Title: Picture

Rating: T

Paring: Mi/L

Summary: Third story in "Picture" series. A peek into one night on the road in the Michael and Liz saga. One year or so after "All We Know of Heaven"

Disclaimer: I do not own Roswell.

A/N: There are still two more stories in the series. I'm currently editing To Live Again (the next installment) and hoping to finally finish Ghosts of Yesterday (the final installment). I love your reviews and feedback. It keeps me writing 3

Michael rolled over on his side and began to stare at the hotel wall. After two years of running, every hotel room began to look the same. The same suffocating walls and musky smell. The same creaky bed and stiff pillows that weren't his own.

He missed home. He missed the Crashdown and his apartment. Hell, he even missed school. Now he lived a life of running. A life he was stuck in and he couldn't escape. Max was controlling and robot-like, going through the motions. Maria and he were still on and off again. But Maria would always run back-he was all she had out here.

But this wasn't living. Michael had died when they decided to leave Roswell and yet, he had only began living since that day he returned Liz's journal. They never told anyone-no one at all. They did want to cause trouble or disrupt the delicate emotional balance of the one and only Max Evans. Isabel knew and she was dead. Kyle was out there somewhere. He had made the right choice and left but he knew as well.

But their love was beautiful. Liz demolished his stone walls and he loved her with all of his heart. Because she made him *believe* he had one. But they continued their charade, hoping for a lucky break one day. A day when they wouldn't have to hide the beauty of their passion.

They wouldn't have to sneak around or lie to Maria and Max. Michael could wake up next to her after they made love because she wouldn't have to leave in the early morning. They made plans to leave for college together and be free of Roswell and the reign of Max.

Michael broke out of his thoughts when Maria walked out of the bathroom of their shared hotel room in her cotton robe. "Ready to go to bed?" she asked with a small smile.

Michael nodded robotically and moved over so Maria could come on the bed. She turned to him with her huge blue eyes and Michael felt sick. Liz's eyes were brown. They looked at him with love and acceptance. Maria wasn't Liz. She never could be but he needed someone.

Liz was married to his best friend. Stuck in a marriage that she didn't want to be in. Michael recalled how much he wanted to stop the wedding. Stop Liz from doing this-walking away from him. Liz had looked at him with hopeful eyes pleading with him to stop her.

But Michael stayed still and almost cried when the defeated look crossed Liz's face that he wasn't going to fight this-fight for *her*.

Maria sighed contently in his arms and whispered, "I love you."

Michael froze. I love Liz, he wanted to say. Michael braced himself and he felt like his lips were bleeding from saying the words, "Me too, Maria."

He waited until she was asleep and then slipped out of the hotel room.

Liz Evans watched her husband sleep. She gently draped her small hands across her stomach and stared at the ceiling. Things had changed. Max Evans wasn't the same Max she once loved. Tears threatened to fall from her face when she realized what she was doing.

Living a lie, if you even called what she was doing everyday living. Working as a waitress in bars, constantly switching jobs, skipping town. She was sick of it. Liz wanted a real life. The only life she had ever known was with Michael.

Max may have healed her but Michael truly brought her back to life. His smile, his heart, but him *being* brought joy to her. All she wanted to do was protect Max. Michael and her could play the game if they wanted to. They had Maria and Max fooled. Max thought that Liz loved her with all of her heart-that she was his soul mate.

What Max didn't know was that Max didn't own her soul. She didn't *love* him since the first time she and Michael kissed. Michael was so gentle with her, a striking contrast to his rough exterior. She knew he loved her.

Placing her palm against a wall near the bed, she sighed deeply. She knew that if Maria and Michael shared a room, they were back together again. It hurt her that Michael could take her back so easily but didn't fight for them when she needed him to.

All he had to do was say 'no'. Liz didn't want to be Liz Evans. She wanted to be Liz Guerin. She wanted to be happy and to truly smile again. But that all ended when she and Max married. She didn't know how things became the way they were.

Liz stared at the group picture of all of them on that prom night that Max carried around with him. Michael and she had a beautiful prom night. They sat under the stars and made love for the first time. She didn't understand why she had to live this way. With her stares full of longing directed at Michael's image in the picture, she felt a sob coming up.

Her small squeak-like noise alerted Max and he mumbled, "You OK?"

No, Liz thought. I want to be with the love of my life, Max. I want to be alive again. But all she said was, "Yeah."

The dull, lifeless expression settled onto her face like it always does when she was around Max. She hated protecting him. She hated *him*.

"I love you," he mumbled before rolling back over and falling asleep.

Liz could never love him. Her heart was already taken.

Getting out of the bed and tying her robe around her body, her internal clock told her it was almost nine o' clock. Trying not to make any noise, she left the hotel and stood in front of her door and waited for him.

They did this every night. They rarely talked or touched, just looked at each other. A moment of truth in which they didn't have to hide their feelings. The raw pain and loss reflected in both of their eyes a reminder of their present but the love shining from them, a reminder of their past. Liz waited until Michael's hotel room opened and he turned to face her.

His eyes bore into hers. Liz hoped that someday, Michael would say something or show her that he was ready to fight for her. Liz didn't care about protecting Max anymore. If Michael wanted her, she would let him take her. She needed him.

Liz took a step forward towards him and watched as Michael's eyes flashed in fear and he stepped back. It felt like an ocean between them. It felt like a lifetime since they last touched. It *hurt*. Liz opened her mouth, "How come you never talk? We've been doing this for a year. We meet outside our doors and yet you never speak."

Michael's pain filled eyes lifted up to meet hers. "Because there aren't any words that I can say to express how sorry I am."

"For what, Michael?"

Michael stepped closer and he stood a foot away from her. They both felt dizzy from being that close to each other. "For letting you go."

Liz wrung her hands together, twirling her wedding band. "I don't know how much longer I can do this. Isabel and Kyle are gone. Maria is the only one delusional enough to pretend like she's happy. Max is...different."

"He misses her," Michael said. Liz looked at him in surprise. Michael rarely defended Max.

"I know. I do too but I don't think I can protect him anymore. I just want...you."

Michael was shocked for a moment. Liz was the one who always looked away first in the rare instance they had prolonged eye contact. She was the one who always distanced herself from him.

"I want you too."

Liz moved forward until she was so close to him she could feel him breathing. She closed her eyes and tried to remember that last time they were this close. He was intoxicated. "I guess the question is, Michael, what are you going to do about it?"

It felt like an eternity before Michael answered. "I love you."

Three simple words make Liz feel like she was floating. "I love you too," she replied, the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. "But that doesn't answer my question."

She wanted him to fight. To leave the shadow of Max Evans and finally admit that they needed to do this for them. They needed to be together. Michael wrapped his arms around her and Liz felt faint from the contact. He used his thumb to lift her chin up so he could look at her. "Maybe this will," and he leaned in to kiss her.

The pressure of his lips pressing against hers made Liz go weak and he held her closer to keep her from falling. His sweet tongue swept across her bottom lip begging for entrance. He possessively stroked her tongue with his and absently stroked her lower back with his large hand. They pulled apart to find that they were both teary-eyed.

"I missed you," he said and he leaned his forehead against hers.

"I missed this too," Liz replied. "It feels like home."

And years of being without each other was forgotten. The pain and the sacrifices all had led up to this moment. A moment when fate and destiny had beautifully created a love as strong as theirs and let that love help them find their way back to each other.

Then the moment was gone. Michael pulled away his hands flexed on her hips, almost keeping her away. "I can't let you do this."

He pressed his forehead against hers to avoid her hurt expression. "What, Michael?"

"I come out here and say nothing to you because that's all we have right now. You're better at this than I am. You remind me why we need the distance. I'm not giving up on you but right now we can't do this. Max needs you."

He began to let her go but Liz wouldn't let him. "Why are you saying this?"

"We could have walked away a long time ago, Liz. But you said yes to his proposal and you married him-"

"You let me!" and she moved away from him, missing his touch immediately.

"If I had seriously tried to stop you, would you not have married him?"

Liz avoided his gaze.

"Liz, I know you don't love him. Somedays I lose focus of that but I do know that. I forgive you for what you did. You love Maria. You loved Isabel and Kyle. And you love me. But until we become more important than them, we can't do this. Until then you can't tease me with a night of doubts that you're having. I want more than that."

Liz wanted to be angry but she knew he was right. Out of the two of them, Michael was more bound by blood to protect the group. After Isabel's death she saw him begin to take that position more seriously. They could die. It had never been more real for him.

"OK," Liz whispered. She wrapped her arms around herself and started to go back into her room. As much as she hated to admit it, she was proud of him-of the man he was becoming. But it didn't change the fact that she wanted to cry right now.

But not in front of him.

Michael waited until he heard the soft click of her door closing before he exhaled. This had to worth it, he told himself.