fd13b1d0

Title: Now or Never
Author: megan
Email: megjule2003⊕aol.com
Disclaimer: I. own. NOTHING. everything belongs to twentieth century fox, jason katims, melinda metz, etc.
Rating: not exactly sure yet. so far its pretty mild. ill warn you if it changes.
Summary: hmm. nope.
Authors Note: thanks to nikki, who was a darling for doing beta. thanks to elena for the beautiful banner! FB would be appreiciated. *...* denotes a thought. //...// denotes a journal entry and the long passages between the ***'s are flashbacks. thanks all! ok on with the show.
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Chapter 1

//May 24. Journal entry one. I’m Liz Parker and…//

*And what Liz? What are you even doing?*

I put down my pen and look at the blank page. I’m still not sure what made me buy the journal when I was at the store. I had been getting more and more anxious about what’s coming up and couldn’t find an outlet for what I was feeling. I remembered how writing in my journal when I was younger used to make me feel. Free. Freedom is something I haven’t experienced in a long time. But when I saw the plain, brown journal, so similar to my old one, lying on the shelf I thought that maybe I could achieve that same freedom once more. I look at the page again and wonder exactly how to get what’s in my head down on paper. I guess I lost my touch after going so long ignoring my feelings.

*This is stupid. Childish. It’s not going to help Liz. Nothing is.*

I pick up the pen, and doing my best to ignore the voice in my head, I try to find the freedom.

//…I’m Liz Parker and I’m trying to ease the pain. I know I haven’t written in a while. A very long while. In fact it’s been almost ten years now. I thought the pain had gone away, at least far enough away that I could get through the day without breaking down. Well, at least until I was alone. I take that back, the days aren’t so hard actually. I mean, at first they were, that’s expected, but the days are nothing compared to the nights.//

He used to come see me at night. We would just sit out on my balcony and talk, sometimes until the sun came up. One night he had just been out walking and I, like I usually did when I couldn’t sleep, was sitting outside, writing in my journal. It was about 2 am and he walked by the Crashdown, whistling. I never took him for a whistler. There was a lot, though, that I didn’t know before it all started. Things like how he likes foreign films and Thai food. How he once had a cat named Stripes or how his favorite day was the time that Mr. Evans took him on his first fishing trip. But he was just walking and whistling, so I said hi. I didn’t mean to scare him, but I couldn’t help laughing at his reaction when I leaned over the edge of the railing and called his name. If you don’t know him, and just saw him on the street or something, you wouldn’t think that he was the kind of person that would scare that easily.

******************************************
“Hey,” I whisper, “What are you doing out here this late?”

“Couldn’t sleep.” He shrugs.

“Oh...You want to come up?”

“Sure. Why not?”

He climbs the ladder and hops over the edge, eyeing me warily.

“Are your parents asleep?” he asks.

“Yeah, its ok. You don’t have to worry.” I smile up at him. “So what’s up? Nothing wrong on the alien front, I hope.”

“Everything’s fine Liz. I just couldn’t sleep.”

“Here, sit down,” I say, sliding over to make room for him on the long lawn chair. He looks at me for a few seconds before sitting down. The chair isn’t too big to begin with, but with him sitting next to me, I realize it suddenly seemed a lot smaller. His leg bumps mine for a moment.

“Sorry,” he says, looking kind of embarrassed. I bite back a smile.

“That’s alright. So is this what you do when you cant sleep?”

“I know this city inside and out. What about you?”

“Just, uh, writing in my journal,” I say, sort of uncomfortably. Not exactly the best subject to be talking about with the scare that we had gone through recently thinking it was missing.

“You’re keeping tabs on it now, right?” he asks. I’m not sure if he’s kidding or not. He has a little smirk on his face, but I don’t know if that’s because he’s joking or because of my reaction.

“Yes,” I answer a little too quickly. “I mean, uh, yeah. Its safe.”

“Good.” He says. And then, he smiles.

And that was how it began. He would be walking through the city, whistling, and if I was up, I would call to him and he would come up. It was good for the both of us. If we needed someone to talk to when we couldn’t sleep, the other would listen. Other times we would talk about nothing at all, just appreciating the fact that we weren’t alone. It had been going on for weeks. But I knew I was getting in over my head when I realized that I had been going to bed early, just so that I could be up, waiting for him. I hadn’t even been doing it consciously. It had me worried.

******************************************
*What does that mean? What are you doing?* I think for a moment. I start to get upset about what’s going to happen. Or rather what isn’t.

*They told you, Liz, humans and aliens don’t mix. Why cant you get that?* I’ve been through it enough times. It could be dangerous, I could get hurt, I could die, we’re too different. But at that moment, I realize I don’t care. I really like him.

*You’re falling for him, Liz. Don’t you get it?* It was worth the risk. Now the only thing that could ruin it was if he didn’t feel the same way.

I tell my parents that I don’t feel well, and go to bed at 8. Well ok, it was more of a nap. I get up at 12 and get ready. I take a shower, brush my teeth, check myself in the mirror. I make sure that my parents are asleep for the night. I take my journal and a blanket and climb out the window to wait. I end up just looking at the stars, wishing on every single one that it would turn out ok.

I’m so caught up in the beauty of the sky that I almost don’t hear him when he walks by. I call down to him and invite him up.

*No turning back, Liz. Its now or never.*

“Hey what’s up?” he asks. “Liz? Hello?” He’s waving his hand in front of my face.

“Um, wha-, oh uh, here sit down.” I didn’t realize that I was staring.

“Liz, is something wrong? Did something happen?” he asks with alarm in his voice.

“No. Oh, I’m sorry. No, nothing’s wrong.” I say, smiling down at him. I sit down next to him. He’s really close. “Maybe I better stand.” I say, jumping back up.

“Liz, are you sure you’re ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just-, I need to talk to you.”

“Shoot.”

“I, uh, we, um…ok,” I take a deep breath. “Just let me get this out before you say anything, ok?”

“Ok.” He says, sounding confused.

“I really like how you come up at night, and I really like our talks, and I don’t want to do anything to ruin that, but I think-, I think I have feelings for you…And I, I cant just not say anything, so I’m sorry if I messed everything up, but I had to tell you.” I rush out. He just stares at me for a few seconds, and then he does what I had feared the most.

He leaves. He leaves without a word.
******************************************

I remember how crushed I was. I couldn’t even write in my journal. I just stood there for a while, staring at the ledge, hoping that he would come back. But he didn’t. Finally I climbed through the window, got in bed and did what I had promised myself I wouldn’t do. I cried my heart out.

My mom came in, in the morning, and asked me if I felt better. I wondered how she knew, but then I remember I had told her last night that I didn’t feel well. I ended up staying home from school and spent the day trying not to think of what it was about me that made him leave.

Later that night, I went through my usual routine: change, brush my teeth, and pull out my journal. With one exception, I stayed inside. I kept my window shut. I found out that its different writing in my journal without the stars overhead. Without looking up for hours trying to figure out which one he came from. I did my best to write about other things, but my mind kept wandering to him. I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye, and when I looked up, I saw him. Just standing at my window. Staring at me.

******************************************
I get up and open the window.

“What are you doing here?” I ask with a voice of anger mixed with insecurity.

“You weren’t at school today. I just wanted to make sure that you were ok.”

I just stand there in my room looking anywhere but his eyes.

“Liz, I’m sorry. I didn’t-, I just-,” he trails off.

“You what?” I ask.

“I’m scared. We don’t know what could happen If we-“

“I don’t care,” I interrupt, “I don’t.”

“I would never forgive myself if something happened to you.” He says.

“Nothings going to happen to me.”

“We don’t know that. Its just…its not safe.”

“I don’t want safe. I want you.” I tell him.

“Liz, we cant. We all agreed that we wouldn’t risk it. I’m sorry, believe me I am, but-“

He doesn’t get to finish his thought. I, with a ferocity and courage I never knew I had, pull his head down and kiss him. And then, something I never could have imagined happens. Flashes. Visions, whatever you want to call them, I have them. Images from times in his life. I see him, and at the same time, I see what he sees. I feel what he feels.

“Wow. Did you-“ I ask breathlessly.

“Yeah I did,” he says.
******************************************

And that was it. From then on we were together. After a while, we understood each other so well that it got to the point where we didn’t have to tell each other things. We just knew what the other needed. Months passed. A year. Two. Everything was going great. And then something happened. Something I wasn’t ready for. A baby. I…we were having a baby. I didn’t know how to tell him. I tried, honestly. And then, suddenly, he told me that he needed to be alone. That things were going to get dangerous. That he was, essentially, going to war. That it had to be over for everyone’s sake. For their lives. So I stayed away. We all graduated, and everyone was surprised when I left town. But I couldn’t stay there; I couldn’t be a distraction, a liability. Besides, I had another person to think about then, and I couldn’t put her in danger. So I left.

It’s been hard and lonely out here all by myself. I’ve been raising our daughter and trying to make ends meet. For almost ten years.

//Now nights are sleepless, thinking about how I’m going to make it through tomorrow. But I have to, for both of us. The rare times that sleep comes, I dream. I dream of him.//

I was doing ok until I opened the mailbox that day. An envelope. A single envelope addressed to Ms. Liz Parker, postmarked Roswell, NM. ‘West Roswell High invites you to the ten year reunion of the class of 2002’. I had to go. I didn’t want to, but I had to know. A lot can change in ten years. So now here I am sitting on my deck, in my back yard, looking up at the same sky I did then. Writing in a journal. I guess that didn’t change.

I sit here worrying about tomorrow. *You can do it, Liz. You can* I tell myself, trying my hardest to believe it. Surprisingly, I fall asleep, and dream again. The dream where he comes and takes us away. Me and my…me and our daughter. I whisper in my sleep, one word. The word that represents everything good in my life.

“Michael.”


Chapter 2

“Mom!” I hear a voice yell from down the hall, “Time to get up! We’re late!” It calls as it gets closer.

“I’m up, I’m up.” In my dreams, it’s so real. He’s here, we’re a family. But that’s the worst part. Because however wonderful the dream is, it’s still just a dream. When I wake up in the morning, he’s not here. I close my eyes and pray for just a minute more of sleep, a minute more with him in my dreams. Instead, I feel the bed bounce and I hear a little giggle.

“Hi,” Lexi says cuddling up against me. Alexia Grace Parker. I named her for Alex. God, I miss him. He would be here for me. He always was. I wanted to name her after her father, but I just couldn’t.

“Morning. You ready for our trip?” I look over at her. She’s beautiful. She has his eyes. And his stubbornness.

“Yes!” she squeals. She’s really been looking forward to this trip. “I get to fly on a plane,” she says in a sing-song voice. “I’m going to go call grandma and grandpa to see if they’re ready.”

“Wait, what time is it?”

”Nine thirty, sleepy head.” She answers with a smile.

“Oh my God! Is it really that late? Were going to miss our flight if we don’t hurry.”

“Momma, it’s ok. Don’t worry.” She says, giving me a kiss on the cheek, before running out of the room. She’s always had his gift for calming me down too. I hear her on the phone with my parents.

“…I know I’m so excited! Will you sit next to me grandpa? Just in case I get scared? Yeah I know! Can I talk to grandma? Hi grandma! Are you coming over soon? Guess what! I packed all my stuff all by myself…” I laugh to myself. She packed for herself when we went to Disney World too. If it hadn’t been so adorable, it would’ve been a disaster.

I had decided to move down to Florida after graduation, and live with my aunt. My parents came down for Lexi’s birth and never left. They still technically owned the Crashdown for a while and put a team in charge. They rented out our apartment above to the couple that was managing the café. A few years ago though, they decided that they’d had enough, and sold it. They’ve been enjoying the retired life on the beach. About a year and a half after Lexi was born, I moved out of their house and got a place of my own. We only live a few blocks apart, in the same neighborhood. It’s really been a blessing having them here. After I told them about my decision to go back for the reunion, they decided to come along on the trip. They told me that they just wanted to see the town and their friends, but I knew they were going for me and Lexi. And I’m thankful for that.

“Mom, you ready?” she asks, peeking around my door.

“Yep. All set. How about you?”

“I’ve been ready for ages,” she says, rolling her eyes just like her father used to. I can’t help smiling at that.

“OK, all we have to do is wait for your-“

“We’re here!” my dad yells up the stairs.

“Grandpa!!” Lexi shrieks as she runs out the room and down the stairs.

“Hey dad,” I call down, laughing to myself. She really loves them.

“Hi honey. How are you?” my mom asks as she enters the room. She gives me one of those looks only a mother can give.

“I’m fine mom. I can handle this.” I tell her, trying thoroughly to make myself believe it. “Really. I can do this.”

“Just know that we’re here for you, ok?”

“I know. And I don’t thank you enough.”

“Its what parents are here for.”

“Believe me, I know.” I say.

“So what do you say we get out of here before the plane leaves without us?” she asks smiling at me, with Lexi’s suitcase in her hand. “By the way, did you check what was in here? We don’t want another Disney World, as precious as that was.”

“Oh yeah, I definitely checked.” I say with a smile. I take a deep breath. “Ok now or never, let’s go.” We walk down the stairs, out the door, and get in the car. As we drive away, I can’t stop myself from taking one look back at my home, wondering why on Earth I’m leaving its safety, and what I’m getting myself into. *Oh well, you had your chance, Liz* I think as we turn the corner. *Next stop, Roswell, New Mexico.*


Chapter 3

I’m a nervous wreck the entire plane ride there. By the time we get off, I’m completely convinced that I’m making a mistake and ready to get right back on the plane and go home. But when I look over at Lexi, when I look in her eyes, in his eyes, I know that this is something I have to do. Neither of them deserves to be kept apart. It’s gone on for long enough. And with that, I let my mother lead me to the rental car and towards a future that is yet to be determined.

We get to the hotel and get settled in. Lexi wants to, of all things, go swimming in the hotel pool. She lives in Florida, right near the water, with 2 pools at her disposal whenever she wants, and she wants to go swimming. I guess it’s understandable though. I remember being her age. Swimming would be completely different in Roswell to her. Everything’s different, more exciting. And I’m more than happy to oblige her. The more time at the pool with Lexi that afternoon, the less time having to confront my fears.

After about forty-five minutes, she’s had enough and is ready to go back to the room. That night my parents take her out to see the town and to go out to dinner, leaving me to get ready for the reunion. I get a shower, put on my make up, get dressed, and sit there on the bed with the car key in my hand, just looking at the door. Trying to gather enough courage to go. *Now or never Liz.* That seems to be my mantra. At this moment, I’m prepared to accept never. But I know what I have to do. I walk out, get in the car, and drive toward the school with determination I’m not sure is mine.

Chapter 4

“Liz? Liz Parker? Oh my God, it’s you! Look Max, it’s Liz!” I hear someone scream behind me after I get out of the car. Even after 10 years, I know that voice anywhere. I’ve missed her so much, but I’m still nervous about turning around.

“Hi Maria, how are you?” I ask, pasting a smile on my face as I turn. She hasn’t changed a bit. Same quirky blonde hair, same deep green eyes, same over-excitedness at the world around her. Just older, more mature. I notice the glint of silver on her hand. I had heard that she and Max had gotten married, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to the wedding. It wasn’t too long after Lexi was born and I was still afraid. “And Max, what about you? You guys look great.”

“I’m great Liz. It’s good to see you.” He says with a genuine smile on his face.

“Good? Its great!” Maria squeals, running over to hug me. “God, what’s it been, 10 years? Yeah I guess so with the reunion and all, duh. So how are you? How have you been? Oh! Everyone is going to be so excited to see you. Come on, let’s go in!” She says in her mile-a-minute Maria fashion.

“Maria, honey, take a breath.” Max says, “Give her a minute to get acquainted before you release the hounds on her.” I give him an appreciative smile.

“I’ve um, I’ve been good.” I say. *No delaying the inevitable * I think to myself. “We might as well go in I guess.”

We walk through the double doors and into the gaudily decorated high school gym.

“Max! Max, over here!” I hear someone call from across the room. I look in the direction of the voice and see Kyle standing at a table, waving at them like an air traffic controller. I guess he hasn’t changed too much.

“You’re more than welcome to sit with us. If you want to, of course.” Max tells to me after to waving to Kyle.

“Oh please do! It would mean so much.” Maria pleads.

“Um, sure, why not?” I say after a moment’s hesitation.

“Great!”

“Maria, you’ve got to calm down hon.” Max tells her gently. It looks like he has a lot of experience with it. “Come on.” He says, offering an arm to both of us.

We get to the table, and after Maria and Max say hi to Kyle and Isabel, I scoot closer and say hello.

“Liz! How are you? Its so awesome to see you!” Kyle says, pulling me into a bear hug.

“I’m-oof! I’m good Kyle,” I attempt to say, while my face is smothered in his chest.

“Kyle…Kyle! Let the poor girl breathe,” I hear Isabel say as she stands up next to us. He lets me go and moves out of the way to reveal a smiling, very pregnant Isabel. “Forgive him. He doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that he’s not a teenager anymore.” She says with a laugh. She gives me a hug the best she can with her huge stomach.

“Wow, guys. Congratulations.”

“Oh thanks,” Isabel says, “Its our second.”

“Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” I ask.

“It’s a-“

“I refuse to know until it’s born!” Isabel says, cutting Kyle off. “We agreed we would wait, but he snuck a look at the doctor’s chart.” She explains, giving him a mock-evil glare. Max, Maria, and I laugh as Kyle stands there with a sheepish look on his face.

“Well, now we’re only waiting on Michael, and then we can get this party started!” Kyle says, giving an over exaggerated thumbs-ups to us. I look up at the mention of his name.

“Kyle!” Isabel whispers, this time giving him a real glare.

“What did I-, jeez! Ok sorry.”

“Iz, Kyle, its ok. I know I have to see him eventually.”

“I just didn’t want to-“

“Really, Iz, its fine.”

“Alright. I hear you. So Liz, What have you been up to?” she asks, trying to change the subject.

“I, uh-, I’ve been you know, the usual, working. I’m a teacher. I didn’t exactly get to be a molecular biologist, but I chose the next best thing available to me. I teach biology in a high school.”

“Better than Mr. Seligman I hope.” Kyle retorts.

“Well my students seem to like me, but who knows? I know we were nice to the teachers and then said a few choice things behind their backs.” I say with a smirk. “I really do enjoy it though.” I offer sincerely.

“So what do you do when you’re not teaching unruly teenagers?” Isabel asks, propping her chin on her hand, with that patented Isabel look on her face.

“God Iz, what are you, a reporter?” Max half kids. I think he can tell I’m kind of uncomfortable.

“Well I was just-“

“It’s ok Iz, ignore him.” I say with a soft look at Max. He sends back a knowing smile. “I’ve…I’ve actually been busy raising my daughter.” I’m ready for the shocked expressions. I’m ready for the awkward moment of silence around the table. I’m ready for their questions. But I’m not ready for what happens next.

“You have a daughter?” I hear a quiet voice behind me ask. I feel like I can’t breathe. I can’t. I’ve only heard that voice in my dreams for the last 10 years. It’s like hearing that your greatest wish is being granted and that you’ve lost everything that matters to you at the same time. Two different extremes. Utter happiness and sadness. I want to run straight ahead and out the door, away from this, and turn around and be in his arms all at once. But before I can make that choice, he’s in front of me. This is not how I wanted him to find out.

“Hello Michael,” I say to him, trying to hide the fear in my voice.

“You have a daughter?” he asks again. *Well Liz, its now or never.*

“No Michael, I don’t.” He looks at me confusedly, along with everyone else at the table. I shut them out and concentrate on him. “We do.”

Chapter 5

“I-, we-, a daughter? A child?” he asks incredulously. “I have a child?”

“Yes Michael, you do.” I say, my voice wavering the slightest bit. “Her name is Alexia Grace. She just turned nine in February. February 12.” He sits down in the chair closest to him. He looks like all the energy drained out of him. Like he can’t even stand. Like he’s going to cry. That’s the one thing I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to see that I made him hurt. I know it was inevitable, but I still don’t want to see it. We sit there in silence for about a minute, but it feels like an eternity. It might as well have been.

“How could you not tell me?!” he responds finally, looking at right at me. I sigh.

“I wanted to, really. I-, I tried. But it was when you told me that things were going to get bad. I couldn’t be a distraction. And I had to think of her safety too.”

“Liz, she’s my daughter! I would never have let anything happen to her. You know that. I would’ve protected her!” he screams as he jumps out of his chair.

“I couldn’t let her be put in a situation where she needed protecting! She had to be completely safe. Tell me that she would’ve been completely safe here. Look me in the eye and tell me that!”

“I…ugh!” he explodes in frustration, running his hands through his hair. “I can’t. But still, you should’ve at least let me know that she existed! God, I mean, nine years?! What about her? Didn’t you think that she needed a father?!”

“Of course I did! I would’ve given anything and everything I had for things to have been different! But they weren’t. There were only two things on my mind. One, I was having a baby that was going to depend on me for everything, including her well-being. And two, you had a battle to fight against the FBI, aliens, and whoever else could’ve been out there. I had to leave! For her sake…and yours.” I hear someone cough to my left, and suddenly I remember that we aren’t alone. Not only aren’t we alone, we’re in a crowded high school gym and people are staring at us.

“Guys, maybe you’d like to use one of the classrooms or something to talk in private.” Isabel suggests fearfully.

“No. I want you to take me to her.” Michael says to me with an icy resolve.

“Wha-, are you kidding me?! I can’t just walk in and say ‘Hey Lex, see this stranger? Well, meet your dad!’ We have to figure this thing out first, Michael!”

“What is there to figure out?! She’s my daughter and I want to see her! Max, aren’t there laws about this sort of thing?” I forgot that Max had joined his father’s law firm. I eye him apprehensively. He looks up nervously, caught off guard.

“Well, I mean…yeah. But Liz is right, it’s gonna take a little time.”

“Fine! Take her side.”

“Michael, I’m not taking anybody’s side. But this is a little girl we’re talking about-“ he is cut off mid-sentence by Michael.

“My little girl, Max, mine!” he screams as he stops pacing to look at Max, his voice cracking.

“I know that. But like I said, she’s a little girl and she needs to be gradually eased into this. You can’t just walk up to her and say ‘Hi I’m your father.’ Give her a little time to adjust. Let Liz talk to her first.”

“I don’t like it.” He says gruffly, letting everyone around him know that this is not something he wants to do.

“I don’t either Michael, but what else am I supposed to do?” I ask. He lifts his head and looks me straight in the eye. His hands are balled in fists, knuckles white, and his jaw is clenched.

“You should have told me from the beginning.” With that, he marches out the doors, and into the darkness. I find myself, once again, watching…waiting for him to come back. But just like before, he doesn’t. And I know that this time, when he finally does come around, it won’t be for me.

Chapter 6

“Are you sure you don’t want a ride back to the hotel?” Isabel asks. “Kyle won’t mind, honest. I would do it myself, but you kind of have to be able to fit behind the wheel to drive,” she says with a laugh, trying to ease the moment.

“Really, Iz. I’ll be fine.”

“I know, I know, you can handle it yourself. I just don’t know if you should be driving if you’re this upset. Besides, I wanted to get to talk to you some. I was really looking forward to seeing you tonight.”

“What if I promise to call when I get back to the room and let you know I’m ok? Will that make you feel better?”

“Can we make plans for a girl’s day sometime?” She gives me that trademark Isabel grin that could always make anyone do anything.

“Sure, that’d be great Iz.” I say with a weak smile.

“Kay. Have a good night. Be careful, ok?” she warns in a motherly tone while pulling me into a quick embrace. “And Liz, he’ll come around. He always does,” she whispers in my ear before letting me go.

“Thanks Iz. I’ll talk to you later. Enjoy yourself.” I say, and then turn and walk out into the cool New Mexico night air.

When I get back to the room, I find it empty. I open the door between my room and my parents’. I’m greeted with the sight of my little girl, in her bathing suit and hair still slightly damp, wrapped in a big white towel, asleep on my father’s chest. He’s propped up against the headboard, barely awake, watching TV. All the lights are off except the lamp in the corner by the chair, where my mother is curled up with a book.

“Hey sweetie,” she whispers. She stands up and walks over to the bed. She pulls the covers over her now sleeping husband and grandchild and turns off the television. “Why don’t we go in your room to talk? They need the sleep. Your father loves that child more than anything in this world, but she can tire even him out.”

“Yeah, she’s an angel, but she can be exhausting.” I look at my child and can’t help but remember all the times that Michael used to call me that.

“So how’d it go?” my mom queries. “Or should I not even ask?” she says as the smile leaves my face.

“No mom, its fine. It’s just…” I trail off, sighing as I sit down on the edge of the bed. “It’s complicated.”

“I know sweetie.” she says sympathetically. “Did you see Michael?”

“Oh yeah. I saw him. I talked to him.” I tell her with a bitter laugh.

“You talked to-“

“He knows. I opened my big mouth and now he knows. I didn’t want him to find out like that. He looked so…he was so hurt mom.”

“It’ll be ok honey. I promise. It’s just gonna take him some time to get used to.”

“No mom, the look on his face…I did that. I did that to him. God, I am so stupid! He’s never going to forgive me. Ever.” The tears that I had held in for so long begin to surface. I try my best to keep them from flowing down my face.

“Oh baby, it’s alright. Come here,” she says, pulling me into that hug that you can only get from your mother.

“Mom, what am I gonna do?” I mumble with my head lying on her shoulder. “I-, I just-“ my sentence breaks off as my voice cracks.

“Shh, shh.” She rubs my back and slightly rocks our embrace, consoling me the same way she did when I was little. Thank God for mothers. After a while, I sit back.

“What would I ever do without you?” I ask her with a genuine smile, wiping the tears off my face. I can already feel my eyes getting puffy and I know my face is red. I turn around and look in the mirror on the wall. “God, I’m a mess!” I laugh.

“No you’re not. You’re perfect. You’re my perfect, brave, strong, beautiful daughter.” She makes eye contact with me in the mirror. I turn back around and look at her. “And you can do this. I mean, are you kidding? You’ve raised a wonderful child all by yourself for the last nine and a half years. After that, you can do anything.”

“Thanks mom.” We sit there in that awkward silence that comes whenever you breakdown in front of someone, where both of us knows that it’s time to change the subject, but neither knows how to do it. “Well, I uh, I guess I should get some sleep. Big day tomorrow and everything, you know? And oh, I almost forgot to call Isabel.”

“Isabel?”

“Yeah, I promised her I would call and tell her I got home alright.”

“Oh. That’s sweet that she’s worried.”

“Yeah I guess. Night mom.”

“Night honey.” She kisses the top of my head and walks over to the door. “Liz, Lex is fine in our room tonight. You just get some sleep.” She leaves and shuts the door behind her.

“If only it were that easy.”

Chapter 7

******************************************
A squeak pulls me out of my dream. I open my eyes and discover that I’m on my balcony. I turn to see what the noise was and see a retreating Michael.

“Hey,” I whisper, “where do you think you’re going?” He turns around and smiles at me.

“You were asleep when I came up. I just sat in the other chair and watched you for a while. I tried to get up quietly. Sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

“Yeah, well remind me to fix that chair later.”

“Not a chance.” I say with a smirk.

“Oh yeah, and why is that?” he asks, sitting down next to me.

“Cause if it weren’t for that chair, I would’ve missed this.” I say, pulling him into a kiss. “Yep. I love that chair.” I tell him when we broke apart, smiling.

“Even more than me?” he asks teasingly.

“I don’t love anything more than you.” I say, my voice taking on a serious tone. I didn’t even realize I had said it out loud until I see his eyes go wide. *Oh good job, Liz. Now you’ve probably scared him off for good.* “I mean-, um-“

“I love you too.”

“Michael, what I meant was…wait. Did you just say you love me?” I ask in disbelief. Michael Guerin wasn’t exactly one to go around declaring his love for people.

“I think so…is that ok?” he says, looking at me cautiously.

“Oh my God, Michael. Yeah! Yeah, it’s ok. It’s great. I…I love you too.” I say, the tears pooling in my eyes.

“Yeah, you already said that. Hey, what’s wrong? Are you ok?”

“Of course I’m ok. Sorry, I’m just getting emotional. Women do that sometimes, you know?” I say with a laugh.

“Oh shut up!” he jokes. “I happen to know a lot about women.”

“Oh really?”

“Sure do.” He says smugly.

“I highly doubt that.” I tease.

“Oh yeah? Wanna bet?” he pulls me against him and starts kissing my neck.

“Su-, sure. What do you want…to…wager?” I ask, in between shallow breaths.

“Oh, I can think of a few things.” He says, smiling against my neck.

“Ugh! Freak!” I say, smacking his arm.

“What? Like you aren’t thinking the same thing.”

“Of course not! I’m ‘Perfect Little Lizzie’” I reply, using my much-hated title.

“’Perfect’. That’s a laugh, tell me another one.” He says, moving up to the spot behind my ear.

“That tickles.” I giggle.

“As well it should.” He says, pulling back to face me. A serious look crosses his face. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?”

“Oh stop it.”

“No, I’m serious. You are.”

“Michael, I…”

“Shh. It’s ok. You don’t have to say anything.” He kisses me again, this time more passionately. We continue, he lowers us to the blanket and pulls the other over us.

The next morning I wake up to an empty spot next to me. He left me a note, though. ‘Liz, I would give anything to stay, but we both know how your parents would react if they found me. I’ll pick you up for school. I love you. –Michael. PS. I stayed and watched the sunrise. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t even close to you.’

“God, who would’ve ever thought Michael Guerin would be a sappy romantic.” I chuckle, all the while knowing I would keep the note forever.

---five weeks later---

“OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod,” I ramble as I look at the calendar for what seems like the billionth time. “Two weeks? That has to be a mistake! This can not be happening.” I try to breathe calmly, but am on the verge of hyperventilating. *Get a hold of yourself, Liz. You’re acting like Maria.*

“DING!” the little egg timer goes off on my desk. If I wasn’t so worried, I would laugh at the irony.

“It’s ok. Everything’s gonna be fine. You can handle it.” I take a deep breath and look at the little stick on the bathroom counter. Two lines. “Oh my God.” I say for the thirtieth time that day.
******************************************

I wake up with the same feeling in my stomach that I had that day. It feels like yesterday. *Was it really ten years ago? God, are you that old, Liz?* I sit up and look down. I had fallen asleep on top of the covers after my long phone conversation with Isabel, still in my dress from the reunion. My neck aches from the way I slept. I hear a squeal come from behind the door.

“Lex is up.” I walk over and open the door.

“Momma!!” she yells and jumps into my arms.

“Hey baby. Did you have fun last night?”

“Oh my gosh, yeah! We went miniature golfing and to the pool. And oh yeah, we went to a restaurant with this really cool waitress that gave me the coolest headband! Wanna see?” she asks, already running over and going through a bag before I could answer.

“Sure.” I say sleepily, sitting down on one of the beds.

“Kay, close your eyes. And no peaking ok?”

“Ok.” I laugh, covering my eyes.

“Ok, look!” she says. I open my eyes to reveal my daughter adorned with a very familiar looking sparkly, silver headband with alien antennae.

“Oh! Isn’t she precious?” my mom asks as she walks into the room.

“Uh, yeah. You look great, Lex. I absolutely love it.” I say, kissing her forehead, before standing up. “You took her to the Crash?”

“Well, yeah honey. Where else would we go? We did own it for like, ever you know.” Nancy smiles.

“I know, but I just thought you would wait a little while. Or at least take me along.”

“I’m sorry honey.” She says with kindhearted laughter. “I didn’t know you wanted to go that bad. Look, I promise we’ll go again before we leave, ok?”

“Ok,” I agree, laughing now too.

“Now what about that situation?” Nancy asks, nodding towards an oblivious Alexia.

“I guess I have to tell her. I mean, what else can I do? He wants to meet her, and they both have every right to get to know one another. It’s just gonna be tough.”

“If you need anything, let me know.”

“Thanks mom, but I need to do this on my own.” I tell her, giving her a grateful smile. “Hey, Lex? Let’s go back to our room, ok? You need to get dressed.”

“Can I wait till the commercial? Please?” she begs, batting her eyelashes in an over exaggerated manner.

“Yeah I guess.”

“Thanks mom. You’re the greatest!” she squeals, jumping on the bed, glittery antennae bobbing up and down. I walk back into my room and fall back on the bed. After a few minutes I hear ‘The touch, the feel of cotton. The fabric of our lives…’ come on and wait for a few moments for her to come on her own. “Lex?” I call, ”Alexia Grace, come on.”

“Okay. I’m coming!”

“Hey, watch your tone—oof!” She lands right next to me on the bed. “Hey.”

“Hey. So what are we gonna do today?” she asks excitedly.

“Um, actually Lex, I need to talk to you about that.” I sit up and turn to face her. “Come here.” I say, opening my arms. She crawls into them and turns so that her back is leaning against my front. I rest my head on top of hers. “You know how you sometimes ask about your dad?”

“Yeah,” she replies questioningly.

“Well, if you ever had the chance would you want to like, meet him?”

“Yeah.” I tense and I think she felt it. “Momma,” she says, turning and facing me, “I know that things with us are different. And I know that you love me and you wouldn’t not let me see him unless there was a reason. And that’s ok. But yeah, I’d like to meet him someday.”

*God, how did I get such a perfect little girl?*

“Well…how would you like to meet him…today?” I ask her. I’m surprised by her reaction.

“Are you kidding me?! Yeah! Oh my gosh, today? This is so cool!” she rambles on, jumping up and running around the room. I smile like I haven’t in days as I watch her race around getting ready. “Mom! Come on! Get up, let’s go! Get ready!”

“Ugh! Lex, five more minutes, please?” I whine, imitating how she acts in the morning. She just gives me one of her father’s calculated death stares, but with a smile peeking out underneath. “Ok, ok. I’m up.” I say, laughing. “Just let me get a quick shower and change, alright? Why don’t you go with grandma to find some breakfast?”

“Kay!” she says, running to the door. I walk over to my suitcase to get some things and feel a tap on my back. I turn around and Lex pulls me down into a hug. “Thank you momma.” She whispers and then is gone.

Chapter 8

I pull up in front of the Valenti home and turn off the car. Lex is already out of the car and opening my door by the time I get unbuckled and get my things together.

“Come on, mom!” she says, pulling my arm so that we’re practically running up the front walk. She rings the doorbell a few times and stands next to me, obviously antsy. Kyle opens the door and starts to say hello, but is cut off by Lexi. “Are you my dad?” she asks, looking up at him.

“Alexia Grace Parker!” I say, completely shocked. I know she’s excited, but that was a surprise.

“Uh, sorry kiddo. I’m not the man you’re looking for. Know him though. Great guy. Hey Liz, come on in.”

“Thanks Kyle.” I say, walking through the door with Lexi holding my hand. I look around. “Where’s Iz?”

“I’m in here!” I hear her call from the room to my left. I walk in to find her on the couch in what I know from experience as a very uncomfortable position. “My dear, loving husband was supposed to be helping me up off of this monstrosity of a couch, but when he heard the doorbell ring, he left me in midair. I, the woman eight and a half months pregnant with his child.”

“Been there. Here, let me help, Iz.” I laugh. “How you feeling?”

“Oh don’t worry about me, I’m fine. What about you? You sure you’re ready for this?”

“Well, it’s now or never.”

“Yeah, I guess. But I think--, oh my goodness! Who is this little angel?” she asks, seeing Lex behind me. She steps forward.

“Alexia Grace Parker, ma’am. My friends call me Lex.” She says boldly, putting her hand out.

“Well, Lex, it’s great to meet you. I’m Isabel. I think you have to ask your mom what to call me.” She looks at me. I stoop down next to Lexi.

“Lex, Isabel is your father’s sister. That makes her your aunt.”

“I know it must be weird to meet me so suddenly, so you can call me whatever you want. You know, I have a son just a little younger than you. He’s out back if you want to go play with him. His dad just built a new tree house.”

“Kay Aunt Iz. Thanks.” She says easily with a smile and goes out the sliding glass doors to the awaiting boy.

“Oh God, Liz. She is too cute.” Isabel says, watching the interaction between her son and niece. “And she looks so much like Michael.”

“Oh believe me Iz, looks aren’t the only thing she got from her father.”

“She looks like me?” Michael asks from outside the archway.

“God, Michael! Do you always have to sneak up on us like that?”

“So can I see her?” he asks me, ignoring Isabel’s question.

“Yes Michael. You can see her. But first, we need to talk.” He starts to walk into the room, but I don’t want Lex to see him just yet. “In the kitchen.” I say, steering him in the other direction.

“I’ll watch the kids, Liz. Take your time.”

“Thanks Iz.”

“Don’t even.” She says with a smile.

Michael and I walk into the kitchen. I sit in a chair and gesture to the one beside me.

“Michael, I need to know exactly what role you want to play in her life. I know this is a surprise, so if you want to just visit, that’s fine. If you want to it to be a regular thing, we can work it out. But I need to know.”

“I want to be her father, Liz.”

“But what does that mean to you Michael?”

“I want to tuck her in and read her a bedtime story, I want to have Saturday morning breakfast, I want to go Disney World and get a stupid hat, I want to see her face when she wakes up on Christmas, I want give her away at her wedding… I want to do everything Liz! I already missed nine years!” he finishes by slamming his fist on the table, his face red and eyes glistening.

“I know Michael. I’m sorry!”

“Well that isn’t good enough!”

“What was I suppo—no. I promised myself I wouldn’t fight with you.” I take what was supposed to be a cleansing breath, but it turns out to be more of a hiccup. “Why don’t you just meet her first?” I offer, “We’ll figure the rest out later.”

“Does she even want to meet me?” he asks insecurely after a few moments of silence.

“You should’ve seen the smile on her face when I told her.” I tell him. His eyes seem to brighten.

“Really?”

“Yeah, really.” I nod my head, giving him a weak smile. “Ok, you ready?”

“Yep. Let’s do this.” We get up and walk back into the family room. Isabel tries to get up when she sees us.

“It’s ok Iz. You can stay.” I tell her. “Well, I mean if Michael doesn’t mind.”

“No, Iz, please stay.” He says, sitting down next to his sister. He looks at her for support.

“I met her, Michael. You’re gonna love her.” She says, taking his hand.

“I already do.”

Chapter 9

“Lex, sweetie, would you come here a minute?” She hops off the swing she’s sitting on and runs over.

“Is it time, mom?” she asks with a hopeful tone in her voice and a hint of a smile.

“You’re sure you’re ready to do this?”

“Yep. Let’s go.” She says, almost repeating his words, grabbing my hand and pulling me towards the door. Michael stands up as we walk in the room. Lexi lets go of my hand and just stands there for a minute looking at him. She walks closer and stops. He kneels down to her level. He opens his mouth to say something, but doesn’t get the chance. Lexi surprises us by walking over and hugging him tightly. He sits there for a few seconds, shocked, but then wraps his arms around her.

“Hi…I’m, I’m Michael.” He tells her. She pulls back and looks at him.

“No you’re not.” She says, “You’re my dad.” He smiles a smile that I haven’t seen in over ten years.

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am.”

“I’m Lex.”

“It’s nice to meet you Lex. Why don’t we, uh, sit down? Is that ok?”

“Sure. It’s cool.” She says, completely relaxed. She hops up on the couch and waits for him to join her. He sits down next to her gingerly. He fidgets nervously, obviously unsure of what to say.

“So, uh…tell me about yourself.” He says lamely. I sit down on the chair across from the couch.

“What do you want to know?”

“Anything. Um, what’s school like?”

“Ugh! Awful. They make us do like a million long division problems everyday. And my English teacher smells funny.”

“Really?” Michael asks, chuckling.

“Yeah, and they serve gross stuff at lunch. Oh and there’s this boy that sits behind me in Social Studies that always pulls my hair. But me and Kelly, she’s my friend, we got him back once. We tied his shoelaces to his chair. It was so funny!”

“Oh my gosh! That is funny. So, what’s Kelly like?”

“Kelly’s the coolest. We’re best friends. See?” she says, pulling her half of a best friends necklace out of her shirt.

“Wow. Cool. So what do you like to do when you’re not in school?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugs. “I love to swim. My Aunt Jess has a pool, well she’s really my great aunt. So do my grandma and grandpa. We live really close to the ocean too. We go to the beach all the time.”

My cell phone rings in my bag. I ignore it, but it starts again. I reach in and pull it out. The little window reads ‘MOM’. I stand up and walk a few steps before answering it.

“Hello?”

“Hey sweetie. How’s it going?”

“Ok I guess. Can you hang on a minute, mom?” I put the phone against my shoulder and walk back over to the two on the couch. “Hey Lex, will you be ok for a minute? I have to talk to grandma.”

“Yeah mom. I’ll be fine,” she says, rolling her eyes. “I am nine now you know.”

“Yeah I know.” I smile. “I’ll be right back.” I walk outside onto the porch where I can talk comfortably, but still keep my eye on Lex and Michael. “Ok mom, I’m back.”

“You can call back if you need to. That’s fine. I was just checking to make sure everything was going alright.”

“I know. I have to go in a second, but I just wanted to ask you something.”

“Anything.”

“Would you watch Lex tonight? Michael and I need to talk by ourselves for a while later.”

“You don’t have to ask me to spend time with my one and only granddaughter. Of course I’ll do it. I just hope your father can keep up.” She says with a laugh.

“Thanks mom. I’ve gotta go, but I’ll talk to you soon. Love you.”

“Love you too.” She says and we hang up. I open the door and hear howling laughter. “What’s so funny?” I ask with a grin. They both look at me and then back at each other with evil smiles and burst out laughing again.

“Lex is just telling me some stories Liz.” I look at him curiously. “Stories about her trip to Sea World. Or more precisely, your incident with the dolphins.” He says, which causes Lex to erupt in laughter again.

“Oh God. Alexia Grace, you didn’t.” I say, my face tinted pink.

“Oh she did. And…” he picks something up beside him. “She has pictures!”

We sit for a little while longer talking. Well, mostly Lexi talking, Michael laughing, and me listening. I watch the two interact. Michael moves like she was made of glass, but other than that, it was like they had known each other forever.

“I’m hungry,” Lex says after her stomach growls.

“Why don’t we go get something to eat?” Michael suggests. “I mean, if it’s ok with you, Liz.” I hesitate, looking back and forth between them. Lexi looks really happy. I’ve never seen Michael look the way he does.

“Um…sure. Let’s go.” Lex jumps up and runs to the door. Michael and I follow. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not. “Um, I guess we should take two cars. Where are we going anyway?”

“We’re going to the Crashdown and I’m riding with dad.” Lexi says matter-of-factly, as she grabs Michael’s arm and pulls him towards his car.

“Wha-, we’re going to the Crash? Lex, are you sure you’re ok with me riding in the other car?”

“I’ll be fine. Can we please go to the Crashdown? I love it.” She asks, looking at me and then Michael. He looks at her lovingly and then at me.

“What do you think Liz?” I look at Lexi, whose face is still bearing a big frown and phony sad eyes, wanting nothing more than to go to her new favorite restaurant. I look at Michael, whose face shows love, excitement and anticipation, wanting nothing more than to make his little girl happy.

“I guess I can handle a greasy Will Smith burger for one night.” I say with a small smile. It grows when I see the look on their faces, Lexi’s because she’s happy and Michael’s because of the look on Lexi’s.

*Maybe tonight won’t be so bad.* I think, watching the two walk to his car. *Who are you kidding Liz?* I think, knowing all too well how things are going to be between Michael and I once Lexi leaves. *Oh well, too late to turn back now.*

Chapter 10

“I know, I know Lex. But you’ve got to get some sleep and I need to talk with Mi-, your dad.”

“But mom…can I please stay, just a little longer?”

“I promise you’ll get to see him really soon. Now go say goodnight.”

“You suck.” She says sullenly, turning and walking back over to Michael.

“Hey, watch your language.” I call as she leaves. I can’t really blame her. She’s acting a lot better than I would have. I walk towards them, watching how he kneels down to her, how she hugs tightly around his neck, how happy they look.

“I’ll see you tomorrow Lexi. I promise,” I hear him say as I walk closer. He gives her one last squeeze and kisses the top of her head, then stands up. “Go on. Sleep tight.”

“I’ll be right back Michael,” I tell him, turning and taking Lexi into the building where my mother is waiting for her. “Now Lex, I’m gonna go talk to your dad for a little while, ok?”

“Yeah I guess. But I still don’t understand why I can’t come,” she says with a pout.

“Tomorrow. We have to talk about grown up things right now. Kay?”

“Yeah, yeah.” She walks away, towards the open door to my parents’ room.

“Lex?” I call, “I love you.” I look at her, hoping that she’ll reply. She sighs.

“I love you too, momma.” She goes in the room and the door shuts. I walk to the door that leads outside to the parking lot, to the door that leads to Michael, put my hand on the handle and just stand there for a minute. I take a deep breath and walk out. He’s leaning up against his SUV, arms crossed and head tilted back, his eyes closed and a look of anguish on his face.

“Michael?” I ask nervously.

“What do you want Liz?” he replies with a sharp tone in his voice, not even opening his eyes. I flinch.

“I just-, we need to talk.” He lifts his head and walks towards me silently. He gets up close and just looks me in the eye for a moment.

“Screw you,” he says harshly, and then walks back to his car.

“Michael, I know you’re angry, but-“

“Oh you know how I feel now?! Did you just meet your daughter today? No, that’s right, you’ve had her for nine years, and just bothered to tell me now! Don’t even think you know how I feel. You couldn’t begin to know!”

“Michael, I only did what I thought was best!”

“Well guess what Liz! You were wrong!”

“Michael, I’m sorry!”

“We’ve been through this. I don’t give a damn if you’re sorry or not. That, in no way, makes up for the past nine years! That’s half of her childhood! You got to see her first step, you got to hear her first word, you taught her how to ride a bike. You! Not me.”

“Michael, could you please lower your voice?” I hiss.

“Sure Liz. Let’s do everything to your convenience.”

“Look, first of all, I don’t want to wake up the entire hotel. And secondly, and most importantly, Lexi is right inside. She could hear us.”

“Fine! Can we just get this over with?”

“My pleasure!” I whisper angrily.

“Good. Talk.”

“What?”

“You wanted to talk, so talk.” He says, crossing his arms again, taking that infamous Michael Guerin stance.

“I, uh! I don’t even know where to start.”

“How about why you left? Why you thought it was a good idea to take my child and leave.”

“Fine. Look, if I’m gonna do this, I have to start from the beginning.” I sit on the curb, staring down at my hands.

“What are you waiting for?”

“Look, do you remember the night on the balcony?” I ask, somewhat uncomfortable. He mumbles something I can’t hear. “What?”

“Nothing.” He answers quickly. “I mean, yeah I remember. Why?”

“Well, after that night, something was different. A little over a month later, I uh, I found out I was pregnant. I tried to tell you, but the next day you…”

“I what?” he asks, sitting down.

“Do you remember when you broke up with me?” I can’t look him in the eye, but I steal a glance and see a look of remembrance and pain come over his face. “Remember what you said?”

“I told you that we couldn’t be together anymore.”

“And I fought you, remember?”

“Yeah. But I told you that there was gonna be a war. I told you if I was with you, I couldn’t concentrate on what I needed to. I said that there was nothing you could do to change my mind. That it was gonna get really dangerous.”

“Right. So do you see why I couldn’t tell you? Why I had to leave?”

“I understand why you would think that.” He offers. “But it still wasn’t fair.” The hurt is evident in his voice.

“Michael…what happened?”

“They came. The others from our planet. The ones that killed us and took over. They said that they would do it again, and this time it would be for good.” He says, knowing exactly what I was asking.

“What did you do? I mean, you’re all still here.”

“The five of us did the best we could. I guess we had an advantage and all, being on Earth. But we didn’t really do anything.”

“What do you mean? You won, so you must have done something.”

“Well, like I said, we had an advantage being on Earth. It was just a bigger advantage than we thought. They couldn’t last long here. We fought the best that five teenagers could against otherworldly, not to mention amazingly strong, enemies. But in the end, we just kinda waited them out.”

“That’s it?” I ask, amazed.

“Well, yeah. I know its not the bravest thing, but we didn’t know what else to do. Maria and Kyle couldn’t do much, no powers and everything. Max had defensive powers, healing, the shield. He could only do so much as far as offense. As you know, I was not the most in control person as far as my powers go. To top it all off, Isabel was pregnant. We wouldn’t really let her do anything. We just kept her hidden.”

“So they just died? They didn’t send anymore?”

“A lot of them died, yeah. A few more came, but they saw that we weren’t really a threat and stopped wasting their time.” He says with a laugh, looking almost ashamed.

“Wow.”

“Yeah I guess.” There’s a minute of silence. “You know, you leaving ruined me.” He says quietly. Almost so quietly, I’m not sure if it was meant for me to hear.

“What would you have done if you were me?”

“I…I probably would have left.” He says finally, his voice weighed in defeat.

“Michael…”

“Don’t Liz. Let’s just leave it for now.” We finally make eye contact. “So tell me what I’ve missed.” He looks down at his hands.

“Where should I start?”

“At the beginning I guess.”

“You know, I always hoped that I would get to come back. That I would get to bring her to you.” I get up and walk over to the car, opening the trunk and pulling out a box. He’s standing and looking at me curiously when I go back. “Here.” I say, giving him the box.

“What’s this?” he asks, looking down at it.

“I recorded everything…I, I always hoped to give it to you.” I catch a hint of a smile in his eyes.

“Really?” he asks not looking at me, already thumbing through the box. He pulls out a disc. I see ‘Lexi’s Birth’ written across it.

“Um, yeah.” Another moment of silence, but not because he doesn’t know what to say. He’s caught up in exploring the treasure in his arms. “Look, why don’t we call it a night? You can go home and look at some of them and we can get together tomorrow.”

“Ok.” He says, still looking through the box.

“Good night Michael,” I say, lingering for a moment, then turning and walking towards the hotel.

“Liz,” he calls. I turn around and he’s looking at me.

“Yeah?” I turn back to him.

“Thank you.” We just look at each other, the moment getting a little too intense. “I mean thank you for this,” he says, gesturing to the box in his hands.

“Thank you.” I say.

“For what?”

“For giving me Lexi.” He comes closer, leans down and surprises me by kissing me on the cheek. He lingers just long enough to whisper a ‘good night’ in my ear. He walks to his car, gets in and drives away. I put my hand to my cheek and smile, then turn and walk into the building. I get to my room and find Lex asleep in her bed. I shut the door leading to my parents’ room and get changed. I kiss Lexi’s forehead before climbing into my own bed and falling asleep. I dream again. But this time, when I wake, I smile. *Just maybe, Liz. You never know.*

Chapter 11

“517, right? Are you sure that’s what the paper says?”

“Yeah mom. Apartment 517. Calm down, ok? It’s no big deal.” Lex says, taking my hand and leaning her head against it.

“Ok I guess we should knock then, huh?”

“Finally,” she says, rolling her eyes. I raise my hand to the door, but hesitate. “Oh forget it, I’ll do it.” Lexi knocks on the door a few times and it swings open.

“Hey guys,” Michael says, “Come on in.”

“Wow this place is so cool!” Lex squeals, already jumping on the massive leather sofa. I walk into his apartment and am surprised by what I see.

“Not much like your old apartment.” I say with a smile. I take in the spacious place. There’s a wall that’s almost all window, with an incredibly beautiful view of the town, but that’s not what catches my eye. On all the other walls are pictures, paintings, sketches. Of me. “Wow…” I say, captured by one particular painting. I’m sitting on my balcony, wrapped in a blanket. I’m looking up at the stars and my face is lit up by the moon. But my favorite part is how much passion I can feel by just looking at it, how much he loved me.

“You like that one?” he asks, aware of what I’m staring at.

“Um, yeah,” I say, embarrassed to have been caught. “It’s really nice.”

“Yeah, well a painting is only as good as its inspiration,” he whispers close to me and then walks away. I let out the breath I was holding. “Hey Lex, what do you want to do today?” I hear him ask her. I join them on the couch.

“I don’t know,” she says, finally standing still. “Can we watch a movie or something?”

“Um, sure. What do you want to watch? I mean, I don’t really have a lot of movies.”

“Can I see?” she asks, already opening the door to the cabinet and looking through the films.

“Sure go ahead,” he laughs.

“Found one!” she brings the movie over to us and hands it to me.

“You have ‘Toy Story’?” I ask in disbelief.

“Oh yeah, I try to keep at least a few kid’s movies for Andy,” he says, referring to Isabel and Kyle’s son, “That one’s his favorite.”

“Mine too!” Lex cries. Michael puts the disc in and settles back on the couch. We’re about half way through the movie, when Lex picks up my hand. A few moments later, she gently places my hand in Michael’s. My eyes widen, but I’m surprised and somewhat delighted when he doesn’t pull away. We just sit there like that for a while. Lexi moves, jarring our hands apart, and only then do we look at each other. He breaks eye contact, looking down at Lex.

“She’s asleep,” he whispers.

“I guess she was more tired than I thought.” I smile.

“I’ll go put her in my bed,” he says, getting up. He picks her up and she turns over in his arms, snuggling in against his chest. He walks down the hall and into a room. A few moments later he comes back. “Do you want a drink or something?” he asks. “Coffee?”

“That would be great.” He returns a few minutes later with two mugs. After handing me mine, he sits down on the couch, turning his body towards me, so that he’s sitting sideways.

“I wanted to thank you again for the videos. I watched a few last night. They’re great.”

“You’re welcome.” We sit in a comfortable silence for a while.

“Liz-“

“Michael-“ we start at the same time. “You first,” I say.

“I want to tell you that I’m ok and that I’m not mad anymore, but I can’t. I am still mad. I’m mad that I’ve missed nine years of my daughter’s life. I’m mad that I missed all those things on the videos and who knows how many other moments in her life. But…I’m not mad at you.”

“You’re not? Why?” I ask, not believing what I’m hearing.

“Because even in the little time I’ve known Lex, I love her with every part of my soul. I would have left too. I can completely understand the need to protect her.”

“Thank you.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for. If anything, I should thank you for raising such a beautiful daughter.”

“If things had been different, I would never have left. I would have told you. I wish with all my heart that it was like that.”

“I know. I don’t believe you would ever do something like that without reason.”

“I wanted to stay so bad.”

“I know it sounds absurd, given the things I’ve said lately, but I’m thankful that you didn’t stay. I don’t think that I could have survived if anything happened to her.” He looks down at his empty mug, ”Or you.”

“Michael, I-“

“I loved you so much,” he says, cutting me off. “I did for years after you left…sometimes I think I still do,” he finishes quietly. “There wasn’t anybody else, you know. Ever.”

“I never even thought about anybody else. Just you…everyday.” I look down at my hands. I hadn’t planned on telling him that.

“Liz,” he says, tilting my chin up. He leans in close. We’re only inches apart.

“Michael, I’m so sor-“

“Shh.” He closes the gap between us, touching his lips to mine. I just sit there for a moment, but after my shock wears off, I return and deepen the kiss. We break apart, breathless. We lean in again, but just as our lips meet, we hear a little giggle. We pull away from each other with disappointed sighs, but smile when we see Lexi. She’s peeking around the corner from the hallway, watching us. “C’mere Lex.” Michael opens his arms. She runs and jumps into them, laughing. He sets her in between us on the sofa.

“So are you guys together now?” she asks bluntly. Michael and I look at each other, unsure of what to say, unsure of what the other is going to say.

“I uh-“

“Let’s talk about that later, ok?” Michael says, looking at Lex, but I get the feeling he’s talking to me.

“Whatever,” she replies, already moving on to the next thing. As impulsive as she is, she knows when not to push. I catch Michael’s eye. He gives me a small, but meaningful smile. “You have PS4? Awesome!” I look over and see Lexi rummaging through his cabinets. She stops and turns around. “Can I play?”

“That depends. What do you want to play?” he asks, raising an eyebrow, trying his best to take on a serious face.

“NFL 2K12. What else?” she says, putting her hands on hips in a challenge.

“This girl has good taste.” Michael laughs, looking at me.

“What did I tell you? She’s her father’s daughter.” Michael chuckles and climbs down on the floor to sit next to Lex. I watch them play video games for a while, but grow restless. It’s like they’re in their own little world. I get up and quietly walk around the open area, looking at the pictures on the walls. There’s a sketch of me writing in my journal in the Crashdown. I know that moment too well. I saw it in many flashes in the past. It was the night that Michael stole my journal. The night he fell in love with me. A little farther, there’s one of me asleep in my bed and draped with a sheet, the sun’s first rays filtering through the blinds, casting odd stripes of shadow across me. There’s a framed candid of the two of us at school. He’s sitting on the ground, against a tree and I’m sitting in between his legs, leaning up against him. I’m holding a book in my lap, physics I think, trying to explain it to him. I’m completely unaware of the way he’s staring at me, his head laying down on my shoulder, arms around my waist. He was supposed to be looking at the same book, listening as I helped him review for our test, but he’s just gazing at me, smiling. It was taken during our junior year by a yearbook photographer. I chuckle softly, remembering how he paid the boy off to get the picture. I walk further, past various sketches, paintings, and pictures, reminiscing until I end up back at the painting that caught my eye when I first walked into the apartment. I stand there, just staring until a yell pulls me out of my reverie.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Michael screams in jest. He jumps up and throws Lex over his shoulder, depositing her on the couch and tickling her. “She beat me,” he says, looking up at me, continuing his attack on Lexi. She’s giggling to the point of tears, trying her hardest to return the assault, but to no avail. “Well aren’t you gonna help Liz?” he asks. I consider the request and smile mischievously.

“Of course I’m gonna help,” I say, sauntering over, sitting down on the other side of Lex. Michael’s face changes from satisfaction to surprise as I scream, “Under the arms, Lex! Come on, let’s get him!” He’s shocked for just a second long enough for Lex to wiggle out from under him, and we both jump on him, tickling him with no mercy.

“Uncle! Uncle!” he yells between laughs. We all slump down on the couch, trying to catch our breath, Lexi and I on each side of Michael with his arms behind us on the back of the couch. We sit in silence for a few moments, comfortable, feeling almost normal.

“Can I spend the night?” Lexi asks, as though it were an everyday occurrence.

“Lex.” I had expected something like this. “Honey, you know you can’t do that.”

“Well, why not?” she asks huffily.

“Because.”

“Because why? You always tell me that isn’t an answer.”

“Well, because…” I don’t really know what to tell her.

“Why don’t you both stay?” Michael suggests. I didn’t see that coming.

“Michael, how can-“

“Liz, this place has 3 quote-unquote bedrooms. I use one as a studio. You can use mine and Lex can use the room Andy uses. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“We can’t do-“

“Why not? It’s late and I’ve got more than enough room.”

“Come on, mom. Please?” Lexi begs, giving me puppy dog eyes and a big pout, folding her hands under her chin.

“Yeah mom, please?” Michael mirrors his daughter. I look back and forth between the two, my willpower dissolving. *What’s one night, Liz?*

“I’m gonna regret this.” I groan.

“Yes!” scream both Lex and Michael, giving each other high fives.

“But Lex,” I say, my voice taking on that motherly tone, “it’s time for bed.”

“But-“

“Nope. No buts. It’s way past your bedtime anyway.”

“Fine,” she says shortly. “Can daddy tuck me in though?” Michael’s face lights up at what she calls him.

“Sure, if you want.” Lexi pulls Michael down the hall and they disappear into a room. I get up and take the cups into the kitchen, rinsing them and putting them in the dishwasher. I take a few minutes to look at the pictures again before heading to my room. As I walk past Lexi’s room, I take a peek in. The lights are dim; Michael is stretched out on the bed. Lex is lying next to him with her arm draped across is chest, his arm around her. On his chest is an open book. They’re both sound asleep. I pull the door almost shut and go to Michael’s room, my room for tonight. I crawl underneath the sheets, snuggling into the pillow. I breathe in his scent as I fall asleep, something I haven’t done in over ten years. Once again, I dream of him, of us, of our life. But this time, it may just be within my reach.

Chapter 12

“Lexi, come on, you can do it.” My own voice pulls me out of my dreaming. I open my eyes, confused by my surroundings for a moment until I remember that I’m at Michael’s. “You’re doing so good, baby! Come here. Look, you’re doing it!” I hear my voice filter through the partially open door. I climb out of the bed as quietly as possible and tiptoe down the hall. There’s a blue tinged light visible from around the corner. I look around the corner and see Michael perched on the sofa. He’s sitting on the very edge with his elbows on his knees. In his hand is a remote control in midair, aimed at the TV. He’s smiling and his eyes are glistening. I go a little further to see what he’s watching. On the screen is a little wobbling Lexi. My mother and I are sitting on the floor, a few feet apart. We’re encouraging Lex as she walks from my mom to me. My arms are outstretched and she walks into them. “Oh Lex! You did it! You can walk!” I squeal through my tears as I hug her and twirl her around. I watch as Michael laughs, his pride evident.

“Her first steps.” I say. He jumps up and turns around, surprised.

“Liz, hey. I couldn’t sleep. Did I wake you?”

“Don’t worry about it, it’s fine. Yeah, Lex is kinda hard to share a bed with. She’s a thrasher. I think she gets it from you.” He smiles at that.

“Yeah, well she snores like you,” he says with a smirk.

“Oh my God! I so do not snore!”

“Yeah, whatever! That’s why I used to never get any sleep and my ears would hurt in the morning,” he laughs.

“You’re so exaggerating.” I say, picking up a pillow off the couch and hitting him with it.

“You wish,” he says, grabbing a pillow for himself. I hit him again. “Is that a challenge?”

“You bet.” I hit him over the head and run. He chases me around the couch, through the kitchen, and back into the living room again. I squeal as he tackles me. We fall on the sofa, both out of breath. “What time is it, anyway?” I ask after a few minutes.

“Um…God, it’s 3am.”

“I guess I should get back to bed.” I say reluctantly, getting up from the couch.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well, good night.” I wait a second, but when he doesn’t say anything, I turn and go to the hall. Suddenly, I feel his hand on my arm as he spins me around. He pulls me into a searing kiss.

“Good night, Liz. Sweet dreams,” he says, then he turns around and disappears before I even catch my breath.

“Sweet dreams, indeed.” I whisper to no one, touching my lips without thinking. I fall asleep again and just as promised, sweet dreams do come. I wake again to the smell of breakfast on the stove and the sound of giggles. I walk into the kitchen and find Michael flipping pancakes and a flour covered Lexi squeezing orange juice.

“Morning momma.” she says when she sees me.

“Hey sweetie.” I give her a kiss on the head and walk over to Michael. “Anything I can do to help?” I ask, leaning against the counter.

“Not a thing.” he says, “We’ve got it covered, right Lex?”

“Yep!”

“All you have to do is make yourself comfortable over at the table.”

“Ok. If you’re sure.” I say, still looking around for something to do.

“Liz, go on. Relax.” Michael says as he reaches around me to get the plates. He leans a little closer than necessary, his face brushing my shoulder with a small kiss. He turns back to the stove as if nothing happened, leaving me shivering in his wake. I go over to the table that is beautifully set.

“Ok, here we go,” Michael says, placing a plate of food in front of me. He sits his own down across from me and Lexi brings hers over between us.

“It looks great.” I say, surveying the meal in front of me. My plate is full of apple cinnamon pancakes and fruit salad. “It’s my fav-“

“Your favorite. I remember.”

“Thank you Michael,” I tell him softly. We set about eating our food and after a few minutes, Lexi gets up and starts to run into the living room. “Alexia Grace, where do you think you’re going?” She freezes in mid-sprint.

“May I please be excused?” she asks extra sweetly, turning around and batting her eyes. “Please mom, Hey Arnold’s on!”

“Well, how can I argue with that? But what about your food?” I ask, looking over at her plate, still half full.

“Oh, I’m stuffed.” she says overdramatically, clutching her stomach.

“Alright, go ahead I guess. If you don’t mind, Michael.”

“Hey, we can’t make her miss Arnold.” he kids with a smile.

“Thanks guys, love ya!” she yells, already jumping onto the couch and turning the TV on. We both laugh for a few seconds and sigh in the silence that blankets the table.

“Um, thanks for letting me use the bed last night.”

“No problem. How’s the food?”

“Oh, it’s, it’s really good. Thank you.” We eat for a few more minutes and then just sit there. “Well, since you cooked, let me do the dishes.” I say, getting up and starting to pile plates. He takes them from my hands.

“Absolutely not. Besides you need to go get ready for the day.”

“Why? What are we doing today?” I ask inquisitively.

“Can’t tell. It’s a secret.” He smirks.

“Michael what do you have pla-“

“Just go get ready. Trust me.” he cuts me off, stopping his task to look me in the eye. “You do trust me, don’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Then go get ready. You can use my shower if you want. And your mom dropped off some clothes for you and Lex this morning. They’re by the front door.”

“My mother’s in on this too?” I ask in disbelief. “Now I know this can’t be good.”

“You know you love it.”

“Whatever,” I say, using his trademark reply.

“Get out of here.” he laughs. I get my bag from the foyer and go back to his room. I get a shower and get dressed. When I go back out to the living room, Lexi is sitting on the same spot on the sofa, but cleaned up and dressed as if by magic. Michael is sitting with her, engrossed in the same cartoon. I laugh, wondering if he ever grew up.

“Ok, I’m ready.”

“Great, let’s go.” he says, jumping up and turning the TV off. Lex runs over to the door, with bag in hand. We walk out to his car and drive down the road. We end up at the Valenti house. “I’ll be right back.” Michael says as he gets out of the car.

“Bye momma!” Lexi yells as she too gets out and runs up the front walk. I sit in the car confused as I watch Kyle and Isabel open the front door and wave. Lex slides past them, into the house. Michael shakes Kyle’s hand and gives Isabel a hug and comes back to the car.

“What’s going on Michael?”

“You’ll see.” We pull away from the house and head toward the highway. We turn off onto a road that I remember all too well.

“Are we going where I think we are?” I ask, a little uneasy at the thought of going to the place that held so many memories.

“You’re trusting me, remember?” he says, taking my hand. I lean my head against the window and close my eyes, never letting go of his hand. I think of where we’re going, of the memories that I had tried so hard to forget. They had hurt when I couldn’t have him. “We’re here.” I open my eyes, looking around and it all comes rushing back.

---------------------------
Author’s Note/Background: This chapter is all flashbacks. The memories of the...the place where Michael took her. (You almost made me say it. lol. Ahh, you'll see it in like two seconds anyway.) And I know at the end of the last chapter, I kinda made it seem like they were ALL bad memories, but they weren't. *happy* Anyway, these are just a few. Ok guys, hate to, but I have to do this. A few things had to change slightly to fit in with the storyline. (However, not enough for my taste. Lol. I love Alex and I love Tess and want neither of them gone, but that’s the way that it has to go.) Let’s get this over with. Same: Alex died, Tess left, pregnant, in Departure, she and Zan returned in Four Aliens and a Baby, Zan completely human and given up for adoption. Different: Because Tess had not completed her half of the bargain (I.e. Zan not an heir, not delivering Max, Michael, and Isabel to Kivar), she was going to be executed, along with Zan. She fled back to Roswell from Antar with him. When she sacrificed herself for the others to cast off suspicion, the military gave up chase. They were safe from the government for the time being. However, when Tess had fled Antar with Zan, Kivar and his henchmen were furious, yet delighted. She was gone, but she led them right to the other three. These were the enemies Michael described in Chapter 10. Whew! Glad that’s over. On to the good stuff. (At least I hope it’s good. Lol.)
----------------------

Chapter 13

******************************************
“Michael, where are we?” I giggle as Michael leads me around in a blindfold.

“Hang on, we’re almost there.” He guides me a few feet further and I run into him as he stops without warning. “Ok, we’re here.” he says as he steps behind me and gently pulls the blindfold off.

“Oh, Michael…” I open my eyes to find that we’re at the quarry. The sun is setting. There’s a blanket spread out on the ground and on top of it is set two places for dinner. There’s a picnic basket and candles all around. “It’s beautiful.”

“You’re beautiful.”

***********************************

He takes me to the quarry, the place that has come to be our favorite spot. We’re lying on the blanket like we always do. He’s on his back and I’m curled up against his side. His arm is under my head, cushioning it from the ground. His other hand is intertwined with mine, twisting and tracing my fingers, making designs on the back of my hand with his thumb. We’re just lying, looking at the stars.

“You know, I could do this forever,” he says, pulling my hand up and kissing my palm.

“Me too.” I push myself up to kiss his face. He kisses me back and rolls us over. Suddenly a bright light shines on us and I hear the sound of engines. “Wha-“

“It’s…Kyle. And the Jetta? What the hell’s going on?” He jumps up, helping me up with him. The others are already getting out of the cars. Kyle and Isabel from the Mustang, Max and Maria from the Jetta, per usual. The six of us had stood here together during our worst times and our best times. The six of us had laughed and talked and worried and contemplated and planned every situation we were dealt here. The six of us came here for a getaway from all of the problems in our lives, human or otherwise. But as my eyes span around the circle of six I’ve grown so accustomed to, it suddenly changes shape, number. There’s seven. Seven and a baby. Tess. There’s Tess and a baby. My vision blurs with rage and I taste the awful flavor of bile. “What the hell is she doing here?” Michael screams, raising his arm. I’m not quite sure if it’s to defend or attack. I squeeze his other hand, my whole body shaking.

“Michael, don’t! It’s ok. She’s ok.”

“Max, what are you talking about? Hello, it’s Tess! She killed Alex.”

“I know, but she has my son.”

“So grab the kid and I’ll blast her ass out of here!”

“Michael, she’s not here to hurt us.”

*Isn’t that what you said the last time, Max?* I think harshly.

“What, did she tell you that? You just automatically believe her? Don’t you remember the last time she was here, she was going to deliver us to our fricking deaths?!”

“Michael, just stop it! Calm down. She’s in trouble.” Max says, running over to Tess, who holds a now crying Zan in her arms. “She needs our help.”

“Oh, well if she needs our help, then excuse me! I’m sorry, I had no idea.” Michael replies sarcastically. “Does anybody else think this is nuts?!”

“They want to kill Zan, Michael. Kivar wants to kill my son.”

“I thought he was part of the package, you know, an heir and our heads on a platter.” Michael laughs bitterly.

“He was supposed to be.”

“So what happened?” Michael asks, his voice filled with annoyance at Max’s verbal dance.

“He’s human.”

“That’s a laugh.” Michael snorts.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Tess finally speaks up, defending her child.

“The kid’s got you two for parents and he turns out completely normal. Does no one else find that funny?”

“Look we’ve got to figure out a plan. Kivar is after them, but so is the military. We’ve gotta be on guard twice as hard.” Max says, walking back and sitting on the hood of the Mustang. Everyone else walks closer and gathers around to hear the plan. Michael and I linger for a moment.

“Sorry, but I think our romantic evening just flew out the window.” he says, putting an arm around my waist and pulling me close as we walk over to the group.

“Hey, you’re here, I’m here, what else do we need?” I tell him, pasting a smile on my face. I stand where I never thought I would again, within a hundred yards of Tess. I tense up with fury. Michael senses it and pulls me against him, kissing the top of my head and smoothing my hair, trying his best to comfort me. I keep my voice calm. “So what do we have to do to help the bitch on her way?”

***********************************

Tess ‘disappeared’ a week ago. Today Max has to say goodbye to Zan. We all gather at the Evans’ house. We each give Zan a kiss, and then Max and Maria take him out to the car where Mr. and Mrs. Evans are waiting. Kyle, Isabel, Michael and I watch and wave from the door as the car pulls away, and then we go back into the house, all sensing that Max and Maria need some time alone. Kyle and Isabel go to her room and Michael and I sit down on the couch in the Evans’ living room. Michael’s in the corner and I’m next to him, leaning against him. His arm is on the sofa behind me, but oddly not around me. I’m clutching onto him for dear life.

Today was a big day for Max. It was a big day for all of us. But for me, it’s going to get far bigger. Today’s the day I have to face my biggest worry. Today’s the day that I change the course of history. Today’s the day I have to tell Michael. Tell Michael that he’s going to be a father. And I have no idea how to do it. *Now or Never*

“Michael-,”

“Liz-,” We look at each other, examining each other’s eyes, calculating. I have no doubt that my eyes show my fear, anxiety, nervousness, and anticipation, despite my best efforts to hide them. What surprises me though, is that Michael’s eyes are reflecting almost the same thing. Almost. The difference is that his eyes are…cold. He’s never looked at me like that. It’s not really like he’s mad at me, but that he’s distancing himself. We may be almost as close as two people can get physically, but at this moment, I’ve never felt further away from him. There’s one more thing in his eyes though. Self-hatred.

“Hey guys,” Maria says, unaware of the exchange she just interrupted. She plops down on the couch beside me.

“Hey, Maria. How you holding up?” I ask, putting my arm around her and doing my best to comfort her.

“Me? Oh, I’m fine. Well, compared to Max that is. I just don’t know how to help him. He just asked me if he could be alone for a while. I tried to argue, but you know how it is with him. I just hope he’s ok out there,” she says, absently gesturing to the porch. Tears start to slip down her cheeks, falling on her lap below. “I just don’t know what to do for him.”

“Oh, honey, it’s ok. He’s gonna be ok.” I pull her into a hug. She stays there for a few seconds, relaxed, but suddenly stiffens and pulls back, wiping at her face and plastering a smile on as if it were any other normal day. I turn to see Isabel and Kyle coming down the hall and I understand.

“Hey Maria, how are you? How’s Max?” Isabel asks shakily, her concern for her brother obvious.

“He’s, he’s ok I guess. As well as to be expected, you know?” She looks down at her hands and sighs. There’s silence in the group for a few moments. “What do you say you, Liz, and I go in the kitchen and whip up some lunch?” she asks, trying to lighten the mood, but her weary voice destroying her efforts. She looks between us expectantly.

“Sure.” Isabel says softly, striding into the kitchen after giving Kyle a kiss.

“We need to talk later.” I tell Michael as I get up. “Quarry, later tonight?”

“Whatever.” I feel a shiver at the shortness in his tone. My head snaps back up to look at him, surprised. “I mean, yeah. It’s fine. I uh, I need to talk to you too, anyway.” he says, struggling with the sentence.

***********************************

There was a chance of rain, so Kyle had told us to take his car. The whole ride to the quarry, not one word is uttered. Michael’s driving. I put my hand on his thigh, and while he doesn’t pull away, he shifts in his seat uncomfortably at the touch. I pull my hand back.

“What’s going on with you?” I ask.

“Nothing.” he answers quickly, his voice sharp.

“What are you not telling me?” We arrive at our spot and he brakes suddenly, causing a slight lurch. He gets out and walks over to the edge, not waiting for me like he usually does. When I get over to him, he’s pacing, one hand on his hip and the other running through his hair. I know that too well. I know whatever is coming isn’t going to be good.

“Ok, Michael. What is it? What’s going on?” I slightly demand, getting irritated, but mostly worried. He stops suddenly, looking at his feet. He just stands there for a few seconds, anguish on his face as if he’s fighting within himself. He takes a deep breath and raises his head to look me straight in the eye. I’m surprised by what I see. This isn’t the Michael Guerin that I’ve shared my life, my heart, and more recently, my bed with for the past two and a half years. This is the Michael Guerin that hated me a long time ago, the Michael Guerin that got in my face and told me to move my car that September night, the Michael Guerin that tried to stop Max from saving my life. *What’s happening?* I think to myself.

“It’s over.” he says, a determined note in his voice.

“What’s over?”

“We are.” I feel the air sucked out of my lungs.

“What?” I ask, bewildered.

“Tess.”

“What in the hell does that tramp have to do with this?”

“She came back.”

“And? Don’t tell me that she came back for you and that the baby was really yours,” I reply sarcastically. “Strange stuff may happen here, but this is Roswell, not Pine Valley.”

“No, she didn’t come back for me. But she brought others. Or rather, showed them the way.”

“I already know all that.”

“Liz, do you remember that day at the Pod Chamber? The day we got the message from our planet?”

“Yeah, past lives, destiny, and what not. Your point?” I ask, not liking where this is leading.

“You’re right. Past lives and destiny. And while I may think of Isabel as my sister and would never take that road, there’s a part of my destiny that I can’t deny. I’m a soldier, Liz. A fighter, a protector. And now, there’s a whole other army coming and it’s my duty to fight. We beat the Skins, but that was easy. Besides we had Tess, and like her or not, when we needed her, she got the job done. Now it’s just me, and I’m not fighting Skins. I’m up against the people who are the reason I’m a teenage boy on this planet, instead of a prince on that one. They killed me once before, and that was when I was a trained and prepared soldier. Now I’m just a kid blowing up rocks. I don’t like the odds.”

“I understand all that Michael, but what does that have to do with us? Don’t you know that I’m gonna be here for you, not matter what? I’m gonna do everything I can.”

“God, Liz! Don’t you get it? There are aliens coming from another planet to kill us all, and we’re forgetting the military. We don’t even know what’s gonna happen with them. I. Am. A soldier. I need to concentrate on my duty. What I was sent here to do. Protect the King and Princess. And I can’t do that if I’m thinking about you.”

“So, what? You’re just gonna dump me? Forget that we ever existed? I’m gonna be here, Michael, you’re gonna see me every day.”

“Liz, it’s just…it’s over. It has to be. For now at least. One day, who knows? But right now, I’m a soldier going to war and I can’t have distractions.”

“So that’s it? I don’t get a choice in the matter?”

“I’m sorry, Liz. But I don’t really have a choice either. It’s in me. It is me. Michael, Rath, whoever, I was sent to this planet with one purpose. To guard the royals. If I take my mind off of that for even one second, we could all die. It’s just the way it has to be.”

“Just…just take me home.” I say, my voice breathy, and I’m already walking back to the car. He follows and starts the engine, turning and driving us back towards Roswell. As we ride, tears start to stream down my face. I rest my hands on my stomach, thinking of the little life inside. I hold them in for a while, but soon the silent sobs start to rack my body. Michael probably thinks they’re because of him, and they are partly. But I’m crying because I know what I have to do. I have to think about my child. I have to leave.
************************************

--to be continued--

[ edited 5 time(s), last at 8-Nov-2002 3:03:29 PM ]