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My heart is on your doorstep...

Chapter Text

"I don't know what has come over you lately."

"What you are doing to El is wrong. She is lovely and I need you to help me out here."

Mike was frustrated.

"Why don't you give her a chance?"

Paladin narrowed his eyes at him and started licking his paw. He was no longer interested in Mike scolding him.

Mike sighed and grabbed his car keys off the kitchen counter. He wondered if he should take Paladin to a therapist to see what the root of the problem was and then he shook his head realising how insane he sounded
"Now I have to spend my Saturday morning with El at a mall buying her new trainers." he said to Paladin as he closed the front door.

Well at least he got to spend a couple of hours with El. She had barely spoken to him since the night they had sex and Paladin pooped in her shoe. She didn't even come over anymore and she didn't invite Mike over to her place. Maybe Lucas was right. Maybe Paladin was cockblocking him after all.

The twenty minute ride over to the mall was a bit awkward to say the least. El kept her eyes fixed on the window and only gave Mike one worded answers when he tried to engage her in conversation. Mike eventually gave up about ten minutes in. El was obviously pissed off at him. It wasn't as if he told Paladin to use her shoe as a litterbox.

As they made their way through the mall, Mike walked quietly next to El. He felt as if he said the wrong the thing, El would go off on him. He followed El into a cosmetics store.

As he strolled passed the displays on small white tables, a familiar voice called out to him. "Hots Wheels, as I live and breathe!"

Mike's head instantly snapped around. Only one person in the whole entire world called him that. He grinned when he saw his old friend walking towards him. She was dressed in a black button down shirt and gold leggings. A makeup belt around her hips swayed as she walked jauntily up to Mike emphasizing the swing in her hips. Her blonde hair swept back into a tight ponytail and her pretty face immaculate as always.

"Michael darling!" The woman sang out pulling Mike into a tight embrace.

"Jenny, it's good to see you." Mike rubbed the smaller woman's back as he hugged her. It really was.

Jenny pulled away from the hug. "No, it's better to see you." She freely ran her hand down Mike's arm. "I do believe that you've gotten even hotter since the last time that I saw you." Jenny batted her eyelashes at him and Mike wasn't entirely sure that they were all her own.

Before Mike could answer her, he noticed that Jenny's attention was on El. He cleared his throat. "El, this is Jenny Hayes. Jenny this is El Hopper. Jenny's my oldest friend here in New York."

"I picked him up fresh off the bus from Indiana. He was such a sweet, innocent thing back then. He came into the store I was working at to buy some shirts and left with me." Jenny laughed and then noticed that El barely cracked a grin.

"Oh dear, did I offend you?" Jenny glanced from El to Mike and back. " Are you Mike's new girlfirend?" Jenny smacked Mike softly on his shoulder.

Why didn't you tell me that you have a new girl?"

"That's because she isn't. She's my neighbour." Mike explained.

Jenny observed a look passing between the two of them but didn't comment on it.

"So why did you call him Hot Wheels?" El asked.

Jenny linked her arm through Mike's. Before Mike could hush her she answered. " Because he is smoking hot obviously." Jenny gave another one of her giggles and began to lead Mike to her counter.

"I'm the manager of this store now," she told Mike as she resumed her position behind the makeup counter.

"That's so great. I'm glad that everything worked out for you." Mike was truly happy that Jenny had progressed since meeting him as a dressing room attendant seven years ago.

Jenny noticed El poking her fingers into the eyeshadows and blushes on display. She didn't seem like the make up type she mused. "Sasha darling?" A pretty African-American girl turned around. "Can you show El here to the perfume displays? She seems like the floral oriental type."

Sasha smiled. "Sure." She gestured to the perfume displays on the other side of the room. "Let's go."

Jenny and Mike watched as they walked off. Jenny then turned her attention back to Mike and picked up a compact mirror. "So how long have you two been fooling about?" She casually flipped the compact open and started looking at herself.

"What?" Mike seemed a bit surprised by the question.

Jenny gave him a look. "Michael, I've known you long enough to know when you're into someone. Besides, it has been two years since the last idiot that you dated. Do you still have her cat?"

"Yeah Paladin's doing great."

Jenny just looked at him, tapping her manicured fingers on the counter.

Mike sighed. "We slept together, once."

"I see," Jenny started preening her eyebrows in the mirror. "So why do I get the feeling that she doesn't like you much right now?"

Mike shook his head and told Jenny about El's encounters with Paladin that led them up to this point of him buying El new trainers.

Jenny's entire face turn red from how hard she was laughing. "My god. I love that cat."

"It isn't funny J." Mike said defeatedly

"Yes it is." Jenny wiped the tears running out of her eyes. "Pal is like the sweetest thing to everyone but totally hates El's guts."

Jenny's voice dropped low. "Maybe he can sense something that you can't."

She picked up a tiny comb and started combing through her brows.

"J, what do you know?" Mike knew her well enough that when she got like this, that there was something that she was holding back.

"How well do you know her Mike?" She could see that Mike was struggling to answer her. "Do you know what she even does?"

Mike lowered his head. "No."

"Look Michael, I don't want to cause trouble but I'm certain that I saw someone who looked a lot like her, a couple nights ago over in the Meatpacking District with Brenner and his crew."

A shiver went down Mike's spine. Brenner and his men were known for racketeering and dealing in black market goods. Is this what El meant when she said that she knows a guy who knows a guy?

"So, without wishing to seem defensive, what were you doing that way and how come she didn't recognize you?"

Jenny smiled. " Well Hot Wheels a girl needs to live a little dangerously every once in a while and a new club called Upside Down recently opened there. I assume the reason your lady love over there didn't recognise me was because she was probably far too busy trying to remain inconspicuous." Jenny raised her eyebrows in a satisfactory manner and snapped the compact shut.

She noticed how despondent Mike looked at the news. She slid her hand over her friend's. "You really like her huh?"

Mike nodded slowly. "Yeah, I really do. However she said that she wants to keep whatever it was, casual between us and I agreed."

"Mike, I know that you miss having someone around but just because she's got some cute dimples, it isn't worth compromising yourself and safety for it."

"I know." Mike was quiet for a minute. "But there's a possibility that who you did see wasn't actually her that night."

Jenny just observed him and exhaled softly. "Yeah there could be one."

Mike knew from that tone that Jenny was only saying that to appease him.

"Um, excuse me."

Both Jenny and Mike turned around to see Sasha standing there smiling apologetically.

"El said that you were purchasing everything that she wants today." As she spoke she looked at Mike. " She found some perfume that she wants."

Mike chuckled and pulled his wallet out from his back pocket. It was a good thing that Mrs. Johnson had given him some extra this week. He slid his credit card out and handed it to Sasha. She thanked him as she took it and went to ring up El's purchase.

Jenny eased out from behind the counter and Mike pulled her friend into a tight hug.

"You take care of yourself Hot Wheels," Jenny kissed his cheek. "Love you."

"Love you too J." Mike returned the kiss and gave her an extra squeeze before letting her go. He would have probably never made it in New York when he first came if it hadn't been for Jenny.

His eyes flicked over to El who was already standing at the exit with a rather annoyed expression on her face as she waited for him.

Mike caught up with El as they left the cosmetics store. "So are you a floral oriental girl?" Mike asked after several minutes of silence as they walked through the mall.

"No. Turns out that I'm a spicy citrus girl." El swung the bag on the tips of her fingers. "So is Jenny an old girlfriend?"

Mike wondered if this was the real reason for El's silence. "No. She's just a really good friend of mine. She helped me get a job and a place to live when I first came here, it really helped to meet someone who had come from a small town as well."

"Oh." He could see El digesting this bit of information. "Well she made it seem as if you guys were a bit more than that."

Mike chuckled. "Well me and Jenny were a bit like you and me," he said as they stopped in front of a shoe store. "It was just casual."

An hour later they arrived home and in addition to the perfume, El also had a new pair of vans.

As they walked upstairs to their apartments, Mike couldn't help but think about what Jenny had said about El. She was running with a very dangerous crew. Granted Mike had expected that El had been up to something along those lines, it was quite a different thing to have it actually confirmed.

"El," Mike's hand was on the door to his apartment. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

El had already opened the door to her apartment. She hesistated for a few seconds. "Sure. But in here."

Mike walked over to El's apartment and entered the door that was held open for him. "Scared of Paladin?" He joked.

El rolled her eys and closed the door. "I think it's safe to say that he doesn't like me."

"Come on El, don't say that. He just needs a bit more time to -"

"To what Mike?" El cut him off. "To push me down the stairs?" She placed her purchases down on the coffee table. "From the first time we met, he's hissed at me whenever I touched you but he's fine when anyone else does it. He's bitten me when I kissed you and now he craps in my shoe when we've had sex. I think it's safe to say that he doesn't like me." El dropped on to the couch. "I know the signs quite well when someone doesn't want me around."

Mike had a feeling that the last sentence had a lot of weight attached to it but he didn't want to pry right now. He sat next to El and gently tugged her jacket off her shoulders. El got the hint and pulled it all the way off. Mike eased up next to her and placed his hands on El's hips and a soft kiss to the side of her head. "I am really sorry."

"It's not your fault," El mumbled as she allowed himself to fall back against Mike. A small sigh tumbled out of her lips as Mike continued to plant soft, light kisses along her jawline down the column of her neck. She gently nudged Mike's head with hers so that he had an easier time reaching her lips. Her eyes drifted shut when Mike finally kissed her. It was slow and sweet. Their tongues curling around each other with great leisure. Mike's hands had drifted underneath her shirt and were sliding up her torso. She felt Mike shifting a bit and then he felt one leg next to him and the other was on the floor so El could press her ass right up against Mike's crotch.

It felt good getting El so close to him again, Mike mused as El's ass pressed against his hips. He trailed kisses back from El jawline to her earlobe, sucking the delicate flesh between his lips, flicking his tongue against it. He was rewarded with El grinding her hips against his dick and some soft sigh falling out of her mouth. He gave El's shirt a tug and a second later El had pulled it over her head and it was on the floor. His lips moved down to El's back, gently un clipping her bra and sliding the straps down her smooth arms. His fingers tweaking El's nipples until they turned into hard little nubs. He opened his eyes as he made his way down El's back and the first thing he noticed was a thin white scar that ran from just below El's shoulder blade to the middle of his back. It instantly brought him back to why he was in El's apartment in the first place.

"El," his lips trailing over the scar before planting a kiss on it. "I want to ask you something."

"Mmm," El's eyes were still closed. "What is it?"

Mike pressed another kiss into El's back before continuing, letting one hand glide down El's flat stomach to the waistband of her jeans. "What is it that you do El? Don't tell me stuff again."

El groaned. " Must we talk about this now?" She took Mike's hand that was above her jeans and placed it directly on her clothed core. Mike's fingers instantly rubbing his fingers against it. "I want you."

Mike moved his fingers. He could feel the heat eminating through El's jeans. He would be a damn liar if he said that he didn't want El now as well. He rubbed harder, which released a moan from El. "I want you too." He took El's hand and placed it on his own erection. El moaned and started stroking Mike through his pants. "But I need to know El."

El opened her eyes so that she could look at him. "Why do you need to know? It doesn't involve you."

Mike swallowed hard. "I know. I just want to know that you're alright."

"Why do you care so much?" El leaned in and held Mike's bottom lip between her teeth, teasing it with the tip of her tongue before releasing it. She could see the lust swirling in Mike's deep brown eyes. "I told you, let's keep it simple between us."

"I know," Mike moved his hand from off of the front of El's jeans and nimbly popped the button. "But Max is your friend right? And I bet she knows. Am I not your friend?" The only thing that was heard in the room was the zip being pulled down. Mike then dipped his hand inside, the heat engulfing his fingers as he touched El through her damp silky panties.

"Fuck, Mike." El arched her hips up to Mike's touch.

Mike slipped his fingers through the leg opening. His index finger touched the sensitive bundle of nerves, then traced her slit feeling her excitement wetting his finger tip. While he was doing this, his mouth was attacking the base of El's neck, with his lips and tongue.

"You're a bastard, you know that?" El hissed out.

"Am I not your friend?" Mike simply repeated.

El watched as Mike removed his hand from her panties. The index finger shining with her wetness and placed it in his mouth and sucked it. Mike twirled the finger between his lips, a devilish gleam in his eye, before pulling it out.

"My friends aren't so evil." El didn't get to say anything else as Mike slipped his whole hand underneath the waistband of her panties. He was definitely being wicked as he stroked El's core at a painstakingly slow pace.

El groaned. "Okay, I just help some people move some stuff okay?"

Mike slowly placed the heel of his palm against her nub and El cursed a heavenly diety. "What sort of stuff?"

"Anything that you could possibly want. Phones, televisions, laptops, anything that anybody wants."

Mike knew that it would be stupid to ask if the stock she moved was stolen. It most likely was. El was a criminal and surprisingly it didn't bother Mike as much as it would if he was in his right frame of mind because right now all he could think about was fucking El.

"Judging me aren't you?" El's eyes narrowed at him.

"I'm judging the best position for me to take you on this couch." Mike admitted as he slightly increased the pace of his fingers on El's core.

In a movement faster than Mike could have anticipated El was on top of him kissing him harshly. Teeth scraping against his lips, her tongue wildly stroking against his own. As fast as El had started she stopped. She stood up and and grabbed Mine's hand and pulled him off the couch. "Come on."

Mike followed El into her bedroom, discarding pieces of his clothing as they walked. By the time, they had reached the room, Mike was just in his pants and boxers which came off quickly and joined El's jeans and panties on the floor. El grabbed a condom off the nightstand and tossed it at Mike.

Mike opened the packet and rolled the condom on to his dick. El grabbed his wrist.

"I really want you." Her eyes softening as she took in Mike's face.

Mike gently pushed El down on her back. He used his hands to hook El's right leg up over his shoulder. He pushed into El slowly. It felt almost impossible at first. El was so tight, but eventually she gave way to him. Slowly Mike started to move his hips to fuck her. In. Out. In. Out.

El's fingers tangling in the hair at the back of Mike's neck. Fingering the silky coils as Mike's hips snapped against her. She couldn't remember if any one had fucked her as good as Mike could and looked as good doing it. Her hands slipped down to grip Mike's biceps. She loved feeling the smooth skin flex underneath her finger tips. One of Mike's hands moved between their buddy's and sought out her aching bundle of nerves, the friction was blissful. Mike's's breath was tickling her neck. His dick was pounding her sweet spot over and over again.

El pushed her fingers through his hair, bringing Mike in for a kiss that ended up being a moan as El came. Mike followed soon after. There was sex and then there was whatever it was he and El were having.

He was on his back regaining his normal heart rate when he felt El's head on his chest. His arm went instantly around her waist. At least El didn't get up and leave this time. Although this being El's place she wouldn't have to. Well at least she didn't kick him out.

"Mike?"

His fingers massaged El's hips in a circular motion. "Yeah."

El lifted his head up so that Mike could see that she was being serious. "You do know that we can't have anything more than this right?"

Of course she was right. El was living a dangerous lifestyle. It didn't make any sense to get involve with someone like that. El keeping it casual between them was more for Mike's protection than her own. He finally understood that now. El in her own way was just trying to keep him safe. It also made it easier for when she had to leave town. She could just leave without owing anyone an explanation. But logic and sound reasoning never did mix well with feelings and desires. He pulled El down into a kiss. "Yeah I understand."



Mike rolled over on his stomach to stretch out on the couch. His hand lazily stroking Paladin on the ground next to the chair. He hadn't seen El since they had hooked up on Saturday afternoon. It was now Tuesday night now and he just hoped that every thing was okay. Sometimes he wished that Jenny hadn't told him what she saw, so he wouldn't be here involuntarily worrying about El and her safety.

As fate would have it, he perked up instantly at the ominous knock at the door. He didn't know how he made it to the door so quickly but he couldn't wipe the smile off his face when he opened it and saw El standing there looking as nonchalant as ever.

"Hi," El greeted him. She looked beautiful standing there with her honey blonde hair loose and a cute beanie plonked on top, her face had a light covering of makeup. A black skater belted coat over a fitted white t-shirt, faded ripped grey jeans and black heeled boots. Actually, thinking about it, this was probably the most dressed up that Mike had ever seen her. "I want a hot dog."

"Um, what?" That was not what he was expecting El to say.

"I want a hot dog," El repeated with a grin on her face.

"So you just expect me to hand you one out of thin air?" Mike crossed his arms and cocked an eyebrow.

"No," El smiled broadly. "I want a hot dog from Coney Island." El shifted on her feet. "So go and change."

"Uh, excuse you? Do you know what time it is? That's a forty minute drive." Mike shook his head. "Wait a minute, do you even have a car?"

"Nope." El replied cheekily. "But you do." She started to walk off. "I expect you by the car in ten minutes."

Mike stared after the disappearing El in a state between flabbergasted and amused. He closed the door and went to change his clothes. At least he had showered earlier. As he slipped his wallet into his pocket he remembered what El had said. She'll meet him by the car. Not Mike's car but the car as if she part owned it or something.

As he walked past the couch, Paladin narrowed his eyes at him as if in disgust.

"Behave yourself alright? None of that crying to annoy the neighbours."

Paladin narrowed his eyes even further and then turned his attention back to the television as if he was insulted.

When Mike walked past the side table to the door he realized that El hadn't returned the spare key. She really thought that she owned the place.

When Mike made it downstairs to his car, El was casually leaning up against it examining her nails. He half expected her to be inside the car already even though she didn't have the keys. Mike looked around as he pressed the button to unlock the doors of the SUV. It was a nice night. The sky was clear and he could see a few stars peeking through.

El slid into the passenger seat with ease as Mike got in the driver's side. As soon as Mike turned the engine on, El was twiddling with the radio station controls. Of course she would. Like if she would abide by the unspoken courtesy of the driver getting to pick the station. Fortunately Elended up choosing a soft rock and pop station and Mike didn't mind too much.

As they drove down Belt Parkway, the traffic light at this time in the evening, El was bobbing her head along with the music as she looked out the window. She also smelt incredible. He wondered if it was the perfume that she had gotten when they were at the mall.

"So why a hot dog from Coney Island?" Mike finally asked.

"I just felt like it." El continued to peer out at the buildings that passed by them.

"Are you wearing that new perfume from the mall?"

"Yes."

Well she wasn't in a talkative mood but she wasn't in an unpleasant mood either. She was drumming her fingertips on top of her thighs and occassionally singing along to a song. She was excited. It finally clicked to Mike. El was excited to be going to Coney Island.

"So what do you plan on doing when we get there? Besides getting a hot dog I mean." Mike glanced at his GPS and saw that they were only ten minutes away now.

"I want to ride the Cyclone." That was her immediate reply.

Of course El would want to ride the most popular rollercoaster there was this side of the country.

"I think it might be closed at this time," Mike said flicking his eyes at the clock.

"No way. It has to be still open."

"El, it's almost nine. I doubt it."

He looked over at El who was now pouting, slouching down in her seat and looking out the window.

She must have been really looking forward to it. "Maybe next time we can come earlier." Mike offered.

El just looked at him with mild curiosity but Mike had to keep his eyes on the road but wondered what was going through El's mind.

As Mike had correctly predicted the Cyclone was closed but not just for the night, but the rest of the year. El looked so upset that she almost looked like a little kid again. Mike felt bad for her and placed an arm around her shoulder and led her to the only hot dog stand that seemed to be open. El perked right back up when she had some curly cheese fries placed on her hot dog along with onion rings. Mike watched in amazement at how wide El's mouth opened to get a bite of everything piled on to the hot dog.

"What?" You know what I can do with my mouth, why are you surprised that it can fit a hot dog."

Mike blushed furiously and looked around anxiously to see if any one had overheard them as they walked down the boardwalk. But not a lot of people were around at this time plus it was a week night.

"You know this isn't a bad spot you picked for a date." Mike commented as he finished off his own hot dog.

"This isn't a date." El balled up her wrapper and threw it at the can as if she was playing basketball. She did a fist pump when it went in.

"Is too."

"Is not."

"Is too."

"Is not."

"This is so a date. You turn up at my door, dressed up and indirectly ask me to take you to Coney Island to get a hot dog. Plus you smell really good."

Mike noticed El fighting the dimples in her cheeks from appearing by trying to hold back a smile but she wasn't very successful.

"I just wanted a hot dog," she maintained as she sat on a bench that faced the dark ocean.

Mike sat next to her. "Yeah right. You just wanted to hang out with me because I'm awesome."

El raised an eyebrow.

"And because you're afraid of Paladin." Mike added on.

El scowled. "I'm not afraid of your cat. He's out to get me."

"So how come you haven't been over since that time, he did what he did?"

"I've been busy."

Mike started to laugh. El pretending to be indifferent was endearing. "Come here." He lightly tugged on El's jacket and pulled her close, smirking before he kissed her. El of course, kissed him back automatically. Her lips felt soft and warm and Mike took his time kissing her slowly.

He pecked El's lips. "This is totally a date." He teased.

However El didn't return his smile. "Mike c'mon, you know what the deal is."

"Yeah I know," he pressed his lips against El's. "But I think that you like me too even if you don't want to admit it."

El's eyes darted away from Mike. He could sense El becoming tense. "Hey, it's cool. We could just like each other. It doesn't have to be anything more than that."

He slipped his hand underneath El's jacket. His hand resting on the side of El's waist. He kissed her cheek. " Don't shut me out El. Talk to me."

"There's nothing to say," El mumbled out. "We just have a thing okay?"

"I know that it's just a thing. You remind me of it every chance you get."Mike sighed and gripped at her waist a little harder. "Okay so we have this thing and it's fine but I feel like you use it as an excuse not to get close to someone."

El eyed him suspiciously. "What are you? A goddamn shrink now?"

Mike didn't take the bait. He kissed the corner of El's mouth instead. "We don't have to be like boyfriend and girlfriend or anything but I want to know the real you. We can be friends. What's wrong with that?"

El shook her head and tried to move away but Mike wouldn't let her out of his embrace. "Mike come on, this is pointless. In a few months I'll be gone anyway. It doesn't matter."

"It matters to me," Mike responded quietly.

A sharp sea salt scented wind swirled around them as the silence laid between them.

"I don't do relationships, Mike." El finally said.

"How come?" The wind was blowing through El's hair and Mike combed through it with his fingers.

"Because," El shifted a bit to rest her head on Mike's shoulder. "They're pointless." She slipped her hand into Mike's jacket. "You're just going to get on each other's nerves and end up hating each other anyway."

"They're not all like that." Mike countered.

"Well don't you hate your ex for what she did to her cat?"

Mike stopped stroking El's hair. "That's different."

"How's it different? The end result is still the same. You hate her."

The way how El's voice dropped, Mike sensed that there was more to it.

"Are you scared that I might end up hating you?" He ventured.

El didn't answer at first. Her hand lightly resting on Mike's waist. "Most people do eventually."

That was it. The break through. El had let her guard down just a bit. Mike pressed his lips to El's forehead. "I wouldn't end up hating you."

"You will," she sounded certain of that. "Trust me, if you got involved with me you will regret it."

Mike used his index finger to tilt El's chin up towards him. He felt something pull inside of him when he saw the complacent sadness in El's eyes. Something or someone had hurt her a long time ago. He was certain of it and it had caused El to shut down like this. He kissed her softly but deliberately. El's lips supple and molding against his. His arms tightening around El's body. El's fingers he could feel pressing through the material of his shirt to dig into his back. Chest to chest. Lips locked. Tongues intertwined and savouring. Neither could get enough of the taste of the other.

It was El who broke the kiss, both of them panting heavily. "Don't do shit like that." She pulled away a bit from Mike's embrace.

"Shit like what?" His lips were still tingling from the intensity of the kiss.

"Don't make me open up to you and then kiss me like that." El shook her head. "It just complicates things. I don't do complicated things Mike." Her eyes locked onto his warning him.

And Mike understood everything that El was saying. He understood that El was trying not to have feelings for him just like how he was half way trying to not have feelings for El. But at that moment, El's lips were slightly parted and he could see that dimple that first drew him to her. Her doe eyes were brooding. Her lips kiss swollen... so despite knowing better, Mike kissed her again.

To his surprise, El grabbed the lapels of his jacket keeping him close. This kiss was needier, hungrier. El's lips were bruising his as she kissed him hard and her tongue licked his own. Mike's hands were tight on El's hips, holding her steady. He could feel adrenaline pumping through him, feeding this kiss. The chemistry between them, electrifying. El had warned him, but he knew now that he wouldn't be heeding it.

"Fuck!" El pulled away and stood up with her back to Mike. "I told you not to do that."

Mike stood up and tried to embrace El from behind but she pulled away.

"No Michael. Stop it. Just stop pushing okay?" El was agitated and she huffed and threw her hair behind her shoulders.

Mike put his hands up. "I'm not doing anything."

El turned around. "Yes you are. I told you, I don't want a relationship. I don't do relationships. So just stop trying to make me feel things." El's right foot was tapping anxiously against the ground. "I don't want a relationship and I don't want one with you. So please just stop it."

El's words just knocked the breath out of him. She didn't want him. Even if El did like him she was never going to give into it. He got it now. "I'm sorry." The words just hung between them. El's arms were crossed over her chest as she stared out onto the black sea. "I didn't mean to push. I... I just wanted to kiss you. That's all."

He heard El sigh but she didn't turn around. "I think you should go."

"What?" He took a step towards him. "Why?"

"Just go Mike. Just leave."

"El I'm not leaving you here alone at this time of night."

"Mike I've been taking care of myself quite well before you came along and I will after you're gone." El's tone curt and short.

Mike took another step so that he was side by side with El. "I'm not leaving you." He repeated softly but with conviction.

"Mike, just go." A quiet command.

"Why? What are you gonna do here?"

"Make some friends, get drunk, hit up a club, dance, grind up on someone, who knows the night is still young."

Mike swallowed hard. Just thinking about El with someone else upset him. Maybe El was right. Maybe he was getting in over his head.

He reached around behind El, his hands running over the back pockets. El was about to protest but he pulled out her cellphone.

"What are you doing?" El asked as Mike punched something into it.

"Giving you my number." When he was finished he handed it back to El. "When ever you're ready to come home, just call me. I'll come for you. No matter the time."

El looked at her in disbelief as she slipped the phone back into her pocket. She then resumed staring at the ocean.

Mike watched her for a bit and then kissed her cheek. "I wish you would come home with me."

No response. Mike watched her for a bit before he turned and took the long, heavy walk alone back to his car. He sat in the car for an hour hoping that El would come to her senses and call him. They didn't even have to continue their thing. He just wanted El to be safe. But when the hour was gone and El didn't call, Mike drove back home to Queens, alone.