parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. you'll find part 10 after the jump.
Instead of answering Liz merely got out of the bed and opened the bedroom door. Michael stood on the other side with a sheepish smile and wrapped in a towel. Of all the things Liz had been expecting, a half-naked Michael wasn’t on the list, and flustered she took a step back.
“I need to get dressed. I made us breakfast, if you want you can set the kitchen counter, I’ll be out in a minute.”
Liz nodded still too scattered to respond. Mindlessly she made her way to the kitchen and began setting two place settings with the mismatched dishes and cutlery she found as she rummaged through Michael’s cupboard.
Michael joined her in the kitchen after a few minutes, and though he was completely dressed in a black button-down shirt and dark fitted jeans. He looked sexy, and Liz couldn’t understand how someone could look that good so early in the morning.
“If you want to get dressed go ahead, I’ll serve the pancakes. Do you want any orange juice?”
“Um…okay that sounds good. You were busy this morning.” Liz went into the bathroom and got herself together before heading out again. Michael had set two plate filled with generous amounts of food. She smiled at him quizzically before taking a seat.
“Oh. I got up early and couldn’t get back to sleep so I stopped fighting it.” Michael grinned at her as he took his seat and a healthy bite of the food on his plate. “Hmmm. I was starving. Anyway I was thinking I’d drop you off at your place and you could get whatever you needed. I’ll swing by Maria’s and do the boyfriend thing and then pick you up on the way back. Remember we’re going on a bike so no loads of stuff. Okay?”
“Wow, you did have a lot of time to think this morning.” Liz smiled before continuing, “It sounds good. I was thinking of packing a picnic lunch.”
“Parker, food is always good.” They both laughed at Michael’s expression and proceeded to eat breakfast while sharing anecdotes and laughter.
Michael dropped Liz off in front of the Crashdown as planned, with the promise of returning in half-an-hour. He had already gathered together what he considered necessary to an afternoon at the lake. A bathing suit and a towel were about it.
Liz quickly ran up the stairs to her family’s apartment. Quickly, she showered and changed into white shorts and a striped tee. She walked into the kitchen at the Crashdown and began rummaging through the fridge for picnic essentials.
“Liz what are you doing?”
Liz yelped and dropped a plastic container to the floor, its contents splattering across the clean linoleum floor.
“Max what are you doing here?” she asked as she turned to face the handsome dark-haired boy she had loved for the past two years. She felt incredibly guilty. She had been spending so much time with Michael, just laughing, she had only just realized how little she laughed when she was with Max.
“I was worried about you. I called and called last night and never got an answer. I thought something had happened.”
“No. I’m sorry. It’s just that…I spent the night at Michael’s, we were watching a movie and it got really late.” Liz said as she looked up into Max’s amber eyes nervously.
His eyes flickered with emotion, jealousy, anger, relief, she couldn’t tell. He merely nodded and said, “You two have been spending a lot of time together lately.”
“Yeah…well we’ve had similar schedules this week, working the same shifts and all. Um…aren’t you supposed to be working today?” Liz bent down to wipe up the mess, placing the container and its contents in the sink. She would clean it up later.
“Yeah, I’m on a break. I asked Brody if I could go check on you.”
“Oh. So what time do you want to meet tonight?”
“Around eight. I’ll pick you up here.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Liz smiled up at Max as he drew her into his embrace and brushed her lips with a soft kiss. He left as quietly as he came, and Liz shook her head as if to clear her thoughts before continuing to pack hers and Michael’s picnic lunch.
Michael struggled to maintain the smile on his face as he listened to Amy Deluca’s mind-numbing chatter. Maria was talking circles around them both, while Kyle hung back on the edge of the activities conversing quietly with Isabel. Valenti was occupied in packing the car correctly, as Amy kept handing him last minute items that she had deemed necessary for whatever reason.
“So Michael, what are your plans for the day?” Amy asked.
“Um…Liz and I are going out to spend the day at the lake.”
“You and Liz have been spending a lot of time together lately.” Maria stated quietly on the heels of his answer.
Michael could feel his defensive hackles start to rise. Taking a breath to calm himself, he merely said, “We’ve had similar schedules and we’ve hung out.”
“Was she over there yesterday when I called?”
“Yeah, we were watching a movie. Why?”
“I was just wondering why neither of you mentioned it.”
“Did we have to? Christ, Maria you’re acting like Liz and I are hiding something big from you!”
“Michael, that’s exactly it, except I would say that you and Liz are acting like you’ve something to hide.”
“Well we don’t.” Michael ground out; angry at the turn the conversation was taking. He couldn’t understand why things with Maria were never easy. He had thought that making love would bring them closer together, but it had only succeeded in driving a wedge between them. Maria expected him to be someone else, someone he could never be. As much as he tried he hated the feelings of failure that being with Maria evoked. “Listen I have to head out. I promised Liz I’d pick her up.”
Michael wrapped Maria in an awkward hug and pressed a quick kiss against her lips. “Call me when you get back in.” he said to her. Addressing the entire group he wished everyone a good trip and offered Isabel a ride, which she declined.
Michael hopped onto his bike, but Isabel stopped him before he could leave. “Michael, do you mind hanging out tonight. I really don’t want to be alone and…”
“Sure, I don’t have any plans. Give me a call later this evening.” With a final wave he set off towards the Crashdown, eagerly anticipating the afternoon that lay ahead.