Two years later
"Is that the best you got?"
Mike pushed the hair off his face that was obscuring his vision to see El's mocking face. She was talking an awful lot for someone who was naked underneath him.
He lifted El's left leg over his shoulder, changing the angle up a bit. "You know you definitely talk too much" Mike pulled out a bit and then snapped his hips back in as El moaned and squeezed her eyes shut. "Well that seemed to shut you up, didn't it?" Mike grinned as he continued to take El at this new angle.
"Oh my god..Mike." El's arms were reaching up for him blindly as her eyes remained closed.
Mike allowed her to pull him down against her body. El's skin was damp with sweat and it stuck to his. El held Mike's head between her hands and turned it so that she could kiss him. It was wet, sloppy. Sometimes she was just panting opened mouth against Mike's lips as sighs and whimpers escaped.
"It feels so good Mike." El was gripping him so tightly that he couldn't move even if he wanted to.
He kissed down El's neck as he heard El's breath start to come out in shudders. "Oh god... mmm...!" Mike looked up to see El biting her bottom lip so hard that it was losing its colour. "That's it... fuck!"
Mike felt El's release but it barely registered as El's core clamped down on his dick and then he was following El. He groaned as his seed filled El's channel.
El pulled his hair and Mike looked up at her. He understood what she wanted and pressed their lips together. El was still panting but she kissed him with enthusiasm. They were wrapped so tightly together.
El sucked hard on Mike's bottom lip before releasing it. "I love you so much." Her honey eyes searching Mike's face. "You know that right?"
Mike nodded. "Yes I do." He locked his lips over El's once more. "I love you too."
He's had that dream several times over the past two years and it still left him aching in his trousers and in his heart every time. That was the last time that they had sex. When they had come home from Coney Island. When El had said that no matter what happens that she loved him. And each time when Mike woke up he always had the same question. If El had truly loved him, then why did she leave him the way that she did?
Mike reached for his phone from off of the nightstand. It had taken a year but he had finally changed the screensaver from the picture of him and El taken at Christmas. It was hard accepting the truth that El was never coming back. Fuck, she hadn't even called him. Not once. He didn't know if El was alive or dead. But he had to move on with his life. It didn't stop him from thinking about her most of the time, but El was his past and he had to leave her there.
"Hey, you're up."
Mike smiled as Jenny came towards him. He watched as she got on the bed and crawled on all fours up to him. "I was just coming to wake you."
Mike sat up as Jenny got closer. "Beat you to it."
Jenny grinned and leaned in and kissed him. Mike immediately returned the simple peck.
Those first few months after El had left he had been a complete mess and Jenny had been there helping him pick up the pieces and get his life back on track. Dustin and Lucas had been there as well but it was Jenny who spent nights with him when he confessed that he didn't like sleeping alone. She was the one who spent time almost every morning convincing him to get up and go to work when he didn't feel like it.
Then one evening around six months ago, he had gotten home from work and he saw Jenny straightening up his apartment after he had refused to even look at it, he had grabbed her and kissed her. It had felt good kissing Jenny and even better with Jenny kissing him back. Jenny was a bit vain of course but she was nothing like El. She was considerate. She cleaned up after herself. She let Mike know how she was feeling and let him be open with his feelings and didn't make him feel any less for it. He thought he loved her. But if so it was a quiet sort of love. Not the loud, passionate, blood rushing sort of love that he had for El that had nearly suffocated him. No, being with Jenny was a lot simpler and easy. It was the sort of relationship that he could learn to be content with.
He held Jenny's face between his hands observing the shy smile on her her face. His heart didn't flutter or skip a beat when they kissed but that was okay. Because experiencing that sort of love for one time in his life with El was enough for him. He didn't need to go through that again. Jenny was safe.
Mike kissed Jenny softly. Taking his time moving his lips over her plump ones. It's not as if their relationship lacked passion but it wasn't an all consuming one and he was grateful for that. His tongue curled around Jenny's one last time before ending the kiss.
Jenny got off the bed and grabbed his hand. "Come on. I made breakfast."
Mike allowed her to pull him out of bed and into the kitchen. Jenny practically lived there now. She was over almost every single day and spent the nights with him. He supposed that he could ask her to move in with him. Just make it official and be done with it. Half of Jenny's clothes and makeup were over here already anyway.
Mike grabbed the huge glass of smoothie that Jenny had made for him and decided to to have it in the living room. Paladin was already out there watching the Home Shopping channel it seemed. Mike took up his remote and changed it to the morning news. He could feel Paladin glaring at him but he ignored it. The cat truly acted as if he owned the damn place.
He was almost finished with his drink when an interesting piece of news came on. Major crime syndicate boss Martin Brenner had finally been captured by the FBI thanks to a five year sting operation. Mike nearly dropped his glass on the floor when Kali appeared on the screen in a grey business suit standing up next to the Bureau chief as she gave a brief rundown of the case.
Holy fucking shit. Kali had been a cop. All this time Kali had been working undercover and El had been clueless to it all or had she?! Kali could've turned her in but she made damn sure that El not only got out but got out alive. El had been potentially been a lot closer to being in jail than neither her nor Mike had recognize right?
Mike only realized that Jenny was next to him when she took the glass out of his hand and placed it on the coffee table.
He turned to face her. Mouth gaping open. So many thoughts and emotions rushing through him. Jenny didn't say anything but she knew what or better yet whom he was thinking about. When it came to El, Jenny never pushed him to forget about her. She just never mentioned her although Mike suspected that Jenny knew that he had never stopped thinking about El.
Jenny kissed Mike's cheek and gave his hand a squeeze. "I'm off to work. See you when I get back."
Mike merely managed to nod as Jenny walked away.
"Dude, I'm telling you. Sex is best with a nerd chick."
Dustin was waving his shrimp that had been dipped in barbecue sauce at Mike. He had decided to try dating the girl Suzie whom. He had previously engaged with and it had been three months now, a record in Dustin's case. "You should try it sometime." Dustin chomped down on the shrimp leaving only the tail between his fingertips.
Mike laughed and looked around the bar. "I don't really think that nerdy chicks are my thing."
Dustin waved him off. "Whatever." He took a big gulp of his beer. " I mean sure she has the tendacy to recite entire episodes of battlestar but ya know," he shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. " Reciting lines back to her just makes the sex even more awesome."
"Uh huh." Mike twirled his straw around in his drink. "Yeah I think one that was too much information and two I will just stick to Jenny. I don't need any crazies in my life."
Dustin looked at him suspiciously and wiped his mouth clean with a paper napkin. "Okay, spill it."
Mike was a bit lost. "Spill what?"
"There's obviously something on your mind." Dustin crossed his arms in front of his chest and leaned back in the chair and waited.
Mike sighed. "It's nothing."
Mike exhaled loudly through his lips. "That Brenner guy that El used to work for got arrested a couple days ago."
"And..." Mike teetered a bit. He knew that Dustin was going to yell at him. "I was wondering if El knew."
"Why the hell would you care if she knows or not?" Already he could hear Dustin becoming defensive.
"It's just that El left to get away from Brenner and now that he's locked up -"
"You're hoping that she comes back." Dustin finished for him.
Mike just looked at him sheepishly.
"Oh for fuck's sake!" Dustin moaned and rolled his eyes. "Mike no!"
"But there are still some things that have to be cleared up." Mike tried to reason.
"There is nothing that has to be cleared up." Dustin leaned across the table. "She left you. She left you high and dry without even leaving a note. There is nothing that she can say that can make that shit right."
"I know." Mike bowed his head. "It's not that I would take her back. It's just that I want to know why she did it that way."
"It doesn't matter why she did it that way. The point is she did and she hurt you." Dustin dropped his voice. "A lot." He reached across the table and grabbed Mike's shoulder. "I don't want to see you like that ever again." Mike proffered a weak smile. "She hurt you too much Mikey. Honestly I'm not sure what I would say if I ever laid eyes on her."
"My knight in shining armour." Mike tried to tease lightheartedly to change the mood.
But Dustin's face remained somber. His hand still clutching Mike's shoulder. "I'm serious. You didn't deserve that."
Mike nodded slowly in agreement. "I know."
"Besides, you have Jenny now. She loves you and is good to you right?"
Mike exhaled softly as he stared at the condensation on the side of his glass. "I guess."
Dustin continued to hold on to Mike's shoulder. He watched as Mike seemed to mulling over something or someone.
"Your still in love with her aren't you?" It was said in the least accusatory tone that Dustin could muster up.
Mike lifted his head slowly to lock eyes with Dustin. "I've never stopped."
Mike did concede that Dustin did have a point. El did leave him without even looking back at him for two years. He would be a fool to even think that El would come back just because Brenner was in jail.
He was lying down on his stomach in his bed with his arm hanging off the side, fingers scratching Paladin's fur. "You tried to warn me didn't you boy? You never took to her like you do to everyone else. You knew that she was no good for me didn't you?" Paladin purred and then continued licking his paw.
Even though he was still angry at how El left him, a large part of him still missed her. He missed seeing her, hearing her, sleeping next to her. Her messy golden hair, the twinkling eyes and cute dimples. God, he just missed El and he hated himself for it. He never got that closure from how that relationship ended. He hated how he was treated but yet he couldn't bring himself to hate the woman behind the treatment. El left him like yesterday's garbage. Her proclamation of love was nothing more than sweet nothings whispered on a spring night.
This was pathetic. He was certain that El had moved on where ever she was without him. Living her life. Seeing as many men to her heart's content, having long forgotten about Mike and New York. So he should do the same thing. Forget about the Chicago native named El Hopper.
He suddenly felt Jenny pressed up against him. He didn't even know when she had walked into the room and gotten on the bed. He felt a finger softly stroking his cheek
"Why so sad baby?" Jenny kissed his shoulder and curled up behind to hold him in her arms.
" It's nothing. Don't worry about it." Mike hoped that Jenny would just let it drop.
"You know that you can talk to me about anything right?"
"Yeah." Mike just stared at the wall in front of him.
He felt another kiss at the nape of his neck. "Don't shut me out Hot Wheels. I love you."
Mike slid his hand down and covered Jenny's that was around his waist. Dustin was right. Jenny was a good woman who loved him. He needed to stop living in the past and enjoy his present before he lost it. "I know J." He rolled over to face her. Jenny's face was as immaculate as ever. Not a hair out of place. Mike pushed away that nagging thought that wished that he could mess it up and leaned in and kissed her gently on her full lips.
Jenny threaded her fingers lightly through the front of Mike's hair. "So I guess I can't convince you to come out with me?"
Mike groaned. "J, you know it makes me uncomfortable."
"I don't see why fabulous clubs make you so uncomfortable. They are awesome and the place to be seen!" Jenny said her eyes sparkling.
"It isn't the clubs that bother me. It's the patrons. I'm tired of fake people who are overly nice because they think my wallet might be their golden ticket."
Jenny giggled and kissed him lightly on the lips. "If you stopped being so rich and beautiful then maybe they won't." She sat up and patted Mike on the arm. "But I understand. Come on. I want you to help make me a snack that won't smudge my lipstick I have to meet the girls soon."
Mike smiled and shook his head as he followed Jenny into the kitchen. Yes life was good with Jenny as he watched his longtime friend grab things from the cupboard. He was glad that he had walked into that store ten years ago where Jenny had been working. It had to have been fate.
He had convinced Jenny to drink one of her protein shakes so that she could sip it through a straw. He was washing the cups used up in the sink when the doorbell rang. Jenny was in the bedroom getting ready. So Mike dried his hands on the hand towel that was hung on the rack next to the sink.
When he opened the door, his mind went completely blank. He couldn't process what he was seeing. Standing there in a simple black vest showcasing her tanned slender arms. Hair cut shorter and lighter as if bleached by the sun, with her unforgettable dimpled smile shining at him was his ex-girlfriend. El Hopper.
After two long years, there she was standing right in front of him grinning. Grinning as if she had just gone to the store and had taken the scenic route coming back.
A woman that he missed and loved so much that on occasion he had cried himself to sleep when it became too much. A woman that he couldn't stop thinking about every single day since he last saw her in one form or fashion.
And now she was standing right in front of him and it felt as if every thing in his body had frozen and he could only stare at her. Not believing what was standing right in front of him was real. It had to be a mirage. The real El couldn't just pop right back up in his life grinning as if every thing was okay. She couldn't. She wouldn't dare.
El's smile faltered a bit. "Mike?" She waved her hand in front of Mike's face. "It's me. El."
Mike blinked a couple of times as if he was now coming to his senses. "Yeah. I know who you are."
The cold, impersonal sound of Mike's voice wiped all of the merriment from off of El's face.
He noticed El wiping her hands on her jeans but he knew her well enough to know that they were not sweaty. Just one of her nervous habits. "Um, do you think er.. If it's possible.. That er...we could talk?"
Mike nodded his head slowly. "Uh, yeah." He stepped to a side so that El could enter the apartment. El was just staring at him with a bit of uncertainty and he was sure that the same expression was mirrored on his face.
"Hey Mikey! I'm leaving now."
Suddenly Jenny came into view and the tension in the apartment shot through the roof. Jenny was holding her handbag in one hand and looking at El as if she had seen a ghost. Meanwhile El swept Jenny with a glare from top to bottom, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"You're the girl from the mall." El couldn't keep the slight sneer out of het voice.
"It's Jenny." The smaller girl pointed out although she had a feeling that El knew her name quite well.
El wore the most unfriendly expression that said loud and clear that she didn't give a damn what Jenny's name was.
Jenny swallowed hard and turned to Mike. The fear in her eyes was plain to see. She wasn't afraid of El's attitude. No she was scared that now El was back in the picture that she would reclaim the man that she had fallen in love with over the past two years.
"Um, I really have to go." She slipped her hand into Mike's who held on to it tight. It brought her a little comfort.
Mike lowered his head and placed a chaste kiss on Jenny's lips. "Okay, have fun."
Jenny nodded. Letting her fingers linger in Mike's hand until the last possible second until she had to walk away. She glanced between the two people standing in the hallway and then hurried out of the apartment closing the door behind her.
"So you and mall girl?" El inquired breaking the silence.
"Her name is Jenny." Mike corrected her as he led El into the living room.
Before El could respond her old nemesis ran up to her meowing a storm.
"Paladin!" El seemed instantly delighted as the cat meowed at her as if he was trying to have a conversation with her.
El stooped down and tried to pet him but the cat stepped back and hissed at her. El giggled and shook her head. "Same old Paladin."
Mike was sitting on the couch staring at her in amazement. How could El just waltz right back into his life, his apartment and act as if every thing was normal?
El got up off the floor smiling and sank down the other end of the couch. "He hasn't changed, has he?"
"l guess not."
Mike's tone was so cold and so unusual to her. El pulled her feet up up onto the couch and hugged her knees. "I get the feeling that you're not happy to see me?"
And there she went, pushing the lid off the anger that Mike was trying so hard to keep at bay. Mike swallowed hard as he clenched and unclenched his fists as a coping strategy. "Well it's kinda hard to be happy to see someone who took off in the middle of the night without so much as a goodbye note."
"Yes," El nodded her head slowly. "I guess that wasn't the best thing to do looking back at it, abut it felt like right thing to do at the time."
Mike just shook his head. El didn't even have to common courtesy to apologize for what she did to him. He couldn't look at her. He just stared at a spot on the floor as he spoke. "You had two fucking years El. Two years! And during all of that time I wasn't even worth a damn phone call?" El started to speak but Mike cut her off. "Do you know how many nights I didn't sleep because I was worried about you? I didn't even know if you were alive or dead. Do you know what that does to a person?" This time Mike was looking right at her. His deep brown eyes blazing. "Do you even care?"
"Of course I care Mike. It's why I came back." She dared to ease an inch closer to Mike on the couch.
"So you came back and that's suppose to make everything all right?" Mike couldn't believe her audacity sometimes.
"Mike, I did what I had to do in order to protect you first and foremost, there is a lot of other stuff to explain but your safety was my priority." El's voice was firm and resolute in that response.
"Protect me? From who? Brenner? Because he was after you?"
El seemed shocked that Mike knew that much. "How did you know?"
"I went to see Kali."
"You did what?" El looked completely unhinged and a bit scared at the thought of Mike looking for Kali.
"Oh I'm sorry but what the fuck did you expect me to do? You were gone without a trace. The woman that I thought loved me, took all of her shit and high tailed it out of New York and left me. I needed answers." He didn't want to fight with El but damn it felt good to get out all of his pent up frustrations and anger and direct it towards the right person.
" I...I... I did... I mean I do love you." El spoke softly, a bit nervous. Tapping her fingers against her collarbone as if she was waiting for something to end.
"Yeah well you've got a funny way of showing it."
"Don't say that!" Mike found himself face to face with El as she desperately gripped his shoulders tightly. "You know that I love you."
"If you had really loved me you wouldn't have left me like that. You wouldn't have hurt me like that. Love doesn't hurt people like that." Mike grabbed El's arms and pushed them off him.
El sat back on her end of the couch and she somehow managed to look completely devastated by what Mike had said. How could she do that? How could she just turn it around and make it seem as if Mike was the bad guy?
A tense silence fell between them. Both of them were hurting. Mike didn't even think that seeing El for the first time in years, would have ended with both of them being angry at each other. After spending countless hours wishing that El would walk back into his life, there she was sitting next to him on the couch and Mike didn't know what to do.
He glanced at her, she had gotten slimmer. Her skin looked clear and fresh. Whatever she had been doing during the time that she had left was working for her. But he couldn't even enjoy it. He couldn't enjoy it because El was being El and being obstinate and refusing to recognize the problem no matter how often Mike pointed it out to her.
Part of him wanted to reach across the couch and grab her by her black vest, pull her up against him and kiss her like there was no tomorrow. But another part of him told him to hold out. That he at least deserved an apology and an explanation. He didn't think that he was asking for too much and of course there was Jenny.
El sighed loudly. "Mike?"
The man in question looked at her with an eyebrow slightly raised.
"I'm sorry about the way I left."
Good, Mike thought at least they were making some progress.
"But I did it to protect you and there was things I couldn't explain but mainly I didn't want you to get hurt."
She was doing so well and then she had to go and ruin it.
"So what exactly did you think would happen when I woke up and found that you were gone? You thought that I was just going to shrug my shoulders and go about my day?"
"I don't know. I really didn't think about that part." El admitted.
"You leaving me has hurt me more than whatever Brenner would've done to me." Mike had to do it. He had to go there. He had to make El understand how terrible it felt when she left him.
"Really Mike?" El's eyes actually dared to look watery. "Don't say that."
"Say what? The truth. You hurt me badly El." His eyes were fixed on Paladin who was watching both of them with rapt attention. "And I don't know how you would expect me to just get over it. You know full well if the shoe was on the other foot that you wouldn't forgive me for leaving you. You would've hated my guts. I don't think that you would even speak to me. So the fact that I actually let you back into my house is already more than what you would've done." Mike felt a shudder rack through his body. He was trying so damn hard to hold back tears but they were going to come but these were tears of frustration and resentment because even after these two years had passed El was still clueless to the effect that she had on him.
"You had promised me El. You had promised that you wouldn't leave without saying goodbye. But you did. You told me that you loved me and then you just left. Who the fuck does that?" his voice cracked.
"I'm sorry Mike. I did tell you that I always mess relationships up." El was watching him as she chewed nervously on her bottom lip.
"That's no excuse." Mike wouldn't accept that now. "You could've told me what was happening. We could've come up with a plan. We could've done something. But you didn't even give us a chance."
He felt El moving closer to him and then a warm hand on his thigh. It had been two years since El had last touch him. Her touch shouldn't have felt so familiar and so comforting but it was. El moved herself up against his side. Her body heat spreading through his own. Mike turned his face slightly to the right and there El's was right in front of him. Those big doe eyes deep with regret. The hand on his thigh slid further up until it reached Mike's own hand and pried her fingers inbetween Mike's. He didn't mean to do it volunteerily but he squeezed her fingers between his. He wasn't going to let go now that he had found her again. He closed his eyes when El's face came closer to his own. When her nose brushed across his cheek and he could feel her gentle breath on his skin. His heart was beating so quickly. Only El could make him feel like this. Like his entire world would end if he didn't have her right this minute. A warm pair of lips pressed hard against his cheek. An "I love you Mike." breathed into his ear. Then El pulled away. Away from Mike's body and unraveled their fingers.
Mike opened his eyes in disbelief as El stood up and reached into her jean backpocket and pulled out a card. She placed the card on the coffee table.
"That's the hotel where I'm staying. I have my cell number on the back."
Mike swallowed hard. "How long are you staying in town?"
"As long as it takes," was the answer. Mike didn't feel as if he could will his feet to move as he watched El walk to the door. He felt numb from that little physical contact that he had with her. El had sparked something in him and as soon as he had moved away it died.
He stared at the small, rectangular white card on the table. He wanted closure from El but he was beginning to realize that El might not be able to give it to him.