Disclaimer: The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Pairings/Couples/Category: Michael/Liz (UC, Polar)
Rating: Mature, because I gave Michael a potty mouth.
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
... and miles to go before I sleep.'
A somewhat alternate ending to "Cry Your Name" and the revelations that come in coping with the death of Alexander Whitman.
Author's Note: I'm not good with BBCode, and I'm bad enough that I went out and toyed with a macro just to convert my MSWord docs into BBCode. Let's hope it worked Many thanks to Whimsy, who reads my everything and still hasn't tired of me, yet.
It was a surprise that she had yet to spot him.
She was pacing, frantically categorizing glossy photographs as she circled the little table they were piled on. She would stop in her tracks every so often and tremble, her enormous brown eyes staring into space. It would seem odd to a random passerby, almost as odd as the Crash Down closing several hours before its normal time—courtesy of Jeff Parker in respect to the Whitman family, since he had not been able to attend the viewing or burial due to circumstances involving a delayed supplier—but he was no random onlooker and he stood before the locked door for several moments, silent and soaked to the bone. When she crumbled onto the floor, inadvertently scattering the photographs she had been sorting through only moments before, it was hard to remember that this was Elizabeth Parker. Liz, the painfully logical, clinically detached Liz Parker that had brazenly declared Alex’s passing as foul play. By an alien.
He’d been pissed, to put it mildly. Everything Liz had done, from that photograph to her bitter accusation in Alex’s room, seemed to upset everyone even more than the occasion warranted. Max was furious with her, ranting and raving at how coldly and callously his former flame had handled the situation with Isabel not too far behind… when she was not crying hopelessly in her room. Tess and the Valenti men were holed up in their home, quietly lamenting, and Maria had run out of tears to shed. Adding Liz and her fierce investigation into the picture had separated the group by their respective species, fueling the fire on emotions already scrubbed raw.
Michael had been determined to give Liz a piece of his mind, consequences be damned. She had not shed a tear when Max stiffly walked away from the van holding Alex’s cold corpse, had not expressed her grief during the funeral. She had upset Maria by showing her the photograph she’d found in the wrecked car, coldly stating her thoughts without any regard to anyone else. She was a fucking robot and it sickened him that someone who had been a supposed friend could so easily continue this fruitless search without emotion. She was stirring up dark shadows in their already deteriorating group, first by betraying Max with Kyle—something he still could not wrap his head around—and now this bullshit. She had been so helpful once, eagerly contributing in their ceaseless quest to discover themselves and their purpose, but now all she did was make waves and that was the last thing they needed. This shit stopped now, he swore as he stalked towards her home.
She was screaming now, the panes of glass unable to contain her sorrow. He’d always known she was small, but just then she seemed impossibly tiny sitting there, rocking back and forth with her eyes closed. Her arms were clenched around her abdomen as if she would tear at the seams if she did not hold herself together. His chest constricted at the sight of her falling apart, a hollow ache forcing him to swallow painfully past the lump in his esophagus. He felt like an ass.
Fuck. How could he have forgotten?
Before she had ever dated Kyle, before Max had fallen in love with her during the third grade, before Max, Isabel and he had ever hatched, Elizabeth Parker had known Alexander Whitman. They, along with one Maria DeLuca, had formed a triangle of unconditional friendship, of unwavering platonic love. Inseparable. Michael raised one hand to the cold, wet glass door before him, trying to put himself into her shoes; if Max or Isabel had died in circumstances that may have seemed ordinary—or worse, labeled as a suicide—he would have… damn it, he would have done the same fucking thing she had. She was going with her gut instincts, doing everything in her power to understand exactly what had lead to the death of someone she had loved so much, it had physically hurt her to lie to him when Liz had been determined to keep the secret about the extraterrestrials.
It made him want to laugh in a sad, depreciating way. He, Michael Guerin, was pissed at Liz because she was acting like him. He was pissed because he now knew what it felt like to be on the sidelines, watching someone else stampede through their decisions and follow their determined course of action without a thought as to how it may affect other people. He was pissed because he could no longer be pissed at her, now that he understood.
When all was said and done, when all that was left was the aching emptiness and the need to howl at the universe for the shitty hand it gave you, it had to be done alone.
Never, not in all his years wandering this damned town, did he think he would have something so painfully in common with Liz Parker.
Lost in his contemplation of the small slip of a girl on the other side of the window, he did not notice the young man standing beside him at first. The boy was lanky and pale, huddling in a jacket already soaked from the incessant downpour. Michael retrieved his hand from its perch on the glass, glaring down at the young male in silent inquiry, inexplicably annoyed with him for having the gall to stand there and shamelessly watch Liz as she clawed at herself in hysteria. This was a private moment, not to be witnessed by some moron he did not know. Of course, one could have said the same of Michael, but the situation was entirely different where he was concerned, he believed. He could watch Liz shatter into infinitesimal pieces all over the restaurant’s floor, not this scrawny kid.
“She looks pretty bad,” the boy commented awkwardly, reaching into his pocket.
“She does,” Michael agreed, his glare hardening. “What do you want?”
The boy blanched at the blunt, thinly veiled hostility. He stammered. “I, uh… she told me to tell her if, um… anything weird came up.” He pulled two long, thin pieces of paper from his denim pants, handing it to him uncertainly. “I delivered that Whitman guy some food and she…” the kid trailed off, clearing his throat. “Uh, anyway, this is the receipt,” he continued to explain. “The company declined it ‘cause of the way he signed it.”
Michael frowned at the piece of carbon paper, the dark blue imprint of the decidedly odd signature unsettling him. They had always bantered with Alex about his affinity with computers, but to sign his name in binary—if, indeed, it was his name—seemed downright bizarre, even for someone as technologically enlightened as Alex had been. Forcing the bile in his stomach to quell, he stuffed the potential evidence in his own pocket—not that he agreed with Parker, but it was definitely something to contemplate—and motioned for the boy to leave with a terse nod. Once he was confident that he was the only soul privy to the steady decline of Elizabeth Parker’s sanity, he waved a palm over the sturdy lock that kept him away from the young woman, his other hand holding onto the thin receipt within his jacket.
She did not acknowledge his presence immediately, too wrapped up in her blanket of agony. When he flung his dripping coat onto the counter, he heard her choked gasp. Watched her wipe furiously at her face in quiet mortification. Watched her scramble to her feet, trying her best to obtain that outward projection of the robot he so detested. The difference now, though, lay in the fact that he had seen her. “Michael,” she tried, her voice breaking on the dual syllables. “Wh-what are you doing here?”
Her feigned nonchalance hurt to watch.
He was fully aware that he had not the first clue of what to say to her. She was hiccupping in the wake of an interrupted emotional release and her eyes, much too large for her small face, glittered beneath the lights of the closed café. He doubted she could see clearly, let alone focus as her gaze jumped everywhere in her wild-eyed panic before some Parker steel finally set in and she visibly forced herself to stop. Her jaw clenched. “I…” he began, floundering a bit. She was still eyeing him wearily, her body shivering. She was tense and tired—and so was he, but for entirely different reasons. He did not do the comfort thing well on a normal basis and consoling Maria had left him somber, but with his rage at Liz completely drained, a new understanding that had surprised him when he was sure Little Miss Scientist could no longer shock him, he no longer knew where to stand. Where to move, what to say, what to do. Vaguely, Michael recalled lying in a foreign bed before his emancipation, surrounded by Maria’s soothing embrace… but he doubted Liz would appreciate that.
This was awkward. Really, really awkward. He drove a hand through his hair, annoyed at himself for being an idiot. He should have just stayed out there and let her grieve until she was spent. He would have made sure prying eyes did not catch her, would have stood guard outside that damned window until she was good and ready to let him in. This was not about him or his selfish need to empathize with a small reflection of himself, his need to hold that trembling ball of sadness as he wished someone would have held him so many years ago. This was not about him or his insecurities, either.
A puff of air escaped his nose. She was absolutely fucking exhausting, he thought, even as he came forth and enclosed her tightly in his arms. In typical Parker fashion, she stiffened in his embrace but he was not daunted or offended. She had no one to support her in the aftermath of her wild allegations and her behavior had effectively pushed away everyone in their mismatched group. If she did not relent to the unlikely but still available source of comfort from Michael, she would have no shoulder to cry on and he knew exactly how that felt. The choice was entirely hers and as he felt her melt against him, ducking her head under his chin, he was a little proud of her for being sensible enough—as if she could be anything else, in spite of recent events—to accept this small offering despite her initial misgivings.
Her arms wound around his torso, her body trying to squeeze into his warmth until they were no longer two separate beings. “Thank you,” she warbled in an uneven voice, tears sneaking past her defenses. She did not scream or wail with the same vehemence as before, but she muffled her sobs in his chest anyway, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt as he ran his fingers through her hair.
It would be a long time before he let her go.