Liz knew she was dead. Not in the way that counted. For some reason, her body was still hanging on. Her mind and soul were dead. They waited impatiently for body to meet them.
Somewhere in the most back part of her mind, a small piece of her still knew what was going on. That part of her still knew she was in that cave. It could feel Zan's body on her. It registered Zan apologizing for what he was doing.
He said that he had no choice. She'd driven him to this. They were supposed to be together and she had gone against him.. She was meant for him and because she had refused him, she'd have to pay the price. She'd die knowing what her mistake had caused her. But through all this, he said he still loved her and repeated it to her as he took everything from her.
Once in a while, her body would rejoice in the tiniest way because he would heal a wound that he'd cut too deep. He didn't mean for her to bleed out too quickly. So, he'd heal it and start again, making smaller, shallower cuts in the same spot.
The pain kept her sedated. Almost numb. She couldn't feel anything other than pain. She was too exhausted to feel anger, hate, sorrow, horror. No, all she felt was pain. But after a while, she welcomed it. She couldn't wait to die. And she was close. She could taste it in every bit of her being. It tasted so delicious. She rejoiced.
The time of thinking of Ava, Isabel, Kyle, Michael and even Parker was long gone. Her brain had shut off. It had no energy for it nor recollection for that matter.
Her brain totally shut off from time to time. That's when that small part of it would tell her it was better this way. Even that part of her brain didn't want to register what he was doing to her. He violated her many many times. Sometimes he took his time and in others he was done almost immediately. That fragment in her mind would automatically turn back on when he was finished.
And she waited. Waited impatiently for her body to give up, so that she would die.
Suddenly, her body was thrown back with a ball of energy. Her head hit a rock hard. The breath was knocked out of her.
Why on earth would Zan use his power to knock her down? He could have easily kicked her backward and saved his energy.
He grabbed her suddenly and shook her.
Very faintly, her mind registered someone yelling her name.
Her eyes focused and she cried at the sight. She was dead. Finally dead. This angel who had come to meet her, was the perfect body double of Michael. She was going to love it here.
"Liz, sweetheart, you're going to be ok. I got you. I got you, honey." Angel Michael hugged her.
Well of course she was going to be ok. She was in heaven.
And suddenly her precious Angel was crying in pain.. "I'm so sorry sweetheart. I'm so sorry." He hugged her tight.
He pulled away from a half second and her body felt heavier. That didn't make sense. Why would she feel her body if she were dead?
Angel Michael's face disappeared from view. "Max! Max, I need your help! There's too much blood! So much blood."
She cried out for him and he suddenly reappeared. "I'm here, honey. I'm never leaving you again." His voice went from soothing to intense. "I think her ribs are broken. So is her right arm and leg."
It was confusing to her. Who was he speaking to?
He was blurring out of vision and she realized she was loosing consciousness. But how could that be? She shouldn't feel anything anymore.
"Liz, sweetheart? I need you to look at me. Can you do that?" Angel Michael's voice begged.
She nodded but she knew it was no use. She couldn't hang on. She was losing him again. He seemed so far off. Why was he being taken away? Had God changed his mind about her? Was she instead going to hell?
Her question was answered almost immediately. Her body was snapping in different places, burned in others and stinging like never before.
And she could breathe all of a sudden. No wincing or pain while her lungs filled with air in or out. Her face, she could feel was now getting back to its normal size.
"We were close, Michael. Another 10 minutes and she'd be dead." That voice made her rigid as a board. The terror was back as her body was getting back its energy.
And with her new found air supply, she screamed. She screamed and kicked, trying to get away from him. He had created all of this. Healed her almost completely, given her an illusion of Angel Michael, only to give her false hope and take it all away.
She thrashed back and forth and fought against Zan and his illusion of Michael. An angel? She must have been close to the end to have had fallen for that.
Illusion Michael reached for her. "It's ok, my love. You're going to be ok. He's gone now. The bad man is gone. Just relax. Sleep, my love. Sleep. Max and I will take care of you."
She stopped fighting eventually. He continued to sooth her and eventually she let herself believe that he was no Angel or an Illusion. He was just Michael.
"Michael?" She asked, tears streaming down her face. Her voice broke with emotion. A million different emotions.
"Yes, my love. It's me." He somehow knew she was finally acknowledging him. "It's me."
She was in his arms then. Holding him as tight to her body as was possible. Her body still had no energy to hold onto him. She cried in happiness and in anguish.
"He-he..." She couldn't get it out. She was crying too violently. She cried and then gave a loud scream. "I hate him! I hate him!"
"Sshhhh. My love, breathe. He's head. He's dead. He won't hurt you any more."
"He raped me!" She hung onto him as she admitted that disgusting fact. "He raped me, Michael. I couldn't stop him. I thought I was dead. I want to be dead. Oh, god." She realized he'd cum inside her. "Clean me out! Clean me out! Clean me out! He came inside me!" That's when she realized she was stark naked. She pushed away from Michael and was violently sick.
Michael rubbed her back. She nearly jumped out of her skin, when his hand went down to her waist. She had to force herself not to vomit again. She was perfectly safe. This was Michael. Michael could touch her. She trusted Michael with her life.
She let him lay her against the wall of the cave after he put a long sweater on her. He worked slowly as he began to heal her. She knew Max was there, somewhere but he was hanging back. He was letting Michael do this now.
Michael spoke softly to her as he healed and tried to convince her to sleep. When she refused, he started reciting poetry to her.
"Michael?" She yawned. Lord knows she didn't want to sleep but her body had other ideas.
"I love you. I was scared to tell you. I didn't want you to know. Do you see me?" She'd had her guard up in the past but now that she was hurt and he was healing her, she knew he could see all that she kept from him.
"Yes, I can see you. See me. I love you." He kissed her quickly and got back to his work.
As he healed, he opened the connection and she saw his love for her. Starting all those years ago. He showed her the two of them, how he saw her and how he felt every time their eyes met. And slowly, ever so slowly, she fell asleep.
5 hours 43 minutes. That's how long Michael had been searching for Liz with the help of Max. He'd been getting more and more distressed as the time passed, but Max had done a good job of reassuring him that they'd find Liz and Zan.
They would have missed the cave all together but he'd heard what he thought was a laugh and stopped. Max had stopped in his tracks too and turned toward the cave.
They slowly made their way to it and the closer they got the louder the laugh got. Michael recognized the laugh immediately.
Max's jaw tensed. He'd been refusing to admit that his future self or any part of him would ever do this to any of them, especially Liz.
They walked slowly and quietly, so they wouldn't give themselves away too soon. But when Michael finally laid his eyes on Liz and saw how beaten she was, he saw red. She was naked, bruised, cut and broken. She looked like a shell. Like there was nobody in there. And then to his horror, he saw Zan approach Liz and kiss her on the cheek while he unzipped his pants.
That was it. Michael didn't think, he ran towards them, "Get off her!" And without his knowledge his arm shot forward and shot a blast at Zan that threw him away from Liz and against the cave wall.
He started to punch Zan with all his might. Max was behind him then. He felt Max's hand on his shoulder. "Take care of Liz. I'll deal with...him."
So, he mustered up his anger and let go of Zan and let Max deal with him. He went to Liz. She was a block of ice.
She was alive but barely. But he could tell she had given up. She was not here and it scared the hell out of him.
"Liz! Liz!" He yelled. Maybe she would hear him and try to fight.
After about a minute, her eyes finally opened and began to focus.
"Liz, sweetheart, you're going to be ok. I got you. I got you, honey." He used the smoothest voice he could dig up. He started to cry when he saw the tiniest smile on her face. "I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I'm so sorry". He should have been there. This never should have happened.
He took his jacket off and threw it on top of her.
He looked to see finally if Max needed help and what he saw surprised him. He thought for sure Max would not be able to do this. This part, killing Zan was the cruelest. But Max held is hand over Zan's heart and suddenly Zan was still and dead. Then, Max stood and ran his hand in the air over Zan's body and Zan turned into dust. Zan was finally gone.
He turned back to Liz and saw his jacket was getting soaked in blood. He froze for a second and then pulled the jacket off. He couldn't do this. There was too much blood. She was too broken.
He turned to Max. "Max! Max, I need your help! There's too much blood! So much blood."
Liz seemed to be trying to say something.
"I'm here, honey. I'm never leaving you again." He healed cuts as he spoke to her and stopped.
He spoke to Max now, "I think her ribs are broken. So is her right arm and leg." His rage was newborn. They healed and as they started, he felt Liz slipping away again.
He couldn't let her give up now. If she drifted away he might not ever get her back.
"Liz, sweetheart? I need you to look at me. Can you do that?" He begged with all his heart. The tiniest nod gave him a burst of happiness. She was fighting now.
As he healed, his connection to Liz was finally open. That block she had before was gone now. But he didn't marvel at that. It meant she had to strength to block him. So, instead he blocked it for her. If she didn't want him in her mind then he was going to respect her wishes. She could change her mind later if she wanted to.
Max healed her legs and arms, while he healed everything on her stomach, chest and face. Zan had hit her in the face a lot. Liz's face was so swollen, cut and bruised it made Michael sick. With her lungs and ribs fixed, Liz was now breathing normal.
If only they could fix Liz from the emotional and psychological pain she'd gone through just as easily.
"We were close, Michael. Another 10 minutes and she'd be dead." Max swallowed loudly. He looked like he was going to be sick as well.
He felt Liz got rigid in his arms but he didn't understand the reaction and in seconds, she was thrashing in his arms. She was kicking and screaming. Although her kicking was mild, it was erratic. It was obvious she was terrified again. He had no idea what had brought this on but he had to calm her down. She didn't have the energy to do this.
"It's ok, my love. You're going to be ok. He's gone now. The bad man is gone. Just relax. Sleep, my love. Sleep. Max and I will take care of you." He couldn't and wouldn't imagine what had been done to her. He looked at Max who was stepping back from Liz.
Horror and pain were the only expression on Max's eyes. "It's me.." Max chocked out.
Michael had no clue what that meant. "What?" He held on to a struggling Liz.
"It's me. She's terrified of me. She thinks I'm Zan." Max had tears in his eyes. He grabbed Michaels bloodied jacket and used his powers to clean it. He took off his sweater and threw it at Michael. "I'll just be over here."
As Max made his way to the opposite side of the cave, where Zan's remains laid, Michael understood. Liz had panicked because of Max. If she could not be around him before what would happen to Max now? Would Liz ever be able to be near Max? Probably not. And that hurt him. Because he truly believe his brother was a changed man. And if he wasn't before, he was now. Max had seen what his anger and selfishness had turned him into in the future.
He turned back to Liz and whispered in her ear. He told her everything was going to be ok. He couldn't be sure but dearly wished it.
And eventually, Liz stopped struggling. She looked at him for a long time. "Michael?" She was crying now. Her eyes told him that she knew she was safe with him. Acknowledged his presence and his reality.
"Yes, my love. It's me. It's me." He smiled.
She hugged him with such softness but he felt the emotion behind it. She was hugging him for dear life.
"He-he..." She slurred. She had no energy for this. Her crying was becoming too violent. She had shortness of breath and Michael wished he knew how to help her. And then she gave a loud scream. "I hate him! I hate him!"
"Sshhhh. My love, breathe. He's head. He's dead. He won't hurt you any more." He wiped the hair out of her face and leaned his forehead against hers.
"He raped me!" She finally cried out.
Michael closed his eyes tight. He had to control himself. Zan was dead. There was nothing he could do to him.
"He raped me, Michael. I couldn't stop him. I thought I was dead. I want to be dead. Oh, god." Liz started to rub her body with the bottom of her palm. Almost as if she was trying to clean herself. "Clean me out! Clean me out! Clean me out! He came inside me!" She turned away from him and vomited.
This was Michael's chance to get himself together. He knew. He knew Zan had raped her. The moment he'd seen Liz's naked body, he'd known. But his brain had refused to think about it. Now, hearing Liz admit to it was overwhelming.
And he thought of Liz. What would happen to her now. She was broken.
He almost cried for her when she flinched from his touch but she let him put Max's sweater on her. He laid her against the wall of the cave. He worked slowly as he began to heal her and tried to think of how he was going to be able to flush out Zan out of her.
Michael spoke softly to her as he healed and even tried to tell her to sleep. She refused. He started reciting poetry off the top of his head, hoping it would put her to sleep.
"Michael?" She yawned. She was close now.
She caught her breath. "I love you. I was scared to tell you. I didn't want you to know. Do you see me?" She tried to raise her hand to him, so he met hers.
He was slapped with images of him years ago and the emotion behind the images. His heart tightened.
"Yes, I can see you." He barely made out the words. He reversed the connection for her too see as well. "See me. I love you." He kissed her quickly and got back to his healing. She was good now. She should rest.
As he healed he let the connection flow through him. He saw what Ava was trying to tell him. The pain Liz had gone through mirrored his own. But it was more than that. Liz didn't fight the depression. She'd let it consume her. She'd dinned on it. She loved the blackness that overtook her. She drowned herself in alcohol. She didn't eat. She yelled and was bitter towards Ava. She hated herself when she finally found out she was pregnant with Parker. She had put her child-his child at risk. She focused only on the baby. And through the years, she formed a perfectly put together facade. She was happy. It was true she loved Parker and was happy with him but another part of her was dead inside. She seemed content on the outside. She taught her son about Michael and their family. She shared memories with him. She still loved him. Her guard was up because she knew if she let it down, she'd crumble. She was tied to that wall. It contained the darkness. But she loved him.
Thank God that wall was down. The darkness was finally out and the sun could shine through. He knew that with time, he wouldn't be able to heal that part of her. Never could he heal this tragedy but he could heal the darkness that consumed her heart. He knew it too well. He had carried it around with him as well. But both of them were free from it now. They were together and nothing or no one could tear her from him again.