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My heart is on your doorstep...

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The tension was crackling between Mike and Megan. The air was so tight that El hardly dared to breathe too loudly.

El was standing behind Mike. The tension in Mike's forearms was clear as her eyes followed them down to the fist that was clenched tightly. She could feel the anger radiating off of her boyfriend, which quite frankly unnerved El a bit because she had never experienced Mike being so incensed before.

Megan had her arms crossed in front of her chest with the most offensive smirk plastered across her face. El wanted to slap it off her face for Mike. The nerve of this woman.

"You must be out of your fucking mind." Mike growled out.

"Nope." The smirk turned into a smile now. "You took him from me."

"That's because you left him for dead while you were off trying to make partner!" Mike shouted. But Megan looked more amused by it than anything. In that moment El had never hated anyone so intensely before.

"Actually, it was senior partner." Megan glibly corrected him.

"I don't give a fuck what job it was. His mother was a rotting corpse in your apartment and Paladin was barely alive when I found him. You don't deserve him."

"Paladin? Is that what you named him?" Megan sauntered into the living room as if she was invited. "God, that names sucks."

She spotted Paladin who was sitting on the rug observing her out of curiousity. "Hey little guy." Her voice suddenly taking on a sickenly sweet tone. "Come here." She made a come hither motion with her hand as she stooped down next to the cat.

"Don't you fucking touch him." Mike warned.

"Or what?" Megan dared. "He is a cute little thing." She hovered his hand above Paladin's head as she smirked at Mike. "I think he likes me." She brought her hand down on top of Paladin's head while keeping her eyes locked on Mike. The bitch was enjoying this. El had had enough of this. She made to move from behind Mike but he extended his arm blocking her.

Suddenly El's ears pricked up. That deep warning purr from Paladin that Megan failed to noticed as her attention was on Mike and her hand remained on top of Paladin's head. Without further warning, Paladin hissed . The short hair on his back standing up on end. He sank his claws into Megan's forearms.

"Oh my god!" Megan jumped up screaming, Paladin still hanging on by his claws while the rest of his body swung freely in the air. "Get him off me! Get him off!" She moved towards Mike but the raven haired man stepped back.

"I thought you wanted him." Mike was certainly enjoying this. "You said that he belonged to you."

"Well he obviously doesn't like me." Megan moved her other hand to grab Paladin but the cat hissed at her and sunk his claws in even deeper. Deep, red blood was now running in thin streams down to her hand. There were tears running down Megan's cheeks.

"Go and get Paladin." Mike nodded to El.

She stepped from behind Mike and went up to the snivelling Megan Curtis. All of her bravado gone. El gently cupped Paladin from underneath and instantly the cat let go of Megan's arm and curled up next to El looking up at her with the most innocent expression. El couldn't help but smile. God she loved this cat.

Megan was clutching her arm as Mike walked up to her. "That cat has fucking ruined me. I have a work ball tonight. I can't go looking like this."

"You are still the self centered piece of work that you always were." Mike shook his head in disbelief. "Paladin is mine. I took him to the hospital and saved his life and he came home with me. In the eyes of the law he is mine and I have paperwork to prove it." Mike got close to Megan that even El was suprised. "Now get the fuck out of my house."Mike said slowly through his teeth.

"Fine." Her attempt at being obnoxious again was pathetic.

Mike went to the front door and opened it and Megan walked through it but not without getting in a parting shot. "Keep your stupid cat and your ugly girlfriend. You will never have someone as good as me again. I ..."

Mike slammed the door in Megan's face before she could finish. He was so angry he could've punched the wall in but he knew that in a sick way Megan would've wanted that so that she would enjoy knowing he broke his fingers because of her. He wouldn't fall for it. He learned his lesson with Megan all too well.

When he got back to the living room, El was on the couch playing with Paladin.

"I'm really sorry about that." He said as he sat next to El.

"It's okay. I didn't think that you did it on purpose." El tried to joke. "Besides it's nice to see that Paladin hates someone even more than me."

Mike chuckled softly. "Yeah. Which is strange because Paladin doesn't even know who she is."

"That's never stopped him before."

Mike watched as El stroked Paladin's fur. Something was off. It was just something about El's demeanour that wasn't sitting right with him.

He wrapped his arm around El's shoulder, pulling him against his body. "Something's bothering you. What is it?"

El shook her head but she didn't look up at him. "Nothing. It's silly."

"El, come on. You can talk to me." He pressed his lips against El's temple. "Is it about Megan?"

El sighed. "Not exactly." Her voice trailed off and Mike didn't want to push her. Finally after a few minutes El spoke. "So I'm your ugly girlfriend huh?"

Mike groaned. "El don't listen to that idiot. She was just trying to get at me through you." Mike raked his fingers through El's hair. "You're beautiful." He kissed El's forehead. His mood dropped a bit when he saw that El didn't look convinced. "Hey." His index finger tipped El's chin up so that she had to look at him. "You have no idea how badly I wanted you before I first kissed you." Mike was softly pressing kisses against the side of El's face as he spoke. "Those cute little dimples." Mike kissed El's cheek. "Those very pretty eyes." He kissed the corner of her mouth. "This perfect little mouth." Mike caught the edge of El's plump bottom lip between the edge of his teeth before sucking it into his mouth. He felt El wrapping her arms around his neck. Paladin jumped off of El's lap as El slid down on to her back on the couch and Mike pressed down on top of her. "I was like, God I hope she is into me." Mike ran the tip of his tongue over the inside of El's bottom lip as he kept it trapped between his own lips. Mike ground his hips against El's so that she could feel his arousal. "I mean she has such a nice ass. It would be a shame if she wasn't."

At that, El laughed out loud and Mike grinned. "That's terrible Mike." She remarked as she playfully slapped his shoulder.

Mike just smiled and started placing kisses down El's neck. "It maybe terrible but it's true. You're a hot piece of ass El Hopper."


The weeks passed by quickly. El's time with Brenner in New York came to an end. On the last night Kali gave her a huge bag of fun sized candy. When El brought the bag home and showed Mike, he immediately banned it from the apartment. Apparently, Mike's one weakness was chocolate. This however did not stop El from stashing some in Mike's fridge and in the bowl on the coffee table. Whenever she noticed the supply dwindling, she replenished it with more. Mike would grumble about El making him fat and leaving candy wrappers all over the place. El would just smack her lips together as she munched on a Butterfinger.

One night, El laid in Mike's arms as her boyfriend was snoring softly, fast asleep. Life was good right now. She had a sizeable chunk of cash stashed away ensuring that she didn't have to work for almost a year if she didn't want to. She spent her days making Mike breakfast before work and the rest of the day either at the apartment, or at Benny's, becoming fast friends with both Benny and Steve. Mike had got a couple more new clients. It really felt as if her and Mike were building something together. This was new to her. For the first time in a long time it felt as if she had a future with someone. Someone to go through life with. El's sharp eyes trailed over Mike's sleeping profile. Mike meant a lot to her. She hadn't anticipated on it happening but it just did. Nowadays she thought about things like what they were going to have for dinner, and did she use up the last bit of soap powder? Would Mike be in the mood to watch a ghost story marathon with her? Things she usually only concerned herself with. Almost everything she wanted to do or buy now, she wondered how it might affect Mike and how he would react to it. Which was silly in itself. Mike was the most easy going guy she knew, even if he was a bit anal about a few candy wrappers. As she closed her eyes and snuggled in even closer to Mike, a part of her was waiting for the other shoe to drop so that she could wake up and realize that everything was just a dream, well there was that one thing that could ruin everything but she didn't want to dwell on that.


El stood in front of the mirror looking at her reflection as she got ready to turn in for the night. Mike was already in bed waiting for her. She thought over what had occurred earlier that night. Her and Mike had gone out with Lucas, Dustin and Max to a barcade. Mike had gotten up to go the bathroom. When he was walking back to the table she noticed a rather attractive girl trying to talk to him but Mike brushed her off and kept on walking.

It had triggered the problem that El was having right now as she examined her reflection. Despite what Mike had told her about a month ago now, she wasn't gorgeous in the true sense of the word. She supposed that she turned out okay in the looks department but as far as she was concerned she was no real head turner.

Over the past months she had met a few girls that Mike had dated and they were all drop dead gorgeous. There was Jenny from the mall. That Stacey girl from Bennys. Even his ex Megan Curtis, no matter how much El hated to admit it was extremely beautiful. High cheekbones, full pouty lips, thick hair, nicely dressed. She could probably buy nicer clothes but that was it. Mike had a type and she didn't fit into it. She stuck out like a sore thumb. Maybe she was just fooling himself. Sooner or later some gorgeous model type was going to walk up to her boyfriend just like how that girl did this evening and Mike wouldn't turn her down. El just knew it.

Pretty people dated other pretty people. That was the just the way of the world. That was how it worked. Girls that looked like her don't go out with guys that looked like Mike. Even if they did, it never lasted long.

El splashed some cold water on her face. She was in too deep. She used a hand towel to wipe her face. She knew that she was in love with Mike. She felt as if her karma had finally caught up to her. She had broken a couple of hearts in her time and it was inevitable that hers would now be broken as well.

"Hi." Mike's sleepy voice startled her as his arms encircled El's waist. "What's taking so long?" Mike's nose was nuzzling her neck and then he placed a kiss there.

"Sorry." El apologized. "Was just finishing up. I'm done."

Mike reached one of his hands up and flicked off the bathroom light and then led El towards the bed. "Good. You know I can't go to sleep without you." Mike got on the bed and then pulled El in next to him.

They faced each other and Mike made the move to kiss her first. El savoured the warmth. She didn't deserve this. It was too good to be true. She kissed Mike back. There was so much he didn't know and it was all going to be taken from her and she had to prepare her heart for it.



"Think I can sink this one in the corner pocket?" El cockily leaned against the pool table.

Her cue stick tapping the green felt on the table. Only the eight ball remained.

Mike took a sip of his beer. "I don't see why not. You've been whipping my ass the entire night."

El grinned. She turned around and with a sassy sway of her hips bent over the table, lining up the cue stick behind the white ball. "If I get this, you have to give me a prize."

"Okay," Mike tilted in his head in agreement. "What do you want?"

El smirked as she drew the stick back. "I'll tell you after I win." The stick connected with a hard tap to the white ball and Mike watched as the ball rolled directly to its target causing the black ball to hit the wooden side before spinning and depositing itself in the corner pocket.

El stood up and smiled victorious. She sauntered over to Mike, placing the stick on the table. She thought how extra hot her boyfriend looked tonight messy dark curly hair, his grey t-shirt clad chest and generous fitting jeans. El knew that Mike had been oblivious to the glances that he had been getting all night from both men and women.

She stood in front of Mike and looped one arm around his neck. The universal sign of an intimate relationship. She did that mainly for whomever watching them. Yes, this tall, hunk of a man belonged to this scruffy, average looking girl. Let all of the Megan Curtises in the room seethe with envy. Let them wonder what it was that El had that they didn't.

She took the half finished bottle out of Mike's hand and placed it on the table next to them. She leaned in to whisper in Mike's ear. She could feel the tension crackling around them. Out of the corner of her eye she could see some people blatantly staring at them, while others tried to be polite and not look at them directly but kept glancing in their direction. Although it may have to do with El's very obvious over the top intimacy. "Let's get out of here."

Mike nodded. El smiled at him as she pulled away and Mike pulled out some money and threw it on the table.

Mike zipped up his black jacket as he strolled next to El in the cold night air. Spring was about a week away but it was still barely above zero. The bar was only a few blocks away from the apartment so they had decided to travel by foot.

El grabbed his hand, lacing their fingers together. Mike caught the smirk on her face. El was up to something. He could've sensed it in the bar and now as they walked down the street holding hands. This was new. Holding hands while walking.

They were about half way home when El suddenly pulled him off the sidewalk and down between a damp alley between two buildings. His back hit the brick wall with a resounding thud that he felt down his spine. But before he could adjust his bearings, he felt El's lips on his own. El sucked his lips hard, scraping them with her teeth. He heard the sound of a zipper being pulled down but it was only when he felt El's hands pressing into his chest that he realized that it had been his jacket. El's movements were frantic, erratic. Teeth scraping and nibbling at his neck. Her tongue following to soothe it. A lock of his hair was twisted around El's fingers that she kept a tight tension on. El was rutting her hips against his left thigh. However, he wasn't in the same state.

"El." His girlfriend right now was trying to mark his neck and fuck his thigh at the same time. He placed his hands on El's hips to steady her. "What are you doing?"

El muttered something incomprehensible and pressed hot opened mouth kisses along Mike's neck. Her hands underneath Mike's shirt, cold against his warm skin, making him shudder a bit.

"El."

"I want you." It was a whispered admittance. El licked a broad, flat stripe up the side of Mike's neck to his ear. She shifted her hips a bit so that she was rested on top of Mike's growing hard on. "Want you." A sharp tug on his hair and El's lips were back on his kissing him feverishly. Mike kissed her back but it felt as if there was something more than just passion behind this.

"El," Mike tried to reason between frantic kisses. "We're in public. Suppose someone sees us?"

"Then let them watch." El sealed her lips against Mike's cutting off any further conversation, twisting her tongue around Mike's. "Let the whole world watch. I want them to see that you're mine."

It took a while for Mike to finally figure out what El was actually trying to tell him.

Mike placed his hands firmly on El's hips and pushed him back. " So you just want everyone to see that we're together?"

El nodded. She tried to move back in closer to Mike but his arms forced her to stay at a distance.

"So I'm just something to show off?" The hurt in Mike's voice was evident. He shook his head in disbelief and pushed off the wall. "Is that why you're all over in me in public all of a sudden?"

Mike was taking everything entirely the wrong way. "No!" El shook her head frantically. "I didn't mean it like that." Mike still looked as if he didn't believe her. "I just wanted you that's all."

Mike just shook his head and started walking. He was back on the main sidewalk and El walked quickly to catch up with him. El grabbed his wrist to make Mike look at her. "Mike, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for it to come off like that."

"Like what? That you were just parading me around like some sort of a show dog to boost your ego?"

El sucked in her bottom lip and looked away. In a way Mike was right. She was doing it to boost her ego in a way. After all she was certain that lots of people thought that she didn't deserve to be with a guy who looked like Mike, although she couldn't figure out when she started to care about what others thought. Being with Mike was sort of like a fuck you to all the people who didn't think that she deserved someone like that. But instead all she did was hurt Mike instead.

She let go of Mike's wrist and shoved her hands in her jacket pockets. Her eyes focused on the ground. She was just screwing everything up. She shouldn't be surprised, it was the one thing that she was always good at.

They walked the rest of the journey in silence. She made a beeline to her apartment door. She just wanted to collapse on to her bed and wish that this night had never happened.

"El."

Her hand was already on the door knob, about to turn it.

"Where are you going?"

It was her turn to look at Mike confused.

Mike sighed as he unlocked his door and pushed it open. "Look, just because we had a fight it doesn't mean that I don't want you around."

He allowed El to walk into his apartment in front of him. He noticed how fidgety the small girl had become. Her hands were buried deep in her pockets and her eyes darted repeatedly from him, to the wall, to the floor. It was as if El didn't know what to do with herself.

"El, we need to talk."

God she hated that phrase. Nothing good ever came out of needing to talk. She stopped staring at the living room floor and looked up to see Mike resting against the back of the couch looking at her.

She made her way over to Mike to stand in front of him. Feeling like a school girl standing in front of the principal awaiting her punishment. Mike was going to break up with her. She could just feel it in her bones.

"El," she could hear the slowly measured patience in Mike's voice. "What's going on?"

"What do you mean?" Defense tactics was her only option.

Mike sighed and smoothed his palms down his jeans clad thighs. "I mean that these past few weeks you've been different. You've ..." Mike trailed off a bit as he tried to find the right words. "You've been more physical about our relationship in public. I mean I normally don't mind it but it doesn't feel real. It doesn't feel as if you're doing it because you want me. It feels as if you're doing it because you want other people to see it." Mike paused as El chewed her thumb. "And tonight, I'm not going to lie to you El. It felt pretty shitty."

El felt her heart drop to the floor. This was it. Mike was going to break up with her.

"El." She could barely hear Mike's voice above the loud drumming of her heart in her ears. Her palms were suddenly clammy so she wiped them on her jeans.

"Why are you acting like this?"

El managed to lock eyes with Mike. Searching that handsome face for something but she didn't know what exactly. I'm acting like this because I'm an idiot who's in love with your stupid, pretty face. Of course, Mike couldn't hear her thoughts so he still waited for answer.

"I'm so sorry Mike." She released a breath through her lips. "It's just that this," she gestured between her and Mike, "is just so new to me."

She dared to take a step closer to Mike. "I'm just not used to having someone like you." God, she sounded pathetic. "When Megan said..."

"Oh God." Mike grumbled. "Not that asshole again. El, whatever she said wasn't true."

"Actually it was." El interjected. "She was right. Guys like you don't date girls who look like me." She pushed her hands into her front pockets. "I guess in a way I was trying to prove her wrong." El groaned in frustration. "So fucking stupid. God I can't believe that I let her get to me like that."

She didn't even notice that Mike had moved until she felt an arm around her waist. She was bit lost until she felt Mike tipping her chin up. She felt her insides melting as Mike's warm lips covered her own. So soft. So supple. Slow deliberate movements. A clever tongue invading her mouth. Sliding against her own and then taking his time exploring her mouth. Mike was holding her face. She couldn't move even if she wanted to. She was being kissed thoroughly and properly. She wrapped her arms tightly around Mike's neck and returned the kiss. Her heart leapt back up into its correct position.

She felt herself starting to walk backwards with Mike guiding her to the bedroom. They were barely parting for air before reconnecting their lips again. She didn't know how their clothes came off. All she knew was that she was naked on her back and Mike was naked on top of her.

Her body moved on automatic. Her legs locked around Mike's waist, pressing their hips together.

This is what she loved about being intimate with Mike. He was bigger than her. Way bigger. She was covered by him. A warm haze spread across her followed by hands that were currently doing magic to her body. All of this was hers and no one could take it away from her not even fucking Megan Curtis.

She closed her eyes and threw her head back allowing the natural rhythm of their bodies to take over the movements. The push and pull. The up and down. The in and out. The heavy breathing. Messy kisses. Everything was just washing over her like a wave. Her body was there but her mind was somewhere else floating and just feeling the sensations of their love making. Love making. That was what they were doing, wasn't it? She had always loathed and mocked the phrase until now. It just seemed to fit right now at this point. Mike's hips slammed into her. Mike was letting go and so was she. A momentarily blackness washed over her and then her mind came back to her body. Mike was lying on top of her and their fingers were locked together. Perfection. That was what they were together. Perfect.

El was too spent to even bother to pull the blanket over her body. Mike crawled over her to get to his side of the bed. Immediately he wrapped an arm around El's waist to pull her against his body. God damn. He had never felt so connected to anyone in life like that before. It was an exhilirating feeling that he wondered if he could ever duplicate it again.

El had already relaxed in his arms and was breathing softly. She had drifted off already. Mike remained quiet for several minutes just feeling El's body against his own and watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest. Her hair falling over her face. She was beautiful. He would challenge anyone who dared to say different.

He settled down to sleep, nudging his nose against El's neck, his lips kissing the tender flesh up to her earlobe. "I love you." He whispered into El's ear.