How How
By Erin

Disclaimer: If I owned 'Roswell,' would I be writing fan fiction? (the song, 'How' isn't owned by me, either. It's by Lisa Loeb and the Nine Stories)

Dedication: To Linque and Joanne, who beta-ed for me. Thanks, chicas! You're both awesome!

Author's Note: All right... just another idea of mine and I decided to write it out. I completely love this song and it's so M&M...

Enjoy...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Roswell Examiner's entertainment page read, "The Whits, thanks to front woman Maria Deluca and her amazing voice, score another gig."

Alex looked up from his reading material to Maria, who sat across from him at the lunch table.

"We did that well?" Maria asked as she picked at the half eaten piece of chicken on her lunch tray.

"Well, they all seem to be raving about how you pulled us through the night. That was a good choice of songs, by the way," Alex added, frowning slightly. "It... ah... fit the mood..." his voice droned off.

"You know that I didn't tell them that The Whits were my band. I told them that I'm just the singer," she paused, her lips curling up in a grin, "Although, I don't mind getting all the attention, it's you guys who backed me up and like, without you, I wouldn't have been able to sing as well. You're just as important as I am and they need to know that."

Alex jokingly punched her arm and laughed. "What would we do without you?"

"Oh... I don't know," Maria smirked and dodged Alex's next punch, giggling.

* * * * *

"I don't know what I want to sing!" Maria whimpered pitifully, plopping down on the old sofa in the backroom of the Crashdown. "I don't know, Alex! Help me here!"

"Maria, the concert is in a day. We need to have a song to end it. Just one song. Please, Maria, choose one. Or we'll be forced to pick one..." his voice droned off.

"Fine," she snapped, "I'll chose one."

Alex grinned. Only he knew how to convince Maria Deluca sometimes.

She sighed and flipped through her songbook, finally stopping on one of her favorite songs from like, sixth grade. She pulled out the sheet music and handed it to Alex, grinning widely.

"This will be perfect."

* * * * *

The concert that Friday night was packed... the Crashdown was full to the limit and there was no possible way to get any more people into there without it being a fire hazard, or something to that extent.

Some other high school band had opened for them, but they soon had stopped because of the cheers to hear the Whits. They were everyone's new favorite band.

So, with that, the Whits came onto the stage, the guys dressed in their 'teenage boy outcast' clothing, as Maria called it. Maria was dressed in some black capri pants and had on a maroon shirt with sequins around the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt. It was a v-neck and was cut low and she had put glitter on her neck, so that when the lights hit her, the glitter would make her sparkle. She had decided against a pair of huge heels and wore her favorite pair of shoes - her black slides, which were both comfortable and cool. She and the guys were ready to go and they opened with a bang, playing one of Alex's cool ska/rock songs.

An hour later, things were mellowing down. The Whits had played eight songs in a row and they were tiring, as was the crowd. Instead of dancing around, now, the stood up and swayed or clapped whenever the music called for it. They were all tired and ready to go home as soon as the band finished up their set.

The band took a quick five-minute break before they went on for their last song.

"Maria, are you ready?" Alex asked quietly as they were sitting together backstage in silence, wondering how their last song would go over with the crowd.

"As ready as I'll ever be," was all that she said before she walked back on the stage and moved over to the microphone, ready to sing her heart out for one last time before they stopped for the night.

"Hey everyone," Maria said into the microphone, her voice drifting over the crowd, "We're gonna finish tonight with a slow number. So, you can dance or whatever, and if you know the song, sing along. This song... well, it was my favorite a long time ago and I came upon it the other day. It's perfect. Enjoy. I hope that you've all had a good night!"

Maria turned around and smiled at Alex, who began playing his guitar slowly, and its smooth melody floated over the crowd who began coupling up to dance for the last time.

Maria stepped up to the microphone and began to sing,

"We didn't come this far
You didn't make this hard for me
And now you want to ask me how...
"

Her eyes scanned over the crowd and all the happy couples who were dancing. She could see Liz and Max in the back, talking, and she could have sworn that she saw Isabel standing in one of the corners, looking pointedly at Alex, who was still playing his guitar, backing up her voice that was floating over the couples softly and smoothly, calming and soothing them. And she also saw a door open in the back of the room and saw someone slip in, tall and had spiky hair.

'Great,' she thought. 'Of course he would show up when I'm singing this song. Of course... this is just great. How am I going to hold myself together?'

But she willed herself to keep singing. She had chosen this song because of him and maybe it was a good thing that he came to listen to it. Maybe he would learn something or realize something while he was here...

"How does your heart beat?
Why do you breathe?
How does your heart beat?
Why do you breathe?
"

Again, she combed the crowd and her eyes landed on him. He had taken a spot on the wall next to Isabel. They were talking and Isabel kept constantly turning her head back to the stage, her eyes falling on the guitarist who stood next to Maria.

Michael was obviously saying something important, but Isabel ignored him. Maria almost laughed by the way that she brushed him aside.

Then, she turned her eyes to Max and Liz, who had gone out on the dance floor to dance. They had finally made up and were so in love.

How come she couldn't have something like that?

"Why did you come here?
You weren't invited
You were on the outside
Stay on the outside
And now you want to ask me why...
"

Maria emphasized this verse. It was the way that she had been feeling for the past, oh, three months. And when she sang it, she looked directly at him, showing no fear and proving that she was singing this to him and only him.

Michael only looked at her once for less than a millisecond, then grabbed Isabel's arm and pulled her out the door that they were standing next to.

Maria's eyes fell in disappointment and the tears began to form in her emerald gems. She wasn't able to get her point across to him before he left.

He was gone, she'd have to face it, and she couldn't get him to come back.

"It's like, how does your heart beat?
Why do you cry?
How does your heart beat?
"

"Michael, what the hell did you do that for?" Isabel screamed at her tall friend.

"Did you hear what she was singing about? She was singing about us," he said quietly, his eyes turned to the ground in embarrassment.

"No, Michael, she was singing about you and all your problems. Don't you realize how much she needs you... and how much you need her?" Isabel's voice softened.

He didn't say anything, but he shook his head in protest, trying to make himself a 'stonewall' again.

His weak attempts didn't help.

He was listening to her voice coming from behind the door.

"And there are some things that I'd like to figure out
There are some things I can do without
You and your letters are gone forever
You and the people were never friends
Never friends
Never friends...
"

"I'm going back inside," was all that Isabel said before she stormed back into the packed building, leaving him standing out there in the dark, all alone, and thinking about what she had just said.

"Yeah, me too," Michael said pointlessly shortly after she had gone back through the door into the Crashdown.

He walked into the door and took his spot on the wall, watching her every move and listening to every word that came out of her mouth.

Beside him, Isabel waved to Alex on the stage. He grinned back at her, wiggling his eyebrows. Isabel laughed and on stage, Maria giggled during a break between her singing.

And, in spite of himself, Michael smiled a real toothy smile towards her, hoping that she'd see it.

"Of all the things that you could be
You never could learn how to be me
And now you want to ask me how...
"

He met her eyes finally. She had been avoiding his, he knew. And now, he wanted to make all things right with her, but it had to start with the eye contact.

When he caught her eye, he kept it, looking deeply into her emerald eyes, wanting to apologize to her and wanting to tell her how he really felt.

And then, right before she sang the final chorus, a single tear streaked down her cheek.

"How does your heart beat?
Why do you breathe?
How does your heart beat?
Why do you breathe?
How do you breathe?
"

A loud applause rang throughout the Crashdown. People whistled and cheered as the band walked triumphantly off the stage.

Once off stage, Maria plopped down on the large sofa and sighed. He had caught her off guard, coming here like that, and she knew that she had given into his temptation to look into his soulful eyes.

There was a knock on the door and Isabel poked her head in, grinning widely at Alex.

"Hey there," he said, motioning for her to enter the room and when she did, she practically jumped into his arms for a big hug.

"You did so awesome," she whispered into his ear and he laughed.

"Thanks," was all that he said before someone else entered the room.

Maria was still sitting down on the sofa, exhausted, and she caught a glimpse of black army boots and dark blue jeans. It couldn't be... But she looked up and found him standing right there.

"We'll just be going. Bye Maria, Michael," Isabel said, waving to the two other teenagers in the room before she and Alex walked out the back door.

"I, uh, wanted to tell you that I, uh, thought that you sang well tonight," he mumbled under his breath, studying his boots.

"Why, Michael?" she asked, annoyed. "Why did you come here? Are you here just to make this harder for me? What? 'Cause I don't think that I can take any more of your 'I have to be a stone wall' shit. I can't put up with it anymore and I won't. I'm telling you know that I won't."

He looked up at her, stunned. How could someone like her say such a thing?

His mouth opened, but he couldn't speak. His jaw went slack and hung there, making him look like a complete idiot.

"That's what I thought. Goodbye, Michael. I've had enough of this," she said, turning her back on him, her harsh words making the tears form even faster in her eyes than before.

"I... I'm sorry," he whispered before he retreated to the door. Sure, he had looked like a fool, but her words... damn, they were callous.

She spun around, tears streaming down her face and her cheeks already puffy.

"I need to know something, Michael. In the song..." she sobbed, "In the song, it said that she was asked why she breathes. I asked myself that and I need to know... Why do you breathe, Michael? Really, why do you breathe?" she whispered between her sobs, walking towards his retreating form.

"Because of you," he said softly, moving towards her and wrapping his strong arms around her in a comforting embrace. "Because of you..."


The End