Redamancy

Summary: He hates how he's always the victim./ GM/M.

English Romance/Angst Rated: T Chapters:1 Words:

a/n: this is a thing that is happening and there is no way to stop it, actually. pretentiousness and watery fluff ahead.

i

He opens his eyes and silver Christmas balls gurgle past him, to the water's surface, where porcelain sunlight filters down to cast the intertwining web of light on the concrete floor. The beauty surprises him, briefly, because he finds it extraordinarily odd he's fixated on his surroundings when his lungs are drowning in fluid- - actually, no, it's not just the lungs, it's him, he's drowning.

It really was foolish, in retrospect. He never was an adept swimmer. Never adept at anything that required athleticism. Whatever had possessed him to venture into the deep end, where his cousin was splashing around without any inflatable cuffs (what a rebel), was dead. Now, he just feels stupid.

He is probably, most definitely a half-second short of actually slipping away when stubby fingers latch around his wrists and the once delicate luminescence stings his eyes as he breaches the surface of the pool. Tears start to surge down his cheeks immediately, which is kind of humiliating, because crying in the presence of a girl isn't exactly dignifying. Especially a pretty girl. A pretty girl who just rescued him from dying.

Maeby Funke slams her cousin against the ladder, her raven coils surrounding her freckled visage like an untrimmed bush, and screams "what'd you do that for?!" His father scoops him up before she can get a decent answer. A minute or two later, her mother plucks her out of the water with a rare inkling of concern noting her voice. Yes, Mommy. Yes, I'm okay. Yeah. I just thought he needed help.

Her Aunt Tracey, the really pretty one with the garnet curls Maeby wished she could have, whispers "thank you, sweetie" and kisses her forehead. Maeby isn't quite sure what she did was so important. She expected to be admonished for yelling at him.

So, everyone goes back inside and has lunch and when the two four-year-olds are sent to take a nap in the big bed, neither complain.

Next to his dozing cousin, George-Michael Bluth realizes for the first instance in his life that he really likes girls. Especially girls named Maeby.

ii

His mother dies with a whimper, not a bang, and he'd be dishonest if he indicated her passing was a shock. She had been comatose for seven months and three days when the heart monitor intoned its impersonal mourning song. He had leapt up as if electrified, mouth frozen around words, words that he knew would not resuscitate her. The woman in bed, still neat and combed, had been dead before now. They had just been pretending.

His father cries. Quietly, into the crook of his arm with the sleeves of his periwinkle button-down rolled up and the sodium lights buzzing in sync with it. They had parked beneath a tree in the hospital parking lot to gather themselves before making the mandatory calls. George Michael leans his forehead against the window pane and becomes aware of himself in tears, but they aren't exactly for his mother. He loves her. That's a fact that will never be proven false. But she's been absent for the better half of a year and he was learning to breathe without her and it's a little like learning to swim (oh, wait, but he always drowned).

Michael holds him for awhile. Neither of them speak, but the human contact is reassuring.

Two days later, there's a proper burial in a proper graveyard where the pastor drawls his hollow words ("we're never going to church again," his father whispers to him during the service). They lower her casket down into the earth and George Michael opens the black umbrella his father handed him when they stepped out of the car as it rains. The marble surface of her casket is gleaming as it is silently suffocated.

They take a limousine back to Gangie's penthouse, where the wake is being hosted. Gangie kisses his cheek and the way she embraces him, the way her elbows don't lock, confirms that she's genuinely upset about his mother. He appreciates that. His uncles and aunts, most of which he hasn't had the opportunity to see in years due to his father's incessant divorces from the family name, all enfold him with affection. It's nice, but odd too.

After convincing his father he's fine and just needs some time to himself (reflection?), George Michael retires to the chair in the corner. It's still drizzling, which, he supposes, is appropriate for a funeral day. He's wondering what his mother would think of the weather when it sort of actually strikes him in the chest that he'll never have the opportunity to ask her. Moisture beads in the corners of his pink-rimmed eyes.

"Hey."

It's Maeby, who respects everyone with a practical black blouse-skirt combination (even though he's aware she's dying to resist). She has a plate of ginger snap cookies from the buffet table and hands him one without offering it to him first. He would refuse, but he hasn't eaten anything since yesterday, which is probably not the healthiest method of coping with grief(?) The cookie is actually decent and if his mother had been partial to baking, he would probably relate the taste to some distinct memory of her in the kitchen. But she had been terrible at preparing food. She couldn't even dip a frozen banana.

"It really sucks," she sighs. "I mean, I really liked your mom. She was nice and pretty and smart. Really smart. I guess I kind of wish I could've spent more time with her."

The fact that Maeby is sincerely grieving her loss is kind of harrowing in the sense that he never expected her to say anything, really. He hadn't been aware of Maeby appreciated for his mother. Then again, his father is always quick to recount a tale of his sister's negligence when applied to child-raising. Maybe his mother had been a sort of parental figure for her. And then he remembers again he'll never see her and ow, no one said it would hurt this much…

Maeby slides into the armchair, but there's almost not quite enough space for two bodies and she's practically in his lap. His heart rate bullets to a number more frequently found in elderly stroke victims. They aren't four anymore, though. George Michael knows it's wrong to be infatuated with his own cousin.

But her curls smell like jasmine (not strawberry, like he predicted) and she nestles her head against his shoulder (even though she's an inch taller) and doesn't breathe a word about the tears. And, at least for a moment, no one can say it's wrong.

iii

One year later, they kiss. He isn't prepared and his tongue is essentially punching her own and when he reaches to perhaps cradle the small of her back, she draws away with a frustrated sigh because no one says it's wrong.

iv

When he's fourteen, he meets Ann and she's the most gorgeous girl he has ever had the honor of laying eyes on. Maeby rolls her eyes and his father can't seem to recall exactly who she is and it's quite evident no one actually likes her. He isn't certain why. Ann is kind, if not sometimes a bit overbearing, and it's not exactly her fault she occasionally melts into the crowd. Besides, she likes him. And he likes her.

And it most definitely does not bother him that Maeby acts strangely whenever he discusses Ann. No. He's perfectly fine with it. Pondering it does not prevent him from sleeping some nights, listening to her not-so-delicate snores above him.

But when Ann kisses him passionately outside of Marc Cherry's house, he discovers himself pretending it's a second chance with Maeby.

v

He gets his second chance. They are almost banished to Hell.

vi

He gets his third chance. His hand is hesitant to creep up the forbidden fabric of her blouse, but she's almost frantic and grabs his wrist like he's drowning and encourages it up to her determinedly perky chest. She touches every centimeter of his upper body, which is kind of humiliating, because he isn't muscular like Steve Holt. In fact, he's more like a peach: soft and yielding.

Maeby doesn't seem to mind. And this time, he's prepared.

vii

When he punches his Uncle Gob, he doesn't feel any stronger. Maeby still avoids him and Ann shrieks at his display of fury and since the world actually despises him, he runs away.

His father finds him and he doesn't quite understand why it has to be Maeby, but George Michael doesn't argue when they leave the family for the millionth time.

viii

Maeby fucks one or two of her co-workers and decides to devote her existence to attracting her parents' attention. It isn't exactly a safe method, but her mind never wanders back to the dimly-lit living room, pretending to be too intoxicated to be concerned as his hands (smooth) gently, almost shyly, investigated her purple bra. They didn't go any further. Why would they?

But her life is kind of a pitiful deception and high school isn't nearly as enjoyable without someone to pass her assignments to. She misses that in a way she didn't really expect to. Lounging on the bed, perhaps flipping halfheartedly through a script, while he toiled on their homework. The scratch of the pencil and the rustle of the pages and the quiet murmuring as he figured out equations aloud.

Her bedroom is too removed from the remainder of their sprawling mansion to hear much of anything but the resonation of her parents' voices as they have conversations on opposite ends of the structure. She could scream until the windows shatter: they wouldn't listen.

ix

They meet again at the award ceremony and there's more drama than either precedented and he kind of unintentionally fires her from this whole charade because he's afraid she'll get hurt.

She's furious because her life is falling apart at the seams and because he doesn't seem to care and when she returns to the penthouse, she runs herself a boiling bath in the tub the goddamn ostrich hasn't been intimate with. She dunks herself in, not even gasping as the water sears her nude form, and floats without the intention of floating because it wouldn't be much of a heartbreak if she accidentally inhales the water. It would probably be better for everyone, actually. No more triple career, watching them fall, paralyzed with fear in case he might be who you think he is, being shushed and tossed aside.

Maeby is probably, most definitely a half-second short of actually slipping away when smooth fingers latch around her wrists and the once steaming water freezes around her freckles. She coughs hoarsely, only barely conscious of herself, and glances up, even though she recognizes the hands that once raked up the length of her chest.

Still, she blinks. Almost smiles. Cries a little because he came back.

x

"Hi," George Michael whispers.