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Chapter 1

**Maria**

Sometimes I canít believe how lucky Iíve been. I remember the first night that you told me how you felt. Not in any verbal way, but just in the way you looked at me and the way you touched me. You and I have always had a physical relationship, even before we ever kissed.

Every touch, every look, every feeling was a part of the way we communicated together. I know that I always told you that I needed to hear the words from you. I needed to hear you say ĎI love youí. But it wasnít really true. Iíve always known it, even before you admitted it to yourself.

Right now, I look up at the stars and I think about you. I think about how you felt all those years without anybody to love you. How horrible it must have been to love Max and Isabel and at the same time feel such an intense jealousy and anger toward them. I know how you felt because I felt it too.

You of all people should know how much I love Lizzy. You should also know how it hurt every time I would catch Mr. Parker and her together. You know how I felt every time I had to hear him say how proud he was of her. Knowing that my dad will never say those words to me. That my dad will never come back to me. Because I wasnít good enough for him. Because my life didnít mean enough to him to make him stay.

Yes, I love Lizzy. But that doesnít stop me from feeling all the hurt and anger that any child would feel who knows that they just werenít enough. But itís different for you. Your hurt and anger extends to a self-hatred. A hatred that makes you feel as if all the pain that youíve experienced is your own fault. You were the one who wouldnít take Maxís hand. It was your fault that you ended up with Hank. The sorriest excuse for a foster Ďfatherí that ever lived. I know you. I know how you think, how you feel. But you have to remember that those things werenít your fault. You were just a child. You canít blame yourself.

But now you have everything youíve ever dreamed of. You have a home, a family. You have someone to love you. I hope that these things have made you happy. Made you forgive. But I look up at the stars and I wonder. Are you really happy?

"Maria".

I turn around and see you there. Smirking down at me. Your hair is a mess. But what else is new?

"Iím coming." "I was just day dreaming."

As you lean down to kiss me, I canít help but sneak one last peak at the stars above. As our lips meet I feel the warmth of your breath caressing my skin. And as we part I lay my head down on your strong shoulder and sigh.

"Maria, you know I love you."

As you wrap your arms around my waist, I realize again how lucky I am. I know you love me. Iíve always known.

Chapter 2

**Michael**

Youíre out there again. I can see your silhouette through the window. Your nightly ritual, sitting outside staring up at the stars. I swear, you study them more than I ever did. I know that you wonder whether I have ever truly given up on my past. Whether I am truly happy with you. Itís one of the reasons why I am truly happy with you.

Only you would love me enough to want me to be happy. Sure Max and Is love me, but somehow its different with you. You didnít have to love me, the way that a brother or sister would. We werenít anything to each other. Nobody asked you to love me, nothing connected you to me.

Those first few days together, the fighting, the passion. I donít think Iíve ever felt anything like that before. I donít think there is anyone out there that I could feel that with. No matter what we are doing, you can always bring out all of me. You are the only one who can make me feel. I shut down around everybody else. But somehow, I couldnít do that with you.

From that first night we kissed at the Crashdown. I told you it was to calm you down. I couldnít believe I had said those words. I was the furthest from calm that I had ever been in my life. But I couldnít let you know that. I couldnít let you see how I felt.

I canít believe how lucky I am. Youíre the only one who makes me feel worthwhile. Makes me feel like all the crap I put up with was worth something. Because at least it led me to you. The bullshit with Hank, the anger with myself, the loneliness. Iíd go through it all again if I had to. As long as I knew that in the end I would have you.

Youíre standing now. I want to wrap you in my arms and never let you go. I open the door to call you in.

"Maria".

I guess I startled you. I smirk because I think you should know better by now. Our nightly ritual. Yet I always catch you unawares.

"Iím coming." "I was just day dreaming."

Always the same answer, even if you word it differently every night. I know you. I know what youíre thinking. You should know by now how much I love you. How happy youíve made me. But I donít mind reminding you. So I lean down for a kiss.

Our lips meet and I can smell the soft scent of your shampoo. Taste the sweet spice of you lips. I hear your sigh and I hasten to reassure you that this is the only home that I long for. The only home I know that I will ever need.

"Maria, you know I love you."

I wrap my arms around you and pull you tight. I feel your warmth against my chest, your slow and shallow breathing in rhythm with my own. And as we look up at the stars together, I know that there is no other place on earth or in the heavens that I would rather be.