A/N: This story was written two and a half years ago. I just never posted it. So, no, I'm not writing new fics; I'm just finally posting what was already completed and completing those that have been abandoned. ~Charlynn~
Today is October 2nd, I'm Liz Parker, and Michael is acting really, really strange...
When she was a little girl, flying had always seemed like the most magical thing. It was such a carefree experience, and what child didn't find floating through clouds exciting? Naively, Liz had believed that, when she was on an airplane, she was as far away from home as she could possibly be. Sure, there had been the vague idea of astronauts and space travel in the back of her mind, but that had seemed too much like fantasy, and, besides, she had never wanted to helm a spaceship; she wanted to be a scientist.
Now, though, the magic was gone. In fact, flying physically hurt her, made her heart clench in anticipation of the break it would no doubt experience sooner rather than later, because someday Max would leave. He would disappear into another galaxy, and she would be left alone without him. Once he was gone, flying would just remind her of her limitations, of why she couldn't be with him for forever like she had dreamed, why she wasn't his destiny and Tess was.
Three months away in Florida had done absolutely nothing to ease her pain, to erase the bitterness that had been choking her since the moment the vision of Max and Isabel's mother had appeared before them in the pod chamber. Oh, she had a great tan, and she was hoping that the physical distance had proven to Max that she couldn't be with him anymore, but that didn't stop Liz from still wanting him. From still loving him. So, when she emerged from the airport gate and scanned the waiting crowds, she couldn't help but glance for his face... even if she already knew that he wouldn't be there. She had distinctly told her parents not to let him pick her up, no matter what he said in an effort to persuade them. The heart, though, didn't recognize logic.
Her disappointment quickly turned to dismay, however, when she realized that, while Max wasn't there, waiting for her, neither was anyone else. If her parents had been too busy at the diner that day to come, she would have understood, but what about Maria? What about Alex? They were her two best friends. She had missed them like crazy while she was gone, and she knew that they had missed her as well. Phone calls, emails, and even actual letters did nothing to replace daily gabfests and hanging out.
Dejectedly, as she went over to the baggage claim, Liz admitted to herself that she would have settled for even Kyle or Isabel – anyone who was a friendly, sympathetic face. Not only would it have been nice to actually feel missed and anticipated, but just because she was back to New Mexico did not mean that she was home. She still had the journey from Albuquerque to Roswell to make, and the idea of having to complete the last leg of her return trip in a taxicab was disheartening... not to mention expensive. If her fears were confirmed, and no one showed up, then someone was going to owe her big. Really big. Like a 'get out of being grounded for an entire year' or 'I'll work all your shifts for a month' big.
Or she'd settle for someone making the last six months – including an alien named Tess – disappear. Surely, humans weren't the only beings that could be abducted, right?
"Parker! Where the hell have you been? I've been waiting outside for like ten minutes. Get your butt in gear, and let's go!"
For a moment, she froze. Although she recognized the voice... and the unmistakably hostile tone, Liz just simply couldn't believe that, of all the people who could have come to the airport to pick her up, her luck would provide her with Michael Guerin. In fact, Michael would be more likely to ditch her at the airport, to leave her there, and hope that no one noticed. When it came to their relationship, she had no false, rose-colored illusions. She knew that he put up with her because he had to, because she knew his secret, because sometimes she came in handy during a crises, and because she was Maria's best friend. If Michael felt anything towards her, it was resentment... not exactly the warm, fuzzy feeling required to inspire a three hour trip to Albuquerque and then another three hour trip back to Roswell.
Slowly, suitcases still in hand, she pivoted around. "Michael," she asked tentatively, disbelievingly.
"No, it's Rosie."
Well, sarcasm was better than outright hostility. "What are you doing here?"
"What does it look like," he asked rhetorically, already turning his back to her and progressing towards the exit. "Come on. I'm illegally parked, and, if I get another parking ticket, Maria will pull my Jetta privileges."
Dutifully, she followed behind him, struggling to both lug her belongings and keep up with his quick pace. "A little help would be nice here, Michael."
"You pack it; you carry it."
Liz had to take a deep breath to stifle her frustration. She knew, though, that getting mad at Michael never helped any situation, so she swallowed her animosity, and, instead, asked another question. "Speaking of Maria, where is she? Why didn't she come to pick me up instead?"
"She's working. Some diva of a waitress skipped town for three months and left her to pick up the slack."
"Oh," she whispered, for the first time wondering if her friend had felt that way about Liz's decision to go to Florida for the summer. She had been so wrapped up in her own problems, that she never stopped to think that Maria could have been experiencing some of her own issues. Plus, by leaving town, she had basically robbed Maria of her summer break. Her realizations made Liz regret ever feeling bitterness towards her friend for not coming to retrieve her from the airport. It looked like she'd be the one owing the shifts. "And my parents," she inquired.
Neither of them said another word until the car was loaded and they were making their way out of the airport's vast parking lot. Surprisingly, it was Michael who ventured first into, if not pleasant, than at least social conversation. "So, how was Florida?" Though his words were benign enough, she could feel the tension pulsating from his rigid arms and wondered how the Jetta's steering wheel continued to endure Michael's alien-strength wrath.
"Hot. Sticky. Lonely." Silence descended once more. Believing it was her turn to offer an olive branch, Liz asked, "what about everyone else? What was your guys' summer like?"
Flicking his gaze in her direction, Michael pinned her with a pointed glare. "You mean how is Maxwell?"
"No," she corrected him. "I really meant everyone."
"Oh, well, in that case, Tess is doing well. I'm sure she'll be thrilled that you asked."
"Michael," she said his name as a warning, as a request for a truce.
When he sighed, she knew that he had relented. "You've been gone for three months, Liz, and he still won't even think about moving on. Everyday, it was 'do you think Liz will call?' or 'I wonder if Liz is having a good time.' He ignored the rest of us, refused to even consider the fact that you meant what you said before you left... about the two of you being over, and just about drove Maria crazy asking for news about you."
"I'm so sorry, Michael." And she was – sorry. Even if it hurt, she knew that she and Max weren't meant to be together, that, if he wanted to find out who he was, he had to be with Tess. And then there was the whole destiny aspect of the aliens' purpose on earth. They were there to survive long enough so that they could return to their home planet and save their race. She was just a human girl who dreamed of being a molecular biologist. Her fate was much more... grounded. "But I honestly have no idea what else I can do. I've broken up with him. I moved away for an entire summer. I never returned a single one of his calls, emails, or letters." Shrugging, she admitted her helplessness.
"Here," her driving companion offered, tossing her something he dug out of his jeans pocket. "Consider it a welcome home present, I guess."
Catching it, Liz observed that she was holding an 'I was abducted in Roswell... and I liked it' keychain."
"Seriously, Michael. You shouldn't have."
"It's not the keychain that's the gift," he corrected her impatiently, rolling his eyes. "I stole that from the UFO center. It's the key."
"What's it to?"
Of all the things he might have said... "Excuse me," Liz questioned, shocked.
This time, it was Michael's turn to shrug. "I figured that it would be the last place that Maxwell would look for you... if you wanted to get away and hide from everything. Use it whenever you want... unless there's a sock on the door."
She shuddered briefly at the thought of catching her best friend and her best friend's boyfriend in any kind of situation where Michael's socks were anywhere but on his feet. At the same time, though, she appreciated the gesture. "Thanks," she offered genuinely. "That was really thoughtful of you, Michael."
"Yeah, well, I didn't do it for you. If we want to get off this planet and go home, we're going to need Max to pull his head out of his ass and stop mooning over you. I figured that, as his second, it's my duty to do whatever I can to help him."
"Of course you did," Liz mumbled to herself. She should have known better than to think that Michael Guerin, of all people, would do something selfless. At the same time, though, she held onto the key. Turning her head so that she could lean against the passenger side window, Liz gazed out into the desert landscape that she had surprisingly missed so much while away. A dusty plain of rock, sand, and cactus or not, New Mexico was where her home could be found... for now.
For the rest of the ride, neither she nor Michael said another word to each other.
. . .
She was in the middle of a conversation with Maria and Alex about their upcoming weekend plans when Michael slid into the empty seat next to her. Immediately, the discussion ceased as her two best friends glanced pointedly from the lone alien at their table to the alien-only table a few rows away where Michael usually sat with Max, Isabel, and Tess. Since she had returned from Florida, Liz had become increasingly aware of the separation that had developed within their group. They only mingled when it was absolutely necessary.
After several seconds passed and no one moved, no one reacted, Michael barked, "scram already. I need to talk to Liz." Alex stood to go, but Maria held his arm, meeting her boyfriend – were she and Michael actually still dating? – glare for glare. "Alone," the temperamental alien added.
With an annoyed shake of her head, Maria relented. "Fine." Addressing her, she said, "Liz, when you're finished with your ETD, come and find us. We'll be on the bleachers."
She watched as her friends walked away, only to be reminded of Michael's presence when he snapped, "great. Now you're talking in antonyms. What the hell does ETD stand for?"
"It's an acronym," she corrected him, not entirely patiently. "And ETD stands for Extraterrestrial Duty."
"See, I knew you were the right human for the job."
Shaking her head, Liz tried to wrap her mind around Michael's topic jumps. "What are you talking about? What job? And what do you want, Michael?"
He slammed a calendar down before her. Peripherally, she could see that it was chaotically full of notes and appointments, but she wouldn't allow the visual to distract her. "You're going to be my new tutor."
"Excuse me? What?"
"I'm failing... like all my classes," he told her.
"Maybe that's because, when you do actually deign to show up for school, you sleep through all your classes."
He stared at her dully. "And you thought that would translate into me knowing what the hell 'deign' actually means?"
"Good point," she acknowledged.
"Anyway, it's not that I care about my grades or even if I graduate from high school or not. The chances are that I won't even be on this planet long enough to turn eighteen. However, Maxwell thinks that I should care about crap like this, you're boring enough that you actually do study and complete your homework, and I thought it would be a good excuse for us to spend more time together."
Bluntly, Liz asked, "why the hell would we want to do that?"
"Because it's the first step in my make Maxwell forget that Liz Parker even exists plan."
"Michael, he doesn't have to forget about me. I still want to be his friend. He just... can't be with my anymore."
"Don't you get it, Liz," he challenged her. "Max can't be just your friend. It's all or..., well, all... for him at this point, but you're going to help me figure out a way so that he will feel nothing for you."
Doubtfully, she asked, "and you think me tutoring you will accomplish this?"
Standing, he told her, "for a smart girl, you really can be dumb sometimes. I said that this is only the first step." Rapping his knuckles against the calendar, he instructed her, "memorize this. It's now the most important thing in your life."
Glancing down, Liz found that, according to Michael, she'd either be at home, at school, or with him. He left absolutely no time for a social life and, apparently, believed that humans did not require sleep. "Uh, you've got to be kidding me." Looking up, she glowered at him, "this is ridiculous! I refuse to do this; I refuse to help you."
Michael bent forward, lowering his face so that it was only a few inches from her own. "If you love Max as much as you claim to, you'll do this," he informed her.
As he walked away, she realized that his statement didn't feel so much like a threat but rather like a promise. Liz would have preferred the threat.
. . .
It had been a long day.
Between avoiding Max, avoiding Max with Tess, dealing with Michael, and placating and soothing Maria after her... whatever Michael was... basically dismissed her, all Liz wanted to do was go sit outside on her rooftop patio, drink a cup of tea, and write in her journal. Alone. Usually after school, if she didn't have to work, she'd stop by the Crashdown anyway to either spend a few minutes with her parents or hang out with her friends who inevitably always congregated at her family's business. But not that afternoon. Instead, she had slipped inside by the back door, going upstairs without anyone even realizing that she was home. The hot water for her tea was already brewing as she pushed her way backwards into her room, her arms loaded down with her book bag, a basket of clean laundry, and a few cookies from the jar that always sat out on their kitchen counter. Unceremoniously, she dropped her things on top of her bed, keeping only the cookies within her grasp, and nearly fainted.
Michael Guerin was in her bedroom.
"What the hell are you doing in here?"
He answered her question with one of his own. "What the hell took you so long, Parker? I've been waiting here since two o'clock."
"Um... English," she offered in reply. There was a decided 'duh' tone to her voice.
Michael scoffed. "Who goes to eighth period?"
"Not me," he argued, folding his arms over his chest and leaning back to rest against the edge of her desk.
Shaking her head in dismissal, Liz once more asked, "why are you in my room?"
"I told you already. I've been waiting for you."
Concisely, she queried, "why?"
Pushing away from her desk, he strode across the room and plucked the cookies she had been holding out of her hand. While he responded, he ate her snack, never once pausing to either thank her or excuse himself. "I have something I want to show you."
"Well, that sounds ominous."
Ignoring her, shoving the last cookie into his gaping and crumb covered mouth, and tugging her toward her open window all at the same time, Michael remarked, "yeah, well, so was the idea of Maxwell being able to sneak up to your bedroom anytime he wanted to. So, step two of my plan was to fix that little problem."
Dread started to replace her irritation. "What did you do, Michael?" He didn't respond, though, simply pulled her across her patio and, as though he were one of Bob Barker's Beauties, proudly displayed his destructive handiwork. Disbelievingly and more than slightly angry, she yelled, "you removed my fire escape?"
"I removed an easy access for seduction and sex."
Trembling with fury, Liz said, "for the moment, let's forget the whole issue of boundaries and the fact that who I sleep with is none of your damn business and focus on the fact that you broke a law, Michael. That fire escape was there for a reason... so I wouldn't die if my house caught on fire. When the fire marshall sees that it has been removed..."
"Not only removed," he informed her, "but destroyed."
"My parents will get fined," she finished.
He shrugged dismissively. "Then don't tattle on me to the fire marshall."
In frustration, Liz tossed her arms up in the air and groaned. Running her hands through her hair, she paced away from the aggravating alien. "Put it back," she ordered him.
"I'm sorry. I can't do that. No wait," Michael corrected her, pausing dramatically and offering her a smug grin. "I'm not sorry. I already told you that I'm going to do whatever is necessary to get Maxwell to fall out of love with you so that we can go home. If that means a little destruction of property, then so be it. And I thought you said that you were willing to do whatever it took to push him away, too?"
"I did, but Michael," she protested, raising her arms in a helpless gesture, "maybe there's nothing that we can do?"
"No, there is," he argued. "You're just afraid to do what's necessary. Try harder, Liz," he ordered her. "Or I'll do it for you."
And, with those haunting words, Michael slid back into her room and left.