Hiding Beneath (AU,M/L,ADULT) [WIP]

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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 20, 10th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:26 pm

Check this shit out, I am a sex machine... I mean updating machine! Yeah, that’s totally what I meant to say.

Jan- Glad I could help you out with your boring day. :D
You don't mind saying what you mean do you?
No. Should I? I don’t mind admitting that adult scenes make me all embarrassed and red-faced. I can joke about sex till the cows come home and say the most disgusting things with nary a blush (as evidenced in NID), but trying to write it seriously? I turn out like a turnip. :oops:
Sunrise102- Thank you, I get hives whenever I try to do something like this so I’m glad you think it worked.
Tequathisy
Ginger
Steph-
I did update. Gosh... slave driver. :roll: Hugs to you, lady.
Eve
Keepsmiling7
BB-
Did Max just refer to Liz as 'this thing'?
No, just her vajayjay. Her netherparts may as well have been the theory of relativity for all he knew about them.
And Maria... her curiosity will be addressed in the next part. And the one after that. I’m stretching it out.
Roswell4life
Novy-
I think you liked Max’s perspective better because anyone could have written Liz’s perspective. She’s come from a normal, boring background, and her thoughts on the matter would have been predictable. Whereas Max, having been through so much and having such low self esteem I thought it was far more interesting having insight into his thoughts. Plus, believing as he does that he doesn’t deserve Liz, I thought it was far sweeter to hear his thoughts when Liz validated her love for him.
Now these suppressed memories Max is trying to pretend doesn't exist can't lead any where good. I'm scared for him.
You always were perceptive... :wink:
Destinyc
Natalie36
Scorpio6

Part Twenty One

'That I see the light surrounding you
So don't be afraid of something new
Cos I see the light surrounding you
So don't be afraid of what you're turning into'
Light Surrounding You by Evermore


***

Liz’s POV
“These fingers have pleasured Liz Parker.” Max holds his hand up in front of his face and stares at it in awe as I groan, red-faced and mortified. “I’m never washing them again.”

I can’t help but laugh at this disturbing statement. I’m 99% sure that he’s kidding, so I feel that it’s ok to laugh.

“Maybe you should cut them off and have them bronzed,” I suggest helpfully, rubbing my cheek against his chest to get rid of a sudden itch.

“There’s an idea,” Max mutters absently, his attention now caught by my hair. He’s running his fingers through it, seemingly entranced by my boring strands. “Just how do you get your hair so soft, Parker?”

“It’s these revolutionary new products. They’re called shampoo and conditioner and they’ll change your life.”

Max gently pinches my upper arm before dropping a kiss on my head. “Shut up. I just always wondered if your hair was as soft as it looked.”

I flick a glance up at him and smile softly, murmuring, “And now you know.”

“And now I know,” he repeats, trailing his fingers softly up arm and back again. “It’s just so amazing to me that I can touch you like I’ve always wanted to. To kiss you, to feel your skin against mine whenever I want,” he exhales, flattening his palm and rubbing it experimentally against my skin. “It just blows me away.”

I’m so content being here, wrapped in Max’s arms that I’m almost purring. “Hmm... you blow me away. Literally.”

Max laughs at me and I snuggle deeper into his chest. I’ve never felt so close to anyone before. I just want to melt into him.
***

Max’s POV
I think everyone knows. I’m smiling too freaking much. I am on such a high, it’s too noticeable.

“Hey man, you look like you got laid. Did little Miss Parker finally give up the goods?”

I clench my fist but my mood is too high to really take any notice of Marco’s crude question. He’s just another jack ass.

“And you wonder why you can’t get laid, Marco...” Kyle sighs rolling his eyes at me. I laugh and go back to ignoring him, spending my time thinking about the other night. It was so amazing, there’s no words to describe it.

“It’s because the chicks around here are too uptight,” he defends, checking out the rear end of a passing female. Kyle and I exchange knowing smiles again. I’ve come to a new appreciation for Kyle, now that I’m positive that he doesn’t want Liz back and since he always seems to have my back, I’ve really come to enjoy having him as a friend. He’s very different from every other Marco and Pam in this school and he’s desperately infatuated with Tess, so I no longer feel threatened.

“Hey Max,” greets Isabel, shaking her head when Marco starts drooling a little as he stares at her boobs. Kyle whaps him over the head with his history text book and alerts him to the fact that his staring isn’t appreciated by anyone.

I grab my books, waving to Kyle and by extension, Marco, as both Isabel and I head to class. “Hey Izzy, what’s up?”

“Just coming to make sure that you asked Liz if she’d come over for dinner again next week. Mom really loved having her there.”

I smile at Isabel’s transparency. She’s dreadful at feigning disinterest. Isabel really loves having someone around that she can actually be herself in front of and I don’t know how or why, but Liz seems to have broken past Isabel’s defences.

“Yes, I asked and yes, she’s coming.”

Isabel smiles at this piece of news. “Great, I’ll tell Mom and help her pick out the menu for that night.”

“Can you get her to buy butterscotch ice cream for dessert?” I smile a little, a memory of Liz and I walking hand in hand around town aimlessly whilst eating ice cream cones coming into my head. “Liz loves butterscotch.”

Isabel looks at me speculatively. “You’re really in love, aren’t you, Max?” she asks softly.

I nod, unable to stop the fucking goofy look from spreading across my face whenever I think about Liz. “I am. She’s... everything. I finally feel...” Worthwhile? No, I won’t put my own feelings about our past onto Isabel, she doesn’t need to be burdened by them. “Whole. It’s like everything makes sense when she’s around. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Isabel’s smile drops for a moment, but then it’s back in place. “That’s great, Max. I’m really happy for you.”

“Thanks,” I reply, our conversation ending as we walk into the classroom.
***

Isabel’s POV
“Mom, I’m worried.”

“About what, Izzy?”

“Max and Liz.”

Mom’s eyes widen in horror. “You don’t think they’re having sex, do you?”

I wrinkle my nose in disgust and suppress the urge to vomit. “Eww, not something I want to think about.” I wave away that disturbing notion and focus on my real issue. “I’m worried about what’s going to happen.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when he tells her about our past. There’s no way of knowing how she’ll react and if she doesn’t take it well... it’ll crush him.”

“Izzy, she’s a wonderful, caring, bright girl from what I’ve seen. I don’t think she’ll react badly to it.”

“Mom, you’ve seen how different he is since they’ve been together. He’s happy all the time instead of just pretending to be happy in public and coming home to listen to Counting Crows. If she takes it badly, can you imagine the fallout from that?”

Mom frowns, obviously taken aback by the thought of Max not only returning to the way he was before, but actually retreating even further back. She’s been so happy lately, because Max has made more progress in a couple of months than he has in the space of three years. And if Liz can’t deal with our past... I’m not sure that Max will ever recover.

“What do you think we should do? Talk to Max?”

I shake my head violently. “No. Absolutely not, he’s probably worried about her reaction enough without us adding to his fears.”

“Well, maybe it won’t ever come up. Maybe Max just won’t mention it and we’ll never have to deal with it,” Mom says with vain hope.

“Mom, Liz is smart. She’s going to realise that all our photos are from six up and she’ll probably ask him about his childhood and he won’t want to hide it from her because he believes that a relationship needs honesty to work.”

“Do you have any ideas about what to do? I don’t know if I can stand back and just watch this happen,” Mom frets.

“I was thinking, maybe we talk to her and hint that our past isn’t exactly wonderful, that maybe Max has been through some tough times in the past and that way she won’t be too blindsided when he tells her. If she knows that things haven’t been rosy for him, then maybe she won’t react as badly when he tells her.”

Mom ponders this for a moment and slowly hangs her head. “Ok. We’ll do it when she comes over for dinner tomorrow night.”
***

Max’s POV
“Fuck,” I hiss as her hand buries itself in my pants. It’s the first time we’ve had an hour uninterrupted to ourselves since that wonderful night nearly a week ago and she’s certainly making the most of it. She’s stroking my length with what seems to be practiced ease, but her expression is wary and cautious as if she doesn’t quite know if what she’s doing is right.

I groan in protest as she withdraws her hand but my eyes snap wide open as she pushes me back so that I fall onto the bed.

“You know, I’ve always wanted to try something,” she whispers into my ear before sinking to her knees on the carpet. I swallow heavily as she pulls my erection free from my pants and hesitantly lowers her head. Sweet Jesus is she actually going to-


Fuck.


There is nothing – absolutely no words – to describe what she’s doing to me right now. The sight of her head bobbing up and down over my lap has to be the most erotic thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And when her other hand reaches into my pants to cup my testicles, I nearly come right then and there. Where the fuck did she learn that?

She makes a tiny whimpering noise and suddenly I find myself wrenched back.

He walks through the door, his sister’s hand tucked safely in his. He and his sister have been playing outside. He knows not to come in when his Mommy has a man over but Isabel needs to go to the bathroom.

He pauses at the end of the hallway, hearing revolting choking noises and is horrified at what he sees. The man has the thing he pees with in his mommy’s mouth and he’s thrusting it in there savagely. His mommy is choking and he needs to save her.

He drops his sister’s hand and he runs at the man, kicking his leg. “Don’t hurt my mommy!”

The man kicks out at him, catching Max in the jaw and Isabel starts to cry, running over to him.

“Fucking little shit,” the man spits, glaring at Max who is whimpering in shock on the floor.

“What the fuck did I tell you about coming in here when I’ve got a man over?” yells Max’s mother, pissed off because she might lose the money and a new client all because of her little brat.

She isn’t greeted with an answer. Max is too shell-shocked and Isabel is crying too hard.

The man zips up his pants. “Fuck you lady, you and your worthless kids.” He leaves, despite her cries for him to come back and continue at a discounted rate.

She storms back into the living room and seizes Max up off the ground, shaking him. “You little bastard! Do you know how much money you just cost me?”

She grabs a sobbing Isabel by the arm and yanks her angrily to her feet. It is then that she notices that Isabel has wet her pants. She never did make it to the toilet like she had wanted to.

“Ugh! You’re both fucking worthless!”

She throws them into their room and locks the door behind her. “And you’ll stay in there until I say you can come out.” They’re locked in that room for a day and a half.


“Max?” Liz asks, looking hurt and somewhat defensive as I pull her to her feet. I need her to stop. I can’t... not after what I just saw. “Did I do something wrong?”

I shake my head fervently. “Too right. If I had let you continue it would have been over before you knew it.” Not quite the truth, but I refuse to burden her with my issues. It’s just another memory I have to overcome. Another one that I have to push back where it belongs. “And while that felt absolutely amazing, I’d much rather we come together.”

She blushes at my words and I wonder at the very contradiction of her. She’s completely brazen about giving me head, but one very commonplace reference to an orgasm that she was well on her way to giving me and she’s suddenly blushing like a prim maiden.

I pull her to me and lay back before rolling her onto her back and kissing her. We slowly divest each other of clothes and I moan as I finally push inside of her. This is what I was made to do, to love Liz Parker.

But the whole time I’m tense, wondering if these memories are going to become a regular occurrence.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 21, 12th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:10 pm

I have them, so you may as well have them too.

Jan-
He seriously needs to sort that problem out and go to see a therapist!!
He is. He has been for years, but he won’t open up to him. Max can’t be helped unless he allows himself to be helped.
Steph
BB-
Bonus points for being realistic. I love how you wrote that the first time they had sex was slightly awkward.
I always wondered how they went from innocent virgins to experienced porn stars in five seconds flat in other stories, it just seemed ridiculous.
Destinyc
Roswell4life
Ginger
Eve
Tequathisy-
I'm very eager to find out how Maria has been coping with not sticking her nose into Michael's secret
I know, sometimes I get stuck on one aspect of the story or on one couple and coast along there for a while, but I have Michael’s secret for you in the next update. You should like it. I hope. And I will get back to Alex and Isabel eventually. I feel like I need separate stories for them sometimes.
Sunrise102
Novy

Part Twenty Two

'Oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
This world you must've crossed... you said...
You don't know me, you don't even care, oh yeah
She said
You don't know me, and you don't wear my chains... oh yeah'
Boston by Augustana


Liz’s POV
I ring the doorbell and wait patiently. Dinner with Max’s parents always scare me a little. I’m really paranoid that I’m going to do or say something that they find offensive. I’m not usually offensive, so I wonder why my psyche thinks that would I start now? I know it’s irrational, but these people are so important to Max that I desperately need their approval.

The door swings open, startling me out of my reverie and Max rushes out. He wraps his arms around me and lifts me up into a hug, leaving my toes dangling against the cement paving of his front step.

“Welcome to Casa De Evans, may I take your coat?” he asks jovially, setting me back on the ground.

Unable to resist his good mood, I pinch his cheeks. “Hello there, Mister! What’s got you into such a playful mood?”

He grins at me, my heart going triple time. “My favourite people are all in the same place.”

“Max, could you please go to the study and help your father transfer his music to his new computer?”

“Oh, Mom! That’ll take ages, you know he hates help!” he calls back, his eyes never leaving mine.

“Well, bring Liz inside and get started. The sooner you start the sooner you can get finished.”

Max rolls his eyes and ushers me into the kitchen where Diane is making dinner and Isabel is setting the table.

“Hey Liz,” they both greet me warmly, but I can tell that something’s not quite right. They both seem tense and their smiles seem a bit forced. Jesus, what have I done now? It’s so obvious that they no longer like me. I knew that this would happen! I just knew it. Max kisses the top of my head and heads off to the study leaving me to stand uncomfortably, wishing that I could just relax when I’m in their presence. What happened to Isabel? I thought we bonded? Why has she so suddenly changed her tune?

“Do you guys need any help?” I ask politely, hoping to remind them that I’m a wonderful person, worthy of dating their amazing son and brother.

“No thanks, Liz, I’m nearly done,” replies Diane, putting the last of her trays in the oven. Looks like we’re having meat loaf. Joy.

“So,” she says brightly, with that underlying tension I can still see. “You and Max have been dating for a while.”

Oh no. Oh God! This is the point where they tell me that it’s long enough and to get the hell out of their house, or that we’re getting too serious and that Max needs to spread his wild oats or something. Anything, really, just to be rid of me. Why does shit like this always happen to me?

“Yeah, we have.” Hopefully my voice didn’t squeak as much as I thought it just did.

“You two must have pretty serious feelings for one another to stick around this long,” Diane probes, making me more than a little uneasy. What the hell is going on here?

I try to answer as collectedly as I can, aware that this is some sort of test conjured up by both Evans females as Isabel is scrutinising me carefully too. “Uh, yeah. I can’t really speak for Max, but I know that I feel pretty strongly for him.”

I am not admitting to his mother that I love him. I would hate for her to twist that into something dreadful, or cry puppy love. I couldn’t bear it.

“That’s good,” muses Diane with a tense smile. “I don’t suppose there’d be much that could change that, could there?”

Is she seriously questioning my feelings for Max? Now I’m starting to get pissed off. Her attempts at casual probing are as delicate as ten tonne truck smashing into a brick wall at 100 miles per hour.

“Not that he ever would, but if he cheated on me I’d probably have to end it,” I admit, not wanting to seem weak in front of his mother or sister. I trust Max, but if he fucks around with my heart, I’m so walking. Not that he would, he’s got much higher expectations for himself. And his past ensures that he holds fidelity and monogamy in high esteem.

She bites her lip, seemingly conflicted. I really don’t like this conversation and I wish that Max would just come back, if only for a second so that I could volunteer myself as an aide for helping his dad. I’m sure it couldn’t be much worse than this.

“That’s not quite what I meant, dear.” Good sign. Endearments are a very good sign. I’m in desperate need of good signs right now. “I mean, if you found out something from his past that you weren’t expecting or didn’t quite like.”

Are they alluding to his adoption? Maybe I should just butt in now and ask, because there’s only so much beating around the bush that I can take.

“Are you talking about his adoption?”

Diane lets out an audible gasp, her hand flying to her mouth and Isabel stands stock still, her eyes wide and mouth open in shock. Okay, maybe they weren’t.

“You know about that?” asks Isabel, speaking for the first time since this inquisition started.

“Uh, yeah... Max told me early on when we first got together.”

“And...” Diane seems to be trying to speak over a large lump in her throat. “You don’t care?”

“Well, I care of course, because it upsets Max. But it doesn’t really make a difference to me in regards to how I see him. He’s still Max.”

A tear trickles down Isabel’s cheek and my heart squeezes painfully in my chest. I really did not come here to make Isabel Evans cry. I wasn’t even sure it was possible.

“Wait,” she manages to push out. “How much do you actually know about our past?”

I clear my throat uncomfortably, wanting to be anywhere but here right now. Maybe Max shouldn’t have told me. Maybe this topic is taboo in this household. Maybe they’ll throw me out on my ear and threaten me with a lawsuit so that I don’t tell anyone about their highly guarded secret. “Well Max told me that you two were adopted at the age of around six because one of your biological mother’s...” Shit. What word do I use here? “...clients beat you because he was high.”

“By clients you mean...?” prompts Diane, looking very wary right now.

“I know that she had a drug addiction and paid for it by way of... prostitution.”

Isabel lets out a strangled cry and I immediately feel like shit. “Isabel, I’m so sorry! I should never have said anything! God, I’m such a horrible bitch for bringing this up.”

To my complete and utter surprise, Isabel pulls me into a hug instead of ripping me a new one.

“Thank you,” she sobs into my neck. “Thank you so much for accepting him. You have no idea what it means to him. And to us.”

“Izzy,” I reply, not quite sure what I want to say in response. “He’s the same person he was before I knew. He’s just more amazing considering what he has live with. Just like you.”

Isabel breaks away from my embrace and hides her face in her hands, struggling to cope with her tears. I can’t go and comfort her because I’m suddenly pulled into another hug by Diane, who seems intent on squeezing the air from my lungs.

“Oh Liz, we were so worried about what would happen when Max told you. If you’d reacted badly, there would have been no telling how badly Max would have taken it. And he’s been so happy lately, all because of you.”

“Is that what all this probing was about?” I ask, letting out a half laugh as Diane pulls back from our embrace. “You were trying to find out if I’d take the news of Max’s adoption badly?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Oh God,” I mutter weakly, the tension leaving my body knowing that Isabel and Diane weren’t rejecting me. “I thought this was your way of scaring me off.”

“Oh, God no honey! You’re the best thing that has ever happened to Max. His Counting Crows CD has been collecting dust ever since you and he got together. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see him so happy.”

“What do you mean? What about the Counting Crows?” I ask, not quite understanding the reference.

Izzy fields this question for her. “Max isn’t really such a happy person. He puts on quite a show at school and occasionally at home, but he’s always struggled with his past and his memories. He gets down quite a bit, and plays Counting Crows on repeat whenever he does.”

“Wow... I never picked up on that,” I admit, slightly disturbed that Max could hide his feelings so well from me. “Max has always seemed happy to me.”

“That because he is happy whenever you’re near. At school, at the Crashdown, he never had to fake anything because he truly felt it. And when you started dating, it was just amazing. He transformed into perpetually happy Max. He just glows, every day.”

My mouth drops open at this confession and I stare at her in shock. Me?! I do that to him?

“So we were naturally a little worried that his past would scare you off and that he’d revert back to the old way, but worse.”

I shake my head adamantly. “Wouldn’t have happened. Could never have happened. You are who you choose to be and Max chooses to be a wonderful person. There’s no way I’d overlook that just because of where he’s come from.”

Diane grasps my upper arms lightly and gives me a watery smile. “Oh sweetheart, I don’t know that Max could have picked a better person to be with.”

My response is cut short as we hear both Evans men returning. Both Evans women dry their eyes and busy themselves in the kitchen, obviously trying to reign in their unruly emotions. I can’t help the bright smile that plasters itself onto my face when Max wraps his arms around my stomach and presses a quick kiss to my cheek.

“Hey Liz,” greets Phillip warmly, obviously having had little difficulty transferring his music.

“Hi Phillip, how’s it going?” I reply half heartedly, my attention focussed on Max who is now nuzzling my cheek. I notice the secret smiles that pass between the rest of his family as Max and I cuddle. He’s oblivious to it, but it makes me happy that they accept me and actually love seeing Max all over me.

Score one for Lizzy. Maybe this dinner won’t be so bad after all.
***

Maria’s POV
I poke my head around the door to Michael’s art room, trying to locate him. It’s been half an hour since I saw him last and I’m dying for a kiss. Plus, he always look so sexy in his paint splattered wife beater with paint flecks up and down his arms and in his hair. Not that I’d ever tell him that, his ego’s enormous already.

Plus, I’m really antsy, Liz has already gotten to the good stuff with Max and I’m wondering when it’ll be my turn. I want to lose my virginity to him, but I want to do it soon before he screws up and we break up. Which considering him, could be quite soon. That is if he hasn’t screwed up already. He says he has a secret and that it’s not another girlfriend, but I can’t help thinking that it’s something I should know and that his hiding it from me is going to cause us to break up.

I spot him in the corner talking quietly into the phone and my eyes narrow, he’s obviously trying to not have this conversation overheard. Which is unlucky for him then, I suppose, because he hasn’t seen me.

“Look, calm down... I’ll talk to you about it later. We’ll figure it out, I’ll find another place you can go and you’ll never have to stay with her again. Just give me a little time. I’ll talk to you about it tonight when I get back, ok?”

Now my interest is piqued. Michael is being very soothing to whoever is on the phone and I wish I knew who he was talking to. He hangs up and rubs his knuckles into his eyes wearily, obviously wrestling with some dilemma. I pop my head back inside the door frame and pretend to be just arriving.

“Michael?”

He looks up and his weary look is replaced by a genuine smile. I like that I can put that there.

“Hey you.”

He reaches for me and pulls me into a tight hug.

“What are you doing tonight?” I query, wanting to add on ‘besides meeting up with the mystery person on the phone back at your place.’

“Working,” he replies quickly, as my eyes narrow. Liar. I know all his work schedules and this is his one night off. But that’s ok, I can use my free time for snooping. It’s too bad he didn’t tell me when he had the chance, because now, I’m not going to find out on his terms. I need to know.

Tonight’s the night.
***
Last edited by Rowedog on Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 22, 14th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:20 am

BB- Of course Diane is going to love him, he’s her son. But I imagine there’d always be a fear of the social stigma of being the son of a whore. It would be too much for some people. She clearly knows that Max is worthy of love, but she knows how cruel or unfeeling some people can be. She’s not naive enough to believe that everyone will be so accepting. Clearly she likes Liz, but she doesn’t know her well enough to be certain.
Keepsmiling7
Ginger
Destinyc
Novy-
Hmmm, I guess you’ll find out in this update who Michael is talking to.
DayDreamer23- Oh fine... :lol:
Eve
Natalie36
Behr_able-
Thank you!
Part Twenty Three

'Straight up, what did you hope to learn about here
If I were someone else, would this all fall apart
Strange, where were you, when we started this gig,
I wish the real world, would just stop hassling me '
Real World by Matchbox20


***
Michael has absolutely no idea that I’m outside his house. Swapping cars with Liz was the best idea I’ve ever had. He doesn’t suspect a thing. I pull up across the street and watch him enter his apartment building. Luckily for me I know the number, having snooped and found some old mail of his at work.

I give him ten minutes before I follow him up to his apartment. It’s time I found out what the hell is going on.

I knock on the door, more bold than I would have dared imagine. I don’t feel guilty for spying on him and forcing him to tell me his secret, because he’s purposefully been keeping something from me that I have a right to know. If it’s interfering with our relationship, which it definitely is, then I have a right to know what it is.

The door swings open and Michael stares at me, his eyes wide open in what looks to be terror. I speak after a moment’s silence. “You forgot to sign your insurance policy for work and we need to send them off by today,” I tell him, lying only a little bit. They’re due next week, but it gives me an excuse for being here. I go to dig through my bag for them, but a noise inside stops me.

I gape in amazement as this tiny girl of about three pops out from behind Michael’s legs. Michael gives me this pleading look and I can’t understand what on earth he’s doing with a small child in his apartment, and then it hits me. I nearly fall over as the realisation comes to me. Michael’s a dad. It’s why he never lets me come over to his house and why we’ve never... consummated anything. It explains why he always has to be back early and why he kills himself by working two jobs while going to college. I have no idea how I didn’t see it before.

“Hewwo,” she says, staring at me as she clings to Michael’s leg, half hiding her minute body behind his overbearing one.

I glance at Michael, who’s watching me with pain, hope and trepidation in his eyes. I sigh, looking back to the small girl and decide that now is not the time to rip into Michael, at least not while she’s around.

I bob down to her level and give her a wave and friendly smile. “Hi there, what’s your name?”

She blushes, pushing her face into Michael’s leg. “Tia Guewin,” she replies with an adorable young child lisp. Guerin. Tia Guerin. I so fucking knew he had a kid. Just the thought of Michael going through something so intimate and amazing as creating another life with another woman tears my heart out, but I couldn’t possibly resent the end result. She’s possibly the most adorable child I’ve ever seen.

“Hey Tia, I’m Maria.”

She giggles shyly and my heart just about bursts in my chest. “You whymed.”

I send her a playful wink. “You know what they say about people whose names rhyme, right?”

She shakes her head, still clutching to Michael’s leg. “Uh unh.”

“They’re the coolest people ever.”

In quick succession, she giggles, blushes and hides her face in the crook of Michael’s knee. I think I’ve just fallen in love with her.

Peeking out from behind Michael’s leg again, she reaches out a tentative hand and touches my hair, before quickly retreating back behind Michael again in fear, as if I were going to reprimand her or something worse. Michael sucks in a light breath at this fleeting contact and I can’t help but wonder what that was all about.

“Your hair is pwetty,” she mumbles, not looking at me.

“You’re pretty all over,” I say warmly, wanting her to know that she didn’t cross a line by touching my hair.

“Nooooo...” she protests, shaking her head adamantly, her face still buried in his leg.

“Tites, one of these days you’ve got to learn how to take a compliment,” teases Michael, drawing my attention back to him. I stare at him, conveying with my gaze just how pissed off I am with him. He blanches and sends me an apologetic look back.

“Mitael?” she asks, tugging on the loose material of his jeans.

“Yes, Tia?”

“Tan Mawia stay for dinner?”

Michael’s eyes widen in surprise. “Well, I’m sure she has other places to be, but if she wants to then-”

“I want to,” I interrupt, needing to talk to Michael.

“Tia, why don’t you go wash your hands before dinner?” asks Michael, looking at me when he says this.

“Otay, tan I hab a juice, pease?”

“I’ll get it for you,” I respond, grabbing out three cups from the top shelf and placing them on the kitchen counter before grabbing the juice out of the fridge.

“Tank you,” she says, disappearing down the hall reluctantly.

“She’s not mine,” Michael tells me once we’re alone.

I concentrate on pouring the juice carefully into the cups, not looking at him. “I didn’t ask.”

“You’re pissed off with me, aren’t you?” he sighs, not in exasperation, but in resigned sadness. I don’t care, I will not be swayed by Michael’s puppy dog looks.

“I’m disappointed that you didn’t think I was important enough to tell.”

He groans loudly. “Maria, that’s not it at all! I just...”

“You just what?” I yell, slamming the juice onto the kitchen bench so hard that a fountain issues from the opening.

Michael ignores the mess I’ve just made and stares me directly in the eye. “You make me feel... normal. Not some loser scum from the wrong side of the tracks who pays off his drug addict mother so that he can take care of his little sister. I wanted to be with you and not have,” he waves his arms around, gesturing to his small, impoverished apartment. “This hanging over my head. Being with you... I feel like I’m just a normal guy in love with a beautiful girl.”

“So what, you thought I would think less of you because you took responsibility for your little sister and created a decent life for her?” I ask, my words a bit garbled in my throat as tears spring to my eyes.

“No, Maria, that’s not it. I just don’t like to think about my past. And having her here all the time... I have to confront it. I didn’t want you to have to confront it with me.”

“Michael... I love you. Past and all. Nothing could make me turn away from you.”

Michael crosses the kitchen and halts in front of me, his eyes dark and intense. “Maria...” he whispers before claiming my lips with his. His arms band around my middle, as my arms run up his chest to rest around his neck.

We pull away when we hear a sharp gasp come from the hallway. Michael mutters an expletive very softly as Tia stares at us with fear etched all over her face. This kid’s reactions are all over the shop.

“Tia,” Michael pleads as she steps away from him.

“You were going to do the fing that Mommy does,” she accuses, her lower lip trembling.

“She’s not your Mom, and no I wasn’t,” he replies firmly, resisting the urge to take a step towards her. I can see him struggling not to right now.

He rakes a hand through his hair in frustration as I watch on with burning curiosity. “Tia... the things that you saw at her house...” Michael takes a deep breath. “When you do them with someone you love, they’re not bad. In fact they can be wonderful. But what Meg did, was she took something that’s meant to be beautiful and turned it into something ugly. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

She shakes her head and I can just tell that Michael’s just dying from this conversation. “Tia, you saw Maria and I kiss. Not every kiss leads to what happened back there. Sometimes people kiss to show each other that they love each other. Which is what I was doing.”

“You wove Mawia?”

“I do, kiddo.”

“Are you gunna mawwy her?”

Michael blinks, taken aback. I laugh at the struggle on his face, I’m so glad he’s fielding that one. “I don’t know. One day, maybe.”

WHOA! What the fuck was that?!

“Otay.” Tia shrugs a little, seemingly placated by this information. “Do you wanna see my woom?” she asks me shyly, twisting a little on the spot.

“Sure,” I reply following her down the hallway, but not before I shoot Michael a look telling him that we’re going to have a long talk later.

I blink in surprise as I enter the room, it’s testosterone central in here. This room was obviously Michael’s game’s room back in the day, because he’s got barbells and those stretchy arm thingys piled in the corner. Plus there’s posters of ice hockey players on the wall. Even her bed is drab and manly. Dark navy comforter with light grey pillows? Who gives a three year old girl a dark navy comforter?

“Whose room is this? Yours or Michael’s?” I ask her inspecting one of the posters.

“It’s mine, but Mitael won’t wet me have any dirly stuff. He says he doesn’t want me to drow up into a pwincess.”

I roll my eyes. What a retard. I’m going to have serious words with him. “So, do you have any toys?”

She nods eagerly and runs to the closet and emerges from it holding a... truck? Jesus Christ.

“Do you have any barbies or dolls?” I ask, instantly regretting my question when her smile drops.

“No, I want one but...”

Great going, Maria. “Hey, you know what?”

“What?” she asks, her tone still melancholy.

“I happen to have a bunch of barbies that I’ve been seriously neglecting... you think if I gave them to you you’d take care of them for me?”

Her face takes on an adorable picture of shock, glee and amazement. “You’d wet me hab dem?”

“Of course, I’m not using them.” I’m also not using my hot pink comforter that I had when I was ten. I’m so going to have to do some redecorating in here. This is not a room any three year old girl wants.

Her face drops a little. “You fink Mitael will mind?”

I wink at her. “You let me handle Michael. It’ll be cool, you’ll see.”

We emerge from her bedroom and find that Michael is serving dinner. I’ll hand it to him, even though he’s absolutely retarded at caring for a little girl’s emotional needs, he’s at least got her nutrition down. I can see at least five different vegetables there alongside her small piece of chicken. Hooray for Michael.

I smile at him as I take a seat next to her. “This looks great, Michael.”

Michael smiles at me and we all fall into an easy conversation about what we all did today. I watch as Michael leans over without thinking and cuts her food up into manageable sized pieces for her. I can’t help but to succumb to the rising warmth in my chest as I watch that beautiful scene. I swear, if he’s anymore gentle and caring with her, my heart will just explode.

“So Tia, tell me, what did you do today?” I ask as she pushes her long hair out of her eyes.

“I dust stayed upstaiws with Mrs Macwean,” she answers quietly.

“Ok, do you like Mrs MacLean?” I ask watching her repeatedly swipe her hair out of her face as she struggles with her fork.

“Not weally,” she shrugs, taking me by complete surprise.

“Why not, sweetheart?” I ask, trying to catch her eye behind that maze of hair. Her head bows even lower with that endearment.

When she doesn’t answer, Michael fills me in with a whisper. “Mrs MacLean has seven kids of her own. I kind of had to blackmail her into looking after Tia during the days when I’m not here. I told her that I’d report her to the cable company for her illegal set up if she didn’t. As a result she resents Tia, but it’s the only place I could think to send her.”

“Michael, why didn’t you just take her to the community centre?” I ask in exasperation. “You know that employees get child care there for free.”

“They do?”

“Yes!” I cry in frustration as Tia sweeps her hair behind her once more attempting to hold her hair behind her ear and eat at the same time, but finding the feat a bit difficult.

“Well, there are nights as well,” he prevaricates.

“Which nights?”

“Wednesdays and Thursdays till ten o’clock.”

I roll my eyes at him. “Michael, I can look after her for you. I don’t work those nights and I don’t like the sound of this ‘Mrs MacLean’.”

Tia looks up at me, hope shining in her eyes, only to have it crushed a moment later. “Maria, that’s totally unnecessary. I don’t want you to feel like you have to.”

“Who said anything about have to? I want to, Michael. It’ll work out well. I’ll take her back to your apartment after the centre closes, we’ll hang out and I’ll put her to bed each night. That way she won’t have her sleep interrupted by you moving her into her bed.”

“Tia, would that be ok with you?” Michael asks, bobbing his head so he can look in her eyes. “Would it be ok if you went to the centre with me and Maria and then Maria took you home a couple of nights?”

Tia smiles shyly at him and nods. “I’d wike dat.”

“Excellent!” I proclaim, digging my into my pocket to find my spare hair tie. “Now sweetheart, let me fix your hair for you.”

Tia hunches in her chair as I kneel behind hers as if I’m going to hit her, but then relaxes as my hands gently smooth her long dark hair away from her face, in slow repetitive strokes. God, what happened to this poor kid before Michael found her?

Once I’m sure she’s relaxed I begin separating her hair into three sections then plait it semi-tight. I deftly wrap the tie around the end and then return to my seat. Tia runs her hands down her head in amazement, feeling the bumps and the stiffness of her hair as she shakes her head feeling it brush against her back.

“What did you do?” she asks, awe colouring her naive voice.

“It’s just a simple plait sweetheart. I’ll teach you how to do it.”

“You will?” she asks her voice holding an incredible level of excitement. Oh to be so young and enthusiastic.

“Sure, we’ll practice and once you’re good, you can do my hair.”

Tia grins at me, her previous shyness apparently gone and I can’t help but grin back. God, she’s just so adorable. I catch Michael’s eye over the table and there’s a powerful emotion lurking in his eyes. “I love you,” he whispers fiercely to me across the table. I mouth back, “ditto,” and my eyes land on the tiny girl who so quickly stole my heart, eating at the dinner table with Michael and I hoisted up by some phonebooks on her seat and I can’t help but wonder if this is what life would be like if Michael and I were married and had a family. And I can’t stop the deep ache of longing that hits my heart.
***
Last edited by Rowedog on Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 23, 16th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:33 am

Ok, so if you don’t want to read all the shit I wrote in Liz’s psychology class, then don’t, PM me and I can summarize it for you. It’s kinda key to how Max is. I got all this information in a educational psychology class, so it’s correct as far as I know. I saved the powerpoint presentation and everything. Oh, and that lesson is where I got the inspiration for this fic, so... I’m proof that education can actually be worthwhile, it got you this fic, didn’t it?

Destinyc
Azure-
Ha, I think he’ll have an aneurism.
MetallicaGeek
Eve
DayDreamer23-
I don't think Tia could be any cuter
Good, that was my aim :D
Dmb-
hoping that maybe someday you'll bring back "Space They Cannot Touch"
Groan. I’m working on it... slowly. I do plan to come back to it, it’s just a touch overwhelming thinking about how much I’d have to write for it. I’m glad you like this one though, I have a bit of affection for it too. :wink: I hope you have time to come back for real one day, hope real life stops sucking for you.
BB
RoninBehr
Keepsmiling7
Ginger
Novy-
Beautiful stuff. I think it's one of my favourite part thus far. Definitely my favourite Candy moment.
Awww... thanks Novy. How can you not like little kids though? It’s like not liking puppies and rainbows. :|
Steph
Natalie36

Part Twenty Four

‘I'm tired from exploring you
I'm sorry you've had some scary days
I'm lucky, they had me on a leash
Exposing, sometimes you frighten me

And it's too bad
You're so sad
I wish you could have had what I had

I'm loathing most of your history
Hesitation, but then you siphon me
Your potential, well I'll indulge in that
Violent timing explains the aftermath

And it's so sad,
It's too bad
Maybe I can make you feel better
Oh maybe I'm supposed to make you feel better

I want to comfort you

Unlike you I had it easy
You're dark blue
Stained from previous days’
Dark Blue by No Doubt


***

Maria’s POV
We put Tia to bed, but not before I ‘absolutely-double-swear-promise’ to come back again really soon. I think she likes me. I can’t help but grin as I contemplate that.

I notice the total absence of a bedtime story, but wait till we’re out of the room to comment on it.

Michael closes the door and I turn to him. “So, where do you keep her books? Or do you borrow some from the library?”

“What books?” asks Michael in confusion.

I gape at him in amazement. “Michael! You have to read her books! It’s like the biggest rule in child care. You read your child books.”

Michael’s eyebrows knit together. “Why’s it so important to read her books?”

“It’s so that she can read by the time she gets to school,” I explain slowly, feeling a little dazed by the conversation we’re having. How does he not know this?

“I thought that they were supposed to learn to read at school.”

My mouth hangs open in amazement. “Michael! The earlier you teach them the easier it is for them, you’re giving her a head start.”

Michael slumps, putting his head in his hands. “I’m so bad at this. I don’t know why I even thought I could do it.”

Ok, maybe I came across a little harsh there. I grab both of his hands in mine and pull them away from his face. “Michael, you are doing a great job. Don’t doubt that. You just need... a woman’s touch.”

“A woman’s touch?” he asks with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah,” I explain, gesticulating with my hands as I do whenever I need to explain something. “Michael you’re sweet, loving and you take good care of her, but you’re not her mom. Some things you just need a woman’s help with.”

“Oh yeah?” Michael loops his arms around me, pulling me into his chest. “And just which woman would be prepared to take on such a role?”

I grin at his teasing tone. “I’ll ask around.”

Michael drops his head, his intention obviously to kiss me, but my hands on his chest halt his slow descent.

“What?” he asks, looking a little confused.

“Michael, I’m getting her barbie dolls.”

Michael throws his head back and groans. “No. You’re not.”

“Michael, she won’t turn into a prissy bitch just because she has dolls. It’s the morals and values that you,” I punctuate my point with a sharp poke to his chest, “instil in her that will stop her from going down that avenue. So stop trying to force her to be a boy.”

“I’m not!”

I give him a level stare. “Michael, you bought her a truck to play with.”

“She likes trucks,” he protests balefully.

I raise a challenging eyebrow. “She likes dolls more.”

I can literally see the fight die in Michael’s eyes. “Ugh, fine, but if she turns into a prom queen I’m holding you personally accountable.”

“Hey now, I played with barbies and how hella cool am I?”

“That’s supposed to reassure me is it?”

“Shut up,” I giggle, pressing my lips to his, loving the feel of his hands clenching in my shirt as our tongues languidly stroke each others. I could just kiss him all day.
***

Liz’s POV
I stare open mouthed at Maria. “You’re kidding me! He takes care of his little sister? That is so cute.”

Maria shakes her head, a huge grin on her face. “You should see them together, Liz. It is unbelievably cute. I almost had an aneurism.”

“Why?” grunts Alex, brushing the crumbs off the corner of his mouth before he takes another bite of his sandwich. “What is it about dudes with babies that makes you chicks melt like ice cream in the microwave?”

“Ok, first off, not all guys and little kids have that winning cute combination. Saunders over there would not look cute with a baby. In fact, I’d be tempted to call social services if he got within one hundred yards of a child.”

Alex and I laugh as we secretly survey who Maria’s talking about. Abraham Saunders wears the same Star Wars shirt to school every day, has lank greasy hair, a permanent scowl and no friends. Alex bet against us in freshman year that one day he’d bring a gun to school and start shooting up the place. We have a little more faith in his sanity, but Alex keeps telling us that one day we’ll owe him ten bucks each, that is, if we’re not all dead.

“Then what makes a kid with Michael so adorable? Is it because he’s physically attractive?”

We both adamantly shake our heads.

“No, it’s because Michael’s so big and gruff. The thought of him giving her piggy back rides and playing dolls with her is just too cute to handle...” I sigh at the picture I’ve painted.

“O-oh,” says Alex, like he’s had a major breakthrough into our psyche. “I get it, you like to see him demean himself.”

“What?” Maria and I both stare at Alex like he’s lost his mind.

“You like to see him doing things that a normal man would find humiliating. You know, you’re no better than those guys who like to see the money shot on the girl’s face in porn.”

“Alex, you are one sick, twisted fuck, you know that?” Maria asks, laughing at him. “How the hell did we get from Michael caring for his kid sister to porno? Frankly, I don’t want to know how you made that connection.”

Alex throws up his hands in defence, his mouth twisted into an angry grimace that I don’t recall ever being on his face before. “I’m just saying that men playing with dolls is your gender’s money shot. You get us down on our knees and you take away our dignity, our pride and self respect. And right when you have us grovelling at your feet... you go fuck some asshole that treats you like shit and then brags about it the next day in the locker room.”

Maria and I exchange glances as Alex lowers his head into his hands. This is clearly not about Michael giving Tia piggy back rides. We simultaneously slide in closer to him and put our arms around him.

“We’re sorry about Leanna, Alex,” whispers Maria as she rests her head on his shoulder.

He shudders and I know he’s trying to reign in his tears. Even after all this time it still hurts him. Especially seeing as Leanna and Vincent are still enjoying their fling and publically flaunting it. They especially like to make out three lockers down from Alex’s for some sick thrill that I don’t want to understand.

“Try not to let it make you bitter, ok?” I whisper, nuzzling my nose into his shoulder. “We loved old Alex, despite his terrible taste in girls, and we’d miss him desperately if he disappeared.”

Alex nods and takes a further moment to collect himself. He sucks in a sharp breath and then straightens, our arms falling off of him. “So, it was cute?”

Maria nods and falls easily back into our conversation. “He cut up her food for her.”

I let out a little squeal and Alex ruffles my hair, laughing at me. I wonder how I didn’t notice Alex’s growing bitterness. I suppose it was because a lot of my attention has been focussed on Max. I feel insanely guilty for that and plan to keep a much closer eye on him than before. I owe him that, as a best friend.
***
I love psychology class. I love to see how people tick and what makes them the way they are. I smile at my next door neighbour, one of those friends you have because none of your friends are in this class and you’d hate to be a loner with no one to talk to.

“This week, we’ll be looking at the Attachment Theory, this theory is generally accredited to John Bowlby who was interested in becoming a teacher and noticed that on his teaching rounds at a school, one student was constantly following him. He was interested in what stemmed such behaviour and as such, created the Attachment Theory.”

Mrs Simms hands around the sheets that explain the theory and I cock my head to the side as I listen, intrigued by what she’s saying. I happen to really enjoy this subject, it makes sense of the world around me, and the scientist in me really appreciates that.

“Bowlby theorised that our early attachments are what shapes our future attachments. He said that what we experience with our significant parenting figures before we reac schooling age shapes who we are today and how we interact with people.”

I nod my head slightly in concurrence with her statement. Makes sense.

“Before we go any further, we should probably look at what attachment is. It’s the emotional tone that exists between the parent or guardian and the child. It’s a natural survival instinct. Children as young as one month can recognise their care giver and soon become experts at getting their attention. You’ve seen young children in supermarkets clinging tightly to their mother or father trying to get their attention. It’s no different.”

I laugh a little to myself. I’m certain I was one of those annoying kids that never left their parents alone for a split second. Hmm... I wonder what Max was like as a child...

Hold on a minute, did she just say that the parental experience we have before we go to school is what shapes our personal interactions? But, Max’s connection with his mother was... horrific at best. What would it mean if you had a crappy attachment with your parent? What does that mean for Max? She better tell me soon or I’ll go absolutely bonkers.

“But what does this early attachment predict in terms of the future?” Exactly what I want to know! “Often, it explains your characteristics, how you socially interact, your educational achievements and how you make subsequent attachments or relationships. For example, let’s just theorise for simplicity’ sake that your mother was the main caregiver and you had a healthy, loving relationship with her. Your interaction with her, though you may not know it, is actually being stored away as a sort of plan... do we have another word for this? Shelley?”

“A schema?”

“Yes, exactly, a schema. You store that away in your memory as a schema for future interactions with people. So when you meet someone, you use your past memories with your mother, which were healthy interactions and you use it to commandeer your present meeting. A sort of ‘How To’ guide, if you will.”

She stops to write ‘Secure Attachments’ and ‘Insecure Attachments’ on the board. “But let’s say that you didn’t have a secure attachment with your mother. Let’s say she ignored you, hurt you or that you found that her acceptance and love were conditional. What do you think might happen to you then? John?”

“You wouldn’t have a proper schema. You’d probably have difficulty interacting socially or making new attachments.”

“Excellent John. Now, people with secure attachments make up 70% of all people, and people with insecure attachments make up the other thirty and can fall in three different categories. Avoidant Attachment, Anxious Attachment and Disoriented or Disorganised Attachment. Avoidant Attachment makes up 20% of the population. These are people who have often gone to their parent to elicit help and have been constantly rebuffed, so that they have no confidence that their needs either emotional or physical will be met. As a result, they avoid making new attachments, as their name suggests and are often cold and aloof.”

Nope, not Max. Max is securely attached to me. And his family of course.

“Anxious attachment,” she continues. “Is when the child is uncertain as to whether the parent will be available to them. Love and acceptance are often used as a means of control to stop bad behaviour. This means that the child becomes anxious as stability of attachment is key to a child developing emotionally in a healthy way. These children who have anxious attachment are often clingy and exhibit anxious behaviours, like the name suggests. They differ from the avoidant attachment, by the ability to make new attachments, but are often terrified of the loss of that attachment and have poor self esteem.”

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

Fuck.

I lower my head into my hands and rub my palms into my eyes. Everything makes sense now. Max’s jealousy of Kyle, his possessiveness, his inability to take a compliment and his constant fear that I’ll leave him. Oh, this is just frigging great. My boyfriend is emotionally stunted. Fuck! I wish I could rip his fucking whore of a mother a new asshole. Some people need to be sterilised if all they’re going to do is fuck up their children’s lives. Is he always going to be like this? Is there no way to overturn it?

Mrs Simms, stops for a moment, wiping the chalk dust from her hands with a towel. “For those of you who want to be parents some day, can I please beg you to never, ever use the threat of abandonment as a way to stop your child’s bad behaviour? It is the worst thing you could ever do in terms of their development. Children need an unchallenged, secure attachment to develop emotionally.”

Turning back to the board, she writes up the third insecure attachment. “Disoriented or Disorganised attachment is often caused by extreme neglect. These cases are the really screwed up people. The ones who have no idea how to function in proper society and often need institutionalising.”

Well, at least he could be a lot worse. Whoever Max’s mother was at least gave him and Isabel a little attention and fed them.

“Often people who have suffered abuse in their childhoods will end up in abusive relationships, because it has been imprinted in them that this is normal behaviour and as such, can’t spot the warning signs that would have those of us from non-abusive backgrounds running.”

Well, at least Max doesn’t have to worry about that with me. I just hope Isabel doesn’t fall into that trap, though I’m not sure if their mother was ever violent with them, or just really neglecting.

“I must stress though, if you or someone you know has experienced a bad attachment, there are other factors that can overturn it.” Now she tells me, after I’ve spent a good half an hour stressing over it! “Often, a good relationship can replace the faulty schema that the child has adopted. This can be from a caring aunt, another parental figure or even a good teacher.”

Thank you Mr and Mrs Evans. You’ve saved my boyfriend. But I have to wonder just how much of the damage is irreversible?
***
“Hey gorgeous!”

I smile as best I can at my endearingly happy boyfriend after sitting through that psychology class. I wish that we didn’t have class together right now. I could use another period of distraction before having to face him.

I throw my arms around his neck as he bends down to kiss me and practically smother him in my need to get close to him. He doesn’t seem to mind that I’m overly enthusiastic in this embrace, in fact he seems to welcome it. We eventually come up for air and I bury my face in his chest locking my arms around him. I just want him to be ok. I just want for him to know that he doesn’t need to look for validation, that he’ll always be accepted by me. It breaks my heart to think of him hurting.

“Uh, Liz-” Max sounds a little confused by my overly emotional display.

I interrupt him. “You know I love you, right?”

The grin on his face that follows that statement mends my hurting heart a little. His next statement rips that progress away though. “Yeah. I still can’t quite believe it, though. Liz, what’s brought this on?”

Isn’t it ironic that my boyfriend’s the one with the anxious attachment issues and in my desperate attempt to make him feel validated, I’m the one coming off as needy? “Just... hormones.”

Not entirely untrue. It is that time of the month for me. I could be blowing this way out of proportion. I mean, just look at him. Does he look maladjusted to you? Dreamy, delectable and sexy? Yes. Emotionally unstable? No.

I am. I’m just freaking out because I love him and I worry about him. It’s perfectly normal. He’s probably more emotionally stable than I am and I’m no psychologist, what would I know about diagnosing? I should stop worrying and just enjoy being with him like any other normal person would.

His hands rest on the curve of my neck and his thumbs rub against the curve of my jaw as he presses a kiss to my forehead. “I’m sorry, how about we get you some chocolate? That always cheers Isabel up.”

I’m so delusional. There I am, worrying that Max is screwed up when he’s obviously far more mature and amazing than any other teenage boy that I have ever met.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 24, 18th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:38 am

I bought a tamagotchi the other day for nostalgia’s sake and I was horrified! They have all this new crap, like infrared connections, travel options and families. What happened to the good old fashioned, one at a time, tamagotchis where the coolest thing you could do was play that stupid game and wait for them to grow? This is bullshit! When we were kids we didn’t need all that fancy shmancy crap and we were better off for it! God, I’m getting old...

Oh and there’s a really gross bit up ahead. Seriously it makes me gag a little and I wrote it.

BB-
Poor Alex. He really needs some lovin' from a good woman.
I’ll get right on that.
Novy- Well, fair enough then. I know exactly what you mean, my mum works with some of the worst families in our area, with stuff that involves drugs, alcohol, mental problems that turn dangerous, physical abuse and in some cases, incest. And she has to see all these kids grow up and repeat the cycle and it breaks her heart. These people fuck up their kids’ lives and in turn they procreate at a young age and fuck up their subsequent children’s lives. There should be a test to see if you’re worthy of parenthood or not, and if you fail you get sterilised.
Ginger
Destiny-
I just love how you can weave such humorous moments into such painful scenarios
I think it’s called being bipolar, either that or I just can’t stay down long enough to really create some angst. :lol:
Tequathisy-
She shies away from physical contact which makes me wonder what happened to her before Michael got her away from her mother. (Or am I reading too much into that?)
Read as much into it as you want, but if you hit sexual abuse, take a step back. I couldn’t deal with writing a child dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse, it’d break my heart.
Eve- Max fits the profile too well for Liz to just ignore it, although she’d much rather pretend that he was fine. Yes, people do deal with trauma differently, but this is a scientific study proven to be a good general guide and besides, I wrote him knowing that he had anxious attachment.
Sunrise102- Yeah, Liz and Maria are hopefully going to break that cycle soon. Alex doesn’t need to fuck up Isabel any more than she already is.
DayDreamer23
Part Twenty Five

If love is a bolt from the blue
Then what is a bolt but a glorified screw
And that doesn’t hold me together

But for one crowded hour
You were the only one in the room
I sailed around all those bumps in the night
To your beacon in the gloom
I thought I had found my golden September
In the middle of that purple June
But that one crowded hour
Could lead to my wreck and ruin
One Crowded Hour by Augie March


***

Isabel’s POV
“Hey Liz!” I greet her happily as I enter the centre, arriving for my arts class.

“Hey!” she calls back, before turning to yell out the back door, “Maria! Isabel’s here!”

Maria quickly ducks through the door and graces me with a smile when she spots me. “Hey there chickadee! You here to meet Tia?”

I pause, trying to dredge that name up from my memory. I draw a blank. “Who?”

Liz fills me in on what I’m obviously missing. “Michael’s little sister. She’s about three years old and Maria’s in luuuuurve with her.”

“Really? I wasn’t aware that Michael had a little sister.”

Maria rolls her eyes and jumps up onto the bench of the front desk. “Neither did I until last night. I sort of forced his hand by showing up at his apartment. I think he thought it would turn me off or something. I happen to think she’s adorable, but Michael’s not particularly bright so I guess I can’t hold it against him.”

I let out a snort, hearing the underlying affection she holds for Michael in her tone. She’s so transparent. “Best to just forgive him I think. He is a guy after all.”

“True enough,” Maria says, before switching to a new topic. “Speaking of guys, how goes it with our obtuse best friend?”

Immediately my good mood dissipates. “Not so good.”

Liz’s face softens into a look of pity and Maria’s becomes frustrated.

Liz speaks first. “I’m sorry, Izzy.”

Maria slams her fist on the desk. “Where did we go wrong with that boy, Liz? I thought we raised him properly? I think you’ve been too soft on him.”

I laugh a little, appreciative of Maria’s attempt to lighten the mood.

“What’s he doing?” asks Liz, determined to get to the bottom of my problem with Alex. I don’t think it’s something that she can fix. I should just get used to the fact that Alex Whitman will never want me the way I want him. Which is fair enough I suppose, given my past. I wouldn’t want to taint him by association.

I exhale softly. “Avoiding me, for the most part.”

Maria snorts angrily. “What a dickbag.”

“Maria!” protests Liz, only to be silenced by an imperial wave of Maria’s hand.

“No Liz, I’ve had it up to here with him and his poor behaviour. I looked the other way when he hooked up with the hussy and I’ve been very patient with his heartbreak, but enough is enough. It’s time he were disciplined.”

Liz lets out a laugh and we both watch with fascination as she pulls out a ruler from the front desk and hops to her feet. She smacks the ruler into her palm menacingly. “Right, where is that boy? I’m gonna give him the butt whooping of a lifetime.”

Liz catches hold of her wrist and tugs her back. We exchange amused looks. “I agree, Alex is being really unfair to Isabel by avoiding her, considering that it was him who kissed her when he knew he shouldn’t have, but I don’t think violence is the answer here. We’ll have a talk to him later.”

My eyes widen in horror as I contemplate that idea. “No! Please... I...”

“We won’t mention you or the fact that he’s avoiding you,” Maria reassures me. “Believe me, this talk needs to happen. He’s turning into someone we don’t particularly like. Today he was actually bitter.”

My eyebrows draw together. “Bitter?” Alex has always been so... cheerful. So nice, so happy, so completely wonderful. I can’t imagine a bitter Alex. I don’t want to.

“I know! It’s like Leanna trampled on the best parts of Alex. And I for one won’t stand for it. We need him back.”

“We’ll be supportive though,” interjects Liz, warning laced into her tone. “He’s very hurt, Maria.”

“What do you take me for, Liz?” huffs Maria, offended by Liz’s presumption.

“Overly enthusiastic for the most part,” Liz says dryly, her attention then caught by the front door opening. “Oh my God, you were so right, Maria! That’s adorable!”

Both Maria and I turn to see Michael entering the centre with a little girl on his hip, her arms clutched tightly around his neck, her face pressed into his shoulder. I let out a little “Aww,” before I can stop myself, Michael as the protective big brother has to be the most amazingly cute thing I’ve ever seen.

“I know, right?” Maria gestures to them. “You see why I’m finding it hard to be mad at him?”

I certainly can. He drops down on a knee and unwinds her arms from his neck as she stares resolutely at the ground. He takes her hands in his and speaks softly to her. “Tia, we’re here.”

“I wanna go home,” she mumbles tearfully, tugging her hands out of his and putting her arms back around his neck, clinging tightly to him.

Michael takes a deep breath and we all watch in silence, the scene tugging at our heart strings. “I thought you wanted to come here? I thought you wanted to come see Maria?”

Tia loosens her hold on Michael slightly. “Mawia’s here?”

“Course I am poppet,” says Maria brightly. “You don’t think I’d just abandon you on your first day, did you?”

Tia lifts her head up from Michael’s neck and we all melt a little bit more at her tear stained face. Poor little precious.

“Will you stay wif me?” she asks, her voice trembling.

Michael’s just about to protest, but Maria cuts in first. “Of course I will, honey. I’ll take you around and you can meet all of my friends, ok?”

Michael shoots her a look and she glares a little at him. “There’s nothing to do around here anyway,” she whispers at him, hoping that Tia won’t hear.

“So will you say goodbye to Michael so he can set up his class?” Maria wheedles. “He’ll still be in the building and I can take you in for a visit later on.”

Tia nods and clings to Michael neck again for a moment before taking Maria’s outstretched hand.

Michael hurries off so that he can set up and Maria turns to us, her hands clasped firmly around Tia’s. “Ok sweety, these are two of my very good friends. This is Liz and the tall blonde one is Isabel.”

Tia gives us a little wave and presses herself in closer to Maria’s leg. We both bob down to her level.

“Hi Tia,” says Liz softly. “We’re very excited to have you here. I hope you enjoy it here and I hope that we can become good friends.”

Tia’s face disengages itself Maria’s leg and I catch a glimpse of wide brown eyes. “Hi sweetheart, are you excited about making new friends? I know you’re going to make a tonne.”

She shrugs a little and attempts a smile, her head caught between its natural inclination to stare at the floor and her desire to look at us. She seems to be staring at our kneecaps. I feel a pang of solidarity for her. I used to be her.

“Ok honey, let’s take you to meet Miss Anna. She’s going to look after you while you’re here.”

Maria heads off, Tia sticking closely by her side and I turn back to Liz. I take a deep breath before I begin, I have no idea how to start this. “So, we haven’t really talked since the dinner last week...”

Liz nods and luckily she seems to know where I’m headed. “Yeah, hey I’m sorry to lay all that stuff on you in the kitchen. I had just assumed that Max told you that I knew.”

I give her a little rueful smile. “Max’s attention span when he’s around you isn’t the best. He probably didn’t even think to tell me about it.”

“Do you mind?” she asks earnestly and I take a deep breath. I’ve thought about this a lot.

“Yes and no.” She nods a little and waits for me to explain. “I don’t like that Max told you my background without my permission. I feel a little betrayed actually. I’ve never told anyone and I wanted to be able to choose the first person I confided in. I kinda feel that that was taken away from me.”

I take another deep breath and begin again. “But I’m glad that it was you he told. I feel like I can be myself without the constant fear that you’re going to see through this massive charade I’ve built my life around. I feel like you and Maria are the closest things to real friends I’ve ever had and to be able to talk openly about pretty much anything to you is much more than I could ever have hoped for. I never expected anyone to know about our past and to accept us. I feel kinda blessed.”

She stares at me in shock and I wonder if maybe she doesn’t really see me as a friend. She probably only likes me because I’m Max’s sister. I try to stop the grinding pain in my heart and remind myself that it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. People either like me because of my brother or because of the way I look. It’s just the way things are. “Sorry if freaked you out,” I mutter.

“You didn’t,” she laughs, taking me by surprise. “You just took me a bit by surprise. Maria and I think you’re awesome, but we didn’t know if you only talked to us because of that English assignment and because I’m dating Max.”

I shake my head adamantly. “Oh, no! That’s not it at all!”

“Good,” she laughs again. “Because we were debating on whether or not inviting you to our next girls night would be seen as too forward.”

“A girls night?” I ask, my heart leaping in my chest at the thought. A real girls night...

“Did you want to come?” she asks hopefully.

“Yes!” I squeak out. I want nothing more. Ok, so maybe that’s not true, but the one thing I want more than to be close friends with Maria and Liz is avoiding me at the moment and what I want from him doesn’t have a hope in heck of eventuating.

Liz’s smile is large and seems genuine. “Excellent. Are you free this Friday night after the game?”

I nod ecstatically and am just about to thank her profusely when our moment is ruined by the arrival of my brother.
***

Max’s POV
I sneak up behind my girlfriend and place my hands over her eyes. “Guess who?”

She snorts a little, knowing exactly who’s behind her. “Gary? I thought I told you, my other boyfriend will be here soon, you’d better leave.”

I let my hands drop from her face and sigh in false sadness. “Poor Gary, he can never catch a break.”

She pinches my nipple and winks at me. “That’s ‘cause you’re always around.”

I flinch away from her and rub my chest, which is still stinging. “Ow, damn Liz, that was vicious! I should call you needle fingers.”

She smirks at me. “It’d probably be more appropriate than the other nicknames you’ve given me.”

I laugh a little as I run through them in my head. Sexy Nympho and Moaning Myrtle aren’t exactly usable in polite company. The second one is slightly better, but the reasons behind it are definitely not G-Rated.

I hear a cough and am dragged out of my Liz haze by my sister who is looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to acknowledge her presence. I flush a little, embarrassed by my lack of awareness. “Hey Izzy. How you doing?”

“Great, thanks for asking,” she replies dryly. “You know, you interrupted our conversation.”

I look between her and Liz and then hold up my hands in a placating gesture. “By all means, proceed.”

She narrows her eyes at me. “Well, you’ve ruined it now. It was a private conversation.”

“Yeesh, I’ll go, I know when I’m not wanted.”

Izzy laughs at my affronted tone but then her laughter stops abruptly and the smile slides of her face. I turn, trying to find the origin of her discomfort, but only see a bunch of people arriving for Michael’s art class.

“Hey Alex,” greets Liz, some odd sort of tension in her voice. I’m not understanding the undercurrents in this greeting. I thought Alex was Liz’s best friend, what’s going on here? “Haven’t seen you in art class for a while.”

Alex gives her a tense smile as we all stand around awkwardly. Isabel seems intent on staring at the floor. “Well, I’ve decided to get back into the swing of things. I’m feeling very artistic today.”

“In that case can you paint me a nude of Mrs Morgan?” asks Liz teasingly, seemingly trying to break the awkwardness that for some reason seems to have a hold on us.

Alex gives Liz her first genuine smile. “I’ll paint it with my tongue.” He pokes the absurdly long appendage out of his mouth and waggles it around in the air obscenely.

“Sounds great, but you guys better get to class,” Liz says with a wag of her finger. “You wouldn’t want a detention from Mr Guerin. He makes you clap erasers.”

They both wave goodbye and I ponder Isabel’s strange silence. She didn’t say a word that whole exchange. I guess I didn’t either, but I was too busy observing the weirdness to really partake in it.

As soon as they’re gone, I turn to Liz for answers. “What the hell was that?”

“What?” she replies innocently. Far too innocently. “What are you talking about?”

“What was all that weirdness with Alex?”

Liz shrugs, feigning ignorance. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I continue on with my path of questioning, not put out by her refusal to talk. “And what does it have to do with my sister?”

Liz stiffens and I know that I’ve hit pay dirt. She’s silent for a moment, obviously weighing up the best response to give me.

“Max, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” is her eventual answer.

“Tell me,” I beg.

She sighs and I gloat knowing that she’s about to relent. “If you want to know, ask your sister. It’s not my story to tell.”

I let out a huff, knowing that that’s all I’m going to get out of my tight lipped girlfriend. I don’t want to ask Isabel. She probably won’t tell me.

She smiles brightly at me as I scowl. “Now, are we getting out of here or what? I’m actually off work, you don’t have basketball practice for once, your sister’s in art class and your parents are out of town. Frankly, I think we’re wasting valuable time.”

I swallow nervously and lead her out to my jeep. While I do want to be with Liz in the intimate way she’s implying, I don’t want the horrendous flashbacks that are bound to come with it. I’ve been having them consistently since we first became intimate and I thought that I could control them, but they’re starting to control me. I’ve even started to avoid intimate situations with her, much to my own self disgust. But I know that I can’t tell her. I can just imagine her reaction at hearing that our intimacy brings up such revolting memories for me. She’d be absolutely mortified that I connect such base, degrading acts with what we do together. It’s my cross to bear.
***
“Oh God, Liz...” I moan as her hands skim over my back, and clutch at my sides. I rock into her with greater urgency, feeling the build up inside of me growing greater and greater. Her cries are getting louder in my ears and all of a sudden I feel her climax around me, her muscles contracting and pulling me deeper. It sparks off my own climax, but just as that happens, I’m hit with another memory.

He walks into the bathroom, wanting to go the toilet. He’s managed to find a little box that he uses to climb up onto the toilet seat, because his Mommy won’t take him even though he’s too small to get up on the seat by himself.

He pauses in the doorway, not quite sure what he’s seeing. His mommy seems to be peeing on a man who’s lying on the tiled floor.

“You like that, you dirty fucker?” cackles Max’s mom as she empties her bladder on the man’s chest. The man groans out an affirmative, then raises his hand to rub the urine down his abdomen, before licking his index finger. His other hand drops to his groin and clasps his stiff penis. He begins to rub.

Max doesn’t wait to see anymore, he runs the opposite direction.


I collapse into her neck as she shudders around me, thankful that she didn’t notice my preoccupation a moment before. I bite back tears as I press my face into the curtain of her hair knowing that this is the last time we’ll be like this for a while. I now know I can’t do this anymore. There’s no way I can continue on like this.

But I don’t know how to tell her.
***

Isabel’s POV
Michael leaves and I let Alex exit the room before I leave. I think it’s good manners to allow him a chance to escape so that we don’t leave at the same time and feel forced to talk to one another. I’m not going to force myself on him.

After a couple of minutes I exit and pass the female bathroom, only to hear sobs echo from within the empty room. My curiosity gets the better of me. I poke my head around the door frame and spot Tia crying in the corner.

Almost instantly I rush across the room to find out what’s wrong. “Tia? What’s wrong sweetie? Are you hurt?”

She shakes her head and hiccups. “I went to doe find Mitael but I dot lost...”

I feel my heart break for this poor little girl. There’s nothing worse than that lost feeling you get when you’re a kid. “Oh sweetheart, it’s ok.”

“And I’m spose to doe home wif Mawia, but she said she needed the bafroom, so I came in here, but she’s not in here!” She lets out a wail as she finishes her sentence and I let out a soft sigh. Poor thing, it’s horrible to feel forgotten.

“Tia, by the time you got in here, Maria was probably already on her way back to the daycare room to see you. She wouldn’t just leave you. In fact,” I get up and hold out my hand to her. “She’s probably going out of her mind wondering where you are. How about we go find her?”

Tia takes my hand shyly and I lead her out of the bathroom into the main hall. This centre isn’t really huge, but it’s big enough for a small girl like Tia to get lost. I smile as I hear Maria’s panic stricken voice call out for Tia.

“I’ve got her Maria, she’s safe,” I call back, hearing Maria’s footsteps pounding up the hall towards me. She rounds the corner and a look of massive relief crosses her face. She quickly drops to her knees and hauls Tia into a hug.

“Oh my God, sweetie, I was so worried! Where did you go?”

Tia starts to cry a little again as she recounts her tale. “I dot lost tryin to find Mitael and den I went in da bafroom but you weren’t in dere.”

“That’s where you were all this time? The bathroom?” Maria looks a little exasperated, but mainly relieved that Tia’s safe and sound.

Tia nods and wipes the back of her hand across her wet eyes. “Uh hunh.”

“I’m just glad you’re safe. You know, you scared Miss Anna and I when you disappeared. We thought something horrible had happened to you.”

Tia looks a little abashed. “I wanted to see Mitael...”

“And you couldn’t wait till I came back?” she asks gently, not trying to make Tia feel bad, but to point out that she can’t just walk away whenever she feels like it. There are too many bad people in this world who would be willing to take advantage of a three year old girl.

Tia hangs her head in shame and Maria hugs her tightly again. “Honey, you terrified me. Can you promise never to do that again? Next time you want to go see Michael, just ask me or Miss Anna and we’ll take you to him, ok?”

Maria looks up at me and gives me a smile. “Thanks Iz. I was going out of my mind.”

I wink back at her as she stands up, grasping Tia’s hand firmly in hers. “No problem. Just put a bell on her next time.”

“I’m thinking a tracking device,” she replies glibly. “I’ll see you soon. We still on for the girls night?”

I give her a huge smile. “Definitely.”

She returns my smile and then looks down at Tia. “Ok, honey, you’ve got to go apologise to Miss Anna. She was very worried for you.”

They wander off and I can’t help but see a lot of myself in that little girl.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 25, 21st Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:09 am

Ugh… I’m in pain. I just got back on a horse for the first time in about three years because my Shetland pony was being a little shit for the little girl who came for a ride, so I hopped on to knock the stuffing out of her. And now I am in massive, massive amounts of pain, my legs in particular hate me.
Good news is that it’s like riding a bike, you never forget how. I still rock at it! It’s possibly the only thing I’m really competent in. I may suck at life, but I can ride like a mofo.

Jan
Sunrise102-
And finally, ewwwwwwwww ok that made me want to throw up in my mouth a little.
I said I was sorry :( I only put them in for purposes of the plot, in fact I actually toned it down. You don’t want to know what I had her doing originally...
Somewhere87
Novy
BB-
I wonder what Michael would think of being considered so cute.
Probably not good things :lol:
Ginger
Destiny
Ronin
Dmb-
This is an actual word for word quote of what I said when I saw the length of your feedback: “Whoa! Fuck me!”
Yes, I said it out loud. I was pretty flabbergasted, kinda humbled too that you put so much thought and effort into it. Seeing as you put a lot of effort in, I’ll address a few of your queries.
Sexual abuse: aside from exposing Isabel and Max to disgusting sexual acts far too early in their lives, there was no sexual abuse, (although I would also classify it as a form of sexual abuse) but no direct sexual abuse. Maybe there would have been, maybe she would have sold her kids to a paedophilic customer had she not had a parole officer who visited regularly. She recognised it as a jailable offense and stayed clear of that one.
Physical abuse: While I have no doubt that Max’s mother knocked them around a bit, being a crack addict and all, she never went completely gonzo on them. What Max was referring to was that all she seemed to bring everyone around her was pain. She liked to hurt people and Max saw himself in her when he took his rage out on Travis.
Liz’s Insecurities: Believe me, teasing can take its effect, especially at a young age. If you’re told you’re not good enough to hang out with the popular people, after a while that’s what you believe. So Liz is just another person a little traumatised by her schooling and frankly, with Pam and Travis around, who could blame her for being a little insecure. I wouldn’t worry about her, she’s awesome compared to the Evans’. And Max’s love for her has repaired a lot of that, it’s been a while since she’s really considered herself unworthy of Max’s affection (actually, I may be wrong there, maybe it’s just been a while from where I’m up to in the story, which is about part thirty one, I’m fucking rocketing through this story. I kinda want to get it done before next week when I go back to school).
Max’s Virgin Status Pre Liz: She knows. I forgot to write it, but she knows. Although they joked about it at the beginning, she knew that he was just joking. He’d never dated before her and she knows that he holds intimacy in high esteem and would never have casual sex.
But now that Leanna is history, once Alex gets over his hurt perhaps he’ll see who’s been there waiting for him (Isabel) and come around to requiting her feelings for him...hopefully the sooner the better.
I think you’ll really like the part I’m writing right now... ;)
Oh, and about the train wreck you feel coming? Don’t worry, Captain Alison’s driving this mother, I’d never crash it into a wall.
Part Twenty Six

‘Tears stream
Down your face
When you lose something
You cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try
To fix you’
Fix You by Coldplay


***

Maria’s POV
I open the door to Michael’s apartment with the key he gave me and dump the heavy bag on the floor. I gently lower Tia to her feet and pinch her cheek. She blushes adorably and I turn to close the door and lock it behind me.

“Ok sweets, I have a couple of things for you...” I let my voice trail off suggestively and I grin when her face lights up.

My mom helped me compile this bag, while she’s not entirely thrilled with me becoming something of a surrogate mother, she is however extremely impressed with Michael. Since my father abandoned both of us, Michael taking in his three year old sister and working hard to provide for her has Mom just about worshipping at his feet. So as such, she can’t really be too mad at me taking an interest, plus her heart just about breaks for this little girl who has practically no one besides Michael to care for her. Which is why she took such trouble to sort through our catastrophically messy garage to find all my old stuff. It’s her way of saying that she cares.

I reach into the oversized bag and pull out a rectangular box that I happen to know is stuffed full of old barbies and their clothes. I place the box in front of her and she stares at it for a moment until I urge her to open it. I don’t think she’s received many things in her short lifetime. She kneels down and whips the lid off and her face is picture of amazed shock as the messy jumble of doll paraphernalia meets her eyes.

“Do you like them, sweety?” I ask joining her on the floor she continues to stare at the open box.

“Are dey... mine?” she asks softly.

“From now on honey, they’re yours,” I assure her, stroking a hand down her hair. The motion is what breaks her stillness. She begins to cry and throws herself in my arms. I think the excitement and gratitude overwhelmed her. It’s such a little body to hold such big emotions.

“I’ve neber had dolls before,” she sobs clinging to my neck. “Tank you.”

“Oh honey, it was the least I could do.” I pull back a bit from her after she’s calmed down somewhat and ask her if she wants to see what else I’ve got in my bag. She nods enthusiastically, rubbing her red eyes.

“Now this is something I used to have in my room,” I tell her as I hold up a hot pink comforter with matching pillow slips.

“It’s pink!” she giggles excitedly

I wink at her. “Michael won’t know what hit him. We’ll make your bed in a minute, but I have something in here from my Mom.”

Tia stiffens and hunches in automatic response and I wonder just what I said to cause that reaction. “Honey, what’s the matter?”

She shakes her head and won’t look at me. I drop to my knees in front of her and smooth back her hair. “Sweetheart, if you don’t tell me what’s wrong I can’t try and fix it.”

Her lower lip trembles and it just about kills me. I wait impatiently for her answer.

“My Mommy wasn’t nice.”

I just about hit myself in the head. Well, duh. Tia has never experienced what it’s like to have a real Mom, so no wonder her perception of them is bound to be a little skewed. She probably expects the present to be rat poison or coal or something. I sit crosslegged on the floor and pull her gently onto my lap with a sigh, trying to give her the physical affection she’s missed out on over the years. “Honey, your Mom wasn’t a nice person. You know how some people are good and some people are bad? You unfortunately got a bad Mommy. Most Moms are nice and my mommy...” I tickle her a bit, delighted to hear a giggle. “My Mommy is the best. She loves me very much and she was very sad to hear that your Mommy was mean to you, which is why she got you...” I reach into the bag and pull out the oversized fluffy teddy bear that’s just about bigger than Tia. “This.”

Like the barbies before it, the pale lavender teddy bear produces the same reaction in Tia, except doubled. Mom clearly feels horrified over the situation because she went out and found one of the biggest cuddliest bears she could in an effort to overcompensate for the lack of toys and generosity in Tia’s life. Michael’s money is pretty tight and he’s lucky to survive on what he does, let alone with Tia to support as well, so toys are a luxury he’s had to make do without.

“For me?” she asks incredulously, making my smile widen. It’s about time this kid realised that she’s worthy of all the things that other kids have and take for granted.

“Of course, what are you going to call it?”

She shakes her head, overwhelmed with the amount of stuff she’s just been given and I let the question go, allowing her time to adjust. She sinks her head into the plush toy, cuddling it and I loop my arms around both her and the teddy, hugging them both.

And what scares me is how right it feels. Tia already feels like a key part of my life and I wonder what I’m going to do when I graduate next year. How could I ever bear to leave her?
***

Isabel’s POV
“Hey Izzy,” my Mom calls out as I step through the front door. “How was the girl’s night?”

I find her in the kitchen washing dishes and I take a seat at the kitchen table. “It was so awesome. So unbelievably awesome.”

Mom turns and smiles at me, surveying my mood in all her Mommish wisdom. “I’m glad sweetheart. It’s such a relief to finally see you with some nice friends, ones that you can be yourself around.”

“I know,” I find myself unable to stop smiling. “It’s so amazing because Liz knows and it’s like she doesn’t care. Wait, that’s wrong, she does care, she cares about how it’s affected me, but it doesn’t change the way she is around me.”

Mom lets the scrubbing brush fall into the sink, strips off her rubber gloves and joins me at the table. “What about Maria? Did you enjoy being around her?”

“Yeah, and strangely enough I think I could tell her about my past and I don’t think she’d care either. She’d be horrified and sympathetic, but I don’t think she’d look at me in disgust or treat me any differently. I kinda feel like I want to tell her.”

Mom takes my hand between hers and smiles beatifically. “It’s such a relief to hear you say that, Izzy. You and Max never talk about your past and I think that’s unhealthy, so I’m so glad you’ve finally found someone to confide in outside of your own family. I’m so glad that you actually want to confide in someone.”

I shrug, unable to break Mom’s good mood by explaining that there is so much that I couldn’t bring myself to tell either girl. So much that I can’t bear to think of myself, let alone express.

Unlike Max, who claims not to remember anything about our childhood before our parents took us in, I remember all of it. I remember the multitude of times our mother got wasted in front of us, I remember the slaps and punches, I remember every time we accidentally walked in on our mother and one of her johns, I remember being hungry and cold and scared. But most of all I remember the beating one of her clients gave us, the one that put us both in hospital.

And I can never, ever talk about it with another person. How is anyone going to relate to that? Why would anyone want to?
***

Alex’s POV
“Good morning Alex,” greets my two friends brightly as the sun glares into my sleep deprived eyeballs. I wince and throw up an arm to block the light coming through.

“It’s eight in the morning on a Saturday. What are you doing here?”

They push past me into my hallway and Maria answers my question. “Good morning to you too, Mr Grumpy. We have decided that today is ‘Moving On’ day. Isn’t that great?”

“Moving on from what?” I ask, my brain still not firing off all cylinders.

“Your slut of an ex-girlfriend,” replies Liz casually as she takes a seat next to the fireplace and begins to stack logs in there.

“Wh-what? Liz...” I’m failing to comprehend them and my confusion only grows when Liz attempts to light the fire with some matches she whisks out of her pocket. “Why are you lighting a fire? This is New Mexico, not Alaska.”

Liz’s reply is flippant. “We’re going to exorcise her from your life and that requires burnage.”

“Guys,” I protest, horrified at the thought of burning all my little keepsakes. “I’m over her.”

“Is that why you still have a picture of her up in your locker?” I start guiltily, wondering how they saw that. “Don’t worry, I took it when you weren’t looking. It’ll be in the burn pile too.”

“You what?” I demand, my heart rate going up. I’m not ready for this.

“Alex, do you enjoy feeling like crap?” Maria asks me bluntly.

I don’t answer her.

“Don’t you think it’s time you moved on?” Liz suggests softly.

“I’ll do it on my own time. I don’t need you two harpies getting on my back about it,” I snap, feeling like a prize asshole when they both recoil from me. I’ve never taken that tone with them before. I’ve never wanted to before.

“Wow, Alex...” says Maria, with a hurt look that makes me feel like dirt. “Gotta say I’m not loving the new you.”

Liz begins to gather up her stuff wordlessly and I cringe. I don’t need to alienate the two girls in my life who have never let me down over some bitch that damn near crushed me without remorse or regret.

“Wait,” I call out as they go to leave. “Don’t go... I’m sorry. That was really rude of me.”

“Yeah,” agrees Maria sadly. “It was.”

“I just... I don’t know if I’m ready to let go.”

“We know Alex,” says Liz with more sympathy than I deserve. “But it’s time you did. Do you like who you’re becoming, who she’s turning you into?”

I shake my head wordlessly and Liz resumes her position on the floor, trying fruitlessly to get the fire to start. That is, until Maria hands her the packet of fire starters situated on the mantelpiece.

I sigh reluctantly and take a seat next to them. “What makes you so sure that this will work?”

Liz and Maria both bear the same smug smile as they hear my acceptance. “I saw it on that show with K-Fed’s ex where they help people get over their exes.”

I snort at Maria’s explanation. “Oh well that fills me with confidence.”

“Shush your mouth boy, now go get all the crap that reminds you of her.”

I reluctantly return to my room and pull out my shoebox that contains all the pictures, notes and little things that remind me of our time together. I still don’t know if I’m ready to let go of her, I only know that I need to.

I sit on the floor sweating slightly from the heat of the blaze. “So what now?”

“Take out an item and describe what it was.”

I shrug and reach in, grabbing a piece of lined loose leaf paper. It was a conversation we’d had during class one day. “We wrote this right after we first started going steady. She told me that she’d never felt this way before.” I snort loudly. “Clearly that was a lie, she has no feelings.”

I toss the piece of paper in the flames and watch it shrivel with an immense sense of satisfaction. I feel Liz’s hand on my shoulder and am grateful for the support. I’ve spent however many months feeling that no one gave a shit about me and that I was worthless, so seeing Liz and Maria’s determination on getting me better gives me a fresh perspective. Just because she didn’t care about me doesn’t mean that others can’t or won’t.

I pull out a dried flower, its petals hanging on by a loose thread. “I picked this for her. She didn’t give a shit, she left it in the Crashdown booth after we’d eaten.”

I toss it in the fire and watch it blacken and smoulder. I pull out another item and it quickly goes in the flames. I feel the familiar anger and resentment build up and instead of pushing it back like I usually do, I embrace it by flinging the box sharply into the flames, feeling a sweet sense of relief when it curls up, bubbles and disintegrates before my eyes.

I feel Maria’s arm come around my shoulder and that’s when I lose it. I break down into tears for what seems to be the millionth time. But this time it’s not from the hurt or the betrayal or the bitterness, it’s from the sadness of saying goodbye to everything I thought she was and everything I’d hoped we’d be.

It’s all gone.
***

Max’s POV
“Liz,” I pant as she mauls my neck. “Please, we have to stop.”

Her hand stills over my arousal, which even in having I’m aware is a complete contradiction of my words.

“Why?”

I am in complete agony right now. Not only because I’m primed and ready for action, but because I’m hyper aware that this conversation we’re about to have is very likely going to hurt her. I’ve been keeping something huge from her and have been ever since we started becoming intimate.

“I- I just...” I glance down to her hand which is still covering my groin. She notices with a blush and removes her hand quickly. “Maybe... maybe we’re moving too fast.”

“This is something you should have perhaps brought up before our first time, Max,” Liz says dryly, not entirely believing me.

“I know.” I swallow thickly, my gaze avoiding hers.

The small smile drops from her face as she finally realises that I’m completely serious. “You’re not kidding are you?”

I shake my head and keep my eyes trained on the floor.

“Max...” the confusion and hurt in her voice kills me. “I don’t understand. Are you saying that you regret what we’ve done?”

“No, I don’t...” I shake my head, desperate for a way to explain this to her that won’t hurt her. I lead her over to her bed and I sit, facing her and take her hands between mine. “Liz, I love you, it’s just that...” I expel a large breath, wishing like mad that I could be the boyfriend that Liz wants me to be. Wishing that I could love her without screwing it up because of who I am. “When we’re together... intimately... I get these... repressed memories of my childhood. And I don’t want to taint what we do together through association with that. I just need to get them back under control.”

I can’t look at her right now. I don’t need to look at her to tell she’s hurting. There’s a pregnant pause that twists at my insides for every microsecond that it occurs.

Her voice is very soft when she speaks. “How long has this been going on?”

I swallow again. “Ever since we...”

“Our first time?” I can hear the tears in her voice. I am such a fucking asshole.

I can’t respond verbally, so I nod in confirmation then sink my head in my hands.

“What do you see?”

“Huh?” I bring my head back up to look at her in confusion. She looks like she’s been slapped, so hurt and shocked. I can’t blame her.

She wets her lips, her face a mask of sadness that I hate knowing that I’ve put there. “Those memories. What do you see in them?”

“Just... my Mom and...” I let out an exasperated sigh, not wanting to even think about those memories. “Liz, I don’t want to go into it, ok?”

She seems undeterred, which I can’t blame her for I guess. “Did you ever consider the reason that you have these memories is because you haven’t dealt with your past?”

I turn to look at her, wondering just when it was that she spoke with both my parents and my therapist.

“Look, I don’t need this from you, ok? I get this enough from my family and from my therapist. It’s in the past, it should stay there.”

She looks at me sadly. “But it’s not in the past if you’re reliving it now, Max.”

I turn away from her, hating this conversation we’re having. “It’s my problem, I’ll deal with it.”

“But it’s not just your problem, Max!” She grasps my face in her hands, turning it towards her and I cringe when I see the unshed tears in her eyes. “This affects your mother, your father, your sister and it affects me. It’s our problem too because we love you. God, Max! It’s getting in the way of our relationship. It’s stopping you from living your life like you want to. Don’t you think that you should try to start fixing it? Because God knows, ignoring it hasn’t helped at all.”

I wince as the truth of her words hits me. I can’t do anything right. I knew I’d end up hurting her just by being who I am. “Just...” I stop and sigh, knowing that I owe it to her to try and fix this. “I’ll think about it, ok?”

She seems to be satisfied with the answer, I think sensing that this is the most she can get from me today. At least for now. “Thank you, Max.”

I broach the original subject again, not wanting to, but somehow feeling as if I had to. Just to make sure. “And... you’re sure that your ok with us... not being... intimate?” Ugh. Great choice of words, Max. Stellar.

She takes on this wounded look and I wonder just how many times I can fuck up today. “Max, it’s not like you’re my personal dildo. Sex isn’t the only thing that’s keeping us together. If you need a break and to sort yourself out, then I can wait. What do you think I am, some sort of... desperate, nympho whore?”

“NO!” I reply quickly, completely horrified by her description. That is, until I notice the tiny smile. She’s joking with me. Thank Christ. “That wasn’t nice. Don’t joke about that.”

“I’m sorry. Come here.” She goes to put her arms around me, but then halts. “This is ok, right? I can still touch you and all that stuff?”

I pull her into my lap and wrap my arms around her waist tightly. “Yes. Hugging, kissing and making out are all ok. I just think we should kinda... keep it above the belt. Just until I sort stuff out.”

“Yessir.” She salutes me and my heart tightens with love for her. She’s making light of it, just for me, even though I can tell she’s upset and disappointed. I truly don’t deserve her.
***

Liz’s POV
As soon as Max leaves I collapse face first onto the bed and let loose the tears I couldn’t let him see. I have never felt so dirty before. And that compounded with the fact that Max has only been with me intimately because I wanted it, because I was so horny that I couldn’t even tell that he was preoccupied and not enjoying it.

I let loose my sobs into the comforter and try to block it all out. I don’t want to think about this.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 26, 23rd Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:52 pm

Umm... hey, those of you feeling bad for Alex, things are going to get better from here on in! Yaysies! Oh and I happen to love Salad Fingers, but I know that he scares the shit out of a lot people, so don’t look him up if you don’t like a good deal of creepiness. I happen to find it really funny.

Novy- Yeah, I reckon the horses at your camp would have been a little bit more placid than mine. Cibby tried to rear and buck me off. Too bad for her she’s such a tiny thing, she didn’t stand a chance. Hehe.
Eve
Sunrise102-
Alex is letting go of the bitch from hell. But who knows how long before taking the blinders off and really seeing Iz
Ummm, I’m not a very patient person. I gave him a long time to get over Leanna, because I didn’t think it was realistic to have him bounce back and fall in love with Isabel straight away. Can you say rebound? But now that he’s a bit better...
BB
Dmb-
First off, I hope you're not in as much pain from your horseback riding...
Nah, I was just being a whinger. For all the pain I was in it didn’t stop me from getting on the next day and having another ride. It’s the good kind of pain, you know? The ache in your muscles that tells you you’ve done something that’s worked them hard. It’s mainly in my inner thighs and calves, more so in my inner thighs. You tend to use your calves a lot in normal life, but not so much your inner thigh muscles, so they’re protesting louder at actually being used. Plus Cibble is a Shetland pony, her trot is like a jackhammer. Luckily for me I can do a killer sitting trot, but rising would have killed my legs.
I got your cyber hug, thank you for that :) .
Ok I just feel completely stupid that I missed that but of course now I totally see it and get it! And it makes total sense to me!
That was probably my fault, I didn’t actually write it in the part, I just left you to your own devices and scuttled off merrily. Like a crab. A big, hairy crab.
He actually told her a lot more a lot sooner than I thought he might
Don’t underestimate how much Max hates those repressed memories... he’d do pretty much anything to get rid of them.
Steph
Chanks_girl-
I’m glad this story got you thinking so much! You’ve forgotten Michael though... he had exactly the same mother as Tia and was in her care for a year and a bit longer than Tia was. Then his foster father beat him. He went from one bad situation to the next and no one has ever come through for him before Maria. His problems may not be so ostentatious, but they’re there.
Laira- Here’s some more for you :P
Part Twenty Seven

‘Girls like that,
Girls like that don’t go for guys like us,
I still want to see the facts
But she says she’s serious.’
Girls Like That by Custard


***

Max’s POV
“My tummy box feels broken,” complains Maria as we sit together at a booth while the two girls have lunch breaks during work.

For some reason, Liz seems horrified by what Maria’s just said. “Shut. Up. You know that Salad Fingers scares the shit out of me.”

Maria laughs heartily, then winces as her joviality upsets her stomach. “What’s wrong Mr Fingers? Do you not like my mouth words?”

Liz holds her hands over her ears. “Shut up, shut up, shut up! I’m going to have nightmares tonight because of you.”

“What’s going on?” I ask, not understanding the reference.

“Liz has an irrational fear of an internet cartoon,” explains Maria, ignoring Liz’s snort at the word irrational. “Alex is obsessed with it, I think it’s hilarious, but Liz hates it.”

“It’s the creepy music and the fact that he’s a hardcore weirdo. Remember that one where he was taste testing the sand in his backyard and he found a dead body? And then he pretended that it was alive and his brother back from the war? How can that not terrify you?”

“I still find that hilarious, especially when he made that joke about his brother getting laid and he’s singing that song in a dress at the end there.”

Liz shudders next to me and I rub her shoulder consolingly. “It’s wrong. Wrong on so many levels.”

“What are we talking about?” asks Isabel as she slides in next Maria.

“Salad Fingers,” replies Maria, rubbing at her tender stomach.

“Sounds yummy,” comments Isabel, causing Liz to almost go into palpitations.

“No! It’s not yummy, it’s the most revolting thing ever! Take it back! Take it back right now!”

Isabel blinks a couple of times under the ferocity of Liz’s onslaught and then recovers. “Ok, I take it back.”

“What are we chatting about?” asks Alex, as he slides in next Liz.

“Salad Fingers,” repeats Maria.

“Oh yay! I love Salad Fingers!”

“Why don’t you marry him then?” grunts Liz, obviously not pleased by the continuation of this subject.

“Ok, I will. I already know that he looks good in a wedding dress.” He winks at Liz and leans in closer. “Oh, you look so beautipul. It’s your big day,” he simpers in what must be an imitation of Salad Fingers’ voice judging by Liz’s reaction.

“Shut up! Shut up!” she groans, slumping her head on the table.

Isabel looks at Liz in confusion and then at Maria for an explanation. Maria shrugs casually and shakes her head. “Let it go, you won’t be able to understand it till you watch it.” A thought seems to enter her head, because she slaps the table with her hand. “Oh, by the way, there’s a marathon of Lord of the Rings on TV next week. I’m thinking you, me, pizza, popcorn, soda... and a goat.”

Isabel laughs, her smile widening in a way that I’ve never seen before. She looks so happy. “Can we skip the goat?”

“Sure. Wanna come to my place? It starts at seven and my Mom’s away that night.”

“This is like the premise for a bad porno,” says Alex bemusedly.

“Lord of my Ring,” snorts Liz, setting both her and Alex cackling. She then pouts directly at Maria. “You know I’m not feeling the love. Where’s my invitation?”

“I can’t stand to watch The Lord of The Rings with you Liz. You’re terrible and you know it.”

“What does she do?” I ask as Liz winks at Maria.

Maria rolls her eyes and shoots Liz a glare. “Liz sits there chanting, “Kiss, kiss, kiss,” whenever Frodo and Sam are on screen.”

“I just happen to think that Sam and Frodo have a lot of near kiss scenes, usually at the end of the movie,” defends Liz airily.

Alex nods his head in agreement, stealing a fry off of Liz’s plate. “I hate books that get turned into movies. They rarely get it right and a lot of the time they leave stuff out. Or worse, when they add stuff in. I’d have to watch the movie first, then read the book otherwise I’d hate the movie.”

I watch Alex carefully, seeing a noticeable change since I last saw him. I know that Liz was worried about him and had attempted an intervention. I guess seeing as how he’s looking much more peaceful and cheerful than the last time I saw him that it worked. Which is a relief for me because I hate to think that Liz is upset, especially over something that I can’t control.
***

Liz’s POV
“Ok, so who’s that guy?” I ask, trying to keep up with the convoluted plot. Since Max and I are no longer getting physical, our free time is now spent on going on dates again. Right now we’re recreating our favourite one from before we were actually dating.

“He’s...” Max frowns, taking a second look at him. “Actually, I’ve got no idea. I haven’t watched it in a while.”

“What have you been doing that could possibly be more worthwhile than watching soap operas?” I query with a chastising wag of my finger.

He shrugs. “Hanging out with you.”

I smile at him and lace my fingers through his. “Well, I’ll forgive you that one. Oh, by the way, Alex is coming over to use my laptop. His crashed and had to be fixed and he has a computing assignment due tomorrow.”

“’Kay.”

Ten minutes and a lot of stupid monologues later, I hear a knock at the door. I call out, “Come in!” and Alex slumps his way dejectedly through the door, putting on a sad pout.

He groans, dumping his bag near my feet and slumping into the couch next to me. “Double u double u double u dot computing assignment forward slash sucks dot com”

I laugh loudly and pat his knee, clicking my tongue in sympathy. “Poor Alex.”

Alex slaps the couch arm in agreement with my statement. “Yes! Poor me! I want a cuddle!”

“Aww...” I release Max’s hand and pull Alex into a quick cuddle before releasing him. It’s so good to see him active and himself again. “Better?”

“A little...” he grumbles getting up off the couch to disappear upstairs to where my laptop is situated. “I’ll catch you guys later.”

I turn back to Max, who is looking at me with an unreadable expression.

“What?” I ask, unnerved by the scrutiny in his gaze.

“Nothing,” he mutters, grabbing his bag by his feet. “I gotta go.”

“Why?” I call out, chasing after him as he hastens to the door. I have no idea what I could have done in the last two minutes to cause this kind of reaction, it’s entirely unnerving. I manage to reach the door before him and plant myself in his way. “Max, tell me what’s going on.”

He lets out a puff of air and avoids my gaze. “If you wanted to be with Alex, you should have just said so.”

It takes a moment for me to get past the shock so that I can speak again. “Excuse me? Where the hell did you get a stupid idea like that?”

Max seems a bit taken aback by my anger. He gestures back to the couch. “You just...”

I look back to the couch and think back to what just occurred there. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me. This is because I hugged Alex? Are you serious? Are you fucking serious?”

Still Max won’t meet my gaze. After a moment he speaks, quietly and softly. “I can’t stand seeing other guys touch you. I know it’s stupid, but I just can’t. It makes me feel sick, like I can’t breathe. I know that I can’t... be with you the way you need and I know you deserve it. Being with you... it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You make me feel worthwhile. I don’t think I could handle it if you ever left me.”

I know I should feel some sort of concern over what he’s just told me, but I know Max is the most gentle person in the world. I know I should be worried over his reaction to Travis, but he really respects Alex, he probably thinks that Alex deserves me more than he does. He wouldn’t hurt him. Even when he was jealous of Kyle the only reaction he had to him was verbal. The only harm he’d ever inflict would be on himself and that’s what terrifies me the most. This enormous hatred he has for himself scares the shit out of me.

I sigh, and take his head in my hands and pull his forehead to mine and let him rest against me. After a moment, I speak. “Max I don’t need to be intimate with you to have a good relationship. I don’t need sex to feel close to you. Max, you know that I love you. I do. More than you probably believe possible. But I can’t be the one who saves you. I can’t be the thing that makes you ok.”

“What are you saying?” asks Max, pulling away from me, fear practically emanating from him.

“I know how hard it is for you to accept help, but you need it. You need to start talking properly with your therapist. He’s there to help you Max, but he can’t do it if you won’t help yourself. As much as I want to save you, I can’t. I can be here for you, but I can’t be your saviour.”

“So you’re not breaking up with me?” Max asks, desperately needing clarification.

“No. I don’t think you need another person abandoning you. I don’t see how that would help.” I wrap my arms around him, burying my face in his neck. “Besides, I’m too goddamn selfish. I love you too much to ever let you go.”

We stand there wrapped up in each other for a long silent moment, until Max breaks the silence, needing to be reassured. “So you won’t leave me if I open up to my therapist?”

I think back to my psychology class, I recall Mrs Simms stating that people with anxious attachments don’t react well to their attachments being threatened. They experience anger, anxiety and guilt and it’s mostly at themselves. And considering that his mother treated him that way, I certainly have no desire to emulate her. “Max, it was never a question of me leaving you, I just want you to be happy within yourself. I wish that you’d want that for yourself too.”

I press my face into the crook of his neck and make a desperate plea to cosmos. Please God, take all the little broken pieces of Max and put him back together. Please, just let him be ok.
***

Alex’s POV
I grunt as my cell wakes me from my sleep. Swinging my arm around aimlessly I finally grab it and press the answer button.

“’Lo?” I grunt, pressing the phone to my ear.

“Alex, Maria’s in the hospital and I’m scared! She just started screaming and I took her to hospital and now she’s in surgery.”

I try to clear my head after that rushed and harried explanation. “Isabel? What happened? Slow down, start from the beginning.”

I hear her take a deep breath and I can almost see her trying to calm herself down. “Maria and I were watching the Lord of The Rings at my house and you know how her stomach has been painful for a while? Well, she collapsed in the kitchen screaming so I took her to the hospital. They told me that it was appendicitis and she needed urgent surgery and I’m really worried.”

I can hear the tears in her voice and it forces me to calm my own hysteria. The thought of Maria being in the OR scares me shitless, but I need to keep Isabel calm. Something tells me she doesn’t deal well with bad situations.

“She’ll be ok,” I reassure her. “The main thing is that they’re fixing what’s wrong. They’ll take her appendix out and she’ll be ok. Have you called her Mom?”

“No, they nurses said they’d call her because she’s next of kin, but she’s out of town right now. I can’t reach my parents and I’m terrified, I don’t want to go through this alone.”

I sit up and search for my shoes. “It’s ok, I’ll be there soon. You did a good job, Izzy. You got her to the hospital and that’s the main thing.”

“Hurry Alex,” she says before she hangs up.
***
I hand Isabel a cup of hot chocolate and sit down and wait for Liz to get here. I called her on my way over so she should be here about ten minutes after me. I had her call Michael as well, so hopefully he’ll be here soon too. As I sit, I glance across at Isabel and study her as she takes a sip out of the Styrofoam cup.

I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed just how beautiful Isabel Evans is before. Yeah, I mean sure, there’s the outward beauty and all which is quite clear to see for anyone with a decently functioning set of eyes, but I’d never truly appreciated what’s underneath that exterior. Which is why, before today, I’d never been attracted before.

But here, with her drawn, haggard face, tear tracks staining her cheeks, out of her mind with worry about one of my best friends, I can’t help but notice the human side of her. Something I never saw very much of with Leanna.

“She’s going to be ok, right Alex?” she begs me, needing reassurance. Before I can really think about what I’m doing, I reach over and place my arm around her shoulders and rub her shoulder with my thumb.

“She’s going to be fine, it’s just appendicitis. They’ll whip it out and soon she’ll be good as new.”

She relaxes a little and we sit together in companionable silence while I mentally curse myself. I can’t do this again. I can’t have my heart ripped out by another pretty girl. I won’t survive it.

But as I study Isabel’s profile, noting the sweet fullness of her lips and the depth to her brown eyes, I can’t help but feel that it’s too late.

I’ve already begun to fall.
***

Maria’s POV
I wake up in a strange place with my head whirling and for a moment all I feel is confusion. Where am I?

Suddenly Liz’s face looms over me and the events of what led up to this hit me. Appendicitis. I’ve just had surgery. Which would explain the white walls and sterile environment.

“Hey babe, how are you feeling?” Liz says softly, taking my hand.

“I’m good,” I croak, feeling the ache from the stitches.

She shakes her head at me. “You had us all worried, honey. Tia was convinced you were dead.”

“Tia’s here?” I ask in surprise.

“Yep. Along with Michael, Alex and Isabel. Max and his parents are on their way, so they’ll be able to help out with all the paperwork and things until your Mom gets here.”

I glance around to find Tia and Michael standing at the other side of my bed.

“Hey,” I whisper, feeling a little guilty that Tia’s concern for me has me elated. Her red eyes are proof of her affection for me.

“I tought you were dead,” she says with the faintest hint of a tremble in her voice.

I smile at her. “No sweety, I’m ok. I’m doing ok.”

I stare at Michael reproachfully. “You brought her here?”

He doesn’t look at all abashed. “I couldn’t just leave her by herself.”

I consider that point and concur with it. Michael’s neighbourhood is rough and Tia shouldn’t be left alone at night, the dark scares her.

I look around at all the people surrounding me and I couldn’t feel more blessed. I have to have the best friends in the world, though I’m going to have to make it up to Isabel. I’m pretty sure I scared the crap out of her.
***
Alex and Liz join me on my bed while Michael, Tia and Isabel go off in search of something to eat.

“You sure you’re ok?” Alex asks, patting my knee.

“Pshaw, now that that grimy old appendix is out, I’ll be right as rain.”

Liz smiles at me. “Glad to hear it, hun.”

“Now, let’s talk about something else,” I demand imperiously. “While I’m recovering I demand to be entertained.”

“Well, we could talk about Alex getting all cosy with Isabel before I got here,” says Liz suggestively. Well, well, well... she’s certainly got my attention.

“I was not!” he protests. “She was upset and I was comforting her.”

“Were you now?”

Alex scowls at Liz. “Yes. And besides, she doesn’t think of me that way.”

Liz and I both laugh heartily, well as heartily as I can with an abdomen full of stiches.

“Poor Alex, how does he not walk into walls?” I ask with a saddened shake of my head.

“He must have sonar or radar, because he’s totally blind,” chimes in Liz.

“She doesn’t like me,” he defends.

Liz studies her nails with an air of boredom. “Alex, who did she call when she was upset?”

Alex pauses, obviously never having considered that before now. “She called me because she knows that I’m one of Maria’s best friends.”

Liz shakes her head slowly, obviously getting angry with Alex’s obtuseness. Not that she was any better with Max. “So am I, Alex. I’m better friends with Isabel, and yet she called you. What does that say to you?”

“She was in a panic!”

“And you were the first person she thought to call in that panic,” adds Liz.

Alex gives Liz a disparaging look. “You’re on crack. She could be a supermodel, what would she want with a scrawny computer geek?”

I try to convince him, but my efforts are wasted. “Alex, you’re a great guy. Don’t underestimate her. She doesn’t want some stupid jock who would treat her like shit and only be in it for the pussy. She’s dated enough of them to know that they’re not what she wants.”

“Oh and she’s decided she wants me, has she? As if. This is reality, Maria, not some stupid romantic movie.”

“I wash my hands of you,” I say just as Michael, Tia and Isabel return with food.

This discussion is so far from over. I don’t care how many times I have to beat him over the head with it. Leanna may have decimated his confidence, but I reckon that Isabel could bring it back. If he’d only believe it.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 27, 25th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:47 pm

Novy
Mary-
I’m bringing Pshaw back in. It’s gonna be big.
Destiny
Eve
Sunrise102
Tequathisy-
Having learned my lesson with the infamous donkey punch, I will steer clear of salad fingers which sounds bizzare.
I think that would be a very wise idea. It’s a little bit freaky. Never watch it late at night, it scared the crap out of me.
I’m showing the best and the worst of human nature. And it’s not just evil women, there’s bad guys like Travis and Max’s Mom’s customers as well.
Natalie36
BB-
This has to be the first fic that I've ever read where Max was jealous of Alex.
I aim to be different. And sometimes I don’t even have to aim. It just happens naturally.
Steph
Part Twenty Eight

Well I'm ready, I'm ready to drop
Oh, I'm ready, I'm ready so don't stop
I'm ready so don't stop, Keep pushing
I'm ready to fall, oh, I'm ready
I'm ready so don't call, I'm ready so don't call

I am aware, I've been misled
I disconnect my heart, my head
Don't wanna recognize when things go bad
The things that you'll accept
Except that I am finding the words... to say
I’m Ready by Jack’s Mannequin


***

Max’s POV
This is it. I’m going to have to actually try in my therapy session for once. I know Liz said that she wouldn’t break up with me if I didn’t talk to my therapist, but I know that eventually down the road it’ll become too much for her. So despite all my reservations I’m going to have to talk to him, just to ensure that Liz won’t leave me.

“Hello Max, how are you?” David asks politely as I take a seat in the plush armchair.

“Not too great,” I reply honestly, causing him to blink in surprise. Usually when I come in here it’s all a mask. Happy Max comes out to play to keep up appearances and I never say anything of use to him. This is going to be very hard to change.

“Is something wrong Max?”

I can hear the amazement in his voice. He’s not used to me looking so distressed. Usually I’d keep it all bottled up.

“Well it’s... my girlfriend. Things have come to a head so speak and I’m afraid if I don’t try to fix my problems she’ll leave me.”

“Why do you think that, Max?”

I exhale loudly and will myself to just say it and get it over with. It goes against everything I’ve told myself to show weakness in front of him, but I need to do it. I need Liz. “Recently we’ve become...” I wave my hands around in the air, not wanting to say the next word.

“Intimate?”

“Yes.” I’m thankful for his suggestion. I hate talking about our sex life, it feels like such a betrayal to Liz. “And when we... you know, I have these...”

I trail off, my mouth refusing to make the words. I feel dirty just thinking them, let alone saying them.

“Max, do you have problems maintaining an erection?”

I nearly laugh. “I’m seventeen, David.” My smile drops slightly. “Though if things continued on the way they were, I probably would have eventually.”

“Why don’t you talk me through what happens, Max?” he suggests and I take a deep breath.

“Usually when things start to get more intimate, I get these... memories. From my childhood. Ones that I’d purposefully forgotten.”

“Repressed memories,” he corrects, writing it down in his note pad.

“Whatever.” I’m not too fussed about the definition. I just want to get rid of them. “They’ve gotten to the point where I can’t be with her the way she deserves because I’m too afraid about what’s going to pop up.”

“Is sexual intimacy important to your girlfriend?”

“She says it’s not, but of course it is. She’s got to want a normal relationship. She deserves someone who can give her all that without memories of his mother turning tricks intruding and ruining the mood.”

David looks up sharply. “Is that what these memories are about, Max? Your mother in sexual situations?”

I nod. “It’s so aggravating because what she did was disgusting and cheap. Liz and I make love, it’s so far removed from what she did that the two shouldn’t be connected. But every single time I get into a sexual situation, these disgusting memories pop up.”

David scribbles swiftly into his notepad. “Well, you seem to understand the distinction between making love and having sex, that’s good. That’ll help. What I need you to do Max, is describe these memories to me.”

I stand up, outraged. “That’s fucking sick. I didn’t come here to relive them a second time for your dirty fantasies. I came here for a way to put them back where they belong.”

David waits patiently for me to finish my tirade before he speaks. “Max, sit down.”

The note of authority in his voice has me complying, but I’m still pissed off.

“Max, I can promise you, though this may not be what you want to hear, that the only way to get rid of your problem is to deal with it. You need to talk about your past with your mother, however much that may suck for you.”

I shake my head adamantly. “I can’t.”

“Then your problem is only going to get worse, Max,” he tells me, a hint of sympathy in his voice. “Your memories of your childhood are only going to get harder to deal with so long as you keep trying to forget them.”

“No.” He can’t be right. I don’t want to relive what happened all those years ago. “I’ve moved on from then. It’s in the past.”

“Max, so long as you keep shoving those memories back, they’ll never be in the past. You’re still living with what happened right now, you’re still hanging on to it. You’re stuck at six years old, you’re still in her house being abused, scarred and neglected because you haven’t taken control of the situation. You haven’t accepted what’s happened and moved on, you’ve pretended it wasn’t there.”

I bite back the tears of defeat as I accept his words. As far as I can see it, I have two options, I can give in and start therapy properly and actually work with David, or I can continue on as I am and wait for Liz to get tired of my problems and break up with me.

Liz is the deal breaker. I can’t lose her. I won’t.

I wipe at my red rimmed eyes and sit up straighter in my chair. “Ok, so how do I do this?”
***

Isabel’s POV
The little girl hears thumps and yelling coming from her mother’s bedroom, but she knows better than to go and investigate. She stiffens as the thumps get louder. They’re coming this way. She cries out in alarm when a burly naked man with wild eyes bursts through the locked door, splintering the ply wood away from the lock.

“Hey! Get the fuck out of there!” cries her mother, looking at the mess he’s created. “You fucking broke my door! You better pay for that!”

The man turns swiftly and punches her mother solidly in the jaw. The girl screams as her head snaps back and collides with the wall. Her body falls limply against the wall and slides down it as both the girl and her brother start to scream.

“Shut up! Fucking shut up!” he yells, grabbing both his ears, trying to block the noise as the drugs swirl through his system wreaking havoc as they go.

His roar has the opposite effect than the one he wanted, they begin to scream louder. He has to stop the noise.

He marches over to the little boy and picks him up by the neck, leaving him dangling there before hurling his tiny body into the wall.

He turns and roughly backhands the little girl. “You little slut, you’re going to be a whore, just like your mother.” He cups his crotch and squeezes it at her. “You’re going to love the cock, just like your whore of a mother, aren’t you?”

Isabel’s sobs have become breathless moans. She’s never been so scared in all of her life. Max hasn’t moved from his position on the floor.

“You are, aren’t you?” Isabel doesn’t respond and that enrages him. “Answer me!” he demands. When she doesn’t he wraps his arms around one of her arms and with drug fuelled strength, smashes her arm against the night stand and snaps the bone.

Isabel screams, agony ripping through her. Her screams earn her a punch in the face. She collapses back in the bed, holding her face with her unbroken arm as the man heads back over to Max. She watches him kick him in the stomach, blood dripping out of Max’s mouth. She pleads with him not to hurt Max as she cries. It’s then that the police arrive.


“Isabel!”

I sit up hurriedly, tears rolling down my cheeks as Max holds my upper arms, looking at me with concern. I slump into him, great big shuddering sobs rolling through my body.

“What happened?” Max asks as he strokes my hair.

“I had... a dream,” I manage to get out between sobs. “I remembered... that man... hitting us... hitting you... breaking my arm.”

I can’t say any more. I begin to cry harder as Max holds me. “It’s ok,” he soothes.

“No, it’s not!” I cry. “I can’t deal with it, Max! We’re never going to be normal! I’m so fucked up!”

“Izzy, there is a way to make it better,” he tells me. “It’s not fun but it does make it easier to deal with.”

“How?” I ask, wiping my eyes.

“Talk to David.”

Max has never said anything as surprising as what he just said. “What? Max, we don’t talk to David.”

Max takes a deep breath then looks me square in the eye. “I do.”

“Since when?” I demand. Max has never shown the slightest interest in talking to David. Like me he’d rather forget about it.

“Since my memories started coming back,” he tells me softly.

“Seriously? Oh Max...” I feel a rush of pain and sympathy well up inside me.

“It was getting in the way of my life and David told me that if we spoke about it that it would make it easier to deal with.”

“Does it?” I ask, trying not to let the curiosity show. I can’t help but be a little intrigued by the possibility of feeling a little bit more capable of dealing with my past.

“I feel more in control,” he admits. “By talking about it and having David not judge me it made it feel like less of a horrible secret.”

“You think I should do it.” It’s more of a statement than a question.

“I’d rather not see you hurting like this. And if talking to David stops you from having nightmares then I think you should do it. It’ll help Izzy. It’s hard and it’s painful, but it helps.”

I nod and shiver at the thought of going back to bed. Thankfully Max pre-empts me.

“You want me to sleep in here tonight?”

I nod and he gets in the other side of the bed. It might sound odd, but we’ve always done it ever since we were little. It always made us feel a little bit safer. We haven’t needed to do it for a while, but I couldn’t get to sleep knowing that Max wasn’t nearby, snoring his head off. He falls asleep quickly but his words bounce around inside my head. What if I did talk to David?

Eventually, Max’s respiration lulls me into sleep.
***

Alex’s POV
“Just leave me alone, Jesse.”

I stop in my tracks as I hear Isabel’s voice. I frown as I hear the annoyance in her tone. It looks like another of Isabel’s admirers can’t take no for an answer. Before I can stop myself, I find myself drawing closer to their conversation. I’ve been avoiding her since that night in the hospital three weeks ago, trying to stop this crush from growing any larger. I can’t get my heart stomped on again. But even as I’m thinking this, I edge closer to hear better.

“Come on, you know you want to. You and me, that little Italian restaurant that’s just opened up in town...” he wheedles, sidling in closer to her. My blood boils as he reaches out to touch her arm. I can’t stop the jealous rage that flows through me.

“Jesse, I’m serious. Please just leave me alone.”

His cajoling smile drops into a sneer and his tone is angry and mocking when he speaks. “You really are a uptight bitch, you know that? What, you think you’re better than everyone?”

I can see her trying desperately to maintain her composure, but I’m too far gone. He’s enraged me too much. “Wow, and you wonder why she wouldn’t date you.”

He spins on me, directing his anger at me and I suddenly notice the 50 pounds of muscle he has on me. “You got something to say, Whitman?”

I glance over at Isabel and my resolve comes back. The way she’s looking at me right now... “I said, why would she want to date you when you talk to her like that? Besides, everyone knows you’re just in it for a pussy, you should look for easier targets. Isabel’s not a slut.”

He sneers at me again. “Maybe I should go for your ex then.”

Strangely enough his attempt to hurt me doesn’t even leave a mark. I was far more upset over the way he spoke to Isabel. “You probably should. I hear she and Vincent just broke up so she’d be easy pickings.”

Jesse’s face goes from maddened to speculative. “Seriously?”

“Yeah. She’d be on her way to Biology if you want to try your hand.”

Jesse claps me on the shoulder and gives me a smile. “Thanks man.”

I watch him retreat, all the while questioning his intellect. Eventually I turn back to Isabel, my face still bemused.

She laughs a little and stares at the floor. I can’t help but notice how tired she looks. Did she have a late night last night or is something worrying her? “Wow, I felt sure that he was going to beat the crap out of you.”

“Me too,” I agree, letting out a laugh of my own. “Luckily he seems to have the attention span of a goldfish.”

“Thank you, you really didn’t have to do that,” she says softly and my heart skips a beat when her eyes flick up to meet my gaze. Her eyes are so deep...

“Yeah, I did. Nobody should be able to talk to you like that.”

She flushes at my serious confession. “You’re a good guy, Alex.”

I smile at her. “I guess in comparison to Jesse anyone would look good.”

“No, you’re a really good guy. Honestly. You’re the best guy.”

I blink at the strength of her avowal, it sounds like she really means it. Which can’t possibly be true, considering I used her to try and get over Leanna. As I ponder this, she does something that shocks the hell out of me. She kisses me on the cheek.

I stare at her in complete shock while my brain tries to make sense of her action. She looks shocked too. She backs up a couple of steps, opens her mouth to say something, but evidently can’t think of anything. After a few moments, she spins on her heel, intending to flee the scene and rams right into the back of a sophomore who was up until a few moments ago minding his own business. She blushes, apologises then rushes off swiftly as I stand shocked, making neither head nor tail of what she just did.

Could it possibly be, could there even be a slight possibility that Liz and Maria are right? Does Isabel Evans -Goddess of West Roswell High- like me?
***
“Hey,” I say as soon as Liz opens the door. I push my way in, my anxiety making me tense and possibly rude. “Can we talk?”

She looks a little taken aback by my abruptness, but gestures to her bedroom anyway. “Sure. What’s up?”

As soon as she’s shut the door to her room, I spin on her. “Is she for real?”

Liz blinks, completely confused by me. I can’t blame her, I’m so desperate to understand Isabel that I’ve kind of lost my sanity. “Who?”

“Isabel. Is she for real?” I repeat my question.

She smiles widely at me and I pin her with my frustrated gaze. This is no time for her to be smug. “Come on, Liz. Is she for real?”

“Isabel is one of the best people I know,” she tells me seriously. “She worships you Alex. She thinks you’re such a wonderful guy. And you know what? She’s right.”

My eyes widen as shock courses through my body. Liz and Isabel are friends so they must share this sort of stuff and Liz always tells me the truth when I ask, which must mean... there might be some element of truth in what she’s saying. Isabel Evans wants me. Alex Whitman. Huh.

“Holy shit crackers.”

I slump in amazement on Liz’s bed. This can’t be happening. It’s too unbelievable. Liz takes a seat next to me and pats my arm comfortingly.

“Didn’t you think that maybe she liked you when she let you kiss her at the hospital?”

I shake my head slowly, still stunned by this information. “I thought she was just being nice.”

Liz snorts in amusement. “No girl’s that nice, Alex. If she didn’t want to kiss you, she wouldn’t have kissed you, no matter how upset you were.”

“This... this is just... unbelievable.”

Liz smiles at me. “Believe it. Oh, and you want to know something else?”

“What?” I ask warily. I’m not sure my brain can take much more.

“Don’t hold this against her, but the only reason Leanna paid any interest in you is because Isabel liked you.”

“She liked me all the way back then?” I demand, my mind going on overdrive.

Liz smiles, pleasantly surprised by my admission. “Wow, you do like her. I’d have thought you’d have gone all melancholy on me about Leanna and only realised what it said about the strength of Isabel’s attachment a week later. She’s really got to you, hasn’t she?”

I shrug, not knowing the answer to that. “I don’t know. I just... I can’t stop thinking about her.” I pause for a moment as I consider Leanna’s now clear motivation for dating me. I had wondered and it’s nice to know that her malice wasn’t actually directed at me... at first, anyway. “Besides, nothing Leanna does surprises me anymore.”

Liz claps me on the shoulder. “Atta boy!”

“So, she’s really ok?” I ask once more, just to be sure. I can’t trust my own judgement anymore. Not when it comes to girls, anyway. “Not secretly planning to stomp on my heart and cheat on me?”

Liz grasps my hand in hers and gives me a reassuring squeeze. “Ok, let’s review the facts. Leanna. Maria and I hated her. She was rude to those she deemed beneath her and she never did anything nice for anyone. Isabel. Great friends with Maria and I. Nice to everyone, so long as they’re nice to her. Volunteers at the hospital alongside you.” She ticks off the good qualities of Isabel on her fingers. “You should go for it, Alex. I think that something really good could come of this.”

“But what if it doesn’t?” I ask, voicing my inner fear. “What if I end up even worse than I was with Leanna?”

“You’ll never know unless you try, Alex. You can’t go through life avoiding relationships because you might get hurt because then you stop yourself from getting all the good stuff that goes with it.”

I exhale slowly and nod. I’ll give it a shot, though it might kill me.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 28, 27th Feb 09

Post by Rowedog » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:38 pm

Just a short one because I’ve returned to that place called university, which means that updates won’t come thick and fast any more. I suppose I should have saved them up so that I could have spread them out a bit, but I’m more into instant gratification.

Mary
Chanks_girl-
I think you’ll like this part :wink:
Destinyc
BB-
pestering me with PM’s just so that I'd update, how undignified, :lol:
Natalie36
Novy
Eve
Dmb
Lilloucfer
Daydreamer23-
Aww, thanks!
Part Twenty Nine

‘Oh how she rocks
In Keds and tube socks
But she doesn't know who I am
And she doesn't give a damn about me

Cause I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby
Yeah I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby

Low and behold
She's walking over to me
This must be fake
My lip starts to shake
How does she know who I am
And why does she give a damn about

I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby like you’
Teenage Dirtbag by Weezer


***

Alex’s POV
“Isabel,” I call out as she steps out of her car. I gave myself a little pep talk in the bathroom before I came to school today. I’ll do it. I’ll ask her out and if she says yes, I have no idea what I’ll do, but I’m pretty prepared for her to say no. It shouldn’t hurt too badly and I’ll be able to get over her quicker once I know for certain that she’s not interested.

“Alex! Hi...” She looks startled, perhaps I should just leave. “How’s it going?”

“Uh... good?” Was that a question? Jesus, I am dying on my ass out here.

“That’s... good,” she replies, looking a little confused.

We stand there in silence for a moment and all of my determination wilts. She must think I’m the biggest, stupidest moron in the world. She’s never going to want to go out with me now. Not that she ever did... oh no, I’m rambling in my thoughts again.

“Did you... need something?” she eventually asks after the silence stretches on.

“Actually, there was something I wanted to ask you.” I take a deep breath. This is it, Alexander C. Whitman, the biggest moment in your life to date. Just bite your lip and give it hell. “Would you like to go on a date with me?”

Oh, fuck. Oh... fuck. This is awful. Her eyes have just popped out of her skull. She thinks I’m a lunatic for even asking and I can never talk to Liz and Maria again because she’s friends with them and I don’t want to make things awkward. I’m going to have to move to another city where I won’t be known as the stupid moron who asked Isabel Evans out even though she was a million times out of his league. I’m going to die alone and get eaten by Alsatians.

“You want to go on a date... with me?” she chokes.

I don’t really have an answer for that. “It was just an idea, clearly you don’t have to say yes-”

“Yes.”

I blink a couple of times, running her answer over in my head. “Yes?”

“Yes.”

I need far more clarification than that. “Yes, you want to go on a date with me?”

“Yes.” That’ll be about the third time she’s said it now.

I exhale and laugh a little. “Ok then. I uh... what time are you free?”

She laughs too, as if we’re sharing a private joke. “I’m not doing anything after school. I’m free all night.”

“Great. You wanna hang out after school and then maybe g-get some dinner somewhere?” I am Mr. Fucking Smooth, listen to me babble and stutter.

“Yeah, that’d be great.”

“Great.”

“So... I’ll see you after school.” She hesitates and then heads off into the building, leaving me completely and utterly stunned. Holy Stump Fuckers Anonymous, I have a date with Isabel Evans. Isabel Fucking Evans said yes to me. She said yes!

Watch out world, Alexander C. Whitman is the man.
***

Liz’s POV
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod...” babbles Isabel as Maria and I both look at her in concern. We’re in the girls’ bathroom and she’s been hyperventilating for a good ten minutes now.

“What do you think happened to her?” I ask, trying to shake her out of it.

Maria shakes her head. “I don’t know, I just found her like this.”

Isabel pants and manages to get a coherent sentence out. “Alex... asked me... out.”

Maria and I simultaneously squeal and jump up and down hugging. Aside from Max asking me out on a date, this has to be the best thing I’ve ever heard. Way better than Maria and Michael going out, that resulted in me going out with Sean.

“Yay!” crows Maria triumphantly. “When and what time is he picking you up?”

“We’re meeting up after school today and we’re going to hang out.” She suddenly reaches out and grabs my shoulder in a fit of panic. “What am I going to wear?”

Maria laughs at her. “What you’re wearing now seeing as you’re meeting up after school honey.”

“Don’t worry, you look hot-sticks,” I tell her with a wink.

“Oh my God, I’m going to die. He’s going to hate me and I’m going to die.” Isabel wails, biting at her nails.

I pull her hands out of her mouth while Maria takes Isabel’s face between her hands and begins the pep talk. “You are going to be fine. Alex is going to be even more smitten with you than he already is after this date, so don’t worry about it, ok?”

“He’s smitten?” she asks hopefully.

I don’t mind betraying Alex’s confidence to help out a girl in need. It’s all for a good cause. “Direct quote here; I can’t stop thinking about her.”

Her face lights up with awe and amazement. “He can’t stop thinking about me?”

I wink at her again. “Nope, so go out there and use that to your best advantage. Be confident, be strong, be sexy. Knock the fucker off his feet.”

“Right, I’m sexy,” says Isabel, pumping herself up.

“Yes you are,” I agree.

“I’m strong.”

“As a mule,” says Maria, earning a glare from me. I don’t think she needs to connect herself with a barnyard animal right now.

“I’m confident.”

“Right on, sister!” cheers Maria, getting the sentiment better this time.

“I’m going to knock him off his feet,” she says with a definite air.

“Now go out there and show the world what you’re made of!” I cheer, turning to Maria once she’s out the door.

“This is going to be utterly tragic, isn’t it?” she asks.

I nod. “Yeah, but I don’t think he’ll notice. He’ll be just as bad.”

“Glad I’m not going to be there to witness it,” Maria admits dryly.

“Absolutely.”
***

Max’s POV
“You went out on a date with Alex Whitman?”

Isabel sighs dramatically, unable to hide her smile. “For the fifth time, Max, yes, I went out on a date with Alex.”

I look at her warily. “Isabel, are you sure that you wanna be doing that? I mean, he’s Liz and Maria’s best friend... you can’t just date him and dump him like all the others.”

Isabel narrows her eyes at me, clearly pissed off with me. “I don’t want to dump him. I want to keep dating him.”

This time my eyes narrow at her, only mine are drawn in suspicion, not anger. “Wait, do you like him? Like, really like him?”

She gives me a tentative smile and for the first time I see it. She really does like him. “Yeah Max. I do. Where have you been? Liz and Maria have noticed it.”

“I don’t know...” I suppose it’s obvious now that I think about it. The animosity between her and Leanna, the tension between her and Alex... it all makes sense now. “I’m going to have a long talk with Liz when I catch up with her though.”

“She was just being a good friend, Max,” defends Isabel.

“So are you hoping that this might turn into something more?” I query, hoping to get some information out of her. I feel like I’ve been missing out these past couple of months, so she’s not going anywhere until I’m thoroughly satisfied.

She nods bashfully. “Yeah, I am.”

“Is he someone you think you could share your past with?” Telling Liz was such an impulse decision for me, I can’t imagine having that hanging over my head while I dated Liz, it would have been a complete nightmare worrying how she’d take it.

“Maybe, if we last.” She takes a deep breath and then her words come out in a rush. “What if he can’t take it, Max? What if it disgusts him? What if-”

“Whoa!” I grab her by the shoulders and calm her down. “He’s Liz and Maria’s best friend. I don’t think he’ll take it badly. He didn’t care that Michael’s mother was a drug addict, so I think he’ll be fine. He hasn’t got prejudices.”

“It’s so huge though...” she whispers. “Our mother was a hooker who sold herself for money. What guy could love the product of that? What guy could respect the product of that?”

“Liz loved me,” I remind her, feeling the familiar swell of gratitude and all encompassing love roll through me. I’m so blessed to have her. “How about you take each day as it comes and tell him when you feel like you should. It’ll be hard but I don’t think he’ll let you down.”

“Thanks Max.” She hugs me and as I hold her I make a promise silently that if Alex lets her down I will make him pay. But as I think of the scrawny, sensitive guy who felt so much pain when his ex let him down, I can’t help but hold a strong sense of hope that he won’t. He may even deserve her.
***

Maria’s POV
Michael’s tongue encircles my bellybutton, bringing out a shudder in me. He kisses the red puffy line on my abdomen, my recently healed scar. He brings his face up level with mine and strokes a strand of hair off of my face with such tenderness that it makes me want to cry.

“You know,” Michael’s soft voice breaks the silence between us. “You really scared the shit out of me. When Liz called to tell me that you were in hospital I think my heart stopped.”

“Sorry,” I whisper, biting his ear lobe.

“Just don’t do it again,” he grumbles kissing my stomach up into the valley of my breasts.

I gasp, trying not to arch off the bed when he slips the cup of my bra down and takes a nipple gently between his teeth. “Ok, next time I have appendicitis, I will suffer in silence.”

He laughs roughly with his mouth still covering my breast, the vibrations sending me to heavenly places. I in turn pull his shirt off over his head. It’s not right that I should be the only one shirtless on this bed. With Tia having gone to sleep, my scar having healed up and no more potentially relationship breaking secrets between us, Michael and I have decided that it’s time for us to finally make love. Can’t say that I’m not extremely relieved if not a little nervous.

“You know what you’re doing, right?” I ask roughly, my nerves getting the better of me. “Because I’ve never done this before.”

He brings his head up to pin me with a stare. “Neither have I.”

“What?” I sit up and push him off of me. I refuse to believe that. There is no known way that Michael is a virgin.

“I’ve never been in love before, Maria. It’s important to me that I never have sex without feelings.”

“Because of your past?” I ask.

He nods tersely. “Yes. I have to differentiate between having sex and making love because I can’t do the former. It has to be an expression of love.”

“Aww... come here you!” I pull his head back down to mine, feeling so lucky to have a boyfriend like him. And you know what? I don’t feel scared anymore.
***
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Re: Hiding Beneath (AU, M/L, ADULT) Pt 29, 5th March 09

Post by Rowedog » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:21 am

Hey guys, good news everyone! My laptop got fixed! Joyous! Anyway, I'm jumping time again. I like to do that. A lot.

Leila- You know since my last update, our relationship has really changed. You are now my porn twin, something I couldn’t claim way back then.
LilLoucfer
Destiny
Novy-
Well, I’m glad one of us gets to go on holidays. Poos to you uni, you know, they cancelled my eight am class. And I didn’t know, so I turned up! And as a result I was so mad I boycotted my ten am lecture just to prove a point. I don’t know what that point is, but I think it’s important.
BB
Tequathisy-
Getting jiggy, eh? I’m afraid I’m going to have to forgo that bit for reasons which are clear to me, but will be unclear to you at this point. In fact, they may never be clear to you, but if you should wish it, you can PM after this is done and be all like, “Alison, WTF? You made me miss out on M/M nookies and I’m still unclear of the reasons why. I shake my fist at you and demand an explanation for this sordid state of affairs.” I will answer with grace and aplomb. And reassure you of my intentions to have lots of candy lurvin’ in Amongst Women. As there rightly should be, I mean, it’s a candy fic for hump’s sake.
Natalie36
Daydreamer23
Ginger
Sunrise102
Laira-
I have nothing to say to you. Nothing. No words. I am deeply offended and you have crushed my gentle spirit.
Part Thirty

‘You thought, you could
Keep this shit from me, yeah
You burnt bitch, I heard the story
You played me, you even gave him head
Now you asking for me back
You’re just another hag, look elsewhere
Cuz you’re done with me

Fuck what I said it don’t mean shit now
Fuck the presents might as well throw ‘em out
Fuck all those kisses it didn’t mean jack
Fuck you, you ho, I don’t want you back’
Fuck It by Eamon


***

Alex’s POV
“Alex! Rock it out, Man!”

I suffer Marco’s greeting with ill grace. I know exactly why he’s taken such a sudden interest in being my friend. The rumour mill has been going wild ever since Isabel and I started going out, even more so since we made it official. Most people have no idea what Isabel sees in me, me included, so they’ve been making up crap. The most universally accepted rumour seems to be that I’m an absolute dynamo in bed, because this is the only reason people can understand as to how I could possibly get two attractive girls to go out with me in the space of one year. Especially considering I managed to get Isabel Evans, the most gorgeous, unattainable girl in this school. This also brought my break up into new light. It seems that everyone now also thinks that I broke up with Leanna because she wasn’t good enough for me, that her skills in bed weren’t adequate enough, so I moved on to Isabel Evans. Maria was really pissed off when that rumour came out. She’d much preferred her rumour about Leanna having herpes.

As a result I have a lot of guys asking me for advice about “sexing up their ladies” – Marco’s words, not mine – and a lot of girls seem to know who I am and have no compunction about flirting with me when Isabel’s not around. Some people have no shame...

Luckily Max finds the thought of Isabel dating someone for their sexual prowess amusing, otherwise I’m sure that I’d be suffering from a broken nose right now.

“Hey Stud,” calls Isabel from the other end of the hall. I groan as everyone around starts whispering. She’s really enjoying this newfound fame I’ve acquired and likes to help my reputation along. How does a seventeen year old virgin computer geek suddenly get the reputation of a ladies man? It’s beyond my comprehension.

“Very funny,” I tell her while she laughs at me.

She smiles brightly at me and for a moment I forget how to breathe. What on earth does she see in me?

“How’d you go with your history assignment?” I ask, knowing that it was stressing her out. “If you want I can help you with it after school tonight. I’ve got a couple of hours free and we can go over it together and get it done.”

And suddenly she clasps my face between her hands and kisses me without any warning. Automatically my hands go around her waist and hold her tightly. I will never get used to this. Isabel Evans likes kissing me.

She eases out of the kiss and her bright smile swiftly reappears on her face. She’s so unbelievably gorgeous. “You’re wonderful, Alex. That would be so awesome. Meet you at my house after school?”

I nod and she grins at me. “Great, I gotta check with Max about something, but I’ll catch you later, okay?”

She turns to head off, but I catch her arm and spin her back to me, surprising her with a kiss this time. I grin at the dazed look on her face when we break apart. “Catch you later Isabel.”

I try to stop myself from doing anything overly dorky when I walk away. For some strange reason, Isabel Evans thinks I’m a great person. And I’d like to maintain that image by not doing anything as lame as punching the air or jumping for joy. But I can’t help the jaunt in my step. I’m on cloud nine.

In fact, I can’t even help myself from whistling as I walk up to my locker. But the whistle stops once I notice someone waiting for me. Leanna.

Well, what a downer. I keep my pace steady and even though I’m tempted to just turn and walk away. She spent months keeping me at her beck and call, and all the while she was screwing one of my worst enemies. And to top it all off, when we broke up she would purposefully make out with him right near my locker just to hurt me. So of course she would come around just when I’m starting to feel good again.

I open the door to my locker and she waits expectantly for me to acknowledge her. Which is something I would have done before I found out about her true colours. But now I’d rather that I never saw her again, so I won’t talk to her if I don’t have to.

I shut my locker door calmly and turn to head off but she catches my arm and pulls me back. “Alex, can we talk?”

I pretend to ponder her question for a moment. “No.”

I turn again, but her grip increases. “Alex, come on... for old times’ sake.”

I nearly laugh at her gall. Old times? Does she mean the time when she cheated on me or when she flaunted our break up in my face? “There’s nothing to say, Leanna.”

I can see her getting desperate. “I miss you, Alex.”

For a moment, I let myself pretend that she does mean it, but then clamp back down on the feeling. I know she doesn’t, she’s not capable of emotion beyond malice and greed.

“Bullshit.”

Her face takes on a gentle pleading look and I marvel at her acting skills. She is good. “Alex, I miss you. I miss what we had, don’t you?”

I bring my index finger up to my lip and pretend to muse upon her question. “Hmm, do I miss being cheated on, being talked down to and led on? No, not particularly.”

Oh man, she’s even letting loose with the crocodile tears. She has no shame. “Alex, I’ve been thinking a lot about us and I know I never appreciated you as I should have. I want you back. I’ve learnt my lesson now. That thing with Vincent, it was a mistake.”

“No,” I correct her. “That thing with Vincent was calculated and malicious. Cut the crap, Leanna. You and I both know that the only reason you’re trying to worm your way back into my life is because you’ve seen me with Isabel. I don’t know what you’ve got against her, but I’ve got to say that you’ve got some brass balls trying to steal her boyfriend out from under her, especially seeing as you’ve always treated me like garbage.” I smile at her as her face loses all trace of contrition and sadness and turns to anger. I lean against the locker and fold my arms against my chest, beginning to enjoy myself, beginning to enjoy the feeling of closure. “Just what do you have against her, anyway? She’s never done anything to you. Is it because she’s prettier than you?”

Her face goes scarlet with rage and I grin knowing that I must have struck a nerve. I let out a laugh. “Oh, it is. It’s because she’s better looking than you are, so you try and prove that you’re better than her by taking everything she wants. Wow, that jealousy you’ve got going on there is really ugly. But, it’s understandable, I mean, not only is she far more attractive than you, but she’s also by far the superior person. It must suck for you knowing that Isabel Evans is better than you are in every way imaginable. The only things you beat her at are being a whore and a shitty person.”

I shrug and turn, leaving her standing behind me gaping at me in rage, unable to speak. And as I walk away, I know I’m leaving behind every piece of baggage that she gave me.

That was so good.
***

Liz’s POV
“No way!” I exclaim as Alex, Maria and I head out to the quad for lunch. “You did not say that to Leanna!”

“I did,” he replies smugly, looking happier than he has in ages.

“Go Alex!” I cheer as Maria and I wrap our arms around his middle in a move reminiscent of a pincer attack.

“My little baby’s all growed up,” sniffles Maria, her face pressed into his side.

“Not you two as well,” groans Isabel as she reaches us. “I already have enough competition for Mr Studly here without you guys joining in.”

I instantly drop my arms and step away from Alex. “He’s all yours.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” laughs Maria gleefully.

“Huh?” Isabel looks at us both as Alex puts his arm around her shoulders as we walk towards a free table.

“Little Miss Slutto tried to win Alex back,” informs Maria, not noticing the look of horror on Isabel’s face. “He told her where to go.”

Isabel turns to Alex, looking absolutely aghast. “Leanna wants you back?”

“Not after what I said to her,” he reassures. “Besides, I’m with you now.”

“What did you say to her?” she asks as Maria and I head off to let them have a little privacy. I know Isabel hates looking vulnerable in front of anyone, so we’ll limit the number of people witnessing it to just Alex and make it a little easier for her.

We reach the table just as Max arrives. I perch myself on his knee and steal some of his chips as we discuss our classes and what happened in them. Eventually Isabel and Alex rejoin us, Isabel looking a lot happier. He’d have had to have given her a blow by blow description of what he and Leanna said for her to look so secure and unworried. I know she secretly harbours worry that Alex is still in love with Leanna.

Izzy sits on Alex’s knee and Maria sighs despondently. “I feel like such a leper. Everyone’s getting love but me. Why does Michael have to be in college?”

“You could sit on Alex’s other knee if you want,” offers Isabel, much to Alex’s despair.

“No way, I have enough trouble squashing this playboy rumour without more fuel being added to the fire.”

“Get on Max,” I say gesturing with the hand not wrapped around the back of his neck. “He’s a big strong lad.”

Before Max can protest, Maria launches herself on top of my legs, crushing both me and Max in the process. I cry out in pain and Max loses his balance and falls backwards off the bench seat. We land in a messy jumble on the grass and simultaneously crack up laughing, while Alex starts pegging raisins at us and tells us all to take the orgy elsewhere. And for a moment it feels like we’re just a bunch of regular kids mucking around and having fun, not dealing with emotionally stunted childhoods and sexual intimacy problems. But it all comes back too soon. Max isn’t dealing with his issues and I don’t even know what type of fucked up Isabel is. I can only hope and pray that things turn out for the best, because this is one problem that I can’t fix.
***

Maria’s POV
“Mawia, do you fink dat Cindy weally likes me?” Tia asks for the millionth time this week. Cindy is her new best friend at the centre. Being both quiet, shy girls it’s a match made in heaven. However, Tia can’t quite get over the fact that she actually has a friend her age.

“Yes, honey, I really do.” I watch Tia flush with pleasure and squirm a little as the joy zips through her. I decide to start my mission, it’s called Operation Make-Tia-Believe-That-She’s-Awesome. “And why wouldn’t she? You’re sweet, funny and gorgeous and a lovely person. Plus, you share your toys, I never shared my toys as a kid. I was a total bi-” I pull myself up short and remind myself that I’m talking to a three year old. An impressionable three year old who does not need me to introduce her to strange and naughty new words. Although I’m sure that with her cruddy mother she’s heard far more than her fair share of swear words.

“You were a what?” she asks innocently as she makes her barbie prance around the floor wearing a new dress that I bought for her today.

“I was a...” I trail off looking for a word that starts with bi. Bisexual? Absolutely not. Bilingual? Please, I can barely speak English. “Bit of a naughty girl.”

That worked. Tia shakes her head seriously at me. “You aren’t naughty. You’re gweat.”

I smile brightly at her, pleased beyond belief that this tiny three year old thinks I’m so awesome. I jump as I hear a knock sound. I quickly jump up and cross over to the door, my hand lingering over the pocket with my cell phone in it.

“Who is it?” I call out cautiously. This neighbourhood isn’t the safest and I’ll be damned if I don’t take every precaution to protect Tia.

“Your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman,” replies a familiar voice. I laugh in relief and let the door swing open to reveal Alex holding a board game and a bag of cookies.

He grins sheepishly at me. “Sorry to intrude. Swap you some candyland and cookies for some womanly advice?”

I grin and open the door wider and let him through. He dumps the board game and cookies on the bench as I lock the door. As soon as the lock clicks in place, Tia wraps her arms tightly around my legs. I pry her off and pick her up, planning to introduce her to Alex. Instead, she quickly wraps her arms tightly around my neck and buries her head into my shoulder. I guess she’s still wary of strangers.

“Honey, this is Alex,” I tell her, attempting to pull her off me a little so that I can look at her face, but she only tightens her grip.

“Hi Tia,” greets Alex unsurely. He’s never dealt with this before, kids usually love him and spend hours making him their personal slave. He’s given so many horsey rides and piggy backs to his little cousins that I’m certain that he’s got curvature of the spine.

“Don’t hurt, Mawia!” she crys out, her anguished voice muffled by my shoulder.

Both Alex and I exchange strange looks at her exclamation.

I pull her gently, but firmly off of my shoulder so that I can look at her. “Honey... what?”

“He’s doeing to hurt you,” she says, tears tumbling down her face. She looks absolutely miserable and I wonder just what happened to her when she lived with her mother. Did her mother have an abusive boyfriend? That could explain this reaction.

“Tia, Alex would never hurt me,” I object. “He’s one of my best friends. Remember, you saw him at the hospital.”

Tia wipes at the still falling tears and mumbles in response, “Mommy had men tome over at night and dey always hurt her.”

With that one sentence, this kid breaks my heart. She’s seen her mother have not one, but a whole string of abusive boyfriends. No wonder she freaked when Alex walked through the door. She doesn’t know him and the situation is too similar. God, what this kid must have seen...

“Tia, sweety, not every man that you will know in your life is going to hurt you, do you understand?”

She swallows and wipes the back of her hand across her face and doesn’t say anything.

“Does Michael hit you?” I ask, feeling a little better when she shakes her head. If she can recognise that Michael is a good guy, maybe we can change her attitude a little. “Does Michael hit me?” She shakes her head again and the tears have slowed down now. They’re not coming so thick and fast.

“Do you think that I would let anyone into my life that could hurt me like that?”

She bites her lip and I find it devastating to see her thought process written so plainly across her face. She’s never even considered that it’s a choice that you can make. Violence must have just been a part of life for her.

I tilt her chin up with my free hand and force her to look at me. “Tia, violence is never acceptable. Ever. If someone is hurting you, you tell someone who can stop it. You go to me, you go to Michael, you go to Miss Anna at the centre or you go to an adult like a teacher or a policeman. No one is allowed to hurt you, do you understand?”

She nods and I sigh a little in relief. “Now, you know how Cindy is your best friend? Well, here’s one of mine. I have two best friends. He’s brought us over some cookies and some candyland, so how about we play before we hurt his feelings, huh?”

She nods a little and I’m pleased by her acceptance. We’ve made some progress, although, when she sits down, she stays very close by my side and is pretty wary of Alex. She actually flinches when Alex offers her a cookie.

“So,” I begin as we roll the dice. “What brings you to my neck of the woods, Lal?”

He sighs dramatically as he lies down on the floor on his stomach across the board from us. “One month anniversary is coming up. Help me.”

“Ahh, the old one monther. Have you got any idea what you want to get her?”

He laughs sardonically. “No, and I have no clues either. How do you say, thank you for dating me even though you’re a thousand times out of my league and a wonderful person, I really don’t deserve you, please don’t leave me? Without sounding overly desperate of course. I want it to be meaningful, but not so meaningful that I send her running for the hills.”

I laugh a little and hand the dice to Tia and help her count out her roll. “I don’t think she’d mind a very meaningful present. For some reason that girl has zip all confidence. Anything that could convince her that you’ll actually be sticking around might be useful.”

“I guess,” mutters Alex, his brow furrowing in thought. “Speaking of, do you know what’s with that? All her life Isabel has always been the pretty popular girl, so I’m not getting where the low self esteem comes from.”

“I don’t know, I thought she’d have told you. Maybe it’s just one of those things, maybe she was born with a very self deprecating nature,” I suggest as I grab a handful of cookies.

“I don’t think so,” says Alex with a shake of his head. “There has to be something else. Something she’s not telling me.”

“I’m sure she will eventually,” I soothe, hoping to reassure him.

“What are you talking bout?” enquires Tia, having lost the struggle to not appear interested in our conversation.

I lift her up into my lap and take the dice from Alex, throwing it on the board. “You remember my friend, Isabel? The blonde one who found you in the bathroom? She’s dating Alex.”

“Dating?” enquires Tia, obviously not familiar with the word.

“Isabel is Alex’s girlfriend. You know how I’m Michael’s girlfriend? They’re like that.”

Tia’s face brightens towards Alex a bit, losing some of its suspicion. It heartens me to see that. “Do you wike her?”

Alex smiles back at her. “I do, kiddo. Very much.”

“Alex and Isabel have been dating for almost a month and he’s going to get her a present but he doesn’t know what to get her. Which is why he’s come to ask me.”

“Why?” she asks, almost offending me in her childlike innocence. I’m a great gift giver! Why wouldn’t he ask me?

“Because he wants his present to be special and he needs a girl’s opinion.”

“How do you be fwiends with a boy?” she asks suddenly, her little face screwed up in confusion.

I shrug, a little put out by the question. “Pretty easily. They’re not that much different from a girl.”

“Mitael is my favouwite boy,” she announces, seemingly very proud of the fact that Michael is her brother.

“Before Michael, Alex was my favourite boy,” I inform her, waiting for Alex to protest. I don’t have to wait long.

“Hey! Oh, I see how it is, you get a boyfriend and suddenly I’m chopped liver?” Alex pretends to be offended and funnily enough, Tia can’t tell the difference.

“It’s otay! Mawia still wikes you!”

She seems very concerned that he’s upset and I can’t help but be warmed by her big heart. She cares so much.

“Tia, I was kidding. I know that Maria still likes me. She just likes Michael a lot too, but in a different way.”

“What’s the diffewence between wiking a fwiend and wiking a boyfwiend?”

I grimace at him. “Now you’ve done it,” I mutter at him.

“It’s similar, but when you have a girlfriend or boyfriend the feeling is a little bit stronger,” says Alex, saving me from an awkward question.

“Otay,” she yawns, making me look at the clock. Wowsers, she should have been in bed half an hour ago.

“Time for bed young missy,” I tell her, marching her down to the bathroom. I push the wooden stool up the bathroom sink and place her on it. I rifle around in the cabinet until I find her toothbrush and toothpaste, which I pull out with a flourish. The first time I did this, I had no idea what I was doing, but now I’m a total pro at brushing her teeth. I consider it training for when I have my own children. Hopefully they’ll be half as cute as Tia is. I get her to go to the toilet and then it’s off to bed, with one of the shorter stories tonight. Luckily, Michael’s embraced story time wholeheartedly and reads to her whatever book I bring him from the local library.

I crash on the couch after Tia falls asleep during the middle of Hairy Mclairy and turn the TV on. This is usually the worst part of babysitting Tia. Michael’s still at work and Tia’s asleep. I usually do my homework right now, but Alex is here to distract me tonight.

“She’s a cute kid,” he comments. “Weird reactions though. Where did that come from?”

“I assume that she learnt it with her mother. She must have seen a lot of violence to react like that.”

Alex sighs sadly. “Poor kid.”

“She’s so brave,” I whisper as we sit on the couch together. “She thought you were there to beat the crap out of me and she tried to protect me. She asked you not to hurt me.” I feel tears well in my eyes. To have inspired so much loyalty from such a timid little girl that she’d actually put herself in harm’s way and draw attention to herself... It’s mind boggling.

“God, what had that kid been through before Michael got her out?”

I follow that train of thought and I don’t like its destination. “Here’s something I can’t believe I never considered before, what happened to Michael before he got out?”

My blood runs cold at the thought of a tiny Michael watching some man beat up his mother. Oh my... what he must have been through.
***
Last edited by Rowedog on Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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