Envy and Other Things by Jennifer
Title: Envy and Other Things

Author: Jennifer

E-mail: hormone_girl@angelfire.com

Rating: PG13

Category: Rath/Michael/Maria (odd sort of m/m slash)

Summary: Maria discovers something about Michael.

Disclaimer: i do not own the characters.

Author's Note: This was SO totally inspired by Melissa's 'Overheard'. I reread that sucker (pardon the pun *grin*) 10 or 11 times, and I just had to write this. So Melissa, this is dedicated to you. I bet you're thinking now 'Geesh, how many times can this girl dedicate her stories to me?' :) Guess we'll see. Oh...and tell me if I copied you. Okay, so the basic premise is sorta the same...but...*sigh* Just tell me. :)

************

He wants a tattoo.

That was what clued me in. He's a bad boy, but not the tattoo-kind of bad boy.

But there were other clues.

When I found the heavy chain stashed under his bed, I should have clued in. But Michael had worn chains before. No big deal, right? And anyway, if it belonged to someone else...who? I certainly didn't know any female punks-- Ava excluded, but she had long since gone.

That was my first mistake. I didn't know any ...female... punks.

And then there was the time I walked into his apartment and he was in the shower. A perfectly normal occurance, and I was all set to join him. But then his phone rang, so I picked it up. Of course.

"Yo."

One word, and I sighed.

"Rath? Is that you? What are you doing calling Michael?"

There was silence, and then I could hear him grin and laugh.

"Hey baby girl...your man there to talk to, or are you all alone?"

As it happened, Michael walked out just then and jumped about five feet in the air when he saw me. I smiled at him, because he had walked out naked, but he didn't seem to notice or care about my smile, and the fact that I was checking him out.

"It's Rath," I said, and THAT certainly got him over to me. He took the phone and leaned against the wall, faux casually. A few hurried words, and glances over at me, and the conversation was over.

I sat there, feeling a little confused, until he sat down beside me, still naked, and pulled me up into his lap.

He always did know how to distract me.

- - - -

But when we on the couch together, too lazy to move, and he told me that he wanted a tattoo, that's when it clicked. I'm not stupid.

"A tattoo? Michael, are you okay there? You haven't been painting in an enclosed space again, have you?"

He rolled his eyes at me, and propped himself up on his elbows, giving me a wondeful view of his chest.

"Look, I just said I wanted a tattoo. It's not like I'm gonna pierce myself or something."

I thought it was odd that he brought up piercing. But I shrugged it off, and told him that if he was gonna get a tattoo, he should get it someplace secret, so that only I could see it.

Oh, if I only realized exactly what was going on.

- - - -

I discovered them ten days later. I knocked on his door, but he didn't answer. I knew he was home, because I had just called him. So maybe he was in the bathroom...but he always left the door open, so he would have heard me. I was forced to pull out my trusty key. And I'm sorta was glad I did.

They were half on the couch, and half off. Michael's leg was bent, since he was trying to keep himself from falling, and Rath-- of course Rath, because who else could it be?-- was on top of him, his hands on my boyfriend's face. And they were kissing. Very, very passionately.

They were kissing. And Rath's knee was rubbing against Michael in some very interesting places...

I stood there for about five or ten minutes, watching them. They hadn't even noticed me. I was going to leave.

I really was. But just seeing them...and having my suspicions confirmed was TOO much. So I was frozen in place. Maybe not frozen, exactly, but it was the only word I could...

Michael's shirt was dissolving, and Rath was moving...down...his body...

Apparently, when his mouth isn't occupied, Michael gains the ability to sense other people in the room. And he did. His eyes widened, and if he wasn't Michael, he would have screamed. Now THAT is funny...Michael screaming.

But he fell off the couch, pulling Rath down with him, as he crawled to me, saying he was sorry over and over.

I feel sort of bad...if it had been another girl Michael was kissing, I would have freaked. But it was Rath. So maybe...it was just hormones. So Michael had the need to kiss-- no, more than kiss-- another guy. No freakin' problem. It was just hormones.

But he was too guilty. Michael has blamed plenty of things on chemical imbalances and his alien nature. If it had been just hormones, he would have gotten angry, and denied it.

Rath spoke first, which surprised me.

"Maria," he said, stretching my name out with his oddly-thick accent, "nice of you to join us," And he put his hand over Michael's babbling mouth.

I left then.

Like I said, it was too much.

So I would deal with it later. After a late-night snack, and after a very, very long shower.

- - - -

I woke up the next morning, staring into Rath's face. It didn't frighten me as much as it should have, because I had woken up to Michael watching me plenty of times. And at first, I did think it was Michael.

But it wasn't Michael.

"About time...I've been sittin' here for an hour."

I tried to sit up, but he held me down, and started talking again.

"Look...I bet you're real angry and confused, right? Seein' your boyfriend kissing another very handsome guy...well, I can get why you'd be stuck up about it."

I rolled my eyes and turned away from him. I wasn't being stuck up about anything. I had come to the conclusion that Michael was cheating on me. That was after my shower, and after my mom made me watch a few angry chick movies, thinking I was upset. I wasn't to begin with...

"The only reason I'm here, Maria, is 'cause you upset your boy a whole lot. He's...." he trailed off, trying to think of a word. I watched him curiously, because it seemed like he actually CARED about Michael. Wonders would never cease, apparently. Then he spoke again, with, "He's real hurt. Right? And you gotta know, when he's all emotional, it ain't no fun, you dig?"

Or he was just horny.

"What do you want me to do, Rath? I saw you two kissing...am I just supposed to let that go or something?"

There was silence then. It was odd...When Liz had finally told me about Rath kissing her-- I didn't think I was going to get over her betrayal THERE, unfortunately-- I was shocked. But now...Rath would kiss anyone, apparently. And I wanted to know...what was it like?

He spoke before I could.

"You know, he LOVES you, baby. What, you think just 'cause we were making out, he's cheating on you? Don't be stupid, the boy just needs some...different lovin', hear me?" He finished off with a wolfish grin, that he could have trademarked if he wanted. Well, he was charming, to say the least.

The VERY least.

I had something to decide then. Michael loved me, I knew that much. But he and Rath...there was something going on there, more than sex. At least on Michael's part. Rath was just odd. Could Michael, Mr. Stonewall, love two people-- or one person, and one non-person? Could he have that capacity?

I guess I would find out, because I was going to talk to him.

- - - -

Unfortunately, he wasn't there that evening when I went to his apartment. But Rath was.

He was watching TV on the couch, in just his boxers. No, Michael's boxers. I doubted Rath wore underwear...he just wasn't the type. He waved at me when I walked in, but didn't say anything.

I sat down by his counter, and looked around nervously. I had to say something...

"Where's Michael?"

Rath glanced at me, and said, "He's gettin' some food. Make yourself at home, baby."

I was at home, I thought angrily. I wanted to talk to Michael. I sighed and rested my chin on my hands, determined to wait 'til he returned.

Suddenly, a warm hand touched my back. I spun around to see Rath standing there, watching me. I opened my mouth to say something, but his hands went to my face, and he leaned down and kissed me.

I was frozen, AGAIN. What was it about Michael's and variations on Michael's that had so much control over me? But something was off... He was being too gentle. Rath wasn't gentle, from what I'd seen.

And then, when he mumbled, "I love you," into my mouth, I knew.

Pulling away quickly, I pushed him away. He knew he was caught, so he stood there.

"Michael? What the hell are you doing looking like him?"

He looked at me, desperate to talk, but not saying anything. Then Rath came out of his bathroom, rolling his eyes.

"Damn...see, we knew you were gonna freak out if it was your Michael sittin' on the couch waiting for you, so we used a little alien voodoo. How the fuck did you figure it out?"

He looked confused, like he took major pride in changing my boyfriend's appearance.

"He told me he loved me. And...I wasn't going to freak out," I said, softening my voice, "I just wanted to know why."

Rath didn't say anything, but gave me a look I couldn't dechiper, and then walked over and stretched out on the couch. Michael, who had somehow turned back into Michael, looked at me silently, a wounded look on his face.

I sighed and reached out my hands to him, which he eagerly took in his. So much for breaking up with your boyfriend if he cheats on you. Or doesn't cheat on you.

Either one.

The End