Disclaimer: I own neither the characters presented in these stories nor the shows from which they originate. Unfortunately.
Summary: Set at the beginning of Season Two, Michael is determined to keep Max and Liz apart, making Liz his co-conspirator. He will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal... even if, in doing so, he breaks the both of them and everyone they care about.
Genre: AU Angst/Romance
Author's Note: I wrote this story two and half years ago but never shared it. So, please keep this in mind when asking for exposition. Also, as you can see for yourself, this is a Max and Liz story, but Michael features extremely prominently. Even when circumstances might make Broken seem as though it could head into UC territory, it won't. Promise. One last comment: this is not a lengthy story. I actually call it a ficlet, not a fic. There are five parts plus an epilogue. Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone enjoys!
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.
Today is October 31st, I'm Liz Parker, and I'm running off to get married.
There was absolutely nothing to like about Michael Guerin. His personal habits were appalling. Disorderly, slovenly, selfish, his home reflected his lack of proper upbringing. To spend time there was horrible. The worse part was that no one seemed to object to Liz's sudden inclusion in Michael's life. Her parents considered her willingness to tutor their cook as further proof of her character, especially considering how much time she devoted to him. Even Maria was alright with the situation – perhaps slightly envious but still accepting. Though Liz realized why she and Michael were actually spending so much time together, she wished that there would be someone who would question the situation, who would realize the sham for what it was.
And she wanted Max to be that someone.
Michael's less than favorable traits didn't end with his housekeeping skills either. It was appalling the way he treated Maria, sending her best friend mixed signals and, for all intents and purposes, using her. Perhaps she had been wearing blinders for the past year, or maybe Michael's attitude had just worsened after he learned of his and the other aliens so called destiny, but, whatever the reason, a part of Liz was glad that Maria was no longer seeing him... even if her best friend did miss the mercurial martian. Most of all, though, she hated him because of what he was making her do, because she was going along with his ridiculous plan and couldn't find a better alternative. It was painful to look your own futility in the face everyday, and Michael made her confront her failures towards Max constantly.
Bluntly stated, he made her miserable, and she had no idea how to get out from the mess they were currently buried under. If she quit the plan, if she revealed what Michael was up to and went back to Max, than she was risking everything – his future, his planet's very existence, and her own heart. If she didn't, if she continued with the ruse they were putting on for the rest of the world... or at least their small corner of it, then she ran the risk of losing herself. Living a lie with everyone she knew and cared for tended to make it rather difficult to look in the mirror every morning. Oddly enough, all of the deception didn't seem to bother Michael in the slightest... or maybe that was just sad.
As she entered Michael's apartment that evening, having just finished her shift at the Crashdown, Liz moved silently. Even if her surreptitious actions only gained her a few more precious minutes alone, she would take full advantage of such a gift. The less time she had to spend with her conspirator, the better. However, as soon as she entered the alien's small home, she knew that slipping in was going to have a second benefit that night: Max was there, he was angry, and his presence sent a pulse through her entire body, warming and illuminating depths that had been frozen for months. She had missed him so much. Even if he wasn't there to see her, even if the two of them were arguing about secret alien stuff, she'd take any interaction with Max that she could... even if it was experienced from the hidden shadows of Michael's bedroom where she could remain unseen but still watch and hear the argument taking place outside on the small patio.
“Why are you doing this, Michael? Is this payback for something that I supposedly did to you? Some sick, elaborate joke? Are you trying to make a point, because I have to tell you, all you're accomplishing is making me wonder why I ever trusted you, why I ever considered you my brother.”
Blankly, Michael replied, “Maxwell, I have no idea what you're talking about.”
“Liz,” her ex exploded. She had never seen Max so incensed before. As she watched, he advanced upon his second and barely managed to restrain himself from attacking the taller man. Instead, he rammed his fist through the fence several times, shattering and splintering the wood. She winced in reaction, having to restrain herself from going to him, from cradling his bloody hand in her own and taking care of him. Even though Liz knew that Max could heal himself in a matter of seconds, when you loved someone, even a few seconds of pain and discomfort for that person was too much.
Dispassionately, Michael started to mess with his foosball table, turning his back on Max who circled the large game board to once again face his alien counterpart. “Every time I turn around, you're with her. You sit with her at lunch. You monopolize all her time at the Crashdown when the two of you are both working. You have her tutoring you.”
“She's smart, I was failing, so she offered to help me.”
Liz bristled at the obvious lie but waited to see what Max's response would be.
“I know how smart she is, I know that you were failing. Michael, you've spent your whole life barely skating by academically. In fact, I think most of your teachers simply passed you so they wouldn't have to deal with you again. And I have no doubt that Liz is generous enough to want to help even you, but you don't care enough about your grades, about your future, to take her up on her offer. No, there's something else going on, and I want you to tell me what you're up to.”
Finally, Michael looked up from the table, meeting Max's gaze unflinchingly. “She's hot.” Involuntarily, she ground her teeth together, hating the direction in which the fight was headed, and observed as Max haltingly took a step backwards as though he had been physically struck. “When a hot girl wants to spend time with you, Maxwell, you don't turn her down. If you weren't such a monk, you'd understand that.”
“Does Liz know what you're doing, why you're spending so much time with her?”
“Does she know that I'm trying to get into her pants,” Michael narrowed the line of questioning down to its simplest terms. He shrugged. “Don't know. Maybe. After dating you, it wouldn't surprise me if she was looking for the same thing – a little no strings, drama free fun.”
“What's that supposed to mean,” Max demanded to know.
“I mean that you two danced around each other for months, and you never once tapped that. Then, Tess came along, and you allowed everything to get so complicated, Maxwell. It's not my fault that you couldn't hold onto your girl, so don't blame me if she's finally moving on.”
Max rounded the foosball table and got right up in Michael's face. “Oh yeah? And what about Maria? She's Liz's best friend. She'd never do anything to hurt her like you're doing to me. Liz gets that there's a code. She also isn't the type of girl to sleep around because it's fun.”
The fact that he had so much faith in her made Liz's heart soar, but, at the same time, her stomach felt as though it had been tied in knots. Up to that point, she and Michael had just been pretending to hang out, but it was obvious from the alien second's comments that he was about to dramatically escalate their little game. She hated him for making such a unilateral decision, but most of all she hated him because she couldn't think of a better way to push Max out of her life.
Michael quirked his mouth up, appraising his former best friend standing across from him. Finally, after several moments, he calmly, quietly challenged, “who said it's just for fun?”
“I know things have been... rough between us the last few months,” Max acknowledged, “but this is Liz we're talking about here. You know that I love her. You know that I will always love her.”
“Yeah, and I also know that you have a wife, one that we all need in order to go home. Instead of worrying about my relationships, why don't you take care of your own. Now,” Michael told his leader snidely, “if you don't mind, I have plans this evening. You know where the door is. Show yourself out.”
Max held Michael's gaze for several long minutes before nodding once and backing away. After a few blind steps, he turned around and made his way to the door. As he passed, a part of Liz prayed that he would somehow discover her lurking in the darkness, that he would hear her ragged breathing, smell her perfume, or perhaps even sense her through their connection. But he left, never once even glancing over his shoulder. Although she couldn't blame him for being oblivious to her presence – after all, he was upset, and their relationship had been severed at her insistence, it still hurt.
Before walking out of her hiding spot, she wiped away the mutinous tear which had escaped her tightly shut eyes. It was almost as though her heart told her, if she denied her misery by closing herself off from her surroundings, then her pain would somehow miraculously dissolve and float away. It was a naïve, child-like hope, an empty wish, and that fact came crashing down upon her as soon as she lifted her lids. Instead of being far, far away from Michael Guerin's apartment – perhaps riding through the desert at night with Max or maybe even lying on her patio with just the stars and her journal to keep her company, she was still trapped in a private hell of her own making, and her tormentor was standing right before, a look of defense, as if he was already expecting her attack, upon his face.
“Why, Michael? Why did you have to do that to him, say all those things?”
Instead of answering, he simply said, “it's time to move up the plan, Liz.” And then he walked away.
Michael had skipped school that day. Usually, that would be a good thing. It would mean that she would be able to spend all her free time with Maria and Alex, that she wouldn't feel as though she was constantly under surveillance, and that she would be able to sneak glances at Max whenever he wasn't looking. But, after the night before, Liz feared what an absent Michael meant. With the way his mind worked, especially lately, it could only lead to one thing and one thing only: trouble.
After he had walked away from her suffering, from her frustration, from her animosity the previous evening, she had been trying to talk to him ever since and failing. He had taken off on his bike and had refused to answer any of her calls. She had wanted to know what 'it was time to move up the plan' meant. Further, she needed to know what the stupid plan was in the first place. All she knew about it was that she wasn't going to like it... which was probably why Michael was refusing to tell her anything. Still, though, she felt she deserved some answers. Yes, at times, she had fought against Michael's edicts and ideas, but, eventually, she had always given in to them, accepting them as necessary just as he said. Because of this, Liz felt as though she should have earned the alien's trust. Now, he just needed to realize that.
It wouldn't be long before they had a chance to talk, though, because they were both scheduled to work that evening... that was if Michael bothered to show up at all. That day wasn't the first time he had taken off somewhere without word or explanation, and, usually, when he missed an entire day of school, he didn't go to his job either. The worst part was that he apparently believed himself to be above calling off, leaving she and the other waitresses and her parents in a lurch without a scheduled cook. Why her parents kept him on at the Crashdown, Liz had no idea. Before, she had found it endearing that her parents were willing to give Michael so many chances, but, now, a part of her just wished that they would fire him. It would certainly make her life easier – one last place for him to constantly harass her.
Before she could even close the door behind her as she stepped into the back room of her family's diner, Liz felt her arm being wrenched as she was drug towards the bathroom. Without even having to glance, she knew that her assailant was Michael. He smelled faintly of fry grease, dust, and motor oil, and his grip was too tight to be anyone else's. Distantly, Liz wondered if Michael was unaware of his own strength or if he just didn't care if he hurt people when he grabbed them so roughly.
“Where the hell have you been?”
She sighed. Usually deja vu was a fun sensation but not when she was forced to have the same argument with the same person over and over again. “Like I've told you before, Michael. I actually stay for the entire day of school.”
“School ended almost two hours ago, Liz,” he challenged. Just as his words were bit out, his fingers bit into her upper arm. “Don't tell me you were with Max. I left you alone for one day, and you couldn't even stay away from him that long!”
Using all her strength, she freed herself from his grasp. Raising her voice, she yelled, “I wasn't with, Max, okay? I was avoiding you, if you must know. My shift didn't start until six, so I thought I'd walk home instead of taking the bus.”
“And, anyway, you're not my keeper, Michael. We might be working together to make Max fall out of love with me, but that does not give you the right to tell me what to do or to demand to know about my every action.”
“Yeah, well, what if I was your husband,” he inquired, folding his arms over his chest.
Immediately, Liz dissolved into laughter. She chuckled, and she snickered, and she giggled until her sides hurt and her eyes watered. Yes, the suggestion was hilarious, but she knew that a part of her uncontrollable humor stemmed from a need for a release. Everything in her life was so stressful, so serious. It felt good to relax and just enjoy a moment of hilarity for once. However, as the moment expired, she realized that Michael wasn't laughing, that, in fact, his face was becoming darker and darker with impatience and animosity as the seconds ticked by. Realization dawning, Liz nearly choked as she inhaled sharply. “Oh my god, you were serious.”
“It's the only way,” he stated definitively.
Quickly backing away from him until she was pressed up against the bathroom wall, she denied, “no, Michael, it's insanity is what it is.” When he just raised a brow in silent disagreement, she continued, “I mean, for one, we're only seventeen, and my parents, thankfully, would never agree.”
“Really,” he questioned brightly, “because, as far as your birth certificate is concerned, you, Liz Parker, are eighteen, the same age as me.”
Grinding her teeth together, she had to fist her hands in order to not lash out and just slap the infuriating deviant. “You altered my birth certificate?”
“Hey, an alien has to do what an alien has to do.”
“What the hell is that even supposed to mean?”
“It means,” he responded, pouncing upon her words and spitting out his reply, his put upon good mood finally being overshadowed by his mounting desperation and dissatisfaction towards her reaction, “that, as Maxwell's second, I'm doing what's necessary to ensure our race; I'm doing what he isn't man enough to do and that's face the facts. He will never be with you again. Tess is his wife. We need her to return to our planet and defeat our enemies. You're just some silly human girl that has him so blinded with infatuation that he fails to see the big picture.”
Hands on hips, Liz demanded to know, “and that would be what exactly?”
“That if he doesn't get over you, we're all going to suffer the consequences, Liz,” Michael informed her. “It's not just our planet that's in danger. Think about it. If we're defeated by our enemies, than what's to stop them from coming here? It's obvious that they can adapt themselves to sustain life in earth's atmosphere. If you don't do this, if we don't do this, your precious home and all the people you care about – your parents, Maria, Amy DeLuca, Alex, Kyle, and Sheriff Valenti – will die, and you'll have no one to blame but yourself. While you might be able to live with that, Maxwell won't. He'd never forgive himself if, by refusing to give you up, he ended up being the death of you. He wouldn't survive having your blood on his hands, and I'm thinking that you couldn't live with yourself either if you caused him that kind of pain and torment.”
By the time he finished speaking, Liz was in tears. Not able to vocally respond, she simply nodded her acceptance, agreeing to a plan that had the potential to break her heart but was apparently necessary to save everyone else's. Without saying another word, Michael took her hand and led her outside to where she found Tess' small SUV waiting for them. Normally, she would have been amused by the fourth alien's seemingly generous gesture, for Tess would only help others when it suited her purposes, but, in her dejection, in her misery, nothing else – even attempting to figure out just what exactly Tess wanted from all of them – mattered.
She was astonished by how gentle Michael was being now that she had accepted his plan and agreed to participate in it. He didn't mock her tears, and he didn't try to pick a fight with her which was what he usually did when confronted with strong emotions. It was this thought that she was having when they started to pull out from the back parking lot of the Crashdown, only to look in her rearview mirror and spot Max charging out the back door, down the alley, and after them. He ran as hard as he could, and, faintly, she could hear him yelling for them to stop, but Michael simply drove faster, and, soon, Max was lost from her sight in the inevitable, unavoidable New Mexican dust. As the man she loved disappeared, Liz felt the last pieces of her own self slip away as well.