"Have you called her yet?"
"How long has it been?"
"A couple of days." Mike said stirring his coffee.
"So you don't want to talk it out with her?" Lucas asked as Mike placed his mug on his desk. They were the last ones in the office for the night.
"I don't know." Mike shook his head. His thoughts were just so jumbled when they came to El that he didn't know where to start.
"I don't why you're pressuring Mike to talk to her anyway." Dustin said swivelling in his chair. "She's the one that needs to come to Mike."
"Does it really matter?" Lucas asked.
"Of course it does. She is the one that walked out on Mike. She's the one that needs to be begging for Mike to talk. If Mike goes to her, she's going to think that what she did was okay."
"Sounds a bit like playing games." Lucas opinioned.
"Well sometimes you have to play games to see what a person is really about." Dustin advised. "If she really wants Mike she'll come and get him."
Mike was carefully listening to Dustin. He did have a point. If El really wanted him, she needed to make more of an effort. Just saying that she did it to protect Mike wasn't good enough.
Dustin placed his hand on Mike's shoulder. "For the last six months you have had a good thing going with Jenny. You have to consider that as well."
Mike nodded. He didn't want to hurt Jenny when she had been nothing but loving and supportive towards him.
"But Mike doesn't love Jenny though."
Both Mike and Dustin looked at Lucas in shock. "What did you just say?" Mike managed to splurt out. "I care about Jenny."
Lucas shrugged. "Well sure you care about her. But you don't love her like you do El."
"What makes you say that?"
"Mike, come on. You're the kinda guy that wears his heart on his sleeve. It's pretty obvious." Lucas crossed his arms. "Dustin knows it too."
Dustin rolled his eyes. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Dude please. You know that Mike is still feeling a way for El. That's why you don't want him to go to her first. Because you know that he would forgive her too easily instead of talking shit out."
Dustin kept his eyes focused on the ceiling. "Well maybe. But you see how Mikey is. He's so soft."
"Um, hello. I'm still here." Mike interjected.
"Yeah just a minute. Lucas and I are talking here." Dustin dismissed him with a wave.
"I know the guy is soft but you can't be hard all the time but I do also see what you're saying. She did do Mike pretty bad."
"Pretty bad is an understatement. After what she did, she doesn't deserve a guy like a Mike."
"That is true. I don't."
The three men turn around to see El leaning up against the door frame. Hands pushed into the front pockets of worn blue jeans. A slow walk as she approached the small group. "Mike deserves the best but I still want him."
El's eyes lingering on Mike's face as she said the last part.
"Oh hell no!"
Before Mike could stop him, Dustin marched right up to El "You have some audacity showing up here after all you have done!! Do you know how long it took us to get him back to himself? Months!! That's how long. He was broken El, broken, you broke him. If you think you would be welcomed back with open arms then you were very clearly mistaken" Dustin spat.
El stumbled back clearly upset by Dustin's harsh words
"El.. " Mike immediately placed himself in a protective stance between the two of them with El shielded behind him "What did you do that for?" He yelled at his curly haired friend.
Dustin merely sighed as he walked off. "She had to hear the truth."
Mike stared in disbelief as Dustin walked away.
"I'm gonna go and check on him." Lucas ran off behind Dustin.
El was breathing heavily, silent tears running down her face.
"I can't believe that he yelled at you." Mike was still in shock. "I mean he did say that if he ever saw you again he would let you have it, but I didn't think that he would actually do it."
El stepped slowly round Mike. "Well I guess I did have it coming." She scrutinized Mike a bit in his jacket, shirt and slacks. "Are you done for the day? I was hoping that we could go somewhere and talk."
"Uh yeah." Mike looked around the room. "Wait here while I go get my bag."
Mike started to walk off but then he quickly turned on his heel. "You might want to stay out of Dustin's sight. You're not his favourite person right now."
El winced a bit from the memory of their most recent interaction and she tried to smile. "Yeah I kind of picked up on that."
The setting sun bathed the street in colours of orange and pink as Mike and El walked side by side on the sidewalk with their arms swinging between them.
"You didn't call." El said. Her eyes fixed ahead of her.
"I didn't know what to say." El's hair was glowing gold in the sunset. Casting a warm glow upon her face, rendering her so beautiful in that moment, that Mike lost his train of thought and forgot what else he was going to say.
"Well I didn't hear much." El stopped to cross the street. The walk sign came on and they crossed the street together. "But I guess Dustin did have a point. I don't deserve a guy like you and truth is I should have been coming to you and not expecting you to come to me."
Well score another point for Dustin, Mike thought.
"Because I'm the one who messed up but I messed up long before you even entered my life and I need you to understand it all."
It was only when a guy walking a golden retreiver on a blue leash passed by them that it registered to Mike that El had led them to the park.
"I'm glad that you could admit that but I am confused as to what you mean by the rest of it." Mike said as he sat on a bench placing his bag between them.
"Well I had some time over the last few days to think about what you had said and you were right." El lazily pushed her boot through the grass. "I didn't think about how my leaving would've affected you."
"But how couldn't you?" That had been the hard part for Mike. How could El just leave without even considering the effect that her sudden disappearance would've had on him.
El sighed, placing her left arm on top of Mike's bag as if it were a cushion. "I need to take you back to make you understand. You already knew I worked for Brenner ever since he took me off my mum's hands" Mike nodded as he remembered how El had recounted her upbringing to him his heart aching at the memory. "Well my mantra became be bad or be dead and while life sucked, death didn't feel like the best option. I had friends and money was good. Then about three years ago I got the shock of my life when I over heard a conversation between Kali and her FBI handler. I liked Kali but I was so surprised, she seemed so loyal to Brenner from the beginning so I confronted her and a deal was made that inevitably led me to where I am now"
"I'm still confused El.."
"I know, I'm sorry bear with me, I wanted out from underneath Brenner and Kali knew this. Whilst she was building a case against Brenner she wasn't privvy to the information that would really get him sent down, information that I had, had access to since I was a teenager. I agreed to become her informant. The condition of this deal was I disappear when the time was right and testify at his trial, I would be on probation but avoid jail.
"You mean you knew Kali was a Fed, I mean you were working for them..oh El why didn't you say anything" Mike sighed running his hands across his face.
"You know it's not that straight forward Mike, too much was at stake and our plan had been working fine until New York and you."
"What do you mean"
"I mean here with you in New York, was the first time I had felt at home since my dad had died and I didn't want to let you or that feeling go. I don't know what Kali told you but my work for Brenner in the various cities was always time specific. I had managed to extend this contract as long as possible but I was already running out of time as you and me were getting more serious. Brenner was also getting more paranoid, which was rightfully so..." El paused and ran her fingers through her hair
"When he found out I still hadnt left town he put out a hit on me. I had already told you when people went against him or tried to leave they were very rarely seen again. He had also made it clear that it didn't matter if there was any collateral damage I knew too much for him to take any chances.
"But Kali said he was only going to get some guys to rough you up" Mike whispered the colour draining from his face.
"I guess she was trying to make you feel less concerned but Brenner doesn't just rough people up, he likes to ensure the message is received by everyone in his organisation, you don't go against him. It was Kali that gave me the heads up about the hit and said to go lay low and it would be over soon"
"Wow" Mike shook his head.
"I guess with all of this going on and being so focused on protecting you from Brenner, not to mention Max and even Dustin, Lucas, Benny and Steve. I mean even Paladin" she added, a small grin appearing on her face "that I didn't stop to think how my leaving would make you feel. I just sorta figured that you would've understood."
Mike mulled El's words over carefully, whilst trying to process the information download. The sun was slowly dipping below the horizon and a gorgeous deep purple sky was appearing. "I was really scared those first few hours. I thought that you had gone to do a job for Brenner and had gotten hurt. When you didn't answer your phone I was besides myself. I was so scared for you."
"I'm so very sorry. I didn't mean to put you through that." When spoken, her words seemed so light weight, as the gravity of Mike's feelings sunk in. She hadn't meant to antagonize and cause Mike undue stress but that was exactly what she had done. And to make matters worse, she hadn't even contacted him for two years leaving Mike unsure about what had happened to her.
"And then when I went to your apartment and I saw that every thing was gone, it hit me." Mike paused. Eyes staring into the distance, focusing on nothing in particular. "You were gone and it hurt so fucking much."
The raw pain was still very much evident in Mike's voice and a lump rose in El's throat. She had hurt him. She did it by herself. She could try to blame Brenner but it wasn't really his fault her bad choices had started all this a long time ago and ended with her not even saying goodbye to the man that she had claimed to love.
El lifted up the bag from between them and placed it on the other side of her. She slid right up to Mike and took his right hand into her own. Her thumb smoothed over Mike's knuckles slowly in a back and forth motion.
A slightly chill breeze whipped around them before disappearing. The sky was almost a deep blue purple now. The Evening Star making its appearance low on the horizon.
"Mike," she began, keeping her focus on what she was holding. "I know I sound like a broken record but I'm so sorry. I … I really didn't mean to hurt you. You must believe that."
Mike wet his lips lightly with the tip of his tongue before speaking as he turned his head towards his ex girlfriend. "Then why didn't you at least call me?"
"Because..." El's voice trailed off. She didn't really know what to say. She had kept that truth at a distance. She had shoved it to the back of her mind and tried not to think about it. Or she justified it by saying it was for the good of the trial but there would have been a way to contact him and now it was time to face that truth.
"I didn't know how to say goodbye to you." She answered quietly.
El's thumb made it's way up Mike's index finger.
"I don't understand."
El exhaled sharply, squeezing Mike's hand hard until they were staring at each other.
Slowly, El found her voice. "I didn't know how to say goodbye to you." Mike's eyes narrowed a bit in confusion. That was okay. El was a bit muddled up herself but she tried to unravel it. "I didn't know how to look you in the eye and tell you that I had to leave you."
El shifted her hand underneath Mike's and laced their fingers together. "I think, if I had tried to tell you that I had to leave that I wouldn't have gone. Because you would've asked me to stay and ..." El laughed nervously breaking up the solemn mood. " God, this is going to sound stupid but I think deep down I knew that I wouldn't be able to tell you no. And then Brenner would've probably gotten to us and I didn't want live with the guilt of putting you in harm's way, not to mention if we had somehow survived Brenner the jail time I would have had to do as Kali would have been pissed that I jeopardised her case."
"So you left me because you couldn't say good bye to me?" There was a note of disbelief in Mike's voice and El didn't blame him for it.
"I told you that it would sound stupid." El huffed. She pulled Mike's hand onto his lap. "I did think about calling you. Almost every single minute of every day. I had picked up the phone to call you but I didn't know what to say to you. Part of me had hoped that you had forgotten about me and moved on and another part of me thought that if you did hear from me that you would write me off and I didn't want you to forget me."
Mike kept his hand on El's lap. It felt at home there. "So where were you all of this time?"
"Texas? What were you doing all the way down in Texas?"
"Well I wanted to get as far away from Brenner as possible with the hit still out on me, it just so happens to be one of the few states that he doesn't have any contacts in."
"So where were you? Dallas?"
"What did you do down there?"
"Lots of odd jobs."
She picked up on the tension in Mike's arm. "Nothing illegal." She soothed him "Mostly bar work".
A thought planted itself in Mike's mind. He should've dismissed it as soon as it came but it had taken root and now he couldn't shake it. "I know I don't really have the right to ask but were you seeing anyone?"
El slouched down a bit on the bench. "I saw plenty of people. Every single day." A knowing smirk appeared on her lips when Mike playfully tugged her hand for the smart ass answer. "Nothing serious."
El brought the back of Mike's hand up to her lips. She pressed the hand against her lips, holding it there. That shiver that ran down Mike's spine was as sharp as it ever was. Only El could do that.
El's finger drew circles on Mike's palm as she kept the hand pressed against her lips. "How long have you and mall girl been together?"
"Just under six months." Mike was trying to keep his breathing level but he was getting flustered by El's ministrations and he had the sneaking suspicion that El knew that as well.
El's cool breath on his hand caused Mikes breath to catch in his throat. El noticed and kissed the back of his hand. "Do you love her?"
Mike locked eyes with El's. Her golden eyes were narrowed and suspicious as she turned Mike's palm towards her mouth and kissed it.
"In a way.. yeah." It came out in a shuddered breath. Mike was losing his cool and quickly
El kissed the palm again.
"El." Her name came out like a moan despite Mike's resolve.
El's eyes glimmered in the faint light. " Does she make you feel the way that I do?"
"What are you getting at?"
El placed Mike's back in her lap. "I want you back Mike."
He had always loved the way how El said his name. Mike.
It always did something to him and what it did right now was to cause his hand to slip to inside of El's thigh dangerously close to her centre. His teeth bit the inside of his lip as he moved his hand slowly up and down her thigh. God. It had been way too long.
His eyes caught El's whose eyes had widen and dilated at the way Mike was caressing her leg. Mike gave her leg a squeeze through her jeans which caused El to inhale sharply, he couldn't deny the noise pleased him.
Mike began to lean in as El. They were in the middle of a public park. They shouldn't be doing this but consequences be damned. His hand slid along El's cheek and cupped her face her breath fanning lightly across his lips however the next question El asked him made him pause.
"Does this mean you will take me back Mike?"
Of course El would pick this moment to ask him something like that. Were they back together? The fuck if he knew. El's hands were on his shoulders, his were on her face. Their lips millimetres apart, his adrenaline was pumping. It had been two years and that chemistry between them hadn't died a bit. He would give anything right now to be covering El's lips with his own. But what would that solve? They still had problems that needed to be worked on.
"I don't know." Mike moved his hand from her face and placed them back on his knees instead. He looked around. Night had fallen. Everything was nearly pitch black with shadows. Streetlights illuminating the pathways in the distance.
"You still want me?" El questioned and Mike moaned involuntarily.
"That's not fair." He could see the gleam in those doe eyes. "I've never not wanted you." Mike said gently "But sex was never our problem."
A hush fell between them. Both of them thinking about the situation. El rested one hand on the back of Mike's neck as her fingers dipped into the curls at the base of his neck. El was so close to him. He could smell her faint perfume, see her chest rise and fall even in the darkness. Her lips were so close that he could just take them in his own and kiss her until the sunrise.
But her eyes told him that her mind was faraway thinking about something important and that Mike shouldn't interrupt her train of thought.
El took a breath. "I thought about you every single day, I wondered what you were doing. What Paladin was doing. Did the cat even miss me?" A soft laugh from Mike. "It hurt so damn much be away from you. But I kept on telling myself that it was necessary to keep you safe. That you knew that I was in a dangerous profession and that you would understand."
El took another deep breath. When she released it, the air brushed past Mike's lips. "You understanding was the only thing that I was holding on to in the hopes that you wouldn't hate me for leaving." Her thumb brushed down Mike's cheek. "I didn't want you to hate me Mike." Her eyes finally drifting up to meet Mike's. "I hope you don't hate me."
The question hung in the air for a bit. The hand on El's knee squeezed her a bit. "I could never hate you."
El smiled. "I missed us Mike. I missed being with you. And when Brenner's sentencing was complete, I just dropped everything and came back here. I didn't even know if you were still in the city, or if you had moved. I was just hoping that you were still there at the apartment." El's fingers twitched in her lap.
"I need you Mike but I am not going to be the other girl. I can't say it hasn't hurt to see you moved on but I can't say I'm surprised given how I left things but you know everything now, no more secrets, nothing more to come between us but you need to work out what you want."
Mike could tell that El was being sincere. He felt every single word that she was saying to him. He'd also missed being with El terribly. But was that enough for them to get back together?
"Mike." His name a hushed questioning whisper escaping El's lips. Yet the longing was evident. What he had been praying for during the last two years was sitting right in front of him. Dustin and Lucas were right. He was soft.
"I need you too." The confession was barely out of his mouth before El stood up.
"You have to get home." El turned towards him, regret in her eyes.
"You are right I need to talk to Jenny. I mean I don't want to hurt her. She's been good to me El and I can't string her along. She doesn't deserve that."
Ell tried to swallow down the jealousy rising in her throat. Of course she had been good to him, after she had bailed on him and left him with a broken heart.
"Do what you need to do Mike I am staying, like I said for as long as it takes. "
Mike racked his brain over and over but there was no easy way to say what he was about to say. He closed the front door behind him and walked into the living room. Jenny turned around and was about to greet him when she saw the expression on his face.
Mike's grip on his bag handles tightened as he felt the electricity crack in the air between them. Jenny got off the couch and walked slowly towards him. He could tell that Jenny was searching his face and he saw a sadness fall across hers as she crossed her arms in front of her chest. "You were with her, weren't you?"
It sounded like half a question and half a statement. Jenny merely wanted confirmation to what she already knew.
Mike nodded his head slowly. His bag suddenly feeling quite heavy in his hand. "Yeah."
He hated to see the hurt overtaking Jenny's face as she glanced away from him. "I see."
Jenny turned and walked towards the bedroom. Mike felt an uneasy feeling in his stomach and went after her. "J!"
By the time he had reached the bedroom, Jenny was pulling out her empty gym bag as Mike dropped his bag on the floor. He watched as Jenny opened the closet door and started taking her clothes off the hangers.
"J, what are you doing?"
Jenny kept her back to him. "What does it look like I'm doing?"
Mike watched as she folded the clothes hapazardly and dropped them in the bag.
"You're leaving J?" Mike walked up behind her.
" Michael, please." He could hear sniffling. "Don't act like this wasn't coming. As soon as you saw El, you knew that you wanted her back."
Mike lightly placed his hands on Jenny's hips. "J..."
"Mike." Jenny closed her eyes momentarily. " Don't make this harder than it already is."
Mike pulled her into a hug which Jenny sank into. Mike rested his cheek on the top of her head. " I didn't want to do this to you."
"But you are." Jenny muffled into his chest. " You're breaking my heart Hot Wheels."
Mike's lips curled up slightly in a smile at the silly nickname. Jenny didn't deserve this. "How are you so certain that I'm breaking up with you?"
"Because I know you and have done for a long time." She replied matter-of-factly. "And I also know for sure that El's the love of your life. As much as I wish that it was me, I know better."
"J..." Mike looked down at her and placed a small kiss on her forehead. There was a bittersweet feeling about it. It was only then that it hit him that it was hurting him too, to break up with Jenny. Yes he was very much in love with El but Jenny had been there through some of the darkest times in his life and to break her heart as deliberately as he was doing, didn't sit too well with him, she had always been his friend.
He tightened his grip around Jenny. "You know that you'll always have a special place in my heart, right?"
He pulled her back in time to see a wayward tear fall down her cheek. "Just so you know," Jenny began, "you're doing this entire breakup thing wrong. At this point I'm supposed to be yelling and screaming at you and telling you to go to hell."
Mike gently brushed the tear away. "You can still do that if you want."
Jenny giggled softly and shook her head as more tears fell. "Fuck Mike. You're making this so damn hard."
"I didn't want to hurt you J." Mike said brushing his thumb down her cheek. "You are so good to me."
Jenny sniffled as she wiped her face with the back of her hand. "But not good enough apparently."
Mike groaned. "J," He really felt bad about this. It wasn't fair to Jenny but his friends were right. He didn't love her how he loved El and Jenny deserved someone who could do that for her as a minimum. "You deserve better than this. I wish that I could give it to you but I can't."
Mike walked backwards, taking Jenny with him until his legs butted the bed. He laid down on the mattress and then pulled Jenny on top of him. Jenny's head resting on his chest, one leg between his thighs.
Mike just held on to the blonde as he felt the tears wetting his shirt. He had to do this for Jenny. It was the least he could do with all things considered.
He had never been through a breakup like this before and he didn't think that Jenny had either. They had been good friends for years before they had become an item and Mike hoped that they could still at least remain friends after this but he knew that right now he had no right to ask that of Jenny. He hated to think of Jenny as being a rebound she had stuck through so much of his heartbreak over El. Offered so many words of encouragement. Held him just like this on so many countless nights. And how did Mike repay her? By breaking her heart by reuniting with the same woman that had caused him the pain. It had to be a tough pill to swallow on Jenny's end.
The teary eyed blonde looked up at him innocently.
Mike shifted a bit and placed a gentle kiss on her nose "thank you" and then gently rested his forehead against hers
When they had finally parted, they just stared at each other for a while. Nothing had to be said. They both knew the sentiment behind his actions"
When Mike woke up the next morning, Jenny was curled up by his side fast asleep. She looked so peaceful and content next to him that it did tug at his heart a little. He hated doing this, after all she had done to help him to get on his feet when he first came to New York. His loyal friend through out the years. If it had been anyone else but El he would've told them to take a hike, that he was committed to Jenny. But El just held that part of him that no one else could reach.
Mike eased slowly out of the bed, resting Jenny's head on the pillow and then pulling the blanket over her. As he made his way to the kitchen, he wondered if their friendship would survive this breakup. Even though it might be considered selfish of him, he really hoped that it would.
Jenny found him in the kitchen half an hour later turning over some bacon in the frying pan. "You're making breakfast?" She seemed surprised as she sat on one of the bar stools.
"Yeah," Mike poked the crisping bacon with the edge of the spatula. "It's the least I could do, you know, considering everything."
He glanced behind him at Jenny who was just watching him with a somewhat remorseful expression. He turned back to the frying pan and turned off the heat underneath it. Breakups were always miserable things.
He plated the food and brought it over to Jenny along with some toasted bagels. The meal was quiet. Mike watched as Jenny picked at the food. He couldn't really blame her if she didn't have much of an appetite.
After ten minutes Jenny pushed away the plate and got off the stool and went back into the bedroom without saying a word to Mike. So much for making it seem as normal as possible. Although he really couldn't fault her for feeling how she did, he thought as he cleaned up the breakfast remains. She was basically told last night that she wasn't good enough anymore. A sort of extended replacement until El returned, if you will.
When Mike finished in the kitchen he decided to watch some television and give Jenny some space. As soon as he sat down on the couch, Paladin jumped in his lap and curled right up, purring pleasantly. Mike scratched the furry tummy and the cat purred even more contentedly. If only it was this easy to apease humans, Mike thought.
"Well, I'm leaving."
It was an hour later and Jenny was standing in the corridor holding a gym bag in one hand and a roll-on bag by it's handle in the other. Hair slicked back into a pony tail, in a white v-neck t-shirt and skinny fit jeans. She looked immaculate, as usual. Her eyes kept on meeting Mike's and then dropping to the floor.
Mike got off the couch and went to her. Mike wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into a tight hug.
At first Jenny was tense in his arms but eventually she relaxed to the point that Mike was supporting most of her weight. There they remained, for how long, neither knew. He heard Jenny gasp a couple of times and a couple of times he felt wetness where her head rested but he said nothing. They needed this. This was an emotional closure of some sort.
Finally Jenny took a step back from the embrace, wiping her face with his hand. "Um, I had called a friend to come and pick me up. She's probably outside waiting."
Mike nodded slowly. "Okay." He watched as Jenny picked back up her bags. " J?"
Jenny looked at him waiting.
" I know that I probably have no right to even ask or suggest such a thing but do you think that we can still be friends?" His voice came across a bit too hopeful and eager but fuck it, he didn't want to lose Jenny completely, even if it was a bit selfish.
Jenny seemed to be considering the proposition carefully. "Just give me some time, okay?" She took in the crestfallen look on Mike's face. "I'm not saying no, it's just that this is a lot of heavy shit to process."
"No I get it. It's a lot of me to ask but I don't want you out of my life completely."
Jenny shuffled a bit uncomfortably. "It really is a lot to ask."
"I know.. " Mike didn't want to push her. That would be the worst thing to do at this point.
Jenny nodded. "Okay." She tightened her grip on her bags and continued to walk to the door. Mike watched as she opened the door and walked over the threshold. Jenny waved goodbye to him and he waved back. Then the door closed and Jenny was gone.
The sound of his front door startled Mike from the daze he had been in, he hadn't even noticed that dusk had fallen, was Jenny back?
"Is it safe to come home?" El's voice asked meekly from the hallway.
Mike rushed to the door "El, how did you.. I mean I meant to message you.."
"Its ok Mike I never returned my key and apparently you didn't change your locks...are you ok?"
"It's been a long 24 hours but I feel better now you are here." He cupped El's jaw gently. His hand easily taking up half of El's face. "I've missed you."
As soon as the words had left his mouth, El had reached up on her tiptoes and covered Mike's lips with her own.
The kiss burned his lips and went straight to his core. All of his senses were on fire as he grabbed the back of El's head and kept it in place as he kissed her back with urgency. Her lips, tongue, mouth taste. He had to memorize everything. It had been too long. Way too long. She tasted so good. Way better than he had remembered.
He didn't know how long they remained in that liplock. But his jaw was a bit sore by time that they had separated. El smiled at him and he smiled back.
El gently kissed his lips once more. "We'll make it work this time Mike I promise."
Mike nodded slowly. "We have to."
Still standing in his hallway, El laced the fingers of her left hand through the fingers of Mike's right hand into a tight grip. She had Mike again. She didn't deserve it but here they were. She had never loved someone like this in her life and she knew for certain she wouldn't again. This was it for her.
Mike smiled as he placed one arm around El's waist and led her to the couch. Paladin was curled up on the single seater despite Mike telling him that it was off limits and putting him on the floor more times than he cared to remember. The cat narrowed his eyes in an unfriendly manner at El and then turned his head in the opposite direction.
"I've missed you." El kissed Mike's cheek while one hand made it's way underneath his shirt to touch the warm skin, while she snuggled the rest of herself into his side
El planted kisses down Mike's jaw and his neck, while her hand pushed his shirt even further up. Fingers becoming familiar once again with Mike's skin.
"El," Mike placed his hands on El's hips, sighing a bit. It felt so good to be holding on to her like this again. "We need to talk."
"About what?" El gently placed a kiss to Mike's throat. Mike's eyes closed and he moaned. El always knew how to make things difficult for him.
" What about us?"
"El," Mike put some authority in his tone whilst trying to regain his composure. "I'm serious. Look I need to be honest with you okay?"
He noticed El's throat tighten as she swallowed hard. "Okay."
Mike exhaled sharply through his mouth. "I love you so much El and I really want us to work this time." He took one of El's clenched hands into his own. "You want that too right?"
El looked down at her hand that Mike was holding and slowly released her fingers. "Yes, very much so."
"I think what we need to do is to be more open and honest with each other. No more secrets." Mike looked pointedly in El's eyes as he spoke. "No more making big decisions without informing the other person, regardless of the potential consequences."
"Mike!" El whined. " I don't know how much more I can apologise."
"I know El, I know. It's just I'm not sure I can take that much pain again. You are it for me. Just no keeping things from each other." He drew El's face close to his own. "Okay?" A little bit more and his lips would brush El's.
Tiny sparks of chemistry were already prickling Mike's skin and he could tell from the way that El was looking at him that she felt them as well. Both sets of eyes flickering down to each other's lips. And with a hitch of breath that neither knew who made, their lips touched. Mike pulled El right up against him as the kiss deepened. This kiss signified the start of something new for both of them.
When after long last, they decided to break for air, El posed a question to Mike. "You ever thought about moving out west?"
That was definitely out of nowhere. "You mean like Montana, when I said I wanted to runaway with you?"
El shook his head. "Not quite so uncivilized."
Mike was curious. "Then where? Texas?"
"Nope. I was thinking more along the lines of Nevada?"
"Nevada?" Mike was confused. "Why?"
"Well actually I'm aiming more for Vegas."
"Vegas? Las Vegas?"
El grinned. "Yeah I think it would be perfect for us, you know fresh start and all."
"El, I don't know. I have to give it a lot of thought. I have a life here."
"I understand that truly I do, but it's nothing that you can't rebuild. You're an IT consultant Mike. You can work anywhere."
"I guess that's the easy bit, but my friends ." Mike thought about his friends, especially Dustin and Lucas and to be honest the clients that he had become attached to he would have to start all over again, brand new.
"Thats what frequent flyer miles are for" El days smiling shyly
"Well I guess it won't hurt to take a flight down there to see what it's all about."
El smiled. Half the battle was already won.