The Hardest Thing Title: The Hardest Thing
Author:Kata
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: WB's, not mine. The song is "The Hardest Thing," and it belongs to 98 Degrees.
Summery: How they should have dealt with the M/M break up. Actually, it basically *is* the M/M breakup, only expanded.
Feedback: I need it!
Distribution: Let me have the URL first.

******

We both know that I shouldn't be here
This is wrong
And baby, it's killin' me, it's killin' you
Both of tryin' to be strong

"Maria--" Michael fought to keep the sob out of his voice.

"Michael, don't," Maria begged.

"You know I can't do this. It's too big, too dangerous."

"Please, Michael."

"I can't... I wish I could."

I've got somewhere else to be
Promises to keep
Someone else who loves me
And trusts me fast asleep

"Will you go to Isabel?" Maria whispered, in a broken and defeated voice.

Michael sighed. "I have no choice, Maria. It's my destiny."

"Do you want this?" Maria asked, afraid of the answer.

Michael looked straight into her eyes. "I can't think about that. If I think about it, I won't be able to go through with this, and I have no choice."

I've made up my mind
There is no turning back
She's been good to me
And she deserves better than that

Maria was doing all she could to keep the tears out of her eyes. "She doesn't want this either."

"We don't have a choice!" Michael said hollowly. "And Iz deserves to be happy."

"Alex--"

"Alex isn't one of us... it won't work. It just won't work!" Michael sounded frustrated.

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to do
To look you in the eye
And tell you I don't love you

"He loves her, Michael."

"Don't you think I know that?" Michael demanded. "Don't you I know exactly what I'm taking from him? It's out of my hands..."

"Can't you do something, anything?" Maria begged, clinging to some last, lingering strands of hope.

Michael shook his head. "If I could stop this from happening... but I can't. We were made for this purpose. It's no use hoping it can be different."

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to lie
To show no emotion
When you start to cry

"I don't want to let you go. None of you want this."

"We don't have a choice! It's destiny! We can't change that!" Michael was yelling, but his anger wasn't for Maria.

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know. We need to find out more. We still don't know that much. Even Tess...."

"Tess! She's the one who started all this!"

"That's unfair. It would have come out somehow."

"But to have you leave us like this. It's not fair!"

"No it's not," Michael replied.

I can't let you see
What you mean to me
When my hands are tied
And my heart's not free
We're not meant to be

"Don't you believe in love? You've never obeyed rules before, Michael, *please*!"

"I can't! It's not my choice! I didn't wnat to have these dreams! She's my *sister*!"

"Apparently, that not enough to stop this!"

"Maria, please try to understand!"

Maria laughed bitterly. "Understand what? That the only guy I've ever cared for is leaving?"

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to do
To turn around and walk away
Pretending I don't love you

"Do you think this is easy for me?"

"You're doing it aren't you?"

"Maria, this is the hardest thing I've ever done-- ever will do, leaving someone who I... for my sister."

I know that we'll meet again
Fate has a place and time
So you can get on with your life
I've got to be cruel to be kind
Like Dr. Zhivago

"This isn't forever," Michael continued.

"How do you know?" All the fire had left Maria's voice. She shook her head. "How can you know?"

"I *know*," Michael said. "I know because I couldn't do this if I knew I'd never see you again."

Maria's eyes lost their hardness. "Then why do you have to go at all?"

"Because this is what I've waited for all of my life. You know that better than anyone."

All my love I'll be sending
And you will never know
'Cause there can be no happy ending

"Can't there be a happy ending for us?" Maria begged. "Can't we be happy? Can't you have me and the truth?"

"If it were up to me... don't make me dwell on the possibilites. I won't be able to go through with this."

"Is that so bad?"

"Maria, please, try to understand."

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to do
To look you in the eyes
And tell you I don't love you
It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to lie
To show no emotion
When you start to cry

"I don't want to," Maria whispered. "I don't want to understand."

"You have to, Maria. Nothing's going to change this."

"Can't you stop this? A betrothel can be broken."

"I don't know. All I know is that, for now, it has to be this way. I can't bring you into danger. *I'm* dangerous. I don't want you hurt."

I can't let you see
What you mean to me
When my hands are tied
And my heart's not free
We're not meant to be

"I'm not in danger with you."

"You're in danger *because* of me. I'm the danger."

"No, you're not." Maria's voice was becoming more and more desperate. "You would never hurt me."

"I can't know that. I have no control over these powers."

"Michael, you're just making excuses now. You don't want to be with me." Maria turned to go.

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to do
To turn around and walk away
Pretending I don't love you

Michael grabbed her arm. "Maria, no!" His voice was filled with all the pain and desperation in his soul.

Maria turned to face him. She was no longer bothering to keep the tears from falling. "Michael..."

"No, Maria, don't walk out of my life."

The tears were streaming down Maria's face. "If you don't want me out of your life, than why are you letting me go?"

Maybe another time, another day
As much as I want to, I can't stay

"Because we can't be in a relationship. This is too new. We're meant to be, but now now."

"Then when?" Maria begged.

"In the future. When we are safe again."

"Is that ever going to happen? Wil we ever really be safe again?"

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to do
To look you in the eyes
And tell you I don't love you
It's the hardest thing I'll ever have to lie
To show no emotion
When you start to cry

"I don't have all the answers," Michael said helplessly. "I only know what I wish for."

Maria smiled in spite of the tears. "Why does it take this to make you a romantic?"

"Come here," Michael pulled her into his arms. "I'm going to miss being able to do this."

"Why do you have to leave me? Why?"

I can't let you see
What you mean to me
When my hands are tied
And my heart's not free
We're not meant to be

"You're asking questions I can't answer. Not if I want to keep my sanity. Not if I have to go through this."

"You *don't* have to."

"Yes, I do have to. It's too dangerous, and it's my destiny. Now is not the time for us."

It's the hardest thing
I'll ever have to do
To turn around and walk away
Pretending I don't love you

Maria pulled herself out of Michael's arms. "Let me know this one thing. Do you love me?"

Michael carefully schooled his face. "I can't love you. Not now."

Maria's face crumbled. "Michael, why can't you say it? Why can't we be together? Why? Why?" Maria uttered the child-like plea, with an adult's desperation. Maria turned and began to walk away. "Good-bye, Michael." And it a voice almost too low for him to hear. "I'll always love you."

Michael watched her leave, his back straight, and his face composed. When he knew she could no longer hear him, he spoke the answer to her questions. "Maybe because I love you too much."

And when he knew she could no longer see him, he sank to his knees, and began to cry.

End.

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