Under My Skin
Title: Under My Skin
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Roswell belong to Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Author’s Notes: This is either for Houses or Echo. I forget who requested this as opposed to who requested Fred/Michael.
Summary: It was completely possible that, one of these days, he might finally snap and blast her into whatever dimension it was that she came from.
Michael gritted his teeth as the humming that he had hoped – no, prayed – had finally ended, once again began even louder than before. He shut his eyes, counted to ten and then did it all over again, forcing himself to remember that Maxwell would have his ass if he did anything to end the source of his current irritation, no matter how provoked he may feel.
The humming stopped, replaced by light footsteps on the hard wood of the entertainment room floor.
And, of course, those footsteps came to a stop right in front of him.
“You okay, Mikey?”
His jaw tightened, straining as he bit back a sharp reply involving her using any sort of nickname when referring to him. Hands clenched, he slowly opened his eyes to glare at the smiling brunette. “I’m fine, Dawn.”
“Are you sure? You look sort of… I dunno… not of the good,” she shrugged.
Because you won’t quit with the humming, he wanted to tell her. But, no, Maxwell had said to be nice to Dawn because it was Dawn’s older sister that they were currently indebted to for a safe place to stay and some steady work. Sure, it was in a house that might as well be a freak show, but that didn’t matter. They all fit right in here.
And he’d be happy if it weren’t for Dawn. Hell, he hadn’t been this content since right after Maria left him to make a life somewhere ‘far, far away’, when he realized once and for all how much her incessant nagging had weighed him down from day to day. Living here was one of the best things that had ever happened to him.
Except for Dawn. He couldn’t stress that enough. She was the thorn in his side – a happily perky thorn at that.
He didn’t do happy.
He –definitely- did not do bubbly and humming.
But Dawn did.
And she seemed to enjoy doing it whenever he was around, too. Maxwell didn’t have problems with her. Neither did Is or Liz or even Valenti, though he had a feeling that Valenti just put up with it because he wanted to get in her pants.
For some reason, that part irritated him. Valenti had a lot of good points, but sometimes women just weren’t one of them. And, while part of Michael was happy the other man had given up all hopes of ever winning Is’s heart, he was sort of pissed that Valenti had moved on to Dawn in her stead.
“I’m sure,” he managed between clenched teeth. Maxwell’s orders or not, if she didn’t cease with the perkiness and get her good-smelling self away from him.
Oh, damn. He had –not- just paid her any sort of compliment, even in his own head.
She raised her eyebrows and backed up a couple steps. “I think you need some fresh air. Come on – I was just about to go to the store anyway.”
The idea of walking with her anywhere didn’t wholly appeal to him. “I don’t want to go for a walk.” He glanced out of the window. “And it’s dark, Summers. Your sister –“
“Is my sister, not my mother. I’m nineteen years old, Mikey. I can go outside if I want to, night time or not.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder before crossing her arms over her chest, irritation showing plainly on her face. Dark eyes flashed with mischief, nonetheless. “Of course, if you want to let me walk out of here by myself, with no escort… well, there’s really no telling what she might do to you, now is there?”
Michael bit back a string of curses. She was right. If Dawn went out and got into trouble he’d be a dead man for letting her go by herself, especially considering he’d now lived in the house long enough to know that trouble seemed to follow her around like a stray, rabid puppy.
“Fine,” he snapped, sighing angrily as he got to his feet.
“Well don’t sound all happy about it,” she huffed, grabbing up her purse from the table near the door.
“Don’t worry, I won’t.”
He was the most infuriating… irritating… annoying…
… hot… sexy….
Dawn bit the inside of her cheek. Hard. She was so not having those thoughts about the bane of her existence, AKA Michael Guerin. Then again, she hadn’t been able to stop herself from having those kind of dreams about him, so why would a little thought or two come as any surprise?
She snuck a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. As usual, his hands were shoved down in his jeans, dark eyes set firmly forward, and scowl tightly in place. He was the epitome of anti-social behavior. Oh, sure, the other Roswellians assured her that he really did have a ‘heart of gold’, but maybe that meant something else on whatever planet they were from than it did here, because he certainly wasn’t winning any humanitarian awards that she could see. For that matter, he could barely keep his temper when she tried to talk to him.
“Stupid man,” she grumbled under her breath.
Dawn shot Michael an innocent look. “I didn’t say anything.”
He glared at her, raising his eyebrows as if to say that he didn’t believe her, before turning his attention back to the street in front of him.
Okay, so maybe this walk hadn’t been the best idea. But, hey, he’d looked like he needed fresh air, darn it.
And, of course, time spent with Michael doing anything was worth it.
Then again, walking anywhere in this neighborhood was a bad idea no matter who she was with, come to think of it. She glanced around nervously, remembering for the first time the roving band of vamps that her sister and Willow had been trying to get a handle on for the last week. The outskirts of Cleveland’s Hellmouth were just as dangerous as Sunnydale had ever been, they’d all found out all too quickly. The vamps here almost seemed smarter.
Which, for a vamp, didn’t really mean too much, come to think of it.
“What was that?”
Dawn stumbled to a stop as Michael came to a sudden halt, head whipping around.
“I don’t hear anything,” she grumbled, rolling her eyes.
“Well I –did- hear something. So… hush.”
She snorted, but otherwise kept her silence. Better to let the paranoid alien have a little look-see if that’s what he wanted to do. The truth was that she hadn’t heard –
“Okay, I heard it that time,” Dawn whispered, joining him in a scan of the area. The sound had been the faint cry of a woman, like a half-muffled sob. There was no one on the street that she could see, and the buildings were dark and mostly empty from what she remembered of Willow’s recon into the city census files. She stopped her gaze on the mouth of a dark alley. Why was it always the dark alleys? Why not bright, sunny fields or parks?
Because creatures of the night were one hundred and ten percent against bright, sunny places, she reminded herself with a wry snort.
“Stay here, I’ll go check it out.”
Dawn’s mouth snapped shut, head swiveling to fix him with a glare she was pretty sure should have been deadly. “Stay here? Who in the heck do you think you are? Newsflash, Oh Mighty Scowling One, you’re the rookie here and I’m the pro.”
She knew it was a childish thing to say, followed by an even more childish exit as she whirled on one heel and stalked off toward the alley; but damn it if he didn’t bring out the little worst in her!
“The name is Dawn, Podboy,” she stopped at the mouth of the alley and turned back to him, matching his glare with one of her own.
“I was just trying –“
“To be a macho, chauvinistic jerk?” Dawn finished for him with an angry shake of her head. “No thanks. I don’t care how hot you are – I don’t need you saving me from the things that go bump in the night.”
Since when did she think he was hot?
Not that it mattered in even the tiniest, most minuscule way.
So why was he feeling like someone had just handed him a cookie?
“I don’t need you looking out for me, got it?” She continued, seemingly unaware of what she’d just let slip.
And with that she was off again, disappearing into the inky blackness of the alley, leaving him just standing there in the silence of her fury.
Wait, that wasn’t right.
Michael took a hesitant step toward the alley, listening intently. No footsteps. Just that forlorn sobbing that seemed to be coming from far away. He took another step, mouth pressed into a tight line. He couldn’t see even an inch into the alley. It was like someone had tossed a giant black cloth down over the mouth of the entire thing.
“Look, Summers. Come out here for a second. We’ll go get a flashlight.”
But silence greeted his request. No smart remarks or footsteps coming back his way.
Just that damn eerie wailing.
Michael swallowed. Fuck. What was he supposed to do now? Go back to the house and wait to tell Buffy that he’d lost her sister or follow the irritating woman into this very dark, sort of intimidating – even if he’d never admit so out loud – alley?
The alley was most likely the less dangerous option of the two, even if that darkness didn’t seem quite normal. Somehow he doubted that even Maxwell could heal the kind of injuries that the Slayer was likely to give him if he let her sister get hurt, whereas he stood a chance with the funky dark alley.
With a muttered curse, he took his first step into the alley, hoping against hope that someone would turn on a light…
… and found himself falling.