TITLE: These Precious Things (1/1)
AUTHOR: Rebecca Parker
EMAIL: NumfarGal⊕aol.com
RATING: R (content - see warning)
PAIRING: Liz POV; Mention of Max/Liz
WARNING: Character death
IMPROV: #10: illusion - detest - luminous - vanilla
SPOILERS: Definite ones for "End of the World".
FEEDBACK: Yes please!
DISCLAIMER: Jason Katims owns all.
DISTRIBUTION: The usual suspects. All else, please ask first.
NOTE: Title is a lyric from the song "Precious Things" by Tori Amos.

These these precious things
Let them bleed now
Let them wash away
These these precious things
Let them break their hold over me

Tell me this is a dream. Tell me this blood rushing down my arm is anything but what it is. Tell me when I close my eyes that it doesn't get harder each time to open them.

This life has been an illusion. This pain filling my head is an elaborate delusion. The light shining in my eyes is a painful intrusion.

My arm is getting weak, and it lays stretched out by my side. My eyes focus on the ceiling. My nose fills with the scent of Maria's vanilla candle resting a few feet away. Next to it on the dresser is the blade I used. I cleaned the first drops of blood that fell, but was too tired to deal with the rest.

Mom will find me first, I'm sure. Every day at 8 AM she comes in to wake me up. She kisses me on the forehead and wishes me a good day.

I wonder if she'll kiss my forehead when she finds me. Maybe she'll just cry and hold my cold hand. Maybe she'll rush out of the room and detest me and my memory for what I've done.

I slashed my wrist diagonally- a trick I had picked up somewhere that I can't quite remember. Seems it's harder to stitch should someone find you. It's funny how those small details stay with you, even though you would never think at the time that someday you'd have a use for it.

But no one will find me- not in time, at least. Mom and Dad are at a convention for restaurateurs, and no one else stops by to see me anymore. Not since the Royal Three joined Tess to be the Royal Four back wherever they came from, not since Maria moved to New York to be the next Tori Amos, not since even Kyle went to college out in California.

Left behind in every way, and it came to this.

I didn't think there'd be so much blood. As a scientist, I should have known, but somehow that part of me shut down when I took the blade between my fingers. After all, what sensible thinker would do something like this?

I didn't think I'd go through with it. I was sure I would draw blood then go rushing off to the bathroom to stop the bleeding.

I didn't know why I was doing it- did I want attention? Did I want to feel something- anything? Did I want to die?

I made the second cut across the first one, and the answer came to me- I wanted it to end. It had ended in a sense when Max left that night, and I wanted completion. I didn't want any half-truths- I wanted a definite answer, a definite solution.

But now, lying here, I'm regretting the choice that I've made. I'm lying here, dying, and I can't do a thing about it.

I should have died three years ago at the Crashdown. How different everything would have been, and then I remember that the very same thought had crossed my mind as I made the third slash- the last one.

My hands were shaking as I thought of what Max's decision that day had cost us- our innocence, of course. Clich├ęd as it may sound- it was true. The Liz Parker that had been the day before ceased to exist the morning after.

Who I am now- the girl lying back on her bed as the blood pools on the blanket crocheted by her Nana years before- that's the girl that Max Evans created that day. He had proven his powers to me by passing his hands over a statue and changing it completely, just as he passed his hands over me and changed me completely.

Changed me into this.

If he had just let me die then, everything would have been different. No doubt they'd still be hiding under anonymity, no one any the wiser of the truth they all hid so closely.

Maria wouldn't be as haunted by the ghosts the three had somehow left behind, and Kyle would probably be off on a football scholarship instead of working nights and weekends at a gas station to somehow pay the bills.

Valenti would still be the Sheriff, and not some washed up has-been trying to recapture his youth by proving to everyone that he no longer had it.

And Alex? Alex would still be here, because I never would have made the decision that cost him his life.

It seemed fairly innocuous at the time- God help me, I thought I was saving the world. Save the world, kill a friend. Those were the choices that Max had introduced into my life by giving it back to me.

I wanted Alex there on my wedding day, but then again, had Max let me die, I never would have had one. But had Max not healed me, maybe Alex would have. Maybe Alex would have raised a toast in my memory. Maybe Alex would have wrote that hit song he always dreamed about. Maybe Alex would have done a lot of things, but now he'll never have a chance to.

So I cut my wrist that one last time before I stumbled backwards until I fell onto the bed. I turned my head to watch the blood flow and it was almost hypnotic. I tried to imagine what would come next- would there be a light for me to walk into- bright and luminous, with a choir of angels on the other side? Or would there be nothing, in which case how could I even know I was dead? I have nothing now, so wouldn't it just seem familiar?

It was when I realized that I was potentially trading one nothing for another that I started to panic. I tried to sit up and go to the bathroom to fix myself after all, but I couldn't. All strength that I had, which admittedly wasn't a lot, was gone.

And now I'm here, seconds away from finding out the truths every scientist knows he'll never discover in time to publish it in any journal, and the fear is dissipating.

I know there's no going back, and suddenly I know I've made the right decision. I start to feel warm, though I know my body is actually growing cold.

My eyes are staying shut, and I notice the pain is gone. I can't feel anything anymore, and it's a relief.

And then, as quickly as my life began, it ends. Like a speck of dust blown away by the slightest of winds, I am gone.