Happy tears, though, right? 'Cause it was a good thing.Loved that Maria's finally home. That song, just about blinded me with tears as I read that part. And Miley's reaction? OMG ... bucket o' tears here!
Yeah, he's gotta earn that that kind of privilege back.I'm glad that it was understood that while Maria is home, Michael is not welcome in the bed & bedroom.
Well, it's been awhile since anyone was able to describe any part of this fic as "fun," so that's progress!I loved the chapter too! Every bit was fun, sad, and realistic.
Yes, there is still a long way to go before (or if) they ever get back to the way it was. They've taken the first of many steps, but when the rest of the family leaves and it's just the two of them with Miley . . . it gets awkward.I enjoyed how you had the contrast of everyone being there supporting her and like they were before and how different M/M's life together still is.
Maria is going to need to use that inspiration she provides to keep getting better.Miley is an inspiring little girl. That walking to Maria moment was beautiful.
fadedblue: Woohoo! A new reader! Welcome!
Wow, that's a lot of reading! I hope you liked Passion and 521. And I'm glad you're caught up with this one. I'm nearing completion with it in terms of the actual writing, but in terms of posting, there is still a fair amount left to go.I've been away from roswell fanfic/fandom for a longgggg time but recently began a rewatch of season one and started to reread a bunch of my favorite fics from back in the day. I guess you can say I was/am a hardcore dreamer but man, my rewatch made me remember how good M/M were so I started to dig into more candy stuff. In that process I encountered your lovely stories and have, as of tonight, finished 521, up to the latest chapter of 522, and Passion :p. Thanks for giving me so much reading material the past few weeks!
Aw, thank you! You know, one of my big concerns when I first started conjuring up the ideas for this sequel was that it would get dramatic to the point where it seemed unrealistic. So the fact that it's pulled you in is very reassuring to me! Thank you!Anyway, back to 522 -- this fic series is by far one of the best I've ever read. I typically read AU wo alien fics for the fluff factor but you've managed to create some real, tangible stakes in the lives of these characters and I find that absolutely rare and riveting.
Hope to see more of you around here!
Krista: KRISTA! I didn't even know you were still around, let alone still reading. *online hug* I've missed you!
The youth wrestling tournament happened.What happened to once a week, April??
Thanks for the feedback!
“Whoa, there.” Kyle couldn’t keep the admiration out of his voice as he stared at his wife’s chest. “Somebody’s Easter eggs aren’t hidden very well.” The top she was wearing wasn’t normally that low-cut, but with her boobs getting bigger and bigger every day, it sure as hell gave her a lot of cleavage.
“Easter eggs? Seriously, Kyle?” she whined.
“Well, yeah, it’s Easter. And they’re bustin’ out all over the place. It’s fascinating.”
Tess squeezed them momentarily, and that sight alone almost sent him into a frenzy. She pouted. “They hurt.”
“Oops, sorry,” he apologized.
“No, it’s nothing you did. That’s just how it goes.” She opened her purse and took out a tube of the tastiest pink lip gloss, spreading it across her lips. Kyle couldn’t help but stare at those, too. Lips, boobs . . . every inch of her was devourable.
“What’s in a boob?” he asked, letting his eyes roam down to her chest again.
“I don’t know. Like, fat,” she answered.
“So it’s not always milk?”
She put her lip gloss back in her purse, zipped it up, and slung it over her shoulder. “No, that’s just a pregnancy thing.”
“Huh.” The entire female body was mesmerizing as far as he was concerned. “Hey, remember when I accidentally drank Maria’s breast milk?” He laughed, embarrassed. “That was such a me thing to do.”
She rolled her eyes, smiling a little, and asked, “You ready to go?” as she started for the door.
He followed obediently, taking a little time to admire her backside, too. She’d always had curves, but pregnancy was exaggerating those curves and therefore driving him wild.
“So anyone can drink that stuff, though, right?” he asked as they slipped out the door together. “I mean, if it’s good enough for a baby, it’d be good enough for--”
“Kyle!” she hissed, cutting him off. “Whatever you’re about to say, just don’t, okay?”
He pulled their front door shut, and they started across the yard to Michael and Maria’s house. “No, I’m just saying, if I got up in there and something accidentally squirted out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
“Oh my god.”
“Could be kinda cool.”
She made a face and knocked on Michael and Maria’s front door. “You’re watching way too much porn.”
“It’s the Japanese stuff. They’re so crazy.”
Maria opened the door a few seconds later, smiling when she saw them. “Hey, guys.” But when neither of them said anything ,she seemed to sense that she’d interrupted an interesting conversation. “Were you two just talking about me?”
“No,” Kyle assured her, “we were talking about the Japanese.”
Maria seemed relieved. “Oh, yeah, they do crazy things with their porn. Come in.” She stepped aside, and they entered the house. Miley was on the living room floor, unwrapping some candy and digging through her Easter basket, and Michael was in the kitchen, drying off a few dishes.
“You guys want any breakfast before we go?” Maria asked.
“Kyle wants some milk,” Tess blurted in response.
“Oh my god, it was just a thought,” he said dramatically. “Was it so crazy?”
“Okay . . . help yourselves,” Maria said confusedly. “I’m gonna go to the bathroom and then we can go.”
“Kay.” Tess sat down on the couch, tugging upward on her shirt. “She seems pretty upbeat,” she remarked.
“Yeah, she’s excited about Miley’s Easter egg hunt,” Michael said. “Hey, Miley, why don’t you show your aunt what the Easter bunny got you.”
“Yeah, I wanna see.” Tess got down on the floor, and Miley eagerly began to show her all the candy she’d gotten, even offering to share a few pieces.
Kyle sauntered into the kitchen, peering down at his nieces overflowing stash of candy loot as he did so. “Mmm, Cadbury eggs,” he said. “I got those, too.”
Michael put the last dish away, making a face. “Tess makes an Easter basket for you?”
“Oh, yeah, every year,” he replied without shame. He couldn’t help it that his wife was awesome like that. “She sets it out on the kitchen table. I see it when I walk out in the morning. It’s amazing.” He took a minute to watch her with Miley, and for the first time since he’d woken up that morning, he stopped being a completely horny guy; because he could tell what a good, involved mother she was going to be to their son, and that made him excited in a totally different way than her low-cut top did.
But speaking of that top . . . when she bent forward to retrieve an egg that was rolling away . . . damn, that did some wonderful things.
“Hey, can I ask you something personal?” he started in.
“Oh, god, please don’t,” Michael groaned.
“When Maria was breastfeeding and you two were gettin’ down, did you ever try to . . .” He trailed off, cupping invisible breasts to try to get his point across. “‘Cause it’s just milk, but . . .”
Michael gave him a speechless, horrified look.
“No?” he interpreted. “Okay, no, no, okay. Just checkin’.”
Maria came out of the bathroom shortly later, looking more lively than she had in months. “You guys ready to go?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Michael replied eagerly.
“Is Marty coming?” she asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“Then can you drop me off at his place afterwards?”
“Sure,” he replied. “Let’s go.”
On their way out the door, Kyle hung back with Michael, letting the girls dote on Miley as they got her into the car. “Dude,” he said, “aren’t my wife’s tits massive?”
Even Michael couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re a spaz, you know that?”
The Easter egg hunt took place at the park. It happened every year, but this was the first year Michael and Maria were taking Miley. Lots of kids from the neighborhood were there, including several that Miley went to daycare with. The whole place was bustling with activity, especially when the Easter bunny—or more precisely, the poor soul who had to wear the Easter bunny costume—came out and took pictures with the kids. Miley got to go to the front of the line, because all the other parents told their kids to get out of the way for her.
“Holy crap, this looks awesome,” Kyle said, looking like a kid in a candy store as they walked through the park towards the course Miley was set to run. She was in her stroller for now, sleepy because the morning’s sugar rush had come and gone, and Maria was happily pushing her. Very happily. She knew now not to take moments like this for granted.
“Kyle, you’re a spectator,” Tess reminded him, “not a participant.”
“But I wanna participate.”
Michael shook his head, then turned to Maria and asked, “How you doin’ so far?”
“Good. I’m really glad I could be here for this.” Holidays were important, even ones like this that Miley would only vaguely remember a few years from now. She didn’t want to miss any of them.
“So which course is Miley gonna do?” Tess asked.
“That one,” Michael replied, pointing out a course marked 3 and under. It was just a flat course with eggs hidden in the grass. For the older age groups, the courses became a bit more challenging. Some had trees, and the course for the oldest kids in attendance was the actual playground itself.
“I wanna do that one,” Miley said, pointing to the playground.
“You can’t, sweetie,” Michael told her. “That one’s for the bigger kids.”
“Like me?” Kyle asked hopefully.
Michael sighed. “Sure, Kyle. Have at it.”
“Awesome!” He tried to take off, but Tess grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“That was a joke. You’re staying right here with me,” she said.
Maria gripped the handles of Miley’s stroller nervously as she surveyed some of the other kids in attendance. There were two little boys in particular who were rough-housing near the starting line of the 3 and under course. One of them looked like he weighed five times as much as Miley. “Okay, no way is that kid three or under,” she proclaimed. “He’s huge.”
“Childhood obesity,” Tess said. “It’s a tragedy.”
“No, that kid is unnatural.”
“He looks like he’s on steroids,” Michael said in agreement.
The big kid suddenly shoved the other kid.
“Oh, see, and there’s the ‘roid rage,” Michael added. “Where the hell are their parents?”
Apparently they were nowhere in sight, because the ‘roid rage kid suddenly lifted up the other kid, dropped him on the ground, and kicked him.
“Oh my god,” Maria gasped, even though both the boys were laughing. “Is this . . . safe?”
“Yeah . . .” Michael replied, sounding a bit worried himself. “I’m gonna go talk to someone, just to make sure.”
“Good idea.” Even though they wanted her to take part in all the things so-called normal kids got to do, Miley had some special circumstances to consider since the car accident.
“I’ve got ten bucks on the fat kid,” Kyle wagered as Michael trotted off to speak with an organizer.
Tess tore her eyes away from the boys and scanned the crowd. “Oh, look,” she pointed out, “there’s Garret.”
Maria followed her gaze and caught sight of Miley’s best friend. “With his new family,” she added, not used to seeing Max and Liz in such an environment.
“It was good of them to bring him here,” Tess said. “I’m sure Isabel never . . .” She trailed off suddenly. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Maria assured her. “You can say her name.” She didn’t want people thinking she was so fragile that even the smallest thing could break her. She returned her attention to Garret, Max, and Liz. “Is he gonna run a different course than Miley?”
“Yeah, he’ll do the 4-6 one.”
“Hmm.” She couldn’t help but notice that Max was even holding his nephew’s hand as they walked through the crowd. “I’d better not stare,” she said, tearing her eyes away from them. “I’ll look like a creeper.”
Tess laughed lightly.
When Michael returned, he looked relieved. “Okay, so I talked to the coordinator, and she says lots of parents run the course with their kids when they’re this little. So it’s no big deal.”
“Oh, so . . . so you’ll just carry her with you then,” Maria said.
“Uh, yeah, I could. Or . . . you could,” he pointed out, “if you want to.”
“Really?” She more than wanted to, especially after missing out on so much time with her lately. But Miley was a daddy’s girl, always had been. “She’d probably rather have you do it.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Michael said, sounding sure.
She knew what he was doing, giving her this opportunity to really be there for one of the fun moments, one of the moments that had been all too rare for the past few months. It was pretty sweet.
She knelt down in front of her daughter’s stroller, tapping her arm to keep her from dozing off. “Miley, Mama’s gonna carry you through the course,” she said. “Is that okay with you?”
Miley smiled a little and nodded.
Inside, she breathed a sigh of relief. “Good.”
Maria and Miley weren’t the most efficient Easter egg hunters. Maria wasn’t the fastest runner, and it was harder to carry Miley with her back brace. They sometimes got ahead of themselves and started taking off for one egg before they’d even collected the one closest to them. The ‘roid rage kid and his buddy were a lot more ruthless and dove in front of them a lot. But they were having a good time. They were both laughing. And smiling. And living. It filled Michael’s heart with joy just to stand back and watch them.
That was his whole world out there. He hoped they knew that.
“Excellent job!” the announcer called. “Let’s have a round of applause for all our hunters in the three and under division.”
Max grunted, neglecting to clap his hands. “Amateurs. You’re gonna show ‘em how it’s done, right, buddy?”
Garret nodded confidently.
“Of course you are.” He patted him on the shoulder and knelt down next to him. “Now you listen to me: All the other kids are gonna be stupid and start fighting over all these eggs up front. But do you see how many are hidden in the back?” He pointed them out, and Garret’s eyes grew wide with excitement. “If you just sprint back there, you can get all of ‘em with no problem at all.”
“Cool!” Garret exclaimed.
“I know, right? You go get ‘em, tiger.” He stood back as all the kids began to line up at the start.
“Were you really just coaching him?” Liz asked. “For an Easter egg hunt?”
“More like strategizing,” he admitted. “Believe it or not, my dad actually used to take me to this stupid thing when I was a kid.”
“Yeah, it was like his one good fatherly deed ever. But he gave me the same advice I just gave Garret. Worked every time.”
“Hmm.” Liz wrapped her hands around his arm, standing close beside him. “Well, even though it’s kind of creepy to see you channeling your inner Phillip Evans, it was pretty cute to see you acting like a dad.”
Who was acting? As far as he was concerned, he was the only dad Garret had left.
“Oh, look, Maria’s back,” Liz commented suddenly.
Max had seen her earlier; he just hadn’t said anything. “Oh, joy,” he muttered sarcastically.
“Stop it. That’s good for their family.”
“Which we aren’t a part of,” he reminded her. “Thank God.”
“Well, we might be someday.” She motioned towards Garret, and Max understood what she was saying.
“Oh, great, that’ll be awkward. ‘Hey, Garret, you know your mother-in-law? Yeah, she annoys the hell out of me, too. That’s why I raped her.’”
Liz flinched. “Maybe that conversation doesn’t have to happen.”
“It will, though.” It was inevitable, and Max was dreading it. “Not every day’s gonna be as carefree as this one.”
Liz sighed, resting her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her closer. For now, he was just going to stand back and watch his son—nephew, whatever—dominate an Easter egg hunt. For now, this was good.
Maria knocked on the door to her brother’s apartment, and from the moment she heard him say, “Come in,” she knew he wasn’t going to be his usual energetic self. He just sounded . . . tired.
“Hey,” she said as she stepped in the door. He was sitting on his couch, sipping wine and browsing through a magazine that was probably intended for women in that it displayed a bunch of naked men.
“Hey,” he replied, setting the magazine and his drink aside. “You look cute.”
“Thanks.” She sat down beside him, plucking at the light blue baby tee she was wearing. “I got this from one of the drug addicts at rehab.”
“Heroin chic. I like it,” her brother proclaimed. “So did Miley do her Easter egg hunt today?”
“Yeah. I think she had fun.”
“Well, I would’ve been there, but I was just . . . freakin’ busy.”
“Looks like.” She wasn’t about to say anything out loud, but Marty’s apartment looked unusually cluttered and dirty. He was usually such a neat freak. Clearly he was just feeling out of sorts. “You didn’t wanna be around Michael, did you?” she guessed.
“Hey, I took a giant step forward when I hung out with all you guys yesterday,” he pointed out.
She sighed, hating that she was partially to blame for the estrangement. Marty would have been furious with Michael no matter what after learning he’d cheated on her, but the fact that she’d taken all those pills after finding out . . . maybe that was just too much for Marty to overcome.
“I hear you’re gonna have to close down your club,” she said, knowing that was probably another thing that was upsetting Marty lately. “And I hear you’re refusing Michael’s offer to help.”
“I don’t wanna owe him anything,” Marty said quickly.
“It wouldn’t be him; it’d be his parents.”
“Which, in some ways, is even weirder. No thanks,” he dismissed. “I just don’t know if I can ever truly forgive him for what he did to you, you know?”
“But that’s what I’m trying to do,” she pointed out. “Shouldn’t you be able to do the same thing?” She understood that people were still mad, but Tess seemed to have gotten over it, and that was for the best.
She stood up, turning to leave, but Marty stopped her.
“Maria?” he said. “I’ll try harder. For you, not for him, okay?”
She shrugged, not so concerned with his motivation as long as he was actually motivated. “Works for me.”
Audioslave. Weezer. Jack’s Mannequin. Maria hadn’t realized how much she’d missed music until she brought out the laptop and started looking through all the music she had stored there. At Cresthaven, there had mostly been silence. Silence and a lot of thought and reflection. She’d packed up and gone there in such a hurry that she hadn’t remembered to bring any music with her.
“What’re you doing?” Michael asked as he came downstairs after tucking Miley into bed for the night.
“Oh, just browsing through our music collection,” she replied. “You know, I have fantastic taste in tunes.”
He sat down beside her and asked, “What about me?”
She shrugged. “Eh.”
“What, just ‘eh?’”
“Well, most of it’s not horrible,” she acknowledged as she scrolled past an array of fabulous Metric and MGMT albums, “but some of it puts me to sleep.”
He feigned offense as he argued, “It’s mellow and relaxing.”
“Not all of it. I got some Metallica in there,” he reminded her.
“And some acoustic covers of Metallica, which, by the way, are horrible.”
He laughed a little and admitted, “Yeah, they are pretty bad. Can I see that?”
She handed the computer over to him, and he started scrolling back up through the collection. “Man, I can’t even remember the last time I just sat and listened to music.”
“You haven’t had time.” She couldn’t even imagine how busy he’d been while she’d been away. He’d pretty much had to be a single dad for a month and a half. He’d had to work, pay the bills, run all the errands . . .
When she thought about it too much, she started to feel really guilty.
“You know, we could alternate,” she suggested suddenly.
He gave her a confused look. “What?”
“The bed and the couch,” she clarified. “We could switch back and forth. It’s just not really fair for you to have to sleep down here every night.”
He shook his head. “I don’t mind.”
“Maria. I really don’t mind.”
Even though he didn’t sound like he was going to budge, she asked, “You sure?”
“Yeah.” He returned his attention to the laptop screen and said, “Here’s a good one. It’s an instrumental from Titanic.”
“What’s it called?” she asked, leaning over a bit to get a better look.
“The Portrait,” he replied, double clicking on it so it began to play. Soft, beautiful piano music. Very mellow and relaxing. “It’s the song that plays in my head whenever I paint you.” He turned his head to the side and just looked at her, and she just looked at him, too. But suddenly, she felt as if she were sitting closer, maybe even breathing harder; and in her mind, she remembered the first time she’d posed for a portrait for him, remembered that look of intense concentration in his eyes. Sort of like the one he had right now. When he looked at her like that, whether he was painting or just sitting beside her like he was now, it was like he was seeing every single inch of her. It made her whole body tingle.
“I think I’m gonna take a cue from some of your mellow, relaxing music and go to sleep,” she said, forcing herself to stand and head upstairs before something happened that she wasn’t ready for yet.
TBC . . .