The last blast of hairspray propells Michael towards the spot where Lizzy's already waiting for him, lonely pillar in the middle of the dancefloor, her arms spread wide, waiting for him: he side steps his way into them, snapping his fingers as Lizzy's shoulders shake lightly, her eyes half closed when he finally reaches her and snakes an arm around her waist, pulling her in. A bunch of camera operators whistle and clap as Lizzy comes up from the dive Michael made her do.
As the director calls out to get everyone ready to shoot, Lizzy's still adjusting in Michael's hold, smiling wide, his fingers curling around the side of her palm, her lines all memorized and polished inside her gums, ready to be shot out like carefully crafted bullets, and if she's a well oiled, loaded gun, the call for "Action!" takes her safety right off.
Then the music starts playing.
Michael wouldn't really be able to say what exactly happened then, but he's fairly sure he's the only one close enough to Lizzy to have heard the sound of her throat clench, her line being strangled and scrunched between the tense muscles of her windpipe. He glances down at her as the director yells to ask her if she's good, and he can see her swallowing hard around what sounds like a fairly big lump of nerves and frustration. When she looks up, her eyes shine like wet marbles under the sun and he gets that instinctive feeling of wanting to look away, to pretend he hasn't seen. He doesn't.
"You okay Liz?"
"Yeah, uh. The song, it's not what the script said. I just."
"Everything okay guys?!"
"Yeah sorry everyone, Lizzy just had to have the biggest yawn in the history of man right when we start shooting"
Soft laughter colours the air. Lizzy inhales deeply through her nose, and her grip on Michael's hand tightens a little bit.
When they're finally done shooting the scene, Michael lets go of Lizzy's waist and swings his upper body from side to side, his spine cracking and him groaning just as loudly. Lizzy shoves him back halfway between wincing and laughing and she starts making her way to the far end of the set. Michael catches right up and bumps his hip into hers. He grabs her wrist and makes her spin around as they walk side by side, then she widens her eyes at him, raising a dramatic hand to her chest.
"I knew you were supposed to be a good dancer, but I'll say I'm a little surprised nonetheless, Fred"
"You know, I'm always a little offended when people assume I'm not a bloody great dancer right away, but then again I love proving them wrong, so"
"What I wouldn't give to see you on something like Dancing with the stars or whatever, I swear Michael"
"By the way, were you okay back there? I thought I was gonna have to do the Heimlich on you for a second"
"Oh wow okay, just like that?"
She goes silent for a bit, looking down at her own knees and then up around the walls. A couple more steps and they're out the back of the building, crew members standing around, smoking and making small talk. Michael doesn't apologize, gives her time to make up her mind about it.
"I don't- I mean it's not that big of a deal, it was just unexpected. There's not much to say, really. Just the script said something else. It was unexpected, that's all. It's fine."
Michael makes a note of how.. wary Lizzy looks as she scans the small crowd around them, one hand clutching her own arm as a light breeze sweeps past them. He nods, gazing up at the clear sky above them. It was their last scene, and it's almost that time of the day where you can't really tell if the sun's going up or down. Michael looks back at Lizzy, and she's scrubbing her eyes with her fists, like a ten year old who just got to school after the longest summer. He takes a second to feel the weight of his own bones deep inside of him.
"Hey, you wanna do something, after we change out of these things?"
"I dunno, I was thinking maybe just driving around for a while, getting out of the city.. oh come on stop looking at me like that, you know I don't wanna run away or anything. I just.. we both look like we could use the distraction"
Lizzy lets her head fall back, stretching her neck, her eyes closed.
"Yeah, you're probably right"
A couple of hours later, They're lurking by one of the large SUVs the crew ususally uses to drive them around, keys dangling from Michael's index finger. They both end up on the driver's side and Lizzy holds out her hand, but Michael crowds closer to her, shooting looks on both sides of them like he's a kid playing spy.
"You.. might not wanna drive tonight"
"Why? You know I'm a way better driver than you"
He plunges one hand in his jacket, and Lizzy hears a faint sloshing sound before she catches a glimpse of the tiny, shining little flask Michael's pulling out from his inner pocket. She rolls her eyes, matching grins splitting their faces as she grabs it and starts twisting the cap.
"Did you bring the yearbook too? Imma write BITCH all over becky's pictures I swear"
They've been driving for 15 minutes tops, Lizzy lounching into random karaoke moments in between swigs of cheap whiskey, her slightly over-sized black hoodie bunching up around her waist when she hoisted her right knee up and laid it against the dashboard. It gets quiet all of a sudden: Michael shoots a sideways look at Lizzy and she's got a lazy smile on her face, unfocused gaze somewhere in the darkness flying by the them, outside the window.
"I'm not prodding you or anything, but you can talk to me about that thing if you want to. When you want to. If you do. I can just listen if you need me to. Just tell me what you need me to do and.. well you know I'm here, in case you changed your mind about it."
Like a pebble you throw towards a lake at night: you'd expect it to splash into the water, but you get a soft thump instead. It lingers for a second, then it's quiet again. Then she exhales through her nose and turns her head all the way towards the window pane.
"My grampa used to love that song, he would always sing it.. near the end. One time my mom and dad left me in the hospital room with him, you know, so we could have some time alone like we used to, and I got the feeling that it was the last time. I was bawling my eyes out within two minutes."
She laughs to herself a little, then her voice flows along the groove of the steering wheel again, brushes past Michael's fingers and up his neck. A pebble rolling towards the shore.
"I was sitting on the edge of his bed, on those stiff white sheets, his knees poking up beneath them. He held my tiny hands in his and sang Always on my mind until I ran out of tears, over and over, with the wrong words."
A pebble trudging through the muddy stripe of land where water starts lapping at the ground, and Lizzy lifts the flask again.
"I can still hear his voice."
"Hey, give me a swig"
"What? No way, you're driving! I may be a little sad but I'm not THAT sad Michael. I can't believe you'd be that kind of guy. Wow. Drinking and driving, damn!"
"Alright okay! I was just trying to show empathy, jesus"
As the space between them lightens a little bit, Michael feels his back relaxing, and his butt slides down an inch on the leather seat. He starts humming low and smooth, and sees Lizzy giving him the smallest smile with the corner of his eye. She joins him right away, and he starts singing Always on my mind as best as he can remember it, but when she stops, his voice lowers on reflex.
"Go on, sing it. I like your voice."
One quick look at her, and he croons his way through the song on his own, Lizzy sinking down in her seat beside him.
Ten minutes later, they're engulfed by complete darkness, and Michael is jolted into alertness by Lizzy's finger and voice, both excitedly pointing to an upcoming small pulling-over spot on the side of the road.
"Just pull over here, the night's so fucking dark we can see the stars! When was the last time you were in a place dark enough to look at the stars?!"
"Alright alright fair enough"
Michael's the first to climb up onto the roof of the car, following Lizzy's instruction like he's on a particularly tricky passage on a rock wall, and she's hopping up beside him in no time, telling him to scoot over so they can lay down side by side. Thousands of cars hum in the distance, the cold slowly cowering around them as they adjust, Michael complaining about his back and Lizzy elbowing him in the ribs, before looking finally up and genuinely gasping.
"Goddamn there's so many"
"Is that the Milky way?
"Yeah!"- her arm then shoots up to direct Michael's attention towards god knows what (He'll be damned if he remembers any of the astronomical stuff all kids learn from their parents or friends or whatever)- "Do you see that small bunch of stars all close together?"
"Oh come on, those small bluish ones! They're, like, shaped as the Ursa Major -the big dipper for a noob such as yourself- but waaaaaay smaller. Right there where I'm pointing"
"I know what the damn Ursa Major is, thank you Lizzy.. OH- OH OKAY I SEE IT"
Michael's eyes manage to latch onto the bundle of light, a cluster of 6 or 7 stars, their light pulsing gently in the crisp of the evening. It's barely 10 p.m. but it's a new moon night, and the desert surrounding them is black and silent.
"Wow, I've never really been into this stuff.. what is that?"
"Those are the Pleiades, they were supposed to guide ships home or something.. I heard that from someone, I think. They're part of the constellation of Taurus"
"You know, the first time I've seen them I was on vacation with my family.. in the countryside or wahtever, and I was in the backyard looking up waiting for shooting stars, and I seriously believed I was the first one to discover them. LAter I found out they're the most visible cluster of stars to the naked eye.. I wasn't even mad about it. I mean just look at them."
Ten minutes go by and they don't say a word. The cold starts biting into Michael's legs, but it's a weirdly good feeling. It keeps him awake. Also, he's bloody Welsh. Lizzy, on the other hand, shivers slightly as a chill runs down the full length of her body, and she goes "Damn it's cold!" before turning on her side a bit and hoisting a leg over one of Michael's, laying it between his without any grace at all.
"Ow, you elephant"
"Oh shush. Thank you for this, anyway"
"I was gonna thank you, this is amazing"
"I know you're talking about the sky but I'm gonna take it as a compliment anyway"
He could keep joking. He could.
"You know how much I thoroughly enjoy your company, Lizzy"
"..were you about to say that you also remember the pact we made some time ago?"
"I was indeed"
Lizzy doesn't know if it's just her being more aware of it now, or if their shoulders are really pressing closer together, more warmth spreading from all the places they're touching, and she shivers again right down to their entwined calves. He's the first one to break the moment.
"So what do we do now"
"We could play a game"
"Like.. never have I ever?"
"Nah. Truth or dare?"
"Do you really want to move to do whatever the dares are gonna be?"
"Just truth then"
"What about 5 questions?"
"Which is basically truth or dare without the dare"
"If you will"
"Alright, you go first"
Michael hums for a second, hands tucked under his armpits before he comes up with the first question. He's got nothing.
"Uh.. favourite dog breed?"
"Oh come on Michael, can you try not making me fall asleep right away?"
"Okay alright, what's a secret you've been keeping from people recently?"
"You mean like.. from friends and family?"
"yeah I mean, in general.. friends and family, Tom, whatever"
She turns towards him, hands hidden inside her sleeves resting on her chest, balled up in black cotton fists. Michael keeps looking up at the sky, giving in just to toss her a quick glance, her lips tightly pressed together to stifle the snicker that was coming. Michael lets his own smile spread just a little, he does it for her too.
"Is this how it's gonna be Michael?"
"Go on, answer the question"
"Well I haven't told my mom about my last tattoo. And I never told my best friend I did lose both the earrings she lent me a month ago. I also haven't told Tom about that scene we're gonna be doing in a few days"
"Oooh that's gonna be a good one. A really good way to surprise him for his birthday, whenever that might be"
"Okay this leads me to my question: back when we were filming the first season.. was it always easy for you to shoot sex scenes? When we weren't.. like this yet?"
Her hesitation lasts no more than half a second, but it's enough for Michael's brain to project everything that's happened between them on the back of his eyeballs. His body feels like a perfectly tuned cello, and Lizzy's leg is the bow slowly sliding across it's strings.
"Easy? No. Well, it really depends n what you mean by easy"
"No explanantion, answer with every side of it you can come up with"
He wiggles a bit, stretching his arms up and lacing his fingers under his nape, Lizzy's head tilting towards his chest almost imperceptibly.
"Well it was easy because we clicked so well, and I managed to break the ice by turning into the kid from the Exorcist as soon as I was done going to second base with you, I dunno if you remember"
"I do, thank you Michael"
"Than it was really really hard because, um, well because you look like you do and I look like I do and whatnot, but once I got over that it was also really easy.. well, because you do look like you do"
She huffs, the rubbery heel of her Converse tucking under the back of Michael's knee.
"And then, well.. you know hard it was to keep it together after Parallax."
"We handled it like pros if you ask me"
"Yeah well, you have it pretty easy, not having to deal with a dick"
"annnnd this leads me to my other question"
"No way, it's my turn!"
A scoff, her arms crossing over her chest and she turns towards Michael, almost lying on her side.
"okay so, you know this about me -because you wrung it out of me while I was slightly intoxicated might I add- but what I'm asking you is.. have you ever fantasized about something that happened on the show? Between you and me?"
"Are you asking me if I ever touched myself thinking about a scene we had?"
"No explanations, Lizzy, your words. Sorry"
She whispers "No you're not" before lifting herself up on her elbows to gulp down a mouthful of whiskey, the flask quietly sitting on her navel, inside her pocket. Before she gets back down, she grabs one of Michael's arms and stretches it out on her side, then lays her head on it, close to his shoulder. They're closer than before.
"Go on then"
"Okay. Well, to be fair.. you can't really blame me for it, I mean, I'll bet whatever that thousands of people have fainted watching it on TV, it's only natural I'd think about it every once in a while."
"Are you going to answer or..?"
"Push me on this and I'll push you off this roof, swear to god. Alright: one lonely, sad night, last summer, I 'used' my memories of that time we cured your impotence, remember?"
"Oh I remember alright"
"Yeah, so you remember sucker-punching me with that not-so-fake kiss while I was butt naked grinding on you? Because I remember that, you traitor"
He laughs and uses the hand attached to the arm under Lizzy's head to rub one of his eyes as he closes them, his forearm squishing her cheek between it and his shoulder, the tip of her nose brushing his neck. As ridiculous as it must look, Lizzy doesn't complain, and Michael's arm doesn't unfold all the way back, bending across her chest, his wrist laying close to the collar bone closer to Michael's side. Lizzy's hands are still resting on either side of her sternum, and two of Michael's fingers trace the ridge of her hidden knuckles. She turns all the way towards him, letting one hand slide along his side and stop over his stomach.
"How many shooting stars do you hink we missed by now?"
"Is that your question?"
"Oh you wish dude"
He groans, and Lizzy frees the hand that's still trapped between their bodies from the sleeve it was tucked in, her fingers finding Michael's and playing around them, the lightest brushes of skin on skin. His breathing gets slower and Lizzy's head rocks along with it.
"You ever had a wet dream about me?"
She asks in barely more than a whiser, and her voice raises every single hair on Michael's body, the ear closer to her lips turning what would be bright red in the sunlight, but now would be better described as burning hot. He turns towards her with a slightly raised eyebrow, his closed mouth shifting like he wants to answer but he can only kind of smirk, for the time being. At least until his urges calm down enough for him to speak english. He looks back up.
"Care to tell me?"
"Is that another question?"
She uses her leg to press her whole body closer to his, their fingers lacing, her other hand moving up to his chest, lips pressing to the side of his neck. The words she speaks vibrate inside his jugular.
"I'll trade you this one question with whatever you want after you've answered it"
It's Michael's turn to shift his body so he's facing her almost completely, his arm sliding under her head so it's now resting on his bicep, and he bends his neck to use his own shoulder for support. Their foreheads and the tip of their noses are almost touching, all the heat in the world swirling on the tiny spaces where their bodies aren't touching. Lizzy hears more than sees his tongue dragging along his lips before he speaks.
"I don't really remember what was happening or why or how. I can't remember anything other than a swimming pool at dusk surrounded by some tiles and then grass all around. In the hills, somewhere. You had a plain black, two pieces swimming suit, and you were laying on the tiles, robably still warm from the sun shining down on them the whole day. Your eyes were closed, and I came out of the water and saw you there. No one else was around, not a sound in the air."
Lizzy swallows as softly as she can, the movement lifting her chin and Michael's breath creeping down her jaw. she stares at the glimmer of his eyes in the dark, the cold of the night pushing against her back.
"You want me to go on?"
"Fuck yes I do"
"You still remember our pact, do you?"
"Michael, go on"
He wets his lips again, and slides his free arm around her hips, pulling her further in. Their foreheads touch, Lizzy brushes the tip of Michael's nose with hers. Their legs are completely entwined, shifting every now and then, probably just to keep feeling each other. Lizzy tilts her head against his bicep and places the smallest kiss on Michael's lips, just as he's about to start speaking again. A short inhale. A short exhale.
"Liz, if you want me to finish this you're gonna have to not kill me, okay?
She laughs, her chest flutters against Michael's and he tightens his hold. Both her hands are tucked just under his neck.
The tip of her nose brushes his cheek.
He curls his trapped arm around her shoulder, fingers trailing up and down from her ear to the base of her neck.
"Alright so you're laying there and I'm getting out of the pool, and I know you hear me because you smile, but you don't open your eyes. Instead, you bend your legs as I'm making my way towards you, and your smile widens. Your legs spread a little further right when I' standing over you."
"Yeah, well. So I kneel down in front of you and lift your legs up, pulling the bottom half of your swimming suit down until it's halfway down your calves. And here's the wierd thing. I don't take it all the way off, no: I spread your legs and get between them while they're still bound together by the damn thing."
"Wow Michael, kinky"
"So now i'm kneeling between your thighs and your calves are laying on my back as I bend down over you. And I know all this because I'm not me, I'm seeing the scene from above us.. I can see your fingers making their way between my hair. I know it's me down there though."
Lizzy knows he purosefully stops talking because he wants her to ask, and she's really not in the mood for talking now, with the warmth and weight of his thigh moving between hers, the rough of his voice and the smell of him heating up her face and their lips so unbearably close. She asks anyway.
"How did you know?"
He's the one to press a kiss on her mouth this time.
"Because I could taste you"
Lizzy lets out every molecule of air that's in her lungs in a gust, but as gently as she can manage, like an angry, passive aggressive dragon.
"Goddamn it Michael, do you remember our pact?"
"Oh I do, you asked, remember?"
Her laugh is so soft it barely makes it out her thoat. She kisses him again, and it's a couple of seconds longer this time, her hands spreading on his chest, clutching.
"Do I get something I want from you now?"
"Kiss me properly and pull me apart"
He sings the line low and it rumbles between their mouths before their tongues touch, both closing their eyes and exhaling through their noses. Their bodies rock together, hips pressed tight and Mcihel's thigh now snug against the crotch of Lizzy's jeans. Lizzy breaks away and pants against his cheek.
"Fuck I love that song"
"I know, I was just gonna ask if you could sing it for me on our way back but you didn't let me finish"
Michael cuts her chuckle off with anther deep, slow kiss. The hand on her back slowly crawls all the way down to her thigh, pulling it up to rest on his hip, then slides back to her butt, drawing her closer into him. He breaks them apart, her lower lip lightly caught between his teeth.
"We did say that anything without clothes was off limits, but making out every once in a while was not the end of the world, right?"
"That's.. I don't know if that's how I remember it Lizzy"
"Can you even remember your own name right now?"
They're neither kissing nor talking, really, it's a mash of lips and tongues and words and their faces are very cold and incredibly hot at the same time.
They stop eventually, When the push and pull of their hips starts rocking the car slightly from side to side, and Michael realizes he's trying to climb on top of Lizzy and he's pulling up her hoodie around her ribs. She doesn't even care about the herd of chills stomping down her spine as naked lower back collides with the metal roof of the car. He tears his lips away and hovers over her, short-breathed and flustered.
"We should get back right?"
She bends the knee between Michael's, trying to sit up a little, and her thigh bumps into the front of his pants. The protruding, firm front of his pants.
"Oh fuck, Michael, come on"
"What?! I'm sorry it's not like I can help it"
The lust dripping from her voice is so dense Michael fears he's gonna drown. She pulls him down hard again, teeth clashing a little.
"It's okay if we keep our clothes on, right?"
He's almost half gone already, thrusting up against Lizzy's hip and sucking on her neck, trying to nod amidst her quiet moans and both of them panting. She slips her fingers between the hair on his nape, her other hand inside one of the back pockets of his pants and he's groaning against her temple as he tenses up and then sighs deep, forehead pressing on the roof of the car beside Lizzy's head.
They both sit up, glance at the stars one more time, Michael's arm slung around Lizzy's shoulders. He pulls her in for one more kiss, then they climb down, him trying to move normally inspite of the cold, wet patch on the right side of his zipper.
She does sing that song as they drive back.