to her. Leia had the cuff of his sleeve in between her teeth, trying to pull him back. She barked unhappily when he pulled free, but followed him as he made his way over to Maria.  

“I dunno what’s got her so spooked,” he said, distracted, though his eyes widened as Maria handed him her gun. 

“Just for now.” 

Michael frowned. Not looking nearly as happy as he probably should, given how much he’d pestered them to give him a gun. “Not gonna argue. But for real, are you okay?” He asked as he took it.  

“This place has ghosts,” Maria explained, glancing down at Leia who was circling them all anxiously. She laughed softly at Michael’s look of annoyance. 

Maria unclasped her necklace, removing  it. She had a feeling they were going to need every advantage they could get. “Ok, fine,” she continued. “It definitely has visions. Either way, I don’t think anyone wants me shooting at shadows.” 

“You’re better than a spirit box anyway.” Alex grinned. Maria scoffed, swatting him lightly.

Michael seemed less convinced, squeezing her arm and frowning. “Slaughter Canyon was not a fun time for you.”

She squared her shoulders. “I know what I’m getting into this time.”

Michael, looking vaguely guilty, didn’t argue. Alex just nodded; he trusted her to know her own limits. 

“We need answers Michael,” Maria continued, pocketing her necklace. “ I need answers.”

Maria was finally on the right path to figuring out what had happened to her grandmother. Figuring out what that really meant for her, for her mom. She wasn’t about to turn back just because her abilities were a little scary. 

“Now where do we need to go?” she asked, firmly.

“Up, I think. It’s hard to tell though.” Alex pulled out his cell phone. 

“Doesn’t hurt to…” Maria trailed off as a shadow detached itself from the walls, slowly taking a more human form. 

“What do you see?” Alex’s voice broke in, his hand on her arm. 

Maria was relieved to find that they could talk this time. The vision was different. Overlaid on the real world, not replacing it. 

That was a comfort.

“A man. I think he’s a janitor?” She tilted her head, looking at him, taking in the nondescript grey jumpsuit, the mop and bucket he was pushing down the hall. He didn’t carry himself like a prisoner. A little tall, grizzled, unshaven. An eyepatch.

He looked around, furtive as he moved down the hallway.  

“This way,” Maria said, softly. Following him as he made his way down a hallway, pulled out a thick ring of keys, unlocking a room -- well, going through the motions, the door had long since fallen off its hinges. As he stepped through, the vision faded away. Maria took a breath and moved inside. 

It was dark in there, no windows to the outside world. 

She swept her flashlight up over the walls--ugly 50’s salmon-colored tile, smeared with dirt and other stains. Suspiciously dark and rust-colored.  

Shit ,” Alex said quietly, his flashlight trained on the middle of the room. Maria turned to look at it, swallowing hard. 

A black doctor’s table, broken, covered in a thick layer of dust. A heavy silver light bolted to the ceiling, the lamp head pulled down close to the head of the table. 

“I know this place,” Alex said, quietly. Looked at Michael, stepped closer to him. “Maybe you should--”

“Don’t fucking tell me to go wait in the car,” Michael grit out between clenched teeth. He moved deeper into the room, stubbornly; as pale as the ghosts he didn’t believe in. There was clearly nothing in there, save trays of rusted medical tools, but Michael yanked open a couple drawers anyways.

Maria and Alex exchanged worried glances briefly, before Michael turned back to look at them. “Let’s just get through this horror show,” he said grimly.

Maria nodded, eyes lingering on the tools. Trying not to wonder if Patty had to endure any version of them. Or this room. 

“Hoping this place wasn’t scrubbed as clean as it seems,” Alex said, frowning. “We need to go up to get to those places marked on the blueprints.” 

“I think there was a staircase back outside at the end of the hall,” Maria said, quietly. 

They moved back out into the hall. Maria glanced over her shoulder down the hallway, in the direction of a series of doors. Probably more torture chambers. 

This whole place is a torture chamber, she thought to herself and started back towards the staircase. She opened and closed her hands, her skin felt too tight. Her stomach felt hollow. And with the sun mostly set, the prison was just getting more and more oppressive. 

They kept their flashlights on now as they made their way up the stairs. The landing opened into another hall. Maria’s eyes were drawn to a door to something that looked like a broom closet, just as out of that small dark space another shadow materialized. Peaking out as if from behind a door, Maria could tell it wasn’t a man this time. A woman.

Patty . The realization hit Maria like a bullet. Patty looked exactly like she had in the other visions. Tall, like Mimi; loose, relaxed curls styled into a bob. She was wearing capris and a pale green blouse. Despite the height difference, looking at her now was almost like looking into a mirror. Down to the set, determined line of her mouth, and the way she walked down the hallway with purpose. 

Patty glanced over her shoulder here and there. She seemed nervous. 

The janitor from earlier was waiting up the hall, materializing as Patty drew closer. “You won’t have much time,” he said, a gruff warning as he handed her a key. 

“When do we ever?” Patty sighed. “Just maybe I can convince her.” Taking the key, wrapping her hand around it tight.

“As if I ain’t tried that,” the janitor growled, but Patty wasn’t listening, turning to head down the hallway again, past him. 

“This way,” Maria said, softly, following Patty, not waiting for the boys to start moving. But she could hear their footsteps behind her, cautious. 

They came to another gateway. This time the gate was open but they still had to stop, waiting for  Patty to unlock a gate that was no longer in that location. Maria thought she heard something like the scrap of metal against the floor, faint thought it was too her. To Patty it must have been loud because she stopped, ramrod straight. Listening. 

“Patty,” Maria explained, looking back at Alex. “She was here.”

“What?” Alex sucked in a breath, startled. “This is where she was experimented on…?”

Maria swallowed, nodding once. “Probably.” 

“This gets better and better,” Michael said dryly. With her necklace off she could hear past the sarcasm, feel his mounting anxiety, dread and anticipation. Michael was bracing himself. Maria wanted to turn around, take his hand. But Patty was turning a corner and Maria couldn’t lose her. 

Maria walked ahead, fast paced to keep up with her grandmother. Behind her she could hear Alex and Michael talking.

“You don’t think this is getting out of hand?” Michael asked. 

“Maria can handle herself,” Alex said, quietly. “And she’s not gonna thank you if you try to baby her.”

“I’m not trying to baby her, I’m just--”

“Michael, you’re not the only person who can find us answers. And we need answers.” 

“What we need is a round of beer and a good night of sleep. She’s wearing herself thin.” Michael sounded frustrated. Scared.

“You don’t know that. Maria’s good at what she does. Let her do it.”

“Stop talking about me like I’m not fucking here!” Maria snapped, turning back to glare at them both. They jumped, wearing twin guilty looks. 

She glared at them for a second longer before turning back, picking up her pace.

“Told you so.” She heard Alex say to Michael. 

Rolling her eyes, Maria tried to tune them out, focus only on Patty, who seemed to keep speeding up, somehow. They came to another staircase, dirty with more peeling paint. But not in disrepair. Patty was already at the top, Maria hurried after her. 

“Maria!” 

“C’mon!” She replied, “she’ll get away!” 

There was something incredibly wrong with the new area they found themselves in. In front of them was another gate, thankfully also open for them. It opened into a cell block, two floors barely illuminated by their flashlights. And from her position, Maria could see that the cells had no bars. Thick glass instead.

Key out, Patty reached to unlock her gate. 

“Well well. Don’t you look comfortable ?” Patty froze, and Maria did too, gasping -- she couldn’t help it. Even if she knew the voice belonged to a ghost.  

Patty looked back over her shoulder, straight at Maria. Held a finger to her lips. And suddenly, Maria wasn’t in her own body anymore.

She looked down -- recognizing Patty’s clothes, her hands. And there was a warmth there, curled up around her awareness that Maria desperately needed. Real or imagined, she clung to it even as she raised her eyes, peeking through the bars and around the corner. 

The prison wasn’t new, but the paint was no longer peeling. It was dark out, but the lights were on. From Patty’s vantage point, Maria could see that the cells were occupied. Vague shapes moving around them, seemingly in a daze. 

A guard, a little on the short side with a medium build and a crew cut, stood in front of a cell. A woman standing on the other side of the glass. She seemed beyond exhausted, though still beautiful. A little older, some grey shooting through the blonde of her hair. She was dressed like some kind of Star Wars extra, in loose, dirty-looking grey clothing that hung just a little too baggy on her thin frame.  

“No.” The woman folded frail arms across her chest. Her expression hard and unmoving.

“Come now, Nora. We’re just exchanging pleasantries.” 

“Exchanges with you are never pleasant.” 

“I dunno. We’ve had some good times in the past.” The guard was smiling at her in a way that made Maria’s skin crawl. 

Nora’s frown only deepened, eyes narrowing slightly. The guard sighed, shaking his head. His smile still had that pleasant quality to it but he seemed frustrated, annoyed. 

“You’ve always been intractable,” he said. “I suppose it’s a good thing our son doesn’t take after you.” 

Nora inhaled sharply, standing straighter. Looking furious, afraid for a moment. But she let out a, joyless laugh. “You always did have a liberal relationship with the truth, dictator.”

He shook his head, waved his hands with a bit of flourish. “I go by Jones now.’  

Jones ? Maria bit her lip on a gasp. Oh

“Whatever you call yourself, you’re still a liar and petty tyrant. And in here, you have just as much power as I do,” she said, waving her hand, “or you wouldn’t be walking around in a body that isn’t your own.” 

Seemingly bored, he gave his nails--or that guard’s nails--a cursory glance. Wrinkling his nose in distaste at what he saw there, Jones slipped his hands into his pockets, returning his attention to Nora. “You and I both know I could level this place.”

“And yet .” Nora motioned around her. “This is… what, the third time I’ve had the displeasure of your company? And everything’s still intact.” 

Jones snorted. “Time I have. You don’t.”  

Nora stepped forward, pressing her hand against the glass. “You’re running out of it too. And I’m happy to watch that clock run down.” 

Jones snorted. “From in here, you’ll enjoy nothing but a slow, painful death. Think of everything you’ll miss. Think of our son. You could be there for him, Nora. But you aren’t. You’re here, and he is all. Alone.” He punctuated the last words, tapping on the glass, right on the other side of her palm.  

Pain. Indescribable pain flitted across Nora’s face. For a moment, Maria thought she might cave. But instead, she took a breath. “I’ll never tell you where he is. And I’ll never tell you where Theo is. Stop wasting your time, Jones .” 

There was a sudden flash of rage as Jones’ façade cracked. His fist slamming into the glass. Nora did not move, watched him calmly. Her lips slanted upward but Maria wouldn’t call it a smile, satisfied though it seemed. There was something else. Like she couldn’t quite derive joy from anything that was happening. 

“I’ll see you soon, sweetheart,” Jones growled, and the guard dropped, like a marionette whose strings had been cut. 

And suddenly, Maria’s body was her own. She was shivering, breathing hard, aware that Michael’s arms were around her, holding her up. Him and Alex looking at her with concern. 

“Maria,” Michael said, sounding relieved as she blinked her dry eyes several times. “What the hell happened?”

“I saw… I was…” She felt weak, and bone weary, and couldn’t help slumping into him. Alex pulled her hair back so he could take a better look at her face. Going by his expression, he didn’t like what he saw there.

“Maybe we should get some air,” Alex said, frowning.

“I’m fine,” she tried to protest. Lying. She was feeling disorientated. “There might be stuff , we’ve barely scratched the surface.” 

“There isn’t shit here, Maria.” Michael said, sharply. His brow pulled as tight as he was squeezing her. “Nothing but ghosts, apparently.” 

“That’s not nothing,” she argued, “Jones was here.” 

“What?” Alex and Michael both looked at her sharply.

“Jones. Possessing someone, just like Noah did with Isobel. Arguing with Nora.” She extricated herself from Michael, stepping into the cell block on unsteady feet, looking at the cells. Three cells from where Patty had been hiding. Reaching to touch the number on Nora’s cell. N-39. 

She turned back to Michael and Alex. The movement made her head swim a little and she reached for the cell for balance. But stopped herself at the concern on their faces, Michael looked like was about to step forward. So she squared her stance and adjusted her shirt, taking a breath. 

“It’s like the blueprints suggested. He was looking for someone named Theo, and he was trying to get Nora to tell him where he was. I… think Nora might have been Jones’ girlfriend or something?” She wrinkled her nose. There was something really weird about applying human relationship terms to aliens. “They had a son together. He was trying to use him as leverage.”

Michael’s expression had grown grimmer with each word. “As if we needed any more proof that he’s a monster,” he said under his breath. “So this Theo person was important to him. I wonder why?” 

Maria nodded. Trying to wrack her brain for an answer. “Nora said Jones was running out of time?” 

“Clearly not fast enough,” Alex said dryly. “More importantly, this is the first concrete proof we have -- other than you and your siblings, Guerin -- that there might be more aliens out there, free.”  

Maria nodded. “There definitely are and my grandmother and… a janitor possibly were involved.”

“Involved? Howso?” Michael asked. He was a mess of feelings, it was hard to parse them all out–concern, anger, need, curiosity, dread–it was honestly a little overwhelming. Maria waffled for a moment with putting her necklace back on. She didn’t want to, didn’t want to lose the opportunity of another vision, but she yearned for the quiet that it offered. The boundary.  

She groaned, scrubbing her hands over her face in frustration. “I don’t know. Why are visions so limited ?”  

“To protect you, I’d wager,” Michael replied, pale and upset. He was moving towards her now, reaching for her. Maria frowned, opening her mouth to protest but he plowed right on, “that last one took a lot out of you, DeLuca.” 

“Maria, you’ve provided us with a great lead,” Alex said -- his meaning immediately clear from his tone. Maria frowned at him, feeling a little betrayed, but Alex plowed on stubbornly. “I know you don’t like hearing it. But he’s not wrong, you look exhausted.”

He was following Michael into the cellblock, obviously worried about her too. He stopped in front of her, rubbing her back. “We don’t have to do this all in one go,” he told her gently, squeezing her shoulder before pulling back, giving her space. Taking out his cell phone, Alex took a couple pictures. Making sure to get the cell block numbers. It helped her relax a little, let her defensiveness drop.

“I don’t particularly want to stay the night in the creepy parking lot, Alex,” she said, rubbing her temple. 

“So you and I go out, get ready to go,” Michael said gently, hand on her upper back, rubbing in slow circles Maria wasn’t entirely sure were supposed to soothe her or himself. “Alex can sweep the rest of the place.”  

“I know for a fact Alex ‘movie-tropes-are-a-real-world-handbook’ Manes doesn’t want to split up,” Maria replied flatly. Alex rolled his eyes. 

Michael laughed, soft but genuine. And Maria felt some of that chill lift. She wanted to curl up in it, curl up in Michael’s warmth. “So then we cut our losses. Get out of here.” 

“It does look like the Air Force took anything that wasn’t bolted down,” Alex said, looking back at her. “You and Grandma Patty gave us our best lead.” ” 

Maria hesitated. Wanting to argue. But Alex wasn’t wrong -- they hadn’t found a scrap of paper, anything that looked like a computer. 

“Okay,” she said, gently. And reached for Michael, taking his hand. “Let’s go home.” 

 


 

The drive back to Albuquerque was pretty quiet. Alex had offered to drive. On a normal day, Michael would never allow that, but tonight he had been more than happy to because he wanted to hold onto Maria. Possibly never let go. 

Maria didn’t seem to notice that she had been pale and shivering ever since the damn visions, too preoccupied with what she’d seen. She sat between them with her phone out, filling it with all the details of her visions she could remember. Michael caught sight of the name Nora and paused to wonder about her. This woman, hopefully long dead, who’d endured so damn much. He wondered about her story. About what could possibly have led her to leave the safety of her homeworld so she could end up in this hell. 

He wondered about her child. If he was out there, like Alex said. Another survivor. Someone who wasn’t Jones or Noah. Someone who could answer his questions. 

Eventually Maria succumbed to exhaustion. She went from sitting straight, to leaning against Michael to being dead asleep with her head on his shoulder in less than fifteen minutes. Michael shifted to angle toward her, tucked her in close to his chest and held her tightly, until she stopped shivering. Looking down at the top of her head he wondered if the questions he had -- the questions any of them had really needed answers. 

The yes should have come quickly -- but it didn’t. He’d lost his freedom in search of something. Maybe Nora had lost hers looking for answers of her own. He wondered if she’d felt that it was all worth it. But what could possibly make any of what she endured worth it?

Alex had reached over to slide his hand into one of Michael’s, pulling him out of his thoughts. As they drove, he glanced at Michael in the low light from the dashboard. He looked tired and a little hesitant, an odd look on him.

“Are you okay?” Alex asked eventually. 

Michael let out a slow breath. Not sure how to answer. Not sure how he really felt. “Yes? No? I don’t know. I’m… overwhelmed, I think. I just want to get Maria home and tucked into bed, honestly.” 

Alex nodded, looking at Maria with concern before turning back to the road. “I’ve never seen her push so hard. Usually she knows her limits.” He sounded vaguely apologetic.

Michael bit back a sharp told-you-so. “Usually her grandmother’s not involved,” he pointed out, tensely. 

“Or you.” 

That felt accusatory. It wasn’t, Michael knew. Knew it was all him. But he sucked in a breath anyway, and dropped a soft kiss to Maria’s temple. Steadying himself. He was too damn tired to fight about this right now, and he didn’t want to wake her.

“I’m sorry I dragged you into all this,” he said, after several beats.  

Alex snorted. “I’m pretty sure the opposite happened.” 

Michael wasn’t so sure, thinking about all the cryptids they’d chased together. “You don’t think you guys would be off hunting Mothman right now, if it weren’t for me?” 

“Sure,” Alex admitted, chuckling. “While trying to get around all the roadblocks my dad put up.” 

Alex looked at Michael’s face, likely accurately guessing what Michael was feeling because he sighed, grabbing Michael’s hand again. Their joined hands resting in Maria’s lap. 

“We’ve always been heading this direction,” Alex reminded him. “You just got us here faster, Guerin.”  

Michael sat with that for a long few minutes. Looking down at Maria in his arms. He wanted to keep them out of all of this. But maybe Alex was right. No, he knew Alex was right. 

“We need a night off. Maybe two. But I… think maybe it’s time to head down to Roswell? Dig into my stuff?” He offered it impulsively, and almost wanted to snatch the words back the minute they left his mouth. 

“Yeah? Okay.” Alex looked at Michael, this time with excitement glinting in his eyes. 

“Okay the fact that we’re not immediately U-turning to Roswell is concerning.” Michael half-laughed. A tease, to help cover his unease. 

Alex smiled. “I have priorities, Guerin. Sleep first and we should check in on Liz, Kyle, and your brother.” 

Michael nodded, wrapping his free arm tighter around Maria. Relaxing a little. “Thanks.” 

Alex nodded. And they lapsed back into silence. Alex holding his hand through the rest of the ride back. 

Michael almost dozed off, too. Letting himself drift, finding comfort in Maria’s soft warmth, the rhythm of her breathing.

“We’re home,” Alex’s voice startled him awake. He chuckled at Michael’s sleepily expression and handed him a set of keys. “Go ahead and get her inside.” He reached out to gently brush a few loose curls from Maria’s forehead, before brushing those same knuckles across Michael’s cheek. “I’m gonna let Leia out, wait for her to do her business. Feed her too. Security code is 4898.”

Michael held onto the keys tightly. Smiling a little. “Okay.” He nudged Maria, getting a sleepy protest. “We’re home, baby. Want me to carry you in?” 

“Fuck that,” Maria grumbled. Alex laughed as if he expected that answer. She shifted, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “Ugh I need a shower.” 

“Come on.” Michael opened the door, slid out and helped her down. “You can get cleaned up and then we’ll hit the hay.” 

“Not how I wanted to hit the hay with you,” Maria complained.

Michael laughed. “Yeah? Trust me, hay is sharp and scratchy. Not fun.” 

“Fucking skeptics. Loveland Frogmen aren’t real, DeLuca. Everything has an explanation, DeLuca. Hay is coarse, DeLuca.” She continued to grumble as she made her way up the walkway to her house. “Absolutely no fun.” 

Michael listened to her, relieved she was feeling well enough to give him shit. But he kept a close eye on her, unlocking the door and stepping inside. “You gonna be okay in the shower?” 

“You just want to see me naked,” Maria said, tartly, heading in after him. 

Michael snorted. “Nevermind,” he said, peeling off his jacket and hanging it up. “You’ll be fine, if the mountain of shit you’re giving me is any indication.” 

Maria chuckled, softening as she pulled off her own jacket. “For the record, I’d like to shower with you.” 

“I’m assuming you’re tired enough it’d just be a shower,” Michael smiled, pulling her into him, his arms sliding around her waist. 

Maria looked up at him, hands on his chest. There was a stubbornness in her eyes that made him think she’d argue but then she sighed, resting her forehead against his shoulder. “I’m terribly disappointed in myself.” 

“Don’t be. We got time.” Michael leaned down for a kiss. “Come on. You got your own bathroom?”

She sighed into the kiss, swaying into him a little, before leaning back, taking his hand and tugging him in the direction of her room. 

Maria’s room was painted purple, cluttered with plants and geodes; they were on the vanity, the nightstand and the armoire. There were fairy lights crisscrossing the ceiling and one of the largest, softest beds he had ever seen. Warm and cozy and inviting. 

He wanted to faceplant into that bed. But first, time to rinse off the grime of that horrifying place. 

Maria led him into the bathroom, and lit a couple of candles rather than turning on the light. They quietly worked each other’s clothes off, while waiting for the water to warm up. As exhausted as he was, Michael was still entranced by the smoothness of her skin, her supple curves. He leaned down to press a kiss to her shoulder, her neck. She slid her hands up and down his sides, sighing, slowly relaxing. 

“Come on,” he murmured, nudging her toward the shower, steam starting to roll out of it. 

“Yeah…” Maria stepped into the shower and right into the spray. Her eyes closed immediately and she hummed. Michael was again struck by how gorgeous she was, having to pull his eyes away or risk staring at her like a lovestruck goober for the rest of the night. He looked towards the bottles sitting on the windowsill.   

“Mind if I wash your hair?” He asked.

“Be kind of mad if you didn’t.” Maria grinned, peaking one eye at him.

“You’re gonna have to tell me which of this arsenal of supplies to use, then.” He smiled, reaching for the one that she waved her hand at.  

“Might work for your hair too,” Maria said as Michael poured a liberal amount into his palm. 

“A cheap all-in-one works fine,” Michael replied, kissing her as his hands slid into her hair, massaging the shampoo into her scalp. Maria's soft moans were exceedingly tempting but he focused on just washing her hair.

He realized, with a little wonder, that this was probably the only time he’d ever gotten naked with someone without any expectation of going any further. It was achingly intimate, and he swallowed a lump in his throat. 

“I am absolutely going to take that as a challenge. Tomorrow,” she said, sighing and leaning into him, bonelessly. 

“Don’t waste your nice things on a dusty old cowboy,” he murmured through the tightness in his throat.

“You’re a nice thing,” Maria murmured into his shoulder, eyes closed, her arms around him. Her hands rubbed gently along his shoulders and back. “Very nice. Deserve nice things.”

Michael flushed, not sure how to respond to that. He concentrated on working the conditioner into her hair next. 

Fuck, this was exactly what he needed. He felt some of his own tension easing its way out of his body as effortlessly as his fingers worked out the knots in her curls. He kept running his fingers through her hair long after, not really thinking of anything. Just lost to the heat of the water, softness of her curls, the solid weight of her against him. 

Eventually though, Maria sighed. “I don’t wanna pass out in here. Or hear it from Alex when the water bill comes in.” 

Something about them having mundane fights about bills made him smile. “Okay,” he murmured, pulling back a little. Not too far though, Maria kept him close with a hand on his hip. The other grabbing the soap, which they traded between them as they washed up, helping each other with their backs. The intimacy of it all still threatening to choke him, to overwhelm him.  

“Hey,” Maria slid her fingers into his hair, leaning up on her toes to kiss him lightly. “You okay?” 

Michael nodded, swallowing against the tightness in his throat. “I’m just… happy to be here.”

Maria was looking at him like she could see and understand all the feelings he could barely parse out. Maybe she could. She ran her knuckles gently over his jaw, her eyes so goddamn tender as she looked at him. It was a lot. Maybe almost too much -- being seen and understood. It was terrifying. Michael knew it was ridiculous to think that, considering all the fucking trouble he’d gone through to get to this point. 

Still, he was relieved when she only kissed him again, fingers playing with the curls at the nape of his neck. He wrapped his arms around her and tugged her in close. Maybe they’d talk about it, later. 

“Ok. Let’s get you dried and fed.” Using his TK, Michael turned off the shower and floated a towel over so he could tuck it around her. Another towel floating into his hands so he could dry her hair. At this point it was less about helping and more about wanting to touch her for a moment longer. 

Maria giggled a little. “Honestly didn’t expect all this fussing out of such a big tough cowboy.”

Michael rolled his eyes, stepping out of the shower, and lifting her out. “As if cowboys don’t fuss. Literally their whole job is taking care of things.” 

“You going to put me down?” 

“Debating it.” 

He did set her down though, grinning and kissing her forehead. She glowered back at him, but with little bite.  

“You hungry? Want tea?” He asked, rubbing the back of her neck lightly. 

“Mn. Alex probably already ordered in.” 

“I’ll go check–” He paused when Maria grabbed his wrist, looking at her quizzically.

“Not naked and dripping you won’t,” she laughed, handing him a towel before heading towards the door. “Let me go raid Alex’s room for something for you. Since I noticed you don’t have any PJs in the airstream.”

Michael snorted. “Expensive waste of space.”  

“I don’t know what to do with you,” Maria said fondly, with an exasperated roll of her eyes. Michael let her leave without bothering to contradict her. They both very well knew she had a few ideas. 

Michael ended up in a pair of Alex’s joggers, which were a tad short at the leg and amusingly roomy around the bum. Alex did have a fantastic ass. And apparently an emo side, going by the Panic! At the Disco shirt. Or maybe it was Fallout Boy? Michael could never tell those early 2000 sweeping banged heavy eyelinered boybands apart. 

Speaking of Alex, Michael found him in the kitchen after leaving Maria to deal with her hair. Maria had been right about Alex having taken care of food. There was a box of pizza on the counter. He walked in just in time to see Alex shoving Leia, who was on her hind legs, paws on the counter, sniffing at the pizza box.

“Gonna need a doggy gate,” Michael said amused. 

“She needs to learn some manners,” Alex huffed, nudging her out of the kitchen with his legs. He stopped short, looking at Michael, or rather what he was wearing. Michael felt a little self conscious, like he was presuming too much by wearing Alex’s clothes. He hadn’t even thought of how Alex might feel, after the shower with Maria…

“Er… I hope you don’t mind. We took a shower and–”

“I don’t mind,” Alex said, eyes on him as he led Leia out of the kitchen. He patted Michael’s chest as he moved past him, or more like dragged his hand across it. “Grab me a beer?”

“Yeah sure,” Michael said, feeling further buoyed by Alex’s touch. And that was so welcome after the night they’d had. He wanted to cling to the feeling, bury himself in it.

Michael got beers and plates out while Alex dealt with Leia. He’d come back to grab a bowl of water and disappear again. Michael assumed he was locking her somewhere.

“Forgot how much work dogs are,” Alex huffed, dropping into one of the seats at the kitchen table. He took a long pull from the beer Michael gave him.

“It’s what you get for stealing dogs,” Michael said dryly.

“I did not steal her,” Alex said, indignant. It made Michael laugh which just made Alex grumpier. “First off, she wouldn’t stop following me around and second, you know I paid Carter.”    

“Next time steal a better behaved dog,” Michael continued as if Alex hadn’t spoken. 

Alex snorted. “Jerk.”

Michael smiled fondly, sitting down across from him and grabbing a slice. They ate quietly for a moment, Alex pressing his good leg against Michael’s. 

“So am I getting banished to the guest room tonight?” Trying for a tease, though he could hear the note of desperation in his own voice, and hated it. Even after last night’s conversation, he still wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Alex. Where he might put the hard breaks.

“Figured you’d be crashing with Maria,” Alex said, looking confused by the question. “What with all the motherhenning.” 

Michael frowned. “I’m not–”

“I’m teasing,” Alex said, watching Michael. “Relax, Michael. We all need to relax.” 

It was hard to relax. Because that right there was why Michael couldn’t quite shake the anxiety around Alex, around what was next for them. Alex was always watching. Over thinking and over calculating. 

Michael watched Alex stretch his leg out, rubbing his thigh a little. He did that for a moment, quietly sipping his beer before deciding to take his leg off. Michael said nothing, just got up to grab another beer. Something to do while he waited.

“You can crash with me.” Michael turned his head to find Alex looking at him again. “We don’t, ah, have a guest room,” Alex added as if the explanation was necessary. “So you can crash with me. I mean, if Maria wants to be alone.” 

It was so endearingly awkward. Michael had to turn back and pull Alex into a soft kiss. 

“I assumed the dog is gonna sleep in your bed.” Michael smiled, his lips still against Alex’s. 

“I have a big bed.” 

There was something suggestive about the way Alex said that and Michael found himself, strongly considering forgetting about how tired and emotionally strung out they all were. He needed the distraction. No, he needed to be close to them, warm and solid and safe. Needed them pressed close. Not the rusted, iron bars of Caulfield. 

“How does Maria feel about pizza in bed?” Michael asked, thoughtfully.

“Much more tolerant than I am about it,” Alex said. Noted. 

Michael smiled, grabbed her a plate and a couple of slices. “Come on, then.” 

Alex stood up and followed him to Maria’s room. There, they found her curled up over her covers, wet hair up in an old t-shirt, seemingly asleep. Michael stepped into the room, setting the pizza down on the dresser, planning on getting her under the covers at least. 

Alex was frowning, concerned. “Guess I should have a talk with her about the safest way to explore her powers without pushing too hard.”

“Shoe’s on the other foot, huh?” Maria grumbled, raising her head sleepily to look at them.

“Fuck you,” Alex said with no bite, moving over to her. “You ok?”

“Yeah, come to bed.” Maria shifted enough to pull the covers out from under her. 

Michael didn’t believe that for a second. He glanced over at Alex who shrugged. 

“You hungry?” Michael asked, helping her get the covers up over her, and sliding into bed on one side of her. 

“Rather sleep,” Maria said, resting her head on his chest, throwing an arm across his sternum. She tucked in close against his side. 

Michael kissed her hair, watching Alex settle down on the opposite side, propping up his crutch against the wall before settling in against Maria.

“You can cuddle Michael,” Maria grumbled, stubborn and prickly for no damn reason. “I’m not broken.”

“A man can’t cuddle his wife without a ton of lip,” Alex said, looking at Michael in exasperation, throwing his arm around Maria’s hip, his hand settled on Michael’s belly. 

Maria groaned, and cuddled more into Michael, clearly giving up. “Less talking. More sleeping.”

Michael sighed, nuzzling into her hair, resting his hand over Alex’s. They didn’t say anything, letting Maria fall asleep again. But he watched her, just so fucking thankful that he was able to be there for her, like this.

Alex was looking between them. Now that they were in bed, under the soft glow of Maria’s fairy lights, Michael could see all the concern and exhaustion Alex kept under tight control. 

They’d all been a little too relaxed over the last week. None of them had been prepared for today. Or maybe it just illuminated the stress they were under. The stress they put themselves through. For themselves. And, now, for him. 

He squeezed Alex’s hand, brought it to his lips, kissing his knuckles. Smiling, Alex turned his hand, brushing it over Michael’s jaw in a tender caress. Then letting his eyes close, his hand settling possessively on Michael’s collarbone, he relaxed comfortably against Maria.   

Michael was never leaving them again. 

 


 

Maria woke when Alex slipped out of bed. She let out a sleepy protest reaching for him, but he squeezed her hand, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. 

“Got another lady in my life now, and she’s waiting to go on a date.” 

Maria rolled her eyes. “That is a weird way to say you’re taking the dog out to pee.” 

Alex chuckled. “Take your time waking up. Enjoy the person-shaped heater.” 

He glanced over at Michael, still asleep. Lightly snoring. Her eyes met Alex’s and they both grinned, happy.

“I’ll make sure there’s coffee and food ready when you want to get up,” Alex said, thumb gently rubbing her knuckles.

“All it took to make you an earlier riser was a dog? Now I get to have breakfast ready for me every morning? Should have caved years ago.”

Alex luffed a laugh, grabbing his crutch and standing up. “Less sass. More sleep.”  

Maria chuckled, and tucked up against Michael’s side, watching Alex go. He stopped, turning to look at her and she made a show of wrapping her arms around Michael again, burying her face back in his chest. It was a nice chest, and she wished he wasn’t wearing Alex’s Fallout Boy t-shirt right now so she could feel the hair there against her cheek. She still nuzzled into him, a content sigh on her lips.

He smelled good. Soothing. Relaxing. It was easy to doze off again. 

When Maria woke up again, Michael was awake, his hand stroking her shoulder and back in slow circles. She sighed happily and pressed a kiss to his chest, not even bothering to open her eyes. Maria was content to stay like this, in the quiet of the morning hours, warm and in his arms. And Michael seemed content to hold her… at least for a time. 

“Morning. How do you feel?” He asked, voice barely above a whisper. His hand stilled against her shoulder, holding fast. 

“Warm and comfy,” Maria replied. 

It wasn’t the answer he was looking for, she was sure. What he was asking had to do with why Alex was out there making breakfast instead of just taking the dog out and crashing again. She knew they were both worried. 

Maria wasn’t in any mood to deal with it. Not just because she hated being told what to do by the well-meaning men she cared about, but because she was warm and cozy and relaxed. Michael felt good in her arms, in her bed. Finally in her bed. She’d been wanting this for so damn long -- real life could take a back seat for a few more minutes. 

“Did you sleep okay?” Maria asked into the silence her response elicited. Resting her chin on his chest and looking up at him. Her hand stroked up and down his side gently. 

Michael sighed. “Better than I have in a while. I needed…”

Of course, Maria wasn’t the only one who had a rough time at that prison. 

“This. Us. I know,” she murmured, nuzzling into him a little. He and Alex were so alike in that. Physical.

She kissed his collar, his neck, the strong line of his jaw before leaning her arms on his chest, and looking down at him. His curls were mussed from sleep, eyes still heavy with it. If she didn’t know him as well as she did, he’d look relaxed. But it was in the way he took her in; searching, as if looking for any signs of discomfort. 

He was always like that though, hyper aware of how she and Alex were feeling. When they first met, Maria assumed it was defensive–know thy enemy. Maybe it was. Or had been. Now it was something else.  

Maria leaned down to kiss him.  

“Maria…” Michael breathed against her lips and that was really nice except he was tilting his head away. 

“Seriously Guerin?” Maria groaned, but didn’t pull back.

Michael remained obstinate, frowning at her “I wanna talk about the freaky flashback vision.”

Maria could be obstinate too. “Nope.” She laughed, ducking her head to pepper kisses across his shoulders and chest

As much as he might be trying to encourage it, Michael quite obviously didn’t feel much like talking either. She didn’t need alien-experimentation powers to know that. She could tell in the way he squeezed her closer and taste it in the way his lips chased hers when she kissed him again. His lips parted for her, and she rubbed his bristly cheek with her thumb, humming in approval. 

“Good boy.” Maria grinned against his mouth. 

He huffed an exasperated laugh, but curled his hand against the curve of her skull, sealing their mouths together in a hot open mouth kiss. 

A girl could get addicted to kisses like his. He poured all of himself into them, and somehow she was the one with her breath stolen. Yeah, they’d talked plenty. Now she wanted to show him exactly how much she needed him. 

Maria shifted climbing on top of him and Michael smiled up at her, sweetly. He touched her delicately, reverently, and she swallowed a swell of emotion.

But something still was off . “I’m not going to break,” she murmured against his mouth, fingernails digging into his shoulders, sharply. 

“I know,” he murmured, stroking his hands over her skin, urging her closer. 

She breathed out slowly against the sudden intensity of her feelings, deliberately relaxing her grip before sliding her hands down to grab the bottom of his t-shirt, rucking it up to reveal an expanse of golden skin and dark hair. Fuck, all she wanted to do was put her mouth on him. So she did, kissing his chest, the soft curve of his right pec, something she’d been itching to do for what felt like years now. At least ever since the ranch, when he swaggered towards her. Shirtless and sweat gleaming under the hot New Mexico sun, grinning under the brim of his black hat.

Michael sighed, watching her with parted lips and hooded eyes. And god the way he looked at her… like she was something precious or maybe priceless. She didn’t want to feel fragile

Didn’t take you for a pillow princess,” she teased lightly, scraping her teeth along his skin and looking up at him with a smirk. 

Michael wrinkled his nose, clearly offended. He did seem like the pleaser type. She almost felt bad for teasing. Not enough to stop though, looking back at him steadily with eyes sparkling, challenging and full of desire for him. 

A second later, Maria found herself on her back. Michael settling between her legs, leaning over her with that same grumpy air. Maria just laughed, hooking a leg over his hip, tucking him in closer, and he growled, “you’re the utter worst.” She winked in response and he rolled his eyes. 

Michael leaned down and Maria lifted her head up to meet him, but he just ducked his head down to kiss and nip at her neck. She laughed again, fingers curling in his hair, and sighed when his hand slid under her shirt. 

Maria loved Michael’s hands and they felt just as good as she knew they would cupping her breast, big and rough and warm. She shivered when he flicked her nipple with his thumb, hummed a little against his lips in approval. He did it again, playing with her tits as he started to work her underwear off with, wait… with his powers. Her hips rising up of what felt like their own accord as her panties slipped off her legs, allowing him to massage her breasts at his leisure.  

It made her laugh. “Cheater.”

“Efficient,” he corrected, grinning up at her as her nightshirt came off much the same way as her panties. It wasn’t even fully over her head before he was taking one of her breasts into mouth, sucking lightly. Callused fingers pressing between her folds in a delicate teasing caress.

Maria sighed, arching into his touch. Riding out the contrasting sensations of the warm softness of his mouth and roughness of his beard on her sensitive skin. Her hips grinding into his palm as his fingers slowly pushed in and out of her.

Maria had to admit, it was nice not to worry about the details. She could do it like this, let him take the lead. But after the night she’d had, she didn’t really care to give up control. Besides, Michael had spent an entire week strutting around bare-chested and sweaty like a romance novel cover and she deserved to make him pay for that. 

Maria gripped his hair, pulling his head up so she could lick into that pretty, smart mouth. Swallowing up a low moan, she held him in place so she could keep kissing him, rolling them over again onto his back with a quick shove. 

Michael laughed against her mouth. “You going to make up your mind before we run out of bed?”

She cut him off with a nip to his lip. “Hush.” 

He shook his head, leaning up to kiss her but she slapped his arm. 

“Arms up,” Maria ordered.

“So bossy,” Michael huffed a laugh.

“Some of us don’t have telekinesis,” Maria said haughtily. “We work with what we get.” She slapped his arm again. “Now, up. I don’t want to ask again.”

Maria kept her tone light, expectant. But she was watching carefully through playful eyes. She was testing the waters, ready to tone it down if he didn’t seem into it. 

But Michael’s eyes darkened, as he raised his arms. Mouth going appealingly slack. 

He was into it. Very into it. 

Michael was so fucking hot. Maria had to refrain from just kissing him stupid again, she was so damn pleased. Instead, Maria reached for his shirt, tugging it up and over his head. “Good boy.” 

“I’m not a dog, babe.” Michael shifted when the shirt came off but only to rest his wrists together, one over the other against the headboard. Heat pooled in Maria’s belly at the sight, her thighs squeezing his sides. 

“So sweet for me,” Maria said, petting his hair. Michael’s smile was soft and easy, and underneath it she sensed a thrill of pleasure, something almost preening from the praise. 

Impulsively Maria tied the shirt up around his wrists. Not too tight, just snug. She looked down at him, checking to make sure he was still okay and found that his eyes had grown darker still, his breathing picking up. 

Maria had to kiss him again, slow and deep, taking her time. Because -- fuck he was so pretty. And she deserved a reward. 

Michael didn’t even open his eyes when she pulled back, not immediately, licking his lips for the last taste of her. Maria felt overwhelmed again by feelings she still couldn’t fully describe. So instead she focused on working off Michael’s sweats, pulling them down, past his gorgeous thighs.

“You can take care of the rest, right?” Maria grinned, meaning the pants.

Michael raised an eyebrow, smile a little crooked. “I thought you wanted to do all the work.”

“Oh shut up before I put that smart mouth of yours to work.” 

“That’s not much incentive to keep quiet, babe.” 

She laughed, delighted. Shivering with the want that sent crashing through her. “Hm. I was thinking something different, for the moment,” she said lightly, enjoying the way that Michael’s eyes stayed on her, hot and greedy. 

“Yeah?” he murmured, hands flexing, as if reflexively reaching for her. 

Maria shook her head. Michael had no idea how beautiful he was right now, stretched out and needy. She didn’t bother responding, instead shifting to drag his joggers down the rest of the way, tossing them aside. She took another moment to just look at him. Every powerful, gorgeous line of him. Drinking up the way his cheeks darkened at her attention, the way his hips jerked as she ran her thumb up the underside of his cock, pausing just under the head to rub in slow circles. 

Maria kept her eyes on his face, stroking slowly. Michael’s lips parted, hips thrusting into her grip, looking for more than just her light, teasing touch.

“Maria…” Michael moaned, needy, frustrated. Hands curling into fists briefly before relaxing. “I could make you feel so much better if you just got up here,” he growled, and she could feel just the lightest suggestion of his TK, nudging her up, leaving no doubt as to his meaning. Suddenly, she was struck by how easy it would be for him to get his hands free. How he was choosing to keep them still. And that made her fucking wet, wetter. Made her grind against his thigh, seeking a little relief. 

She was so fucking into it. His need, his attention solely on her. Irises blown wide, whiskey gold giving way to desire. It was just as good as his hands and mouth on her, but different, heady. Giving and receiving pleasure at her whims. 

“Be good,” she warned, tweaking one of his nipples, just this side of gentle. Enjoying the way he hissed, going taut. 

Michael was a live wire, sparking at the lightest of touches. Electric. She wanted to drink his every reaction in. 

The intention had been to ride him, fuck him hard and fast and a little dirty. But she hummed, greedy with the desire to drink up more of his pleasure. Settling down comfortably between his thighs, Maria leaned down to lick and suck at the head of his cock, just tasting him. 

Michael’s low moan was exactly what she wanted. She thrilled at every little gasp, each whine and cry of her name. The sounds had Maria pressing her hand between her legs. The rapid rise and fall of his chest, the aborted thrust of his hip, a rhythm to fuck herself to. Cunt squeezing tight around her fingers, she left wet kisses along the shaft, teasing them both really. Fuck, she was so damn horny, wet and clenching with need. 

Michael let out little staccato moans. They were delicious, equal parts needy and frustrated. Maria ate it up greedily, rubbing her clit in little tight circles. She kept her eyes on him as she slowly worked him in deeper, drinking in the way he arched up into her mouth, riotous curls falling over his half-lidded eyes. 

Fuck, she wasn’t going to last long like this. By the way Michael whined out a hushed “please”, voice raw and legs twitchy, she didn’t think he would either. But fuck she wanted it to last forever and she had to remind herself that they had time now, to kiss and touch each other, to play, to make love. 

And that was thrilling in its own way, a softer thrill, delightfully warm and anticipatory.  

“‘Ria…I–I’m–”

Michael clearly was getting close, and honestly she was only seconds behind. She drew back enough to breathe and when she spoke her voice sounded raw, and wrung out to her own ears. “Yeah baby, I got you.” 

He groaned her name again, desperate, but she didn’t tease them. 

“Go on,” she said, taking Michael back in, down to the hilt. Just holding him there. It was all she could do, really, while she rubbed herself faster and faster. Her tongue dragging against the underside of his cock, moaning, filled up by him, overwhelmed by the smell of him.  

After, Maria shifted, resting her head against Michael’s thigh and just breathing. Her jaw ached a little but fuck she felt good. But she barely had a chance to come back to herself before Michael’s hands were suddenly free. He pulled her up into his arms, rolling them both over, her back hitting the bed again. She blinked up at him, focusing, even as the aftershocks receded. He was smirking a little. 

“My turn,” he breathed out, spreading her legs wide and leaning down to kiss her cunt, slow and sweet. 

Oh shit, she thought, with the very last bit of her logic. I’m in so much trouble.