posted on 16-Sep-2002 1:24:48 PM
I'm not sure if there's much of a polar audience on this board but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Summary: This takes place after Behind the Music. Maria leaves Roswell for New York and Michael and Liz are left behind to deal. There's a budding attraction but the feared consequences may be too great for them to find love.

Part 1

Liz hugged Maria tightly one final time and turned away to hid the tears that threatened to escape her eyes. Amy was a basket case of course but smiled through her tears as she kissed her daughter goodbye. Liz stepped back with Amy as Maria boarded the flight to New York City. She was really doing it, Liz thought to herself. Maria had signed with a record label and was moving to New York to "be a rock star" as she put it. Liz smiled through her sadness as Amy sighed and turned away from the gate.

"Oh, I can't believe she's really gone," she said to Liz.

Liz bit her lip to keep from crying any further and nodded quickly.

Amy handed her car keys to Liz, reaching up to gingerly touch her puffy eyes, "Think you can see a bit better than I can?"

Liz laughed and took the keys. "You wouldn't know but she was never coming back," she said.

Amy smiled and gave Liz a hug as they walked out of the tiny Roswell airport into the hot afternoon sunshine.

~~~~~

Liz worked at the Crashdown all evening and was dreaming of relaxing with a gigantic chocolate sundae as she finished cleaning up. She turned off the lights in the restaurant and entered the back room, dimly lit from a swath of light escaping the kitchen.

"She's really gone."

"Ahh," Liz jumped at the voice emanating from the darkness, dropping her tub of ice cream on the floor. Turning to see a dark figure shrouded on the couch she placed her hand on her chest while she caught her breath, "Jesus Michael, give a girl a heart attack."

There was no answer from the intruder so Liz stooped down to pick up the ice cream and moved to sit beside him. "You miss her don't you," she spoke softly.

There was still no answer as Liz listened to his jagged breathing piercing the silence. Heat from his leg next to hers seeped through her uniform, sending a tingle up and down her leg. She jumped at the realization that she was floating away on the effect he was having on her senses and shook her head briskly. "Ice cream?" she said, her voiced bearing a forced cheeriness.

"Huh," he asked.

Liz held up the tub in her lap, "Ice cream," she repeated. "It's what Maria would have eaten on a night like tonight."

Liz couldn't see his face but she was sure he was smiling at the memory of Maria hoarding her precious Chunky Monkey ice cream whenever she was upset. For that matter she indulged herself whenever she was happy too – no excuse was too flippant for Ben and Jerry.

Liz stood and walked into the kitchen where the sundae toppings were kept. "So what'll it be," she asked.

"The works," he replied, following behind her.

"Michael, we've got chocolate, caramel, strawberry, and pineapple – which one," Liz asked again, there was no way she was making a sundae with all of that on it.

Michael pushed his bowl towards her, "Load me up."

"Gross," Liz replied. She made his sundae with a little of every topping they had and then fixed herself a simple chocolate sundae with chopped nuts. Handing him his bowl she pointed him towards the back room and followed behind. Halfway to the couch she turned and ran back to the kitchen. Returning to join him she offered her forgotten topping. "Tabasco," she said, grinning.

Michael smiled back, holding his bowl out while she poured the hot sauce over the mix of pineapple and strawberries at the top of his tower of ice cream indulgence. "Oh yeah," he said, stuffing a mouthful of the treat into his mouth.

Liz shook her head at him, taking a much smaller bite of her own, somehow managing to get some on her finger as well. Dropping her spoon she licked the ice cream off her hand, making a face at the foreign taste that hit her tongue. "Ugh," she held her tongue out of her mouth. "I got some sauce," she mumbled, unwilling to put the offensive substance back into her mouth.

"Well you've got to eat it," Michael said, shaking his head at her queasiness.

Pulling her tongue back into her mouth, Liz tried to quickly swallow the Tabasco tainted ice cream. "Yuck," she said.

"It's not that bad," he scoffed at her.

Liz swallowed a few more times, realizing that the fiery sauce actually made a nice contrast with the icy sundae. She took another mouthful of sundae, not satisfied with the quickly dissipating heat in her mouth. "Where's that bottle?" she mumbled, leaning over to see where she had laid it.

"What?" Michael sputtered, losing a bite of ice cream back into his bowl.

"What?" Liz asked indignantly, unscrewing the bottle top and dumping sauce all over her own dessert. "It's good."

Michael stared at the brunette with wide eyes, "Whatever," he said, turning his attention back to the bowl in front of him.

[ edited 21time(s), last at 22-Jan-2003 8:15:21 AM ]
posted on 17-Sep-2002 10:16:34 AM
Cool - I found a polarist!!! Here's some more!

Part 2

Michael was just polishing off his second sundae when Liz finished her first. She sat back on the couch, leaning against the armrest, her legs bent out in front of her at an awkward angle. Michael leaned over to lay his bowl on the floor next to hers and sat back, pulling her feet onto his lap.

"You looked uncomfortable," he offered as an explanation when she tossed him a surprised look.

They relaxed quietly for a few minutes before she broke the silence with "So, you miss her?"

Michael nodded, his face expressionless.

She answered his silence with, "Me too."

"But I'm glad for her you know?"

She nodded but didn't speak, sensing that he had more to say.

"It's like, she wanted some space so she ended it and all I could think was 'how am I gonna get her back?' Then Dominique showed up and she was so excited but so worried about leaving and all of a sudden it was 'how am I gonna let her go?' Like, how can I convince her that it's okay to leave, move on."

Liz took in his words and then asked quietly, "Do you still love her?"

He shrugged, "I guess a part of me will always love her - for what she did for me. I mean, we'd be on Antar now if I hadn't of come out of the Granolith." He paused, "No."

"No?" she repeated.

Michael turned his head, meeting Liz's eyes with his own, "No, I don't love her anymore."

As soon as the words left his lips his face erupted into a huge smile. "Wow, it feels good to say that."

She was looking at him with a mixture of surprise and happiness on her face. He lifted her legs from his lap and stood up. "God, I feel invigorated," he said, pumping his arms at his sides.

She laughed at his enthusiasm. "So, you are just now realizing this?" she asked, standing.

Michael stopped pacing and looked at her, "Yeah, I am," he said slowly. "Thank you," he said, reaching to pull her into a hug.

She gasped audibly at the unfamiliar gesture. She found herself leaning into him, her arms snaking their way around his back to enclose him.

Michael grabbed the smaller girl and pressed her to his chest. Thoughts of freedom streaked through his head, clouding his brain from the sensory overload the brunette in his arms was affecting. Suddenly realizing how close their bodies were he pulled back slightly, Liz's head turning from its place on his shoulder to face him.

His breathing was deep and slow, his heart pounding in his ears. She moved her hands from his back, pressing them to his chest where the rapid thumping of his heart echoed through them, matching her own beat for beat.

"Michael," she whispered.

He leaned down ever so slowly, her face turning upwards at his movements. His lips brushed against hers, the touch light as a tickle from a feather. She jerked her body out of his arms, clasping her hand to her mouth at his touch. Wide eyes looked at him as he stepped back a few paces, "Uh," he stammered, "um… sorry, I'm sorry."

She dropped her hand slowly, "It's okay… me, me too."

She stared after him as he backed up toward the door. Turning when he felt the handle pressing into his back, he opened it and stepped outside. Liz released a breath she didn't know she was holding as the door swung closed only to be opened again. Her head snapped in its direction to see Michael standing there.

"I just wanted, uh… I mean, like... thanks." The words tumbled out of his mouth and he was gone.

Liz stood in the back room for a long time, her lips burning from the alien substances of the evening - Tabasco sauce and Michael Guerin.
posted on 18-Sep-2002 9:41:17 AM
Part 3

The next day Liz occupied her thoughts with work instead of the events of the previous evening, and was almost successful until just before closing. Kyle was sitting by himself in a booth, just finishing his meal when she collapsed onto the seat across from him.

"Ugh, I hate my job," she said.

Kyle smiled, "Yeah but it pays the bills, right?"

Liz looked at him through tired eyes, "What, on these slave wages? I'm lucky if it pays for jeans."

Kyle laughed at her admission, he could imagine that working for your parents would suck, he shuddered at the thought of being bossed around by his father.

"So, what's up with you and Michael?" he asked her.

Liz whipped her head around to stare at him, "What did you say?"

Kyle was focused on his food and didn't see the look of fear that crossed her face, "I said, what's up with you and Max."

"No you didn't, you said Michael."

Now he looked up to meet her eyes, "No I didn't."

Liz was still looking at him and Kyle narrowed his eyes at her, "Why would I say Michael?"

Liz realized that Kyle probably had said Max and it was just her guilty conscious that had translated it into Michael. She laughed forcibly, "Oh course, that's silly." She gulped visibly, praying that her voice didn't betray the queasiness that had suddenly settled in her stomach.

Kyle shook his head, girls, he thought, he would never get them. "So," he drew a breath, shoveling the last mouthful of pie into his mouth, "what's up with you two?"

Liz sighed, the mention of Max bringing her crashing back to a reality she had no desire to deal with. "I don't know, officially were 'on a break'," she made air-quotes with her fingers and rolled her eyes as she said it.

"But…" Kyle prompted.

Liz shook her head, "But… I don't know, it's weird."

"Weird how?"

"Weird like I don't know what I want anymore."

Kyle looked away for a moment; he had only asked to be polite. He had noticed that they didn't hang out much anymore, but was he really in the mood to hear her reasons? He glanced back at the look of intensity of Liz's face and figured that he might as well dive in. They had always been friendly, but with Maria gone, maybe she was looking for someone to talk to. He took a deep breath, "Okay, I'm Maria – talk."

Liz looked up at him, a smile breaking across her concentrated features, "You're who?"

"Maria," Kyle raised his voice to mock Maria's tone, "now chica, I want to know every detail. Gossip central." Unable to hold the pitch for very long, Kyle burst into laughter as Liz followed suit, gasping to catch her breath.

Kyle struggled to catch his breath as well, but finally quieted and looked at Liz seriously, "Go ahead, I'll listen," he assured her.

"I don't even know what to say," Liz paused. Kyle figured that it had been worth a shot but he wasn't going to get much out of her. Then she took a breath and he was left stunned as she poured out emotions that had been bottled up for months.

"It's like, he says he loves me, but I pushed him away for his own good, and he turns around and runs to Tess! What the fvck? I mean, come on, Tess? He's apologized a million times, and 'gently' reminded me that I did the same thing to him, which I didn't as you well know, but still. It's like there's this… chasm between us and we just can't cross it." Liz's voice trailed off for a second, "I don't know if I want to."

Kyle let the silence hang between them for a moment, waiting to see if she would continue. When she didn't he ventured a question, "Do you still love him?"

Liz didn't think before responding, she had asked herself the same question so many times that the rehearsed answer just poured out of her mouth, "I guess a part of me will always love him…" A shocked look came over her face as a feeling of déjà vu at the words overtook her.

"What?" Kyle asked.

Liz looked at him, her eyes boring through him, as if he wasn't even there. Kyle turned to look behind him, nothing there except the door to the back room.

"Uh, Liz," he said, waving his hand in front of her face.

She pushed herself out of the booth, "I gotta go." She turned to look around the restaurant, empty except for the two of them. "Uh," she stammered, "are you finished?"

Kyle didn't have a chance to respond before she grabbed his plate and headed towards the kitchen with it. Following her out of the booth, he asked, "Is everything okay?"

Liz turned around to face him again, the hurried look on her face disappearing as a smile graced her features, "Everything's great," she whispered.
posted on 23-Sep-2002 11:52:08 AM
Glad you are liking this!

Sherry


Part 4

Liz changed quickly and drove over to Michael's apartment. She saw his bike in the driveway but Max's car was nowhere to be seen. She was tempted to go inside and chat with Michael for a few minutes but knew that would only distract her from the task she had come here to do.

She sat in her car and was only waiting for a few minutes when Max pulled up behind her. She walked to meet him halfway between their vehicles.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey Max," she responded. Her stomach was doing flip-flops and she felt like she wanted to throw up. "I, uh… can we talk?"

"Oh, sure," Max said hurriedly. "Come inside," he motioned for her to walk in front of him.

Liz glanced quickly at the apartment, "No, um… can we just talk here?"

"Sure," now his own stomach churned. When he had seen her sitting there his heart had danced in his chest. Now he wasn't so sure that whatever she had to say would be a good thing.

Liz lowered her head, forcing the bile that rose in her throat to stay down, she had to do this, take a deep breath, and she told herself. Raising her head, she looked him directly in the eyes, "Max, I…" her voice faltered and she almost changed her mind.

He saw the emotion revealed in her eyes and closed his own from the assault. "No," he whispered.

Liz heard his plea but swallowed thickly and continued, "Max, I'm sorry but I just can't… I don't think we should go out anymore."

Max was dead. He had to be dead. Words like those had to cause pain, he thought, but he felt nothing, only a blessed numbness throughout his body. He felt wetness on his cheeks and opened his eyes to see Liz standing in front of him.

Liz stared at the pleading look in his eyes, she was breaking his heart, she knew that, but she had to do what was right for her. I gave it my best shot, she told herself. I stuck in there, I gave him a chance, I just don't love him and it's best to just end it now. "Max, I'm sorry…" she started to say.

"Don't," he cut her off. He moved past her and walked toward Michael's apartment, stopping only a few feet away to turn to her again. She had her back to him, but heard his footsteps stop and knew he was going to say something.

"I love you," he said.

Liz closed her eyes; she didn't need to hear that from him.

"Did you hear me?" he said. Walking towards her again he raised his voice, "I said I love you."

Liz turned around to face him, her mouth set in a firm line. "I know, but I don't," she admitted. Turning quickly she got in her car and drove away.

Enraged, Max got in his own car and drove away in the opposite direction.

Inside the apartment Michael stepped back from the window, letting the blinds fall back into place. "Interesting," he mumbled.
posted on 26-Sep-2002 12:56:45 PM
Part 5

Michael was already at work when Max returned to the apartment that night. Likewise Max had already left for school the next morning when Michael finished his shift. He walked into the apartment at 8:30 a.m., his only thoughts of taking a long shower and sleeping for 10 hours. Walking into his bedroom he saw his book bag, dusty from disuse, sitting in the corner and suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to go to school. He quickly stripped out of his uniform and donned blue jeans and a black T-shirt. Grabbing his leather jacket he slung his backpack on his shoulder and was out the door five minutes after he entered. As he started the walk to school, he wondered what Max was going to say about last night, fooling himself into believing that Max was the real reason for his sudden academic interest.

-----

Michael didn't seek Max out but was only in the building for five minutes when they collided in the hallway – literally.

"Ugh," Michael said, "Watch where you're going…"

He stopped as he saw Max's woe-filled eyes look up at him. "Sorry," he mumbled.

Michael knew that he wasn't supposed to know about Max's issues so he played the supportive friend role and got the whole story out of him. Just as he thought, Liz had broken up with him last night.

So, what to say about that? Liz and Max – the eternal couple. Michael knew that something had happened between him and Liz the other night but he hadn't expected this from her. She was little miss perfection – so predictable, well he certainly hadn't predicted this.

"Look man," Michael was at a loss for words, partly because it was Max and he knew how much he loved her, but mainly because it was just weird – she dumped you man, get over it, he wanted to say. He sighed, but this was Max, and Max was different, "Look, it'll get easier, trust me." Michael knew the words must have sounded as empty to Max as they did to him.

Max looked up at his friend, "Yeah." He walked on down the hallway, content for now to wallow alone in his misery.

"Great," he mumbled to himself, "He's going to be a peach to live with now." Michael stalked off down the halls, trying to repress his thoughts of where a certain brunette was at that very moment.

~~~~~

It was later that afternoon before Michael ran into Liz.

"Michael," she exclaimed when she saw him closing his locker.

"Hey," he said casually, tossing her his infamous lopsided grin.

She walked up to lean next to him, surprised when he moved away to continue down the hall. Hurrying to catch up with him she started speaking, "So, have you um, seen Max?"

"Yep."

"Oh, and did he…"

"Yep."

Liz nodded, this was easy, she thought, I should have talked to a wall, at least I wouldn't expect it to respond.

"So, I wanted to talk to you."

"Shoot," Michael exhibited a cool exterior but inside his stomach was jumping. Shit, she wanted to talk, that could only mean one thing and it was most definitely not good.

"Um," Liz paused. How was she supposed to say this? Michael, I think I'm falling in love with you? Wait! She was falling in love with him? No, in like, in like, that was it, she was falling in like with him, right? Not love, it wasn't love, of course not.

"Liz?"

His voiced jarred her from the conversation she was having in her head and her face flushed red at his voice. "Uh, I just… I wanted to talk to you about the other night."

Crap. Michael blinked his eyes at her. "Nothing happened," he said.

Liz stopped walking, floored by his response, "Nothing happened?"

He kept walking but she grabbed him, pushing him up against a wall of lockers. A few students walking by snickered at the role reversal but Michael ignored them, instead staring into her bottomless brown eyes, his heart and mind torn between the conflicting emotions running through his body.

"No," he said finally, "nothing happened."

"Michael, we kissed," she said incredulously. How could he say that nothing had happened – the ice cream, the Tabasco, his confession… nothing?

"Almost kissed," he clarified, pushing himself away from her stare. Looking down at her he erected the oh-so-familiar wall around his heart and continued, "Nothing happened then and nothing's going to happen now. It can't. Jesus, it's Max and Maria!" His voice had dropped to a whisper, wary of the students listening nearby, "It can't."

She looked up at him, taking in the words he spoke. Max and Maria. What was she thinking? She was crazy to ever think that her and Michael… but it felt so good, so right. She stared at him, and knew he was waiting for her response. She wanted to scream at him, tell him not to be so unselfish, screw Max and Maria… but she couldn't. Take it back, take it back, take it back, her brain chanted. If he would just eat his words then she could tell him how she really felt.

Michael saw the words he had just spoken hanging heavy in the space between their bodies and wondered if he opened his mouth wide enough, could he swallow them again. He knew that he couldn't so he waited for her to speak. Just disagree, he screamed. Say you don't care and I won't either.

But his face betrayed none of the emotion his heart felt so she saw only the stonewall that she had listened to Maria complain about so many times before. Staring at his emotionless features she gave him the response he was waiting for, "Fine. Nothing happened."

"Fine," he repeated, turning to walk away from her.

Liz stood staring after him, completely alone in a hallway filled with a hundred other people. She had been so sure that he felt the same way, now she had nothing, no one - no Max, no Maria, and no Michael. Fine, if that was what he wanted then that was what he would get, nothing. She walked away, her face set firmly, only the tears dripping down her cheeks revealing her true feelings.

Michael walked out of the school, his jaw locked to keep any emotion from revealing itself. He had done it – protected them… again. Protected Max, protected Maria, protected Liz… when was someone going to protect him. Didn't he deserve a little protecting, a little love?

"Ahh," his voice roared as he punched the brick exterior of the school, repeating the actions until his knuckles revealed bone and a searing white pain coursed through his veins.

This was good. Pain was good. At least pain was a feeling, an emotion, something to break through his barriers. And pain didn't hurt. Not like love.
posted on 27-Sep-2002 1:42:52 PM
Soon enough for you???

Part 6

Michael was watching TV, a towel full of ice resting on his battered hand, when Max got home.

"Hey," he mumbled.

"S-up," Michael replied, not turning his attention away from the game.

Max dropped his books on the floor and reached for the fridge. Noticing something red on the door he hesitated, only then noticing the trail of blood running across the counter. Looking in the sink he saw an empty ice cube tray with bloody red fingerprints all around it.

"Uh… Michael?" he said, turning to look at his friend. Then he saw the bloody mess resting by Michael's side and went to sit near him. He noted Michael's complete lack of response as he gingerly lifted his hand and removed the towel.

Revealing the damage he asked, "What happened?"

"A wall got in my way."

"So you what… beat it up?"

"Something like that."

"Michael, you can't just go around pulverizing walls for no reason."

"I know, chill Maxine." Michael turned his head to meet Max's gaze, shooting him a look that said the topic wasn't going to be discussed any further.

Max maintained the eye contact and rested his hand on top of Michael's. A few seconds later an unblemished hand appeared before them. Michael flexed his fingers a few times, rubbing his hand roughly.

"Thanks."

"Don't worry about it," Max said, still shaking his head at the stupid things Michael did to himself sometimes. He got up and retrieved the Snapple he had wanted originally. Pausing in the kitchen to work his magic on the messy scene. Returning, he sat down again, "So…"

Here it comes, Michael thought.

"Did you see Liz today?"

"Yep."

"Did she tell you we broke up?"

"Yep."

"Did she say anything else?"

"Nope."

"Oh."

"Look, I don't know the girl's reasons, but I'm sure they're good ones. The best thing you can do now is leave her alone. You'll only make it harder."

Max listened to the rare advice exiting Michael's mouth and tried to hide his surprise. The words made sense but he couldn't help the way he felt. "But I love her," he whined.

So do I, Michael thought. Jesus, where'd that come from?

~~~~~

From the moment Michael walked away from her in the hallway, Liz threw herself into her schoolwork. She rarely spoke to Maria, the life of a budding singer didn't leave much time for chatting with old friends two time zones away. She told her about breaking up with Max but left out all mention of anything Michael. Maria didn't ask about him, instead always saying, "So, how is… everyone?" And Liz didn't volunteer. Nothing had happened right, that was what they had agreed. Well, that was what he had agreed to, she thought bitterly. Her feelings apparently didn't figure into the situation.

"Yeah, it was his choice," she muttered, giving herself one last look in the mirror before turning to grab her graduation gown from its place behind her door. Seven months had passed since her most recent alien encounter. Her and Max managed to be civil but she still felt weird around him. Kyle was off with his new girlfriend most of the time. Lisa had been hired to replace Maria just before Christmas and Kyle had instantly fallen head over heals for her. Isabel was busy being a new wife, throwing herself into marriage and university equally.

As for Michael, they were… friends. Or at least that's the label they placed on it. The tension rippled between them whenever they were near each other. Acting on her impulses was the hardest thing she had never done. Of course he didn't feel the same way, he had told her that, right? But still, she felt vibes shooting off of him every time he walked by.

Sighing she turned back to look around her room. Graduation day—13 long years in arriving and it was nothing like she had imagined. Alex and Maria were gone. The only relationship she had ever had was over. And the one person she wanted most to share this day with was so distant that he might as well not have existed at all.

Liz picked up her valedictorian speech from her desk. Could she get through it without breaking down, she wondered. 'First you make a stone of your heart, and if you find that your hands are still willing…' okay so that was a reference to committing murder but still, it accurately depicted her feelings today.

She read it aloud one last time,

"A river never ceases, always flowing, always running, ever changing, ever moving, steady, endless. If you stand over a river and stare at one spot, you can see the water hurrying its way downstream. The current pulling it along so quickly that to try and capture the travels of one water drop is futile. But, step back and look at the whole river and it appears to take an eternity to travel its length.

Time is like that river, a moment passes so quickly that you can hardly capture a memory before it's gone and another moves in to take its place. But when you step back and look at your years, they stretch out behind you and it's hard to imagine the amount of time that has passed. They hold the secrets of so many moments that you couldn't capture, each a little blur in the life you have led."


Liz paused, looking up from the speech in front of her to gaze at the audience. Max sat in the 3rd row, near a seat that Maria should have occupied. A few rows behind him sat Michael, staring at the stage, but just off center. He's not looking at me, she thought, just daydreaming. She was surprised that he had even showed up but she figured she had Isabel to thank for that. In the last row Kyle sat near the seat belonging to Alex. They had left two empty seats among the graduating class, one for Timmy Johnson who had been in their class until he drowned over summer vacation before Grade 3, the other for Alexander Whitman, taken from them so tragically just a year ago. Liz stared at that seat now, steeling herself to continue with her speech.

"Time changes people. It brings life, takes life, changes life, nameless, faceless, uncaring, generous—so many words to describe the passing of events that none of us has control over. My friends, we stand here today and graduate from West Roswell High a different class from when we started 13 years ago. Different in age and experiences of course, but different in numbers too. The absence of beloved classmates, Timothy and Alex, gone before us, before their time, hangs heavy in the air. But with the sadness of time also comes joy, Maria, off to New York to chase her dreams, Isabel, who graduated a year early, Rosemary who brought twin girls into the world just six months ago and was still able to graduate.

Time took people from us, too many people, but it also brought new additions. I would be remiss if I didn't seize this opportunity, capture this moment, to thank two very special additions to our class, and especially to my life. Max Evans..."


Liz paused again, looking at the crowd to search out his eyes. She saw Max look up suddenly at his name, a questioning look in his eyes. She moved on, seeking a different gaze—Michael. His head twitched in Max's direction before his eyes settled on the stage again, this time focused dead center.

"...who showed me that the world was larger than I had ever imagined it to be. And Michael Guerin, who changed my life in ways that I could never hope to put into words."

Liz watched as Michael lowered his gaze, his eyes closing briefly at her admission. She swallowed hard, almost finished…

"Additions, subtractions, all necessary no matter how inexplicable at the time, to bring us to the place we are today. So, I congratulate you, the class of 2002 of West Roswell High. Please join me as we turn and look together at the river of time we have traveled to reach this day. It stretches behind us and lies to the future. A long and winding river, whose every turning brings a new discovery. Old hopes, new laughter, shared fears. The adventure has just begun."

Liz closed her eyes as applause washed over her shaking body. She took a deep breath, opening her eyes to see both students and family rising to their feet. Applauding her speech, her personal words that she suddenly thought stupid and couldn't believe she had spoken aloud. She walked away from the stage and took her place in the front row of a sea of royal blue gowns. She slowly sat down, grateful that the commotion gave her a moment to wipe her eyes free of the tears that had just started to fall.
posted on 30-Sep-2002 9:44:20 AM
Okay, so it's a bit short but it's a good one... I promise!!!

Sherry

Part 7

Liz locked the Crashdown doors after Kyle and Lisa left. High school was over, it was difficult to really believe. She turned out the lights, walking into the back room. It was dark, lit faintly by the light from the kitchen. She stopped closing her eyes for a moment. It was just like that night, so long ago that it felt like another lifetime. She breathed in deeply, certain she could smell his scent, taste his lips, hear his voice…

"Nice speech."

"Jesus!" she screamed, jumping backwards, her hand flying to her chest. "What the… Michael?"

Her rapid breathing deepened as she watched him stand from his seat on the couch and walk toward her. The small amount of light in the room glinted off the silver wrapped package in his hands.

"Happy Graduation," he said, holding out the gift to her.

"Uh, thanks," she said tentatively, receiving his offering. "I didn't…"

"That's okay, it's nothing," he explained.

"No, I didn't bring yours… I mean yours is upstairs," she managed.

"Oh, you didn't have to…"

Liz stared up at him, thankful that the dim light hid her flushed cheeks. "C'mon," she said, turning toward the stairs. When he didn't follow she offered, "It's okay, my parents left for my grandmother's for a week." Why had she said that? What difference did that make? Again, thankful for the dim light, she reached back to grasp his arm, pulling him behind her up the stairs and into her bedroom.

She led him inside, laying his gift on the desk beside another wrapped package. Picking it up she turned to him, "Here."

He fingered the shiny gold wrapping, "You first," he said.

She picked up his gift again, "Let's sit outside," she said suddenly. Being in such close proximity to him was overwhelming, she felt like her head was clouding and she needed fresh air before she overdosed on his presence. She walked to her widow, climbing through and taking a seat on one of the lawn chairs.

This time he followed without her prodding, sitting across from her on the second chair. He watched as she slowly peeled back the paper, revealing a plain white box inside. His heart tried to escape his chest as she opened the box, pushing aside the tissue paper to reveal a leather bound journal.

Liz gasped as she lifted the heavy book from the box, "Michael…" She was at a loss for words. It was just so… "It's beautiful," she gushed.

"Open it," he said softly.

Liz lifted the cover to reveal an inscription written in his sprawling writing,

For dreams you have yet to imagine.
M


She raised her head to stare at him, "I…" the words wouldn't come so she closed her mouth again, willing herself to keep her composure. "Open yours," she finally said.

Michael ripped the paper off his package; opening it in a fraction of the time it had taken her. A box of colored chalk fell out into his hands, an artist's pad with another small package of colored pencils made up the rest of the present. A small note was attached to the front of the pad,

Through your own eyes, capture the world.
Liz


He stared at the gift in his hands. No one had ever encouraged his drawing before, 'Capture the world' – the words stared back at him from the paper. 'Capture the world', follow your heart, chase your dreams… he looked up to meet her eyes.

Liz was watching him expectantly. She knew she had chosen his gift correctly. She had agonized over what to buy him, whether to get anything, and then she had seen the art store and known exactly what to do. Now he was staring at her, his eyes were like pools, swimming in emotion. She couldn't speak. Not leaving his gaze she laid the journal to the side and crossed the space between them. She aided him in laying his own gift on the floor and then placed her arms on his shoulders. She straddled his legs, facing him, and leaned in to cross her arms behind his neck.

He stared at her, watching her close in on him, sure his chest would explode as his heart broke free of the walls he had built around it. When she sat on him, leaning so close, he couldn't resist any longer. Reaching up to grasp her face in his hands he pulled her closer. Wanting to take every drop of her into him, he lay back pulling her down as well.

Her body rolled on top of his, allowing her every sense to drink of him. "Michael," she murmured, unable to really believe that this was finally happening. "The adventure has just begun," she whispered.
posted on 1-Oct-2002 12:11:18 PM
Ah come on - that's the best place to leave it - it ensures that you'll be back for more *happy*

Part 8

Liz woke up the next morning, a small smile already playing across her lips. As she rolled over, a faint scent crossed her nose, increasing her smile into a wide grin. She opened her eyes to see the dress she had worn last night draped across a chair near her bed. She laughed out loud as she grabbed it, burying her face in the fabric. It smelled like him - like Michael.

~~~~~

Last night they had made out feverously on her lawn chair, eventually sending it toppling to the floor. He had quickly improvised, grabbing the cushion from another chair and spreading it out for them to lie on. They didn't speak much. Well, he didn't anyway. After the make out session left them spent, they lay in each other's arms quietly before she finally broke the silence.

"I can't believe we wasted seven months."

"Yeah."

"You know, I was ready… back then."

"I know."

Liz turned from where she lay with her head on his chest. She looked at his face, his lips set in a firm line, his eyes so… what, not cold, afraid? Hesitant? As she stared into their depths she wondered what secrets they held. She really didn't know that much about him. Sure, Maria had spilled endless details about their frustrating relationship, but what did she really know about this boy?

She bit her lip thoughtfully; she only knew one way to deal with people who kept secrets. Show them you cared, that you'd be there, but don't push… and don't take any crap.

"Why?" she said softly.

"Why?" Michael asked.

"Why did you push me away? If you knew I was ready?"

"Because they weren't."

"What?" she asked, confusion visible on her face.

He sighed, he had known she'd ask this. He'd been afraid to come here tonight because in his heart he knew where it would lead and the questions she'd want answers to. He gently pushed her off of him, sitting up to lean against a chair.

"Max and Maria," he said, shrugging his shoulders slightly. "They weren't ready. And we weren't ready for them to know. If we'd tried this back then it would have been destroyed by guilt. It was too soon and it would have hurt everyone, including them."

"So, you pushed me away to spare their feelings?"

"And yours," he said quietly. "I didn't want you to lose either one of them."

She stared at him silently for a moment. He'd taken it upon himself to decide what was best for her?

She leaned in and grasped his face in her hands, pressing her lips to his passionately. At that very moment she was sure that she loved him.

~~~~~

She rolled over again, drinking heavily in his scent. She thought about what he had said to her last night, explaining why he had pushed her away. Maybe she should be mad that he had chosen the path their relationship would take, trying to spare everyone else's feelings while sacrificing his own, but she wasn't. They had already lost seven months; she didn't want to lose one minute more by being angry.

She dragged herself out of bed, pulling her hair into a messy ponytail and dressing quickly in jeans and a T-shirt. Her parents had left her in charge of the Crashdown for the next week, and even though she had people scheduled to open up, she had to make sure everything still ran smoothly.

She walked downstairs, entering the restaurant to see a bustling breakfast rush. Lisa was behind the counter and held up the coffee pot as a greeting. Liz gratefully accepted it. She had sacrificed several hours of sleep last night to spend time with Michael, and it showed in her eyes.

"So, what did you do after we left last night?" Lisa asked.

Liz paused with her cup halfway to her lips. Shaking off her hesitation she took a slow sip of her coffee, wondering what she should say. Her and Michael hadn't talked about whether their relationship was a secret but she figured that until they did she shouldn’t say anything.

"Oh nothing," she replied, lowering her head to hide her blushing cheeks.

"Liz," the voice from behind startled her. She turned to see Max standing there.

"Oh, hey Max," she said cautiously. They hadn't spoken more than a couple of words to each other since they broke up, and now there was just nothing left to say.

"Hey," Max replied, looking uncomfortably down at his feet. Raising his eyes slowly he said, "I just wanted to say goodbye."

"Goodbye?"

"Yeah, I'm uh… I'm moving to L.A. I'm driving, the car's all packed. I got into UCLA for September so I figured…"

The two ex-daters stared at each other knowingly. Max still loved her and in her heart she knew it, but she just didn't have those feelings for him anymore. And besides, now she had Michael. In spite of herself, a smile played across her lips.

She met Max's eyes again and instantly knew that he knew, "Umm…" she stumbled, "Good luck with…"

Max put his hand up to stop her, "Be happy, okay?"

"I will," she replied softly, smiling at him. He turned to walk away but she called after him, "Max… how?"

"Your speech. You weren't looking at me when…" his voice cracked and he swallowed to regain his composure. "Take care of him."

Liz nodded, overcome by his gentlemanly nature. She knew that she didn't need his approval to date Michael but it was nice to have it anyway. She watched through the door as he got into his car and pulled out of the parking lot. She had just returned to the counter when she heard a motorcycle pull up and looked up to see Michael bursting through the doors.

He looked around quickly before his eyes settled on her sitting at the counter and he quickly walked toward her. "Max knows," he said breathlessly.

"Well, good morning to you too," she said, smiling.

"What?" he asked, confusion marking his features. "Oh," shaking his head he said, "yeah, good morning. Look, Max… uh, knows." He looked at her expectantly, suddenly aware of Lisa standing within hearing distance.

Liz laughed at the worried look on his face, "That's cool." Leaning in she kissed him full on the lips. He returned her kiss instinctively before pulling back, "Jesus Liz, do you want everyone to know?"

Now she let out a loud burst of laughter, "Relax, Max was here, you just missed him. He gave us his blessing."

"What?" Michael asked, first confusion and then irritation crossing his face.

Liz saw the range of emotions he was passing through and reached out to grab his hand, "It's cool. He just said to be happy, and that I should take care of you," she said the last part with a smile on her lips.

He looked back at her, weighing the effect of her words. Shaking his head he muttered, "Yeah, like I need taking care of," but he was smiling and pulled her close to him for another kiss.

His hands traveled up her back, creeping underneath her shirt to explore as much skin as possible. She jerked her body and pushed his hands away. "Michael," she hissed. "Everyone doesn't have to know," she teased.

His smile matched hers as she took his hand and led him through the restaurant and upstairs to her bedroom. There was just so much lost time to make up for. She planned on taking advantage of every second.

As they left, Lisa turned and picked up the phone. When Kyle picked up on the other end she gasped, "You are not going to believe what just happened!"
posted on 2-Oct-2002 11:01:40 AM
Hey, did I snag a dreamer!?! WOW!!! LOL - glad you like this and Anya - you are so faithful!

Here's more, and I'll try not to leave you hanging too often but you can expect it just a few more times at least!

Part 9

Once Kyle got over the shock that Liz and Michael were actually a couple, he and Lisa spent many nights double-dating with them. Liz told Kyle about the night that he had pretended to be Maria and how that helped her be sure that she wanted to be with Michael. Convinced that he deserved sole credit for getting them together, he proudly told anyone who asked that he was a great matchmaker.

Isabel remained in the dark about the new relationship until two weeks later when she finally convinced Michael to join her and Jesse for dinner one night. When he showed up, Liz was with him.

"Liz!" she exclaimed when she opened the door.

"Hi Isabel," she said, holding out the 'Death by Chocolate' cake she had brought from the Crashdown for dessert.

Isabel accepted the cake gratefully, thanking Liz before turning her gaze. "Michael…" she said with a forced smile. "You should have told me you were bringing someone."

As she stared at him for an explanation he started laughing and leaned over to plant a kiss on Liz's forehead. "I thought you'd like a surprise," he said.

Her mouth dropped open as Michael moved past her to accept Jesse's outstretched hand. "What… you… two… are…?"

Now it was Liz's turn to laugh, "Yes we are," she said smiling. "Two weeks now."

All of Liz's worries that Isabel wouldn't accept them vanished as she walked over to Michael and punched him in the arm, "Two weeks?"

"Yes… ouch," he said, rubbing his arm playfully.

Isabel grabbed Liz's hand, leading her into the kitchen, "Okay you've got a big story to tell. And, Michael," she said, turning to look at where he sat with Jesse, "I only cooked enough for three, you're lucky I've got super cooking powers."

"Yeah," Jesse said, "I wondered why Isabel's cooking suddenly got better when she came out of the closet."

Liz and Michael joined in his laughter while Isabel tried to hide her smile with a glare. "All right then, see how you like doing the cooking next week," she threatened.

Michael shook his head at Jesse's misfortune, "Better you than me man."

~~~~~

Later, after dinner, Isabel asked, "So what about…?"

When she hesitated, Liz knew exactly what she meant and replied, "Yes, Max knows, and no, Maria doesn't."

"Okay…" Isabel responded. "One, I'm going to kill him, and two, are you going to tell her?"

"Yes," Liz answered quickly, glancing quickly at Michael's impassive face. Of course she was going to tell her, just as soon as she got a chance to talk to her. She quieted the scolding voice in her head and explained to Isabel that, "She's on tour. I can e-mail or write but I think this needs to be a person-to-person chat."

"I'll say," Isabel agreed.

Michael stared at Isabel for a full minute until she took the cue that he was anxious to get out of there and be alone with his new girlfriend. She stood up, "Well I for one think it's great."

"Thank you," Liz said, grateful that they had another ally.

After seeing them to the door and closing it behind them Isabel leaned against it heavily, "But we'll see what Maria has to say about it."

"What honey?" Jesse called from the living room.

"Nothing," she replied, picking up the phone to give her brother the bawling out of his lifetime.

~~~~~

Liz and Michael's relationship progressed wondrously over the next few weeks. She was completely enraptured with him and somehow managed to make him spend hours with her just talking about anything and everything. Well almost everything. She could see that it was still painful for him to talk about his childhood and she didn't push him. She was content to have present Michael; past Michael would come in time.

There was one other thing that he wouldn't talk about—September. He knew that she had been accepted at Columbia but every time she brought it up he would change the subject.

Finally, just after their one-month anniversary, she said, "I can't believe we only get one more month before I have to leave."

His response was, "So, you want Pizza for supper?"

He had turned away from her and now she stared at his back, her mouth falling open. "Pizza?" she repeated.

"Yeah," he turned around with the take-out menu in his hand.

Liz bit her lip painfully. She had been following "the rules" for a month now - show him you cared, that you'd be there, but don't push… and don't take any crap. Well rules be damned, she thought. If she couldn't get him to talk about it naturally she was just going to have to push a little.

"Michael, I'm leaving… in a month. We have to talk about this."

"Why? I thought we were having fun."

"Fun?" she squealed. "That's all you think this is… fun?"

He calmly placed the menu on the counter and walked toward her. Pulling her tiny body against his, he leaned in to kiss her, catching only her cheek when she turned away from him. "Not just fun," he said softly. "I'm having a good time. This…" he pointed from his chest to hers, "me and you… it's good, right?"

She turned back to face him and slowly nodded her head.

"Let's not ruin it by talking about September."

"Michael," she murmured. He silenced her by successfully matching his lips to hers.

"Michael," she repeated, her voice taking on a husky quality this time.

"Let's go have some fun, hey?" he said playfully.

She shrieked as he picked her up and carried her to the couch, the pizza menu and discussion about September long forgotten.
posted on 3-Oct-2002 8:53:45 AM
LOL!!! Thanks Kari... you nut!

Here's another cliffhanger part I'm afriad - you guys like those right?

Part 10

The weeks passed so slowly and yet so quickly that before Liz realized it there was only one week left before she was leaving for university and she still hadn't been able to broach the subject of September with Michael.

Finally one night she turned to him just as the movie they were watching was ending and asked, "Do you love me?"

He looked down at where she lay with her head in his lap, her chestnut hair entangled in his fingers. He did, of course he did. He had known that he loved her almost 9 months ago but he wasn't prepared to answer when she asked him.

"Why?" he asked, frowning as he felt her arm stiffen on his knee.

"Well, I'd like to know."

"I don't know, it's just a word right?"

The look that crossed her face went unseen to him but he felt the emotions radiating off of her just the same. "Yeah, it's just a word," she repeated.

"Come here," he said, leaning down to turn her face towards his.

She moved away from him, sliding down the couch and sitting at the other end.

"Great, what did I do now?" he asked stupidly.

"Nothing Michael," she snapped. "You've done nothing."

"What's that supposed to mean?" he snapped back.

"Do you even realize that I am leaving in a week?" she asked. "I'll be like 2000 miles away… and I won't be home on weekends."

"Yes, I realize that. I'm not stupid," he said, getting up to walk into the kitchen.

"Could have fooled me," she mumbled.

"What?" he said, turning to glare at her from across the room.

Liz hesitated before responding, thinking of the rules she had set out for herself when she entered this relationship. 'Don't push, but don't take any crap.' Well, goddamn it, this was crap. "I said... could… have… fooled… me," she spoke clearly, her voice rising with each word.

He was obviously trying to restrain himself as he turned to the fridge and removed a Snapple. He tipped the bottle to his lips, downing half of it before looking back at her. She watched as his eyes glazed over and suddenly she felt all of her courage evaporate into thin air. She watched, transfixed, as his hand tightened around the bottle, squeezing the glass until it popped, sending pieces of glass flying across the kitchen floor.

"Michael," she yelled, running to his side as the bottle broke.

He turned away from her, shaking his hand to free it of glass fragments, splattering the walls with shards of glass mixed with drops of blood. He turned on the faucet, sticking his hand underneath and grimacing as the shock of the cold water hit his exposed tendons.

She saw the damage he had done and looked on in horror as he pulled the largest piece of glass from his palm. She grabbed a towel from the counter and moved to wrap his hand.

"Leave it," he commanded, taking the towel, but pushing her aside.

She stood numbly behind him as he struggled to stem the flow of bleeding with his powers. Frustrated at the absence of any healing abilities, he resorted to the towel, wrapping it around his bleeding hand clumsily.

"Let me take you to the hospital," she offered, her face still stinging from the sharp words he had spoken to her.

"Who's the stupid one now?" he asked, moving around her to grab his keys. He opened the door and walked out of the apartment, leaving her standing there with her mouth gaping open.

She looked around the blood-spattered kitchen, the realization that another wall had just been erected between them hitting her forcefully. This time she wasn't sure if any amount of patience or understanding would be able to break it down.

Slowly she sank to the floor, her breath coming in ragged gasps as tears of shock, anger, sadness, and loss escaped her body and she sat in the midst of the battlefield and cried. He hand rested against the floor where, unbeknownst to her, a small spark flickered from one finger to another, evaporating the drops of blood on the floor between them. Eventually she made her way to her feet and left the apartment, completely oblivious to the bodily transformation that had begun.
posted on 4-Oct-2002 1:00:08 PM
Kari, I'm so happy that you are reading this all over! And Anya, you aren't a stalker - just have faith that I will most likely be posting a part a day, so you don't have to beg! (although a little flattery never hurt anyone!)

Part 11

Isabel heard the frantic pounding on her door and opened it to reveal Michael slumped against the frame. She screamed, "Jesse!" and struggled to support his weight with hers until Jesse came and took over. They managed to get him to the couch where Jesse helped him lie him down while Isabel gingerly moved his obviously wounded hand to inspect it. Michael's face was contorted in pain as he muttered, "It's bad, you've got to… got to fix…"

Isabel ran to get some towels and the first aid kit while Jesse tried to get some information out of him. "You cut it?" he asked, removing his belt to tie a tourniquet around Michael's arm.

Michael nodded slightly in response.

"Knife?"

"Bottle," he muttered through clenched teeth.

"It's bad. Stitches?"

Michael nodded again just as Isabel came back into the room. "Stitches?" she asked. "Jesse we can't take him to a hospital." She stopped to look at Michael grasping his wrist with his other hand. "And I can't..." she said helplessly.

"It's okay, I know someone," Jesse said, picking up the phone.

"No, we can't… no doctor's," she said frantically.

"It's okay, he's an old friend. He sort of used to be a doctor."

"Sort of used to?"

"Trust me," Jesse insisted, dialing the familiar number.

Isabel looked back at Michael, whose moment of lucidity was fading quickly. "Do it," she said, kneeling on the floor beside him and reaching over to wrap his hand in the clean towels. "Hang on," she whispered, staring at the fresh blood already soaking through. "Help is coming."

She lowered her forehead to rest on his arm, wishing with all of her life that Max was here right now.

~~~~~

Jesse's friend was a former doctor who had lost his license for some "questionable" prescriptions. Jesse knew that Dan was probably taking as many drugs himself as he had prescribed for others, but he was a childhood friend and Jesse trusted him.

Dan took one look at the bloody towels discarded on the floor near Michael's body and immediately went to work. He laid out a sterile sheet across Michael's chest and gently unwrapped his hand. The tourniquet had stemmed the flow of blood and a quick wipe across Michael's palm removed the excess blood, revealing gaping wounds. The largest started in the middle of his palm and snaked upwards between his thumb and index finger. Another split open the base of his middle finger and stretched down across his hand to meet the first. Several smaller cuts peppered his palm and fingers, many still hosting the shards of glass that had caused them.

The welcome darkness of unconsciousness eluded him and Michael watched through squinted eyes as Dan delicately removed the remaining glass and started stitching. Anesthetic was out of the question, they had no idea what effect it would have on his body, and after the encounter that both he and Max had had with alcohol, Isabel wasn't about to let another drug anywhere near him. Instead, and against his protesting, she connected with him to share in his pain. Jesse watched the two half-siblings sitting together—Michael lying on the couch with Isabel huddled on the floor by his side; their eyes fluttering beneath closed lids the only sign that they both weren't sleeping. An eerie feeling washed over his body and he urged Dan to hurry, anxious to have a fully conscious Isabel back again.

Dan finished and started cleaning up the mess of blood-spattered instruments around him. Jesse approached Isabel slowly and was just about to touch her arm when her eyes flew open and she gasped, "It's over."

Her husband looked at her quizzically and she nodded at Michael, who's head now lolled over to one side, his mouth hanging open slightly in the familiar sign of someone in a deep sleep. Jesse shook his head at one more alien ability that Isabel possessed and helped his wife to her feet.

~~~~~

The next morning Isabel rose early to find a still sleeping Michael on the couch. She grimaced at the bloodstains on the cushions and carpet and waved her hand over them, removing all traces of the night before, well almost all. She went into the kitchen and was startled a few minutes later when she turned to see Michael standing there.

"How're you feeling?" she asked, screwing up her face at the lame question before he had a chance to.

"Like someone cut off my hand," he muttered, gingerly moving his heavily bandaged arm away from his body to rest it on the table as he sat down.

Isabel picked up the sling that Dan had left for Michael the night before and approached him.

"What the fvck is that?" he asked.

"A sling," she answered, continuing quickly before he had a chance to voice his obvious objection, "and yes, you HAVE to wear it."

She started to place it beneath his arm as he complained, "How am I supposed to ride my bike home like this?"

She shot him a deathly stare. "You rode your bike over here?" she asked incredulously. "Jesus Michael." She finished fastening the sling and moved to gather condiments for coffee. "Well, I'll drive you home and I'll get Jesse to drive your bike over."

Jesse rides?" Michael asked.

"I don't know," she said, waving her hand absently at Michael.

"It's not a friggin' 10-speed Isabel."

"Whatever," she silenced him, "you are NOT driving it." She poured two cups of coffee, placing one in front of him and dumping 4 teaspoons of sugar in her own before offering to do the same for him.

He refused, spilling sugar all over the table as he tried unsuccessfully to handle the spoon with his left hand. Finally he gave up and just shook the sugar directly into his mug from the dish. Isabel ignored the mess, knowing that he would rather struggle on his own than accept help from anyone.

"So," she said softly, after he was finally drinking his coffee. "You wanna talk about what happened?"

"Nope."

"Michael," she said, sighing. "I saw you know."

"Then there's nothing to talk about is there?" he stood up to walk across the kitchen, resisting the urge to just walk out the door and leave.

"You love her, don't you?"

"Yes," he admitted. "But she's still leaving," he said, leaning against the counter and shooting Isabel a threatening glance to stop.

Ignoring that as well she continued, "It doesn't have to be this way."

Exasperated he asked, "Well what way can it be Iz. We'll commute the 2000 miles to see each other?" He pressed his lips together in a firm line, signaling that his word was final. "It's better if she doesn't know."

"Michael…"

"Look, are you going to bring me home or am I walking?"

Isabel stared at the erected wall between them and knew that their conversation was over… for now.
posted on 7-Oct-2002 10:59:43 AM
Yeah, yeah, yeah - another fan!!! So glad you decided to stop by - hope you stick around!

Part 12

Liz woke up the next morning, her eyes still puffy from having spent most of the night curled in a ball crying. Every time the sobs subsided she would remember the look in Michael's eyes when he broke the bottle and realize again that they weren't coming back from this one easily.

For as much guilt as she felt, there was an equal amount of anger. She had given everything she could, everything she had, to him and she had loved him deeply, but when she asked him, he had refused to return the sentiment.

She threw her legs over the bed, reaching up with her hands to gently feel the bags under her eyes. As her hands made contact with her face, she felt a shock pass from her fingers to her eyelids and jumped a little at the sudden surprise. She pressed her hands to her eyes as she stood up. Walking to the mirror she was surprised when a clear face, with none of the expected blotchiness evident, stared back at her.

Shrugging her shoulders she stared hard at her reflection. "Only one more week," she chanted. "Just get through 7 days and then you can put him behind you." In her heart she knew that living for 7 more days in Roswell was out of the question. She surprised herself by how quickly she came to her next decision. Hurrying to the living room, she found her father sitting at his desk. "Dad, have you ever seen the country?" she asked. Her father listened intently as she nervously explained her plan to cash in her plane ticket to New York for a bus ticket across the U.S. "I need to decompress, just… be alone for a bit before school."

Her father was more than a little surprised, but swallowed his disappointment that he was losing the last few days he had to spend with her and agreed. Two days later she was on a bus headed east, not having seen or spoken to Michael since their fight.

~~~~~

Isabel entered Michael's apartment noisily at noon on Tuesday. She hadn't heard from him since Sunday morning when she had dropped him off and was worried about how he was doing. At first the sight of the blood and glass splattered kitchen surprised her and her thoughts immediately went to him having done something to himself. She realized with a mixture of relief and sadness that she was looking at the remains if Saturday's injury, and that he hadn't done anything else to himself, not yet anyway.

She waved her hand quickly over the floor and walls, leaving the kitchen cleaner that when he had moved in. The living room was next and she turned on the stereo to keep her company, ignoring the fact that he was doubtlessly moping in the next room. Finally, after 30 minutes of making enough noise to wake the dead, she gave in and knocked on his bedroom door. Hearing no reply, she pushed it open to reveal, if possible, an even larger mess inside. Michael lay on the bed, his bandaged arm still in the sling, resting on his naked chest.

She could see that his eyes were open but he continued to stare blankly at the ceiling, not acknowledging her presence. Her first instinct was to joke with him, push him out of bed and back into humanity, but something stopped her. She approached him silently, his body not flinching, even when she eased herself onto the bed beside him. Only when she placed her hand on his arm did he move, the smallest frown crossing his features as if it hurt to have even the slightest form of human contact.

"Michael…" she said softly, her voice cracking as she took in his emotional state. "Go to her."

He didn't respond and Isabel waited a moment before standing again. As she turned away she caught a glimpse of the tear rolling over his chiseled jaw but continued turning, not waiting him to know that she saw his weakness.

Satisfied that he had at least heard her, she left the apartment. She resisted the urge to go and speak to Liz, knowing he'd never forgive her for meddling that much. Little did she know that her efforts would have been futile. At that very moment Liz Parker was on a bus heading away from Roswell, putting more distance between her and everyone in the town with each passing minute.
posted on 8-Oct-2002 9:12:05 AM
Hey Anya, I was wondering what happened to you!?! And thanks Kari for still re-reading - amazing!

Another Part!

Part 13

Michael finally dragged himself out of bed a few hours after Isabel left. He shuffled his way through the piles of laundry on his bedroom floor to open the door, surprised at the stark contrast between that and the now immaculate living room. He allowed himself a smile at the fact that of course, Isabel couldn't come over without cleaning up. He said a silent thank you that she had also rid the kitchen of the evidence of Saturday's blow up, something that he hadn't been able to face yet. He opened the fridge to get a drink and actually laughed out loud when he saw the pre-made lasagna sitting there, cooking instructions taped to the top.

He grabbed a Snapple and nestled it between the sling and his chest, wincing at the cold glass against his skin, while he struggled to remove the cover with his weaker left hand. The feel of the bottle against his lips brought the memories of the last time he had stood there crashing back. He was embarrassed that it was his own stubbornness that had caused the entire situation – something he was well aware of although he'd never admit it. He remembered something that Isabel had once told him – that he had the fiercest sense of determination she had ever known, if only he'd use it to help himself instead of worrying about helping others. That and her words from earlier rang in his head as he walked to the bathroom, the sense of determination over doing something for himself, steadily increasing.

~~~~~

By the time he reached the Crashdown, his entire body was quivering. He had walked here from his apartment, his hand telling him with a pulsing pain that there was no way he could grip the handle of his bike.

He held his arm across his chest, as if the sling was still in place. Of course he hadn't worn it, he had left it lying among the piles of laundry on his bedroom floor. He'd worn it around the house, even admitting to himself that it made the pain almost bearable, but he was still Michael Guerin – there was no way you'd catch him wearing it in public.

He eased his arm down by his side and walked as casually as possible into the restaurant. The instantaneous rush of blood to his hand caused his eyes to glaze over and he submitted to the fact that he really was injured, raising his arm horizontally again.

Mr. Parker looked up from the cash register as he entered, "Michael! How's the arm?"

"Uh," Michael stammered as he wondered how Jeff knew about his injury already.

His unspoken question was answered when Jeff responded, "Isabel dropped by. She said you'd need a few weeks off."

"Uh, yeah, a few weeks," he replied, extremely uncomfortable. Jeff Parker might have been his boss but he was also his girlfriend's father and Michael couldn't be sure how much Liz had told him about the other night. "So, um, is Liz here?" Michael finally managed to ask.

Jeff's face took on a confused expression as he said, "Liz is in New York."

Michael's heart actually stopped beating. He stood numbly as Jeff's muted voice filtered through the panic that gripped him, "ticket… bus… early… alone."

He felt himself swaying and turned abruptly to leave, unable to respond to Jeff's words. As he did, Mr. Parker reached behind the counter and retrieved something, calling out for Michael to wait. The voice penetrated the fog clouding Michael's brain and his feet slowed unconsciously.

Jeff walked around the counter to hand Michael the retrieved item; squinting at the boy's face to make sure he was okay. Michael's arm was burning with an intense flame and he cautiously released the grip his left hand held on his right to reach out to accept the envelope Jeff offered.

"Liz left this for you," he said.

Michael nodded quickly and then walked outside, the envelope clutched tightly in his hand, unopened as he blindly retraced the steps to his apartment. The throbbing pain in his hand kept him on this side of reality, but he was inside, sitting on his couch before he realized that he had walked anywhere. He looked down at the crumpled envelope in his hand – it was addressed to him as if she had intended to mail it, complete with her return address in New York on top.

Just as Liz had done two days ago, Michael surprised himself by how quickly he reached his next decision. He shrugged out of his jacket, removing the bandage and thick padding on his arm, leaving just a few small gauze bandages. He reapplied only the outer ACE bandage, allowing himself as much mobility as his torn tendons would permit. He put his jacket back on, stuffed the envelope in his pocket and grabbed his keys. He walked outside, awkwardly strapping on his helmet, before using a spare bandage to strap his hand to the handlebar. Using his powers to rev the engine he released the brake and headed out of Roswell… pointed east.
posted on 9-Oct-2002 3:33:20 PM
Hey there,

Just wanted to let you know that I opened my own fanfic archive - check my sig for the link!

Sherry
posted on 10-Oct-2002 10:30:47 AM
Hey there,

I opened my own fanfiction archive, check my sig for the link! And... another part!

Part 14

Michael drove for eight hours before his body nearly collapsed under its own weight and he was forced to stop at a roadside motel. While the physical strain of keeping his hand on the handlebars was enough to drain every ounce of strength he had, it was the emotional strain of wondering if he was doing the right thing that brought him to the edge.

He sat on the edge of the tub in the dirty motel room, his bloody hand resting in his lap. Tears dripped down his face as he stared at the envelope in his left hand. He didn't want to know, couldn't know what it said. His entire life he had been beaten down, unappreciated. Now he finally had something he cared about, someone he could hold on to. What if she didn't want the same thing?

I've been crushed like paper, I've been washed like rain
I've been scared of sleeping, in case I wake up the same
I've been broken and battered, I've been lost in my home
I've been crying a river, I've been cold as a stone

But falling into you, it carries me far enough away
And everything you do, it lightens up my darker side of day
I just hope that the wind doesn't blow you away


Slowly, carefully, he folded the envelope and pushed it deep into his back pocket. Supporting his weight with his left hand, he raised his body up and carried his battered limb to the sink. He moaned softly in pain as the water entered his wound, washing away the blood that had spilled through the stitches. He tore the top off a box of gauze bandages with his teeth and opened three of them. Placing them on and around the numerous cuts, he added a clean top bandage, the others now tattered and dirty after being exposed to the elements on his ride today.

He walked to the bed where he eased his body down onto the lumpy mattress. The bedspread smelled of urine and smoke but at that moment his mind was immune to anything but the sight of Liz before his weary eyes. He mumbled incoherently as he drifted off to sleep, the prayer that she still wanted him dying on his lips.

~~~~~

The next morning Michael awoke at 10, cursing himself for wasting precious hours sleeping. He changed the bandages on his hand once again and checked out. Stopping long enough to grab a muffin and coffee in the neighboring coffee shop, he was out of the parking lot by 10:30.

That day he managed another eight hours of driving before forcing himself to stop again that night in St. Louis, Missouri. It was Wednesday night and he knew that if he kept up this pace, he'd arrive in New York in another 3 days, Saturday night. It felt somehow appropriate that he'd see her again exactly one week after their fight.

Meanwhile Liz's bus trip included nights on the road and she arrived at Columbia just after noon on Thursday. She checked in and was shown to her room where a tall blonde girl was in the midst of unpacking.

"Oh, hi, I'm Sam," she said, smiling as she held out her hand.

"Liz," the other girl replied, struggling not to drop the suitcases she was carrying.

"Cool, Elizabeth, right?" Liz nodded. "Samantha," she said, pointing at herself. "I always thought shorter names were better, don’t you?"

Liz smiled at her new roommate, thinking already that they were going to be great friends. They spent the rest of Thursday unpacking and on Friday morning Sam pulled Liz out of bed early to "see the city". She was from New York, living in residence as part of her scholarship, and couldn't wait to show off her town.

They spent an exhaustive two days sight-seeing before finally collapsing on their beds around 7:00 on Saturday evening. Sam stared thoughtfully at Liz from across the room. She seemed nice enough, but she was quiet, not exactly forthcoming about her personal life. Sam pointed to the picture frame that Liz had bought that day and asked, "Anything special to go in there?"

Liz blushed as she ran her hands over the smooth silver surface. "No… not really."

"Oh, come on. No pictures of your boyfriend in there," she said, gesturing to the chest that had been delivered that morning from Roswell.

Liz shook her head and turned away quickly, not wanting to encourage anything further on the subject. Sam noticed her reaction and quickly got up to join Liz on her bed. "Look," she said, leaning over to brush Liz's hair behind her ear. "I've got a big mouth, okay? Just ignore me and we'll get along fine."

Liz smiled at her new friend. "It's not that. It's just… it's…"

"Let me guess, complicated?"

Liz laughed, "Something like that."

"Well, I've got a good ear if you do want to talk about it."

Liz sighed, talk about it, she thought. Something she hadn't done in a week. Before she even realized that she wanted to, her mouth was open and the details of her relationship with Michael were pouring out. Sam sat by quietly as Liz ended with the fight they had had last Saturday. "So, I just left. It was pretty clear what he wanted anyway," she finished sadly.

Sam sat quietly for a minute. It was so obvious that Liz loved this Michael guy. And also obvious, at least to her, that he probably loved her back. It sounded like a classic case of sacrifice – one partner giving up their own happiness for the sake of the other. From Liz's story she knew what Michael had done when they had first kissed and couldn't understand how Liz didn't see that she was doing the same thing now.

She wasn't confident that Liz was ready to hear some of what she wanted to say so instead she asked if Liz had a picture of him. Liz turned and reached into her drawer to pull out her journal. She ran her hands over the smooth surface slowly before opening it and pulling out a picture. Sam looked at the picture of Liz and Michael – he was sitting on a blanket, his legs stretched out in front of him with his hands supporting him from behind. Liz leaned gently into his chest, her eyes closed, a full smile on her face as if she was laughing. Michael's head was tilted down and he was smiling at her, the look of love on his face was so obvious that Sam felt it jump out of the photograph at her.

She looked up to see Liz lost in thought as she stared at the inside cover of her journal. "I think he loves you Liz," she said softly. "It's written all over his face."

"Well, why can't he say it?" she asked quietly, retrieving the picture and turning to move into their bathroom. A few moments later Sam moved off of Liz's bed as she heard the water running in the tub.

"Man," she muttered. "One of them needs to break," she said, shaking her head. To have such an obvious love and yet allow yourself to be denied was just wrong. She flopped down on her bed, turning on the TV.

Twenty minutes later she was interrupted by a knock at the door. She heard the water draining in the bathtub as she went to answer it. Sam pulled open the door to reveal a tall boy standing there. He was dripping wet, his brown hair plastered to his head, the ends hanging in limp curls around his collar. As her eyes traveled down his body she took in the black leather jacket, hanging awkwardly on his frame as the water soaked material leaned towards the floor. The white T-shirt peaking from within his jacket hid none of his rippling abs as it stuck to every perfect ridge. As if his black jeans weren't already tight enough, the rain had shrunk them to his legs, forming a second denim skin. If she didn't already know that it was Michael from his eyes, the bandaged hand held tightly to his chest gave it away. She allowed herself another compulsory glance at him before she stepped aside.

Michael looked at the blonde girl in the doorway. She stared at him so intensely that for a second he thought he had the wrong room. He was just about to ask for Liz when she stepped aside and called, "Liz! I think it's for you," back into the room.

Sam reached out and pulled Michael into the dorm room, shutting the door behind her as she said, "I'm Sam and you have got to be Michael."

Michael nodded at her forwardness and stood uncomfortably in the middle of the room while Sam grabbed a towel from a nearby shelf. She was just handing it to him when Liz opened the bathroom door, her petite frame wrapped only in a royal blue towel. Michael turned at the noise and lost his breath when he saw her standing there. His lower lip quivered as every emotion that he had suppressed for the last week suddenly bubbled to the surface.

Liz stared at the soaking wet boy standing in front of her. "Michael," she whispered, walking toward him.

He wasn't able to stop the tears that spilled from his eyes as he stepped toward her. "Liz, I… I…" he struggled with the words. Could he say it? Could he tell her? What if…?

I've been left unattended, I've been thrown like a ball
I've been rolled with the punches and didn't feel a thing at all
I've been crossed by the wires, I've been blinded by the light
I've been burnt by the fire, I've been kept out of sight


"What is it?" she asked, her eyes staring at him with a brilliant intensity. She held her breath as she watched him struggle to speak.

But falling into you, it carries me far enough away
And everything you do, it lightens up my darker side of day
I just hope that the wind doesn't blow you away


"I… I love you," his voice broke as the words slipped from between his lips. His heart prepared to freeze as he waited for a response, a reaction – anything.

Liz stared up at the boy she had loved for so long and suddenly felt a damn of emotions she didn't know existed break deep within her. She threw her arms around his neck, crushing his wet lips with her own, their tears mingling against their shared skin. She shook with sobs as she pulled away, carefully leading him to her bed to care for him. She knew what it meant for him to say those words, and for him to be standing here in New York, saying them to her tonight, meant that he really did love her. She knew that everything was going to be okay.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Oct-2002 10:35:32 AM ]
posted on 15-Oct-2002 10:44:09 AM
Part 15

Liz sat Michael on her bed and threw her rode on, discarding the towel underneath. She turned to sit by him, cautiously supporting his hand as she coaxed him out of his jacket. The T-shirt was next and she carefully pulled it over his head before wrapping a towel around his shivering shoulders.

Sam watched the interaction between them and quietly got up to retrieve the first aid kit. She handed it to Liz who turned to look at her. “Thanks,” she said.

“I’ll be in the T.V. room,” Sam offered.

Liz smiled, “Thanks,” she repeated.

Once Sam was gone, Liz turned to Michael. “Jeans,” she commanded.

He laughed to cover his embarrassment as he stood to allow Liz to unbutton his jeans and peel them from his body. After tossing them aside, she turned back to face him and his hand instinctively found its way to her back, tugging her to him. She obliged of course, kissing him longingly before breaking free to stare into his eyes. “I can’t believe you’re really here,” she said.

“Me neither,” he grinned, his voice shaking as shivers shook his body.

Liz broke free of his arms to pull back the covers of her bed, “In.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Michael replied, getting in and moving over to make room for her. She swatted his arm away as she tucked the covers around him and sat on top, pulling his injured hand onto her lap. “This first.”

The ache in his hand had dulled from the experience of seeing her again but now came back in full force. Liz gently unwrapped the bandages to see the full extent of his injury for the first time. Knowing how much pain he must have experienced riding here she looked up at him, “Why did you come?”

“I just had to tell you.”

“But you could have called, wrote... you shouldn’t hurt yourself.”

“I came because...” Michael reached down to grab his jeans, digging in the pocket to retrieve the tattered envelope, now wrapped in a plastic bag to protect it from the rain. Liz reached out to accept the envelope, her heart racing at the realization that it was her words that had brought him here.

She turned the envelope slowly over in her hands, noticing the unbroken seal. “You didn't read it,” she said in wonder, looking up to question him with her eyes.

He shrugged, a nervous smile playing on his lips, “I was afraid I wouldn’t like what it said.”

“But you came anyway?”

“I love you. I always loved you. I should’ve told you last week... no before that.” Michael stared at his girlfriend sitting in front of him and knew in that instant that he had made the right decision in coming here.

Liz moved his injured arm aside gently and slowly crawled up his legs to straddle his body. She pulled his face to hers and as their lips brushed together, whispered, “I love you.” She kissed him with all of the stored passion she had been denying for the past week.

Michael returned her affections with an equal force, pulling her tighter to him with his left hand. She shifted her body to allow him to lie down, angrily pushing the blankets aside to run her hands over his bare chest. He caressed her damp hair with his left hand, the right lying out to his side. Liz seductively supported herself above his body, running her hands across his chest and trailing her fingers down his arms. She pressed his biceps into the bed forcefully, leaning in to support her weight on his as she took in every ounce of love her had to offer her.

She felt her body heating, her breath coming in ragged gasps as she struggled to maintain her senses through the vibes he radiated. Her sense of control collapsed as she arched her back gasping, “Oh, Michael.” A brilliant white light shot out from her hands, still pinning his arms to the bed. Before he could detach himself from her, he was pulled into her mind, a kaleidoscope of emotions spiralling through his own. He lost all sense of his own being as every emotion she felt flooded into his brain. His lungs stopped breathing as he felt her anguish and saw her sitting amongst the bloody glass in his apartment. He saw a spark streak from one finger to the next as she sat there, then the image shifted to her bedroom where her puffy eyes evaporated before her reflection in the mirror. Finally his eyes were assaulted with the all to familiar image of Max healing her in the Crashdown, almost three years earlier.

It was over as soon as it started and Michael opened his eyes to see her lying on his chest. He moved his hand to push the hair from her face as she turned to look at him. Her eyes asked the questions her brain couldn’t and he gathered her to him.

“What was that?” she finally managed, obviously shaken from the experience.

“Shh,” he said, gently rubbing circles on her back. “It was just a flash.”

“No,” she said, pushing herself away from him. “It was... it was...” her voice trailed off as she stared at his chest. His hand continued rubbing her back as she stared at the object lying on his chest... his left hand.

“Michael, where’s your other hand?” she asked, her voice thick with a fearful uncertainty.

“Wha...” his voice trailed off as the circles on her back ceased and he pulled his right hand away from her. Holding it behind her, hidden from her view, his mouth opened, then closed quickly before opening again; his eyes staring, seeing but not believing.

She stared at his shocked expression before twisting her body around to stare at the object of his disbelief. His completely healed hand lay before her, where once there were cuts now lay perfect skin. Only an ant-like trail of violent black stitches marching in uneven rows across his palm betrayed the existence of an injury.

Liz reached out her hand to touch his, unsure of the message her eyes were sending her brain. As she touched his hand, a spark jumped from her finger, snapping off his hand before retreating back into her own. She watched as the stitches vaporized before her eyes... then she fainted.
posted on 17-Oct-2002 11:12:39 AM
Hey Beth, thanks for reading! Here's some more *happy*

Part 16

When Liz woke up the room was dark except for the lamp on her bedside table. She vaguely wondered why she was sleeping with her robe on as she moved her hands to stretch. That’s when she realized that her comfy pillow was none other than Michael’s chest and snapped her head up to look at him.

He was stretched out beside her, his body naked except for a towel wrapped around his waist. She ran her hand across his chest, receiving a murmured, “Hey you,” from his velvet lips. She smiled at him as he opened his eyes, staring at him for a moment before the memory of what happened earlier came crashing back with a sudden reality. She turned to swing her legs over the side of the bed, burying her head in her hands to moan, “Oh, God.”

Michael sat up right behind her, pulling her back to lean against his chest. “Shh, it's okay,” he whispered.

“How can you say that?” she squealed.

Michael put his finger to her lips and pointed across the room to where Sam lay sleeping in her bed. Turning back to face him she whispered sharply, “It is not okay. What happened?”

“I don’t know.”

Standing up, she walked around the bed to her closet and starting dressing. She pulled on jeans and discarded her robe for a top. She pulled her hair into a ponytail as she turned and whispered, “Come on.”

“Where are we going?” he asked, standing up to point to the towel he was wearing.

Liz glanced at his wet clothes still lying in a pile on the floor and reached back into her closet. Pulling out a pair of boxers and a T-shirt she tossed them to him. “To talk,” she explained, moving to grab her wallet and keys.

He stared at the clothes in his hand for a second, wondering why she had men’s clothing in her closet before recognizing them as his own. “There are mine,” he hissed, stepping into the shorts.

“I know... I... I like to sleep in them,” she mumbled. She looked at him sheepishly for a minute before he held his arms out to her and she stepped into them for a kiss.

Her body was stiff in his arms and he rubbed her back briskly, whispering, “It’ll be okay.”

She smiled up at him, grateful for him just being there and pulled his arm to lead him out of the room.

The halls were still well populated with students, many in various forms of sleepwear, especially as they approached the coffee shop on the ground floor of her dorm. A sign on the door brought a smile to Michael’s face. “No shoes, no shirt, no problem”. He noticed that she had left her own shoes in the dorm room next to his wet ones, and squeezed her ass playfully as she moved through the door. They each ordered a coffee, Michael pushing her money aside with his own when she tried to pay. She smiled at him and moved to a booth in a deserted corner of the room.

She played with her coffee for a good five minutes before Michael finally cleared his throat as she looked up at him. Tears were dancing in her eyes as she said, “What was that Michael?”

“I think... I think you have powers.”

“What... how?” she asked with wide eyes.

“Max,” he said simply, unable to hide the look of disgust that crossed his face.

“No,” she said, disbelieving.

Michael shook his head and leaned forward, growing agitated. “Think about it. You were the first person he healed. You were... you almost died.” His voice crackled with emotion and he turned his face away, having no intention of crying in front of her twice in one day.

“Michael,” she said softly, reaching out to grab his hand from across the table.

He shook his head and lowered his gaze to her hand interwoven with his.

“You don’t know that. Maybe it’s just a freak... I don’t know... a freak something,” she offered as a weak explanation, already believing that what he said was probably true.

He shook his head again and mumbled, “No, it’s Max... again. It’s always Max.” He removed his hand from hers to slam it against the table, swearing, “God damn it.”

Liz kept her eyes lowered as well, knowing that his emotions were well founded. She had powers because of Max. Because of power that he shared with her when he healed her. It was just a bit much to comprehend in one moment.

He saw the frown on her face and took it to mean she was upset at his outburst. He offered a weak apology, “It’s just that everything I have is tainted by him.” Raising his eyes to meet hers he continued, “I’m sick and tired of playing second fiddle to Max Evans.”

Liz was nearly overwhelmed by the emotions coursing though her own veins but Michael’s honest explanation of how he felt was far more powerful and she detached her hand from his long enough to move around to his side of the booth. He welcomed her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder as she turned her face toward his. “You could never be second anything to Max. Especially not to me.”

He leaned down to kiss her, embarrassed that he had admitted his unfounded fear to her. She leaned in even closer in return, accepting his kisses hungrily.

Breaking free, Michael took another sip of his coffee as Liz raised her hands to wiggle her fingers at him, “So, what are we gonna do about these?”

He leaned back down to nuzzle her neck with his mouth. “I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out, okay?”

She tilted her head to expose her neck to him more fully. “Mmm,” she murmured.

"Let’s go back to your room,” he mumbled, his lips pressed against her supple skin.

“Michael, Sam’s there.”

“So?” he asked. “We’ll be quiet.”

“Michael,” she stated firmly before his lips found her over-sensitive ear lobe and she melted in his arms. Regretfully pulling away from him, she held his arm to lead him out of the booth. A huge smile crossed her face as he rested his hand on the small of her back, almost guiding her toward the stairwell.

As they pushed open the doors, Liz said, “I still can’t believe that you’re really here.”

Michael just smiled at her back as she started up the stairs. “How long before you leave?” she continued.

He slowed his pace, stopping just at the foot of the stairs. Liz paused when she didn’t hear him climbing behind her and turned around.

“I thought I might stay,” he said.

Her eyes widened slightly, “Stay? Here?”

Michael nodded, searching her face for some sign of what she was feeling. She walked back down the stairs to look directly into his eyes. Her face still registered a questioning look and Michael heard his heart pound thickly in his ears as she whispered, “Really?”

He nodded and her face broke into a gigantic grin as she launched herself off of the stairs into his arms. He staggered backwards as she threw her legs around his waist and pulled his face to hers. He turned around with her in his arms, resting her back against the wall while he explored the depths of her mouth. Her voice was husky as she slid to her feet and whispered, “Come here.” She dragged him up the stairs behind her and entered her room. She pulled him directly into the bathroom where she lit a candle from her earlier bath and turned back to face him. Her face was lit softly by the single flame and for a moment he was paralysed by the sheer beauty of her standing there.

He moved towards her, pulling her onto his lap as he sat on the covered toilet. It was most definitely a makeshift romantic setting, but for the two longing-to-be lovers, it was just right. She separated their heated bodies long enough to light tealights in every corner of the room, creating an atmosphere of ultimate romance where there used to be none.

That night Michael made love to Liz for the first time. After it ended, they lay there for an hour, content to just lay in each other's arms. Liz Parker had just lost her virginity on a bathroom floor... and it was perfect.

posted on 17-Oct-2002 2:42:15 PM
That's cool - I started out Candy and still write it but a friend turned me on to Polar and I just loved it. I'm planning a sequel to this one soon, this is actually already finished so maybe by the time I get it all posted I'll have a beginning for the next story - hopefully!

Sherry
posted on 21-Oct-2002 10:01:40 AM
Hey everyone,

Thanks for being so patient with me while I update this. And Anya, no worries, I knew you'd be back eventually. I hope I don't trouble your polar heart too much with this part!

Sherry


Part 17

Michael did stay in New York with Liz – getting a transfer to the MetaChem, New York branch as a shift supervisor for the day security team. The new hours allowed him lots of time to spend with Liz, when she wasn't studying of course. More often that not she spent her evenings in the lab or library and showed up at his apartment around 11.

He was sharing a three-bedroom apartment with two of the guys he worked with and their girlfriends. It was a bit crowded, but five people made the $2500 a month rent manageable.

Their now functional relationship progressed smoothly until Thanksgiving. Liz's parents had taken a two-week vacation and driven out to see her at the end of October so she was free to spend the normally family-oriented weekend cuddled in bed with Michael. His roommates were gone for the holiday and after three days of solitary satisfaction, he was ready to push their relationship in a new direction.

He wasn't sure how to say the words when she entered the bedroom with a towel wrapped around her, fresh from a shower.

"Hey handsome," she said when she saw him staring at her.

"Wanna move in together," he blurted.

Liz was rubbing lotion on her arms and stopped abruptly with a huge dollop resting on her bicep. She stared at him, at first thinking that she hadn't heard him correctly, then realizing that the look on his face was full of questions as he waited for a response.

"Are you serious?" she whispered.

Michael knew he had exactly five seconds to convince her that this wasn't a crazy idea before her logical brain kicked in and generated a million reasons why it was.

He stood up from the bed, the blankets falling away to reveal a nakedness that neither of them noticed. He stepped toward her, his hand spreading the lotion across her arm as he gripped her. He looked directly into her eyes as he said, "I've never been more serious about anything. I want to be with you. It doesn’t have to be just us – we can get roommates to help with the rent, and to help get your parents to agree."

Both of them smiled at the thought of the objections Jeff Parker would come up with. His face turned solemn again as he continued. "I love you," he said simply, hoping it would be enough to make up her mind.

"I love you too," she said, leaning forward to kiss him.

"Is that a yes?"

She giggled as she kissed him again. "Yes," she murmured between parted lips.

Michael picked her up and swung her around in a circle. The dollop of lotion now spread all over her upper body and throughout his hair as he hugged her to him.

Breathless from kissing, Liz gasped as she pulled away from him asking, "Can we really do this?"

"Why not?" he shrugged. "We'll get a couple of people, find a place around $2000. It'll be great."

"Oh, I gotta call Sam," Liz exclaimed suddenly.

"Why, you think she'll mind?"

"Mind?" Liz asked. "She'll want the other room!"

She stepped up on her toes to kiss him and hurried to the kitchen to call her roommate – the parents would have to wait until she prepared her arguments.

After she left, Michael sat on the bed with a satisfied smile on his face. He was still sitting there five minutes later when Liz came back in the room.

"She's totally up for it," she said before starting to laugh. She moved closer to Michael, seductively reaching to touch him as she mumbled, "I see somebody else is 'up for it' too." She laughed as Michael's cheeks turned red and he pulled her squealing onto the bed.

~~~~~

On December 19th they moved into their new apartment. Liz was flying back to Roswell for Christmas break the next day with Michael joining her on Christmas Eve. They had rented a two-bedroom apartment near campus with Sam and another girl from Liz's Biology class, Karen. The students who had lived there before them had moved out yesterday and the landlord had said they could move in early as long as they promised to clean the place themselves.

Michael left the girls to that task and busied himself carrying the numerous boxes that his former roommates had helped deliver that morning to Sam and Karen's room. After the twentieth box with Sam's name on it was stowed away, his back ached and he grumbled loudly, "You sure you didn't forget anything Samantha." He knew how much she hated the extended version of her name and waited for her response from the kitchen.

Hearing nothing, he went to see what the girls were up to. He opened the kitchen door slowly and fear gripped his heart at the sight that greeted him. The walls were splattered with sticky drops and he pushed the door open further, his breathing coming to an abrupt stop as he saw the girls on the floor covered in the same substance. He walked with unsure steps towards their still bodies. How did this happen? Who could be sick enough to do something like this? Reaching Liz's unmoving face he turned his head away, unable to look at her.

His voice raggedly asked, "Why are the walls pink?"

Liz, Sam, and Karen collapsed into giggles at Michael's reaction. Liz reached out with the paintbrush held in her hand and dabbed him with a bright pink streak on his nose. He glared at her angrily for a minute before his face cracked and he picked her up to swing her around in his arms. Liz threw her hand backwards and took in the spinning kitchen as she twirled in Michael's arms.

The same thought flew through their heads at the exact moment, that their relationship couldn't be more perfect. They were about to find out how wrong they were.
posted on 25-Oct-2002 1:16:07 PM
Part 18

Liz spent the first few days of her Christmas vacation rediscovering all the reasons why she moved to New York. Granted it was nice to be home again but the slow pace of Roswell was only relaxing for a few days and by Christmas Eve she was bursting with excitement at Michael's arrival.

Isabel and Jesse picked her up at 11 to drive to the airport. Michael was spending the holidays with them, at Isabel's insistence. The two girls chatted excitedly in the car, both looking forward to seeing Michael in less than an hour.

When they walked into the airport, Liz checked the arrivals screen to verify that Michael's flight was on time. Gate 18 was straight ahead and she pointed Isabel in that direction. They were just approaching the waiting area when Liz heard a voice that could only be compared to fingernails scratching across a chalkboard.

"Lizzie!"

She turned to see Amy Deluca standing nearby, her arms spread wide open. She allowed herself to be enveloped in a hug, mumbling, "Hey Ms. Deluca," as Amy's jacket smothered her face.

"Liz," she exclaimed, holding the smaller girl at arm's length to examine her. "Gosh, you look great. How's New York? How's school? Do you like it? Are you glad to be home?"

Liz opened her mouth to try and respond to at least one of the questions when Amy continued. "I'm so glad you came to see Maria. Did she call you?"

Liz was thankful that her mouth was already open to speak, giving her an excuse as it continued to gape. "M…M… Maria?" she stuttered.

"Yeah, she arrives in like 15 minutes," Amy said. "Isn't that why you're here?"

Liz tried to steady herself, she closed her eyes and reached out to hold a nearby post as she processed what Amy had said. Maria was arriving in 15 minutes, only five minutes before Michael's flight. She opened her eyes to stare at Amy again, her brain unable to sort through the jumble of emotions clouding it.

Luckily, Isabel and Jesse were standing nearby and had overheard the entire conversation. Isabel didn't know whether Liz had told Maria about her and Michael yet, but according to her reaction it was obvious she hadn't.

Isabel stepped up to answer Amy's question, "Hi Ms. Deluca. Actually we're here to pick up Michael. He gets in just after Maria apparently." Isabel smiled sweetly at Amy, covering up for any awkwardness projected by Liz.

Amy turned her attention to Isabel and Jesse while Liz stood numbly to one side for the next 15 minutes. She stared at the doors where Maria was about to exit, trying to prepare herself for seeing the best friend she hadn't even spoken to in 13 months. When the doors swung open and passengers started emerging, she scanned the crowd quickly, trying to find Maria's familiar dark blonde curls.

Suddenly a girl was in Amy's arms and Liz realized with a start that she hadn't recognized Maria at all. She wore stiletto black leather boots that looked like they cost more than Liz's entire wardrobe. Her skirt was leather as well, black and tight to enhance every curve in her even more shapely body. The sophistication of the lower half of her outfit contrasted sharply with the top in classic Maria fashion. She wore a red mini-T with "Rock Chick" plastered across the front in rhinestones. At least Liz thought they were rhinestones. The idea that Maria was wearing diamonds on her breasts was too over-the-top to even entertain. Her hair was a platinum blonde and cut in short, edgy layers that ended just at her jaw line.

She hugged her mother, tears brushing her eyelids as they embraced. Then she looked up to see Liz standing there and her eyes opened up like a damn. She ran into the brunette's arms, not noticing the lack of all emotion on her best friend's face, as Liz robotically returned the gesture.

"Ahh, I can't believe you came to see me," Maria squealed.

Liz struggled to speak, unsure of what words she could possibly say to the stranger in her arms, when she was mercifully saved by Isabel. "Actually, we’re here to pick up Michael, we just met up with your Mom here."

"Where was he?" Maria asked.

"Oh, um," Isabel stammered. She was saved for the moment as Maria turned to answer one of the endless questions pouring out of Amy's mouth. Liz shakily accepted Isabel's hand and squeezed it tightly. She couldn't tell Maria now, not here. Gratefully, she didn't have to worry about it since Amy kept Maria fully occupied during the five minutes it took for Michael to arrive.

Liz saw him emerge through the doors and head toward the group, his eyes trained only on her. She felt sick to her stomach as she saw the intense happiness on his face and wondered how he would react when he saw Maria again. Thankfully Isabel was totally in control of the situation and intercepted the beeline Michael made for Liz. She hugged him tightly and he impatiently returned her embrace, staring at Liz as he tried to remove himself.

Isabel held him a moment longer, whispering, "Be cool."

Michael's brain hadn't yet processed what she had said as he again tried to cross the space separating him from Liz. Someone stepped into his line of sight and he thoughtlessly reached out his hand to push them aside. Instead of moving, the person took his hand and held it between both of hers.

"Hello Michael," the voice belonging to the hands said.

Michael froze in his place. His eyes were still locked on Liz as the voice filtered into his memories and evoked the strongest feeling of… indifference. Michael turned to look at his former girlfriend standing beside him and instantly knew that he couldn't have cared less that she was standing there.

He replied, "Hello Maria," with a sufficient lack of emotion in his voice and continued on his path to reach his girlfriend.

All eyes watched the pair as Michael gathered her in his arms and leaned down to kiss her lips. He was met by the cool smoothness of her cheek as she turned her face sideways. He jerked his head back in surprise, trying unsuccessfully to meet her eyes as she turned her gaze downward.

Isabel nudged Jesse forcibly and he stepped up to the couple, distracting Michael for a second as he removed the bag from his shoulder. "This all you got?" he asked.

"Uh, yeah," Michael responded, a confused look still marring his flawless features.

"Well, I've got LUGGAGE," Maria announced, bringing a forced laughed from Isabel as she tried to smooth out the situation, seeming, for the moment anyway, not to have noticed anything unusual about the interaction between her ex-boyfriend and her best friend.

"You ladies need any help?" Jesse politely asked.

"No, us chicks can handle it, right?" Amy replied.

Maria rolled her eyes at her mother's comment. She yelled, "Call me," to Liz as Amy led her away toward the luggage carousel.

Isabel grabbed Jesse's hand to lead him away from Michael and Liz saying, "We'll be in the car."

Liz turned to follow them but was stopped by Michael who gripped her arm tightly. His face was calm but his voice betrayed tones of concealed anger as he asked, "What was that?"

"What?" Liz squeaked defensively.

"That," he said, pointing to her cheek.

She shrugged her shoulders helplessly. "I just… Maria… and I…" she looked up at him, her eyes brimming with tears. Her bottom lip started to quiver as she mumbled, "I'm sorry."

Michael instantly felt all traces of irritation vanish and he moved to hug her again. Her body stiffened in his arms as she pushed him away saying, "Not here."

Confusion flashed in his eyes as she pulled his arm to lead him out of the airport. Once they were on the sidewalk, she turned to him, noticing that the look of misunderstanding was now replaced by annoyance.

"Michael," she said shakily. "I'm sorry, I just didn't want Maria to find out that way. I want to tell her myself first."

Once more, his face instantly lost all signs of anger and he leaned down to kiss her, this time receiving her full attention.

"Thank you," she whispered, leaning in to enjoy the welcome feel of his arms. This was going to be a great holiday, she thought. She was going to make sure of it.
posted on 25-Oct-2002 7:08:23 PM
Aw - but I HAD to bring Maria back into it - she played a major factor in them almost not getting together in the first place (well the fear of her did anyway).

So what do you think? Would your boyfriend's first love cause trouble for you in this situation??? I think you know what's going to happen!!!

Hee, hee - are you frustrated with me yet???

I'll be back next week!

Sherry
posted on 28-Oct-2002 1:48:10 PM
Hey there,

Sorry to see you aren't liking Maria *happy* Doesn't suprise me from a bunch of polar fans! This part might get a little rough - hang on!

Oh, and I just started writing a sequel for this fic. I'll start posting it when this one is done!

Sherry


Part 19

Liz brought Michael to her house to spend Christmas Eve with her parents. The Parkers were accepting of their daughter's relationship, although still a little hesitant about the idea of them living together. Recognizing that there wasn't much they could do about it, they had jointly decided to accept Michael as a part of their family and he squirmed uncomfortably on the couch as he listened to the endless stories of "Remember when…" and "Oh, when you were little…" that they told him about Liz.

It would have been a completely torturous experience had it not been for the blush blossoming on Liz's cheeks, a brighter red with each new story. Michael decided right then and there that paying attention to childhood stories about her would give him tons of ammunition to tease her with once they settled into their new life together. A smile settled on his face and he relaxed a few degrees, settling into the couch beside her.

Finally, mercifully, Jeff and Nancy called it a night and left Liz to see Michael to the door. As soon as their bedroom door closed, she was on top of him, drinking in the kisses that were denied her all day. He readily accepted her, pulling her tiny body closer to his own. She moaned softly against his lips, hungrily ripping at them with her teeth to allow her access. Heat was radiating off of their bodies, fueling the intensity of their already overworked emotions.

She pulled away from him long enough to whisper, "They're gonna know."

"No," he mumbled back. "We're being quiet."

"That's the problem, we're too quiet." She sat back on his knees, pushing her hands against his chest to hold him away from her. "No," she said breathlessly, shaking her head at his efforts to grasp her face again. "No, you have to go."

She stood up, pulling on his hand gently. She led him to the door, kissing him one last time as she pushed him outside. He playfully lingered his hand on her sleeve, but she shot him a look that said she was serious and firmly closed the door behind him. She walked upstairs to her bedroom, leaning against the door as thoughts of their most recent make-out session played in her mind. Granted it was a little short, but having been away from her lover for almost five days, left her longing for even the slightest contact.

She heard the light tapping on her window and looked up, already smiling before she saw the source of the noise. She walked slowly towards the window, teasing the boy on the other side of it by slowly pulling her shirt off over her head as she did. She slipped her skirt to her ankles just as she reached the window, opening it to let a cool burst of air pierce her skin as Michael crawled through.

He was completely enrapt with her appearance and wasted no time in stripping his shirt off before grabbing her to him. She wrestled with his jeans, pushing him onto the bed before tugging them from his legs. She climbed on top of him, slowly allowing her hair to trail against his skin as she raised herself along his length. He couldn't stand it for one more second as she reached his lips and he rose up to meet hers.

They say that absence makes the heart grow stronger. Well they forgot to mention the effect it has on passion. In the early hours of Christmas morning, Michael and Liz rediscovered why living together wasn't just a convenience for them, it was a necessity. She finally ushered him out of her room a few hours before her parents woke up. This time he left for good and she lay down to get a little sleep before the excitement of Christmas Day fell upon her. As she drifted off to sleep, the content smile on her face was replaced by a worrisome frown as thoughts of the task ahead of her crept into her mind. She had to tell Maria about her new relationship, and soon. Suddenly sleep was the furthest thing from her mind.

~~~~~

Liz spent Christmas Day with her family, escaping to Isabel's for an evening meal around 4:00. She walked into the Ramirez living room to be greeted by an exuberant Maria. Liz hugged her tightly as she sought out Michael's eyes. He caught her gaze from across the room and smiled at her. It took every ounce of energy he possessed not to stride across the space dividing them and kiss her in front of everyone, but he resisted.

To make matters worse, Max was there. He had flown in from L.A., returning to Roswell for the first time since he had driven away six months before. He hugged Liz politely and shook hands with Michael. It was weird to see him, to say the least, and Liz regretted that she hadn't yet told Maria so she could show Max that it didn't bother her that he was there. Isabel had explained the "Maria not yet knowing" situation to both Max and Kyle and so the topic of Liz and Michael was studiously avoided by all present.

They spent an uncomfortable hour making small talk between friends that had fallen hopelessly out of touch with each other. It seemed that the only safe topics were the same tired old stories of their childhood, and even those didn't often include the six of them.

Finally, Liz slipped into the kitchen for a drink and Michael saw his chance to catch a minute alone with her. He excused himself and crept up behind her, bringing a small yelp to her lips as he pressed his hand across her mouth. He turned her around in his arms to replace his hand with his lips. She lost herself in him for a moment before hurriedly pushing him away.

"Michael, no," she reminded him. "Not here, what if…"

"What if…" he mocked. "So, what?" he murmured, leaning in to steal another kiss from her lips.

Just then, the kitchen door opened and Maria entered. Liz hurriedly pushed Michael away from her, looking up just in time to see the look of confusion that crossed Maria's face.

"What…" she said, standing in front of the pair with a questioning look on her face.

"Uh… um…" Liz stammered.

"Did I interrupt something?" she asked, raising her eyebrows at the obvious absurdity of the situation. She laughed, "Yeah, right," she said, smiling at them.

Liz smiled weakly back at her, forcing a giggle from her suddenly constricted throat. Michael's face flushed red as he watched his girlfriend struggle to appease the feelings of her former best friend while he was cast aside.

"Michael was just, he was just…" she took a deep breath, willing her heart to return to a normal pace. "He was just tickling me," she explained finally, praying that Maria bought the story.

"What?" she asked. "Michael Guerin tickling someone! Not the Michael I used to know."

Michael's face was burning by now and he couldn’t stop himself from saying, "Well maybe I'm not the Michael you used to know anymore." He looked pointedly at Liz rather than Maria as he spoke, only infuriated further when she giggled to smooth out the uncomfortable situation.

Maria laughed, "Whatever," she said, reaching to grab the tray of food she had come for. "You coming?" she asked, turning towards the door.

"In a minute," Michael replied before Liz could answer. As Maria left, he stopped Liz from following her and twisted her around to face him. "That's it. We are telling her now." His voice left no room for argument and Liz squirmed in his grasp as she faced the reality of his words.

"Michael, no," she pleaded softly.

Michael set his mouth firmly and released the grip he had on her. Words he wouldn't dare speak formed on his lips and he swallowed them. Turning from her he said softly, "Tell her tonight, or I will."

He reached for his jacket and walked towards the back door. Liz twisted around to see him leaving, "Wait, what about the others? What about dinner?"

"I lost my appetite," he said, stepping outside and shutting the door behind him.

Liz took a full five minutes to compose herself before she was able to face her friends in the other room. She made an excuse for Michael and sat numbly through the rest of the evening, his ultimatum weighing heavily on her mind.

~~~~~

Liz waited for Michael impatiently in her bedroom as the clock crept towards midnight. Finally she heard a creak as he stepped over the ladder onto her balcony and she climbed outside to meet him. He stood at a distance from her, watching her actions as she pulled her jacket closer around her body. She approached him, reaching out with his arms to hug him as she neared his trembling body. He stiffened at her touch, telling her plainly without words that he wasn't prepared for things to be back to normal just yet. She stepped back from him ashamedly, lowering her head as she prepared for his questions.

"Did you tell her?" he asked.

"Michael," she said quietly, avoiding his gaze.

He cursed under his breath, his jaw forcibly locked into a pissed off expression. "Liz…"

Her eyes pleaded with his to understand as she explained, "Michael, I just couldn’t, I…"

"God damn it!" he swore, turning toward the ladder again.

"Michael wait," Liz called after him.

He turned from where he stood, one hand already resting on the railing. Her one chance to explain hung in the air between them.

"I… I…" she started, her throat suddenly drier than the Sahara. "I don't think we should tell her."

"What!" he exploded.

"Michael please," she begged. "Just listen to me. I… I think we should just try and get through this week and then we can go back to New York and live our life. Let things get back to normal."

Michael's mouth hung open, stunned by the absurdity of Liz's suggestion. His voice was quiet as he asked, "Normal? You want things to just get back to normal?"

"Yes, more than anything," she admitted, relieved that he hadn't yelled at her.

Michael bit his lip painfully, struggling to keep his emotions from pouring over the forced damn he hid them behind. Finally he asked her, "Are you ashamed of me?"

"What?" Liz looked up, confusion evident on her face. "What? Ashamed? No, of course not. What would you say that?"

Michael shrugged, "Well it's obvious you aren't going to tell her, so I can only imagine why."

"Michael, I am not ashamed of you. I just don't want to hurt her feelings."

"Hurt her feelings," he repeated. He paused, trying unsuccessfully to quiet his voice before roaring, "What about my feelings?"

Liz took a step backwards at the sound of fury in Michael's voice. She had never seen him this angry before. Well, maybe once before… that thought sent her mind places she never dared to allow it and she hurriedly tried to come up with some words, any words, to calm him.

He wasn't finished venting his anger yet, and she stood quietly in front of him, absorbing the assault he threw at her. "Do you have any idea how sick and tired I am of having to give up my happiness for Maria? When we were together, even before we were together, she always had to have things her way, and I let her. I did whatever I could to make that girl happy, I bent over backwards for her, and she dumped me. Thankfully, it turns out, but that's not the point," he vented. An idea crossed his brain and he continued, "Sure, what about when we were first trying to get together? I did it then too, turned off my feelings so she wouldn’t get hurt. I swear to God, I am not going to waste one more ounce of my energy on Maria Deluca."

Michael stopped, breathing heavily from the effort of expelling emotions he rarely called upon. He shook his head, turning from her again and quickly climbing down the ladder. He heard Liz's pleas for him to "Wait" and "Come back" but he dropped off the bottom rung and ran into the darkness. The tears coursing down his cheeks reason enough to not allow her to see him. In his limited experience with relationships, he was sure that this fight was big enough to end theirs. That idea was what made his next decision so easy.
posted on 31-Oct-2002 6:33:06 AM
Hey everyone,

Wow, more and more people are reading this all the time!!! It's almost over though :( only one more part after this but I've already got two parts written of the sequel, good?

It's called Don't Go and I'll post when this one's done!

Sherry

Part 20

Michael walked away from Liz's knowing there was only one destination he could direct himself to. In his mind, he had probably already lost the love if his life, now there was only one thing left to do about it – make sure that her life didn't get any more difficult because of him.

He walked up to the darkened house, rounding the corner to see light still streaming from one window. A disturbing sense of déjà vu overtook him and he shuddered at the thought that not too long ago he might have been coming here for an entirely different reason.

Michael knocked on Maria's bedroom window and she turned to see him standing there. Instantly, her mind filled with a similar déjà vu, flooding her senses with happy memories in direct opposition to Michael's disturbed ones, and she tingled excitedly at the sight of him. She had hoped that he would come. Over the past year he had entered her thoughts often. She had always regretted the way they had left things – breaking up but never really moving on. They had even slept together the night before she left.

She invited him into her room now, as she had so many times before, hot with the anticipation of his hands traveling over her body. She'd had two others since him but none could rival the raw passion they shared. Plus there were the flashes, her favorite part… well second favorite.

Maria surreptitiously glanced in the mirror, tucking her hair cleanly behind her ear. She straightened the tank top and shorts she was wearing, cursing silently at the lack of make-up on her face. She turned to face him, anxious to hear what he had to say, what excuse he would come up with for coming to see her.

She looked at his face and her smile vanished. At the sight of him standing there, a hard knot formed in her stomach. Something was wrong – the look in his eyes betrayed dismay deeper than any ocean she had crossed in her travels. She dropped all ideas of a romantic interlude and moved across the room toward him. She pulled him gently forward, pushing him down to sit on the bed. She turned to sit beside him but then thought against it. Even though she knew that what he needed most right now was a friend, she also knew that her emotions had a mind of their own. She pulled a chair close and sat down across from him.

Shaking her head to cleanse it of the impure thoughts settling there, she reached out to touch his hand. "What is it?" she asked softly.

"Liz," came the reply.

"Liz?" she repeated, panic evident in her voice. "Did something happen?"

"No," Michael shook his head to quell her fear. "Nothing happened to Liz. It's… it's me and Liz."

"What?" she responded, completely drawing a blank as to what he was referring.

Michael took a deep breath, "Maria, I've got to tell you something. And I want you to just listen to me and not say anything until I'm finished, can you do that?"

She nodded mutely.

"Liz and I are a couple."

Her brain began to immediately process the words. Michael's voice droned on monotonously, broken only by dramatic gestures with his hands as emotion welled up inside of him. She stared at him through blind eyes, listening to him with deaf ears. 'Liz and I are a couple', she repeated the phrase to herself like a mantra. What did that mean? That they kissed, that they had feelings for each other? Surely it didn't mean, couldn't mean, that that were… a couple. Maria knew that the words he spoke were true and as the realization set in she slowly tuned in to what he was saying.

"So, we fought, and I knew someone had to tell you… so here I am."

She stared at him silently for minutes. Finally he said, "Okay, your turn," prodding her for some reaction, anything.

"So, how long?" she finally mumbled.

He squinted his eyes at her, "Six months… were you listening?"

"Yes, of course, I…" Maria stood up and paced to her bedroom door and back again. She repeated the process, stopping near her bookshelf to fumble frantically through her array of aromatherapy bottles until she found the necessary potion. She opened it and inhaled deeply, stopping to pour a few drops onto her tongue, before sniffing again.

"And how did this start?"

"Maria," Michael sighed, exasperated with her. "I just finished telling you all if this. Did you hear even one word I said?"

"A couple," she said under her breath, repeating the cursed phrase to herself one more time. "Look, this is just a little… weird, okay."

"Tell me about it," he replied.

She stopped pacing and turned to look at him, the sadness that was evident on his face earlier, was back now and, if possible, was even deeper. "Why now? Why come here tonight and tell me this now?"

Michael shrugged, "You deserved to know. We should have told you a long time ago; Liz just kept putting it off. I don't know why."

"I do."

"You do?" he asked, his face registering surprise as his brain screamed for her to let him in on the secret.

"Of course. She's afraid of what I'll say to her, what I'll do. She's scared that I won't want to be friends anymore."

"Do you?"

Maria let that question go unanswered. She turned her back to Michael and blinked back the tears that threatened to crumble the porcelain doll façade she so delicately wore. It seemed like she was never being entirely truthful these days. In front of her fans, in front of record execs, Maria Deluca was an image that they had crafted and that she was somehow expected to portray. Even now, at home, in front of the boy who had probably known the most about her life to this point, she had to pretend… again.

She turned around, a small smile gracing her features. "Look, I've just got one question for you," she paused. "Are you happy?"

"Yes, I am," Michael stumbled over his words, correcting himself to say, "or I was."

She approached him slowly. "You are," she assured him, pressing his hand between her own. "And so is Liz, I could tell, she seemed… freer, more relaxed than she's been over the past couple of years." Maria pondered that statement for a moment, "Which is weird considering she must have been freaking about telling me." She looked at Michael thoughtfully, "She must love you very much."

For all of her efforts, she couldn't hide the catch in her voice as she spoke, and Michael looked up to see a glint of tears in her eyes. He stood then, wishing for all the world that she didn't have to hurt over this. He didn't love her, not like he once thought he did, but she had been a good friend to him when he had needed one and that stood for something.

"Thank you," he whispered, leaning in to hug her quickly, before turning and exiting through her window. He disappeared into the darkness and Maria stared after him as her façade crumbled and her world fell apart.

That night, Liz and Maria spent an equal number of hours in tears. Liz for the love she thought she had lost, and Maria for the love she would never have again.

~~~~~

The next morning Liz woke up with her heart heavy with dread. She had made the decision to tell Maria the truth at about 3 am and had been half way out the door when she realized that Maria was probably sleeping and gone back to bed. She had tossed and turned for hours until finally settling into a restless sleep. Now, she got up and walked to the bathroom, noticing how heavy her eyes looked in the mirror. She bent over to splash some water on her face and when she stood, saw that the tired lines had been vaporized by her "magical" hands.

"F⊕%k," she cried, balling her hands into fists and pressing them to her eyes. She didn't want her powers to erase any of the pain she suffered on this day; she felt as though she deserved every ounce of it. She removed her hands, satisfied to see that the dark rims were present again - gray circles of anguish highlighting the torturous emotion in her eyes.

She checked her watch to see that it was 11:00, late enough that she could go see Maria now. Her stomach lurched at the thought and she collapsed to the bathroom floor, purging her system of the previous day's nourishment in retched gags. She lowered her body closer to the floor, resting her face on the cool tiles. She closed her eyes and ran through the words she would use to break her news to Maria. As she discarded various options she had no idea that it didn't matter one iota what words she settled on.

Across town, Maria was already awake and replaying the words Michael had spoken to her the night before. Her own eyes resembled the tortured pain of Liz's, although she was powerless to change them in any way. She was slowly coming to terms with the idea of Liz and Michael as a couple. Actually, she was having a harder time dealing with the fact that she had been so colossally stupid as to actually think that Michael might still be available to her. After all the shit she had made him wade through, and then to turn around and treat him like she did – she knew that she had never deserved his attention, let alone now after all she had put him through.

She rolled over, groaning, standing up to stare at her reflection in the mirror. It was even worse than she had expected and her vanity just wouldn't let her not get a shower. She was just getting out when she heard the doorbell ringing. When it rang the second time she called out to her Mom but received no answer. Wrapping her robe around her wet body, she ran into the kitchen to fling open the door.

Liz stood in the chilly winter air, her face revealing a misery deeper than the despair Michael's had displayed. Maria stood still for a moment, staring at the girl in front of her. She suddenly felt as if she were looking at a total stranger, like the girl in front of her wasn't even related to the Elizabeth Parker that Maria had known for so long.

Her manners kicked in with a jolt and she stepped aside, holding the door open for Liz to pass. The brunette did just that, moving inside just far enough to allow Maria room to close it. There was a time, not too long ago, when she wouldn't even had bothered to ring the doorbell, but now she felt like an intruder in the Deluca home.

Maria motioned Liz into the kitchen and followed behind her. Her stomach flipped as she anticipated why Liz was here to see her so early. She busied herself with making coffee, trying to keep her face turned away from the other girl as long as possible.

"So, what's up?" Maria asked, noting that her voice sounded fake even to her.

"Not much," Liz's voice cracked as she spoke and she coughed to cover it up.

Maria turned around to look at her friend, choosing to lean against the counter rather than attempt to walk across the kitchen. "You look tired," she offered.

"Didn't sleep," Liz mumbled. She took a deep breath and Maria braced herself for what she was about to hear.

"I have to tell you something," Liz whispered.

Maria strained to catch the words, chewing on her bottom lip as Liz told her story. She was listening to the tale of how Liz had battled with her emotions over breaking up with Max when her own emotions overwhelmed her and she blurted out, "Enough okay? I already know."

Liz looked up from where her eyes had been transfixed on a spot on the floor. She stared at Maria with wide eyes, wondering what she could possibly think that she knew. There was no way she could know, Isabel wouldn’t have told her. Or Max. Only… no, he wouldn’t have told her, there was no way.

"Know what?" Liz squeaked.

Maria's face crumbled as tears began to pour from her eyes, her body shook as she explained, "Michael came to see me last night." She stared at her former best friend, and knew that she could never not be friends with her, not over something as trivial as a high school sweetheart. "Lizzie," Maria moaned, sobs wracking her body violently. "I can't… I can't…" she gasped.

Liz stood up and crossed the distance between them. She reached out tentatively to pull Maria into a hug, her own petite frame shaking as she matched Maria tear for tear. The two of them clung to each other like a raft in a storm, each overcome with the power of the emotions coursing through their bodies.

Finally Maria pulled away a little, wiping her eyes as she stared into Liz's. "I could never not be your friend, you know that, right?"

"Ria, I never meant for this to hurt you. I just…"

"Shh," Maria said. "You didn't hurt me. I hurt myself. I should have let Michael go a long time ago. I think I only held onto this idea of us being together because I was so far away from all of you and it was just easier to imagine that I had someone waiting for me here. I don't think we ever would have made it work for real, it was just a comfortable thought."

"I tried not to fall in love with him. I really did."

"I know, he told me."

"He did?" Liz asked, smiling at the thought of Michael relaying that story.

"Yeah, apparently your grad speech was something else," she said smiling.

Liz laughed, "Well you were in it too."

"I'd like to hear it sometime."

"I'd like that too."

Maria pushed herself further away from Liz's arms, "Coffee?"

"No, I better… I should…"

Maria nodded. "Go find him."

Liz turned and walked toward the door, turning she spoke again, "Thanks, for just… thanks."

Maria smiled through the lingering tears on her face as Liz closed the door behind her. "And when you get him, never let him go," she whispered.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Nov-2002 5:03:39 PM ]
posted on 4-Nov-2002 10:52:30 AM
Okay - here's the last part and the sequel is already posted, Don't Go. Hope you liked it!

Part 21

Michael was in the spare room at Isabel's, packing his bag haphazardly. He threw his cologne in on top of a shirt, cursing as it spilled out immediately. He picked up both items and tossed them in the garbage can, cursing even louder as he did so.

"Remind me not to do whatever they did," came a voice from the doorway.

"Jesus!" he yelped, unaware that anyone else was there. He turned around rapidly, his body twitching from the adrenaline running through his veins.

"What's up?" Max asked.

"Packing."

"I can see that. Why?"

"Cause I'm leaving," Michael said plainly, shaking his head at the stupid question.

"I can see that too, but why?'

Michael glared at the boy he was once so eager to call his brother. "Why are you here?"

Max raised his eyebrows thoughtfully. "I came to see you actually, thought we could catch up."

"Well you sort of caught me at a bad time Maxwell. Maybe later." Michael pushed past Max and walked into the kitchen. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and downed half of it in two mouthfuls.

Max followed him, taking a seat at the kitchen table. "So, you wanna talk about it?"

"No."

He stared at Michael thoughtfully. It was obvious that something big was troubling him. He wasn't stupid – he knew that it could only be about one thing. "It's Liz."

It was a statement rather than a question and Michael looked up in surprise at the lack of emotion with which Max spoke.

"It is, isn't it?" Max asked.

"Look," Michael sighed. "You are the last person I want to talk about my relationship with – for obvious reasons."

"Michael," Max paused, searching for the right words to say to someone he had barely spoken to in half a year. "For a long time after I found out about you two I was totally freaked. I mean, it was just wrong to think about Liz being with you, hell, I couldn’t think about Liz being with anyone, let alone my best friend."

Michael listened impatiently, wondering why Max had chosen this particular moment to have a heart-to-heart.

"But, after a while I kinda got used to the idea. Cheryl helped."

"What?" Michael looked up again. "Who's Cheryl?"

Max blushed, "She's a friend." Holding up his hand to stop Michael's teasing, he continued, "Just a friend… for now. Maybe…"

The two boys stared at each other for a moment. Finally Max finished, "What I mean, is that I'm okay with the idea of you and Liz as a couple. Not great, but okay, and if you want to talk…"

"Thanks," Michael said, appreciating how difficult it had to be for Max to see Liz and him together. "But I still don't want to talk about it."

Max laughed a little, "You haven't changed a bit have you. All right, if you won't tell me, I'll guess. Maria doesn’t know about you two, you want to tell her, Liz doesn't, you had a fight. Close?"

"Close. Maria didn't know, I wanted to tell her, Liz didn't, we fought, and I told Maria last night."

"Oh. And how did that go?"

Michael glared at the other boy.

"Right," Max responded. "Okay then, so what's the problem?"

"The problem is that Liz wouldn’t tell her. I gave her so many chances to tell her, I practically begged her and still…" Michael chewed on his lower lip as he paced the kitchen. "It's not that Maria didn't know, it's just that she wouldn't tell her. She was putting Maria's feelings ahead of both of ours, and it was just…"

Michael sat down heavily at the table, burying his head in his hands. "Ahh," he groaned. "I just don't get why she wouldn't tell her. We told you and nothing happened."

"Well, you didn't tell me, I figured it out, and if you call moving two states away nothing then, yeah sure."

Michael smiled stupidly as Max revealed the truth of the situation. Of course Max had been hurt when he found out, just because he hadn't stuck around to let them see the extent of it, didn't mean that it wasn't bad. "But still," he objected. "Maria's been out of her life for like a year. She shouldn't be placing her first."

"Michael," Max urged. "Listen to me for a second okay? Maria is like Liz's sister. She means as much to Liz as Isabel and I do to you – family. She doesn't want to hurt her feelings sure, but more than that, she's probably afraid of being judged. What if Maria gets mad at her? Liz is just afraid that she's going to lose her best friend."

"What best friend? They don't even talk on the phone anymore."

"Michael, you and I haven't spoken in six months, do you still consider me a friend?"

"Well, yeah but…"

"Well, yeah but… Liz probably feels the same way about Maria. She has this idealized memory of their friendship locked away somewhere and she worried that she's going to completely destroy it. That's probably not something she's looking forward to."

Michael's mind mulled over the theorem that Max had just laid out for him. After a few minutes he spoke, "So, what do I do?"

"Talk to her. Tell her how you feel. Tell her some of the stuff I said, if you want. Don't give up on her, man," Max paused for a moment, "It's obvious that you love her."

Michael looked at the guy sitting across from him and realized that for all his faults, Max was his brother. And he cared about him. His advice was solid, now all Michael had to do was act on it.

Before he had a chance to even say 'Thanks' the doorbell rang and Max got up to answer it. He opened the door to reveal Liz standing there. Her voice caught in her throat when she saw him and she took a small step backwards.

Max smiled genuinely at her, "Michael's in the kitchen," he said, stepping past her to walk down the hallway.

Liz watched him leave, wondering how he was able to handle himself with such grace in front of her. She stepped into the apartment, closing the door behind her.

In the kitchen, Michael heard the door shut and called out, "Who was it?"

Liz followed his voice, appearing in the kitchen doorway to the surprised look on his face. "Hi," she said quietly.

"Hey," Michael responded.

She moved to sit down in the chair Max had vacated. She stared at her hands for a minute before venturing to speak, "Can we talk?"

"Shoot," he replied.

"Michael," she said slowly, a single tear escaping from her eye despite her best efforts to stop it. "I went to talk to Maria."

"You did?" he asked with surprise.

Liz nodded. "She… she told me that you went there."

Michael fiddled with the cap of his water bottle, focusing on it intently so that he wouldn't have to look at the pain written on her face.

"I… I'm sorry," she gushed. "You were right, I should have told her, a long time ago. I was… it was just stupid not to."

"Yeah, it was," he replied, not willing to let her off the hook for this yet. "So, what did she say?"

"Well, I didn't actually get to tell her. She stopped me before… she said she wasn't mad," Liz offered.

"I know," he said. "What I still don't know is why you were so concerned about hurting her feelings?"

"I didn't want to hurt her feelings, sure, but that's not the only reason I didn't want to tell her."

"Well what else then?"

"I was afraid that she would try to take you away from me."

Michael felt as if he had been punched in the stomach, "What?" he whispered.

Liz cringed at the look that crossed his face, "I know, it's stupid right? Well I can't help that Michael. Sometimes I feel like what we have is so good, and it's just too good, and something's going to happen to just… blow it all away."

Michael was quiet for a long moment. Finally he asked, "Don't you trust me?"

"Of course I do. It's Maria I don't trust. She's my best friend, but I know that if she wants something badly enough she will stop at nothing to get it. I was afraid that even if you didn't go back to her, it would be enough to destroy what we had. And I couldn't live with that."

"So, you almost destroyed it yourself."

Liz winced at the truthfulness of his words, "I guess so," she moaned. She was unable to stem her tears any longer and they fell freely down her face now. She stood up, her pride not allowing her to lose it completely in front of him again. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she sobbed. "I… I don't have any more words. I just love you, and I want to be with you. And I hate myself for ever jeopardizing what we have… what we had."

She turned and ran through the small apartment to the front door. His reflexes were at the ready and he caught up with her before she even got half way. "Wait," he said, whipping her around by her arm.

She buried her face in her hands, unable to even look at him now. "I… I don't…" he tried to say. He couldn't speak for fear that he would lose control of his own emotions. He led her around the side of the couch, sitting her down and taking a seat beside her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder protectively, a familiar warmth surging through his body as she leaned into him.

Michael thought about the words she had just spoken to him. He hadn't guessed that she was that insecure about their relationship. He thought that he was the only one with insecurities. The whole reason this had even been such a big issue was that he had been interpreting her actions as excuses for something else, something bigger. At least once a day he questioned what a girl like Elizabeth Parker was doing with a guy like him. He had nothing to offer her except his undying love, and too often he worried that it wouldn't be enough.

He pressed his face into her hair, smelling the familiar smell that he woke up to on his pillow every morning and smiled. He wasn't sure yet what words he could say to her to mend the tears in the fabric of their relationship, but as far as he was concerned it was already behind them. He wanted her, more than he had ever wanted anything in his entire life, and he knew deep in his heart that she wanted him too. So what if she had a few doubts – he had his share of them too. They'd have to get some things out in the open, but sitting there, in that moment, there wasn't anything in the world that could have caused Michael to let his love out of his arms.

The words would come eventually, followed by the healing. For now he was content to just sit there, holding her.

The End

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 4-Nov-2002 10:53:23 AM ]