She enjoyed being with Michael. It really was that simple. Not only was he funny, he was incredibly intelligent, their conversations sparkled with his dry sarcastic wit. She understood him. And he understood her better than anyone else did.
“Hey,” she said as she walked in, “You all set to get out of here?”
“Hell yeah. I’ve been waiting for this day since the first day I got here,” Michael said cheerily from the wheelchair he was sitting in.
Surprised by his good mood, Liz was a little taken aback by his cheerful demeanor, since Michael and cheeriness didn't usually go hand in hand. But she didn't want to make a big dealWithout missing a beat she asked, “Well it’s here. So will you let me give you a ride to your apartment?”
“Yeah, any complaints, Mr. I-just-totalled-my-motorcycle?
“Great. I’d love a ride,” he replied dryly.
Liz laughed at the expression on Michael’s face. “Hey, it’s not that bad you know. I’m a good driver.”
“You’re a girl.”
“Gee, thanks for noticing.”
“Trust me, I noticed that a long time ago.”
“We are not talking about this. When am I due back at work?” He changed the subject abruptly. He didn't need to dwell on all the ways he had noticed Liz was a girl.
“At the Crashdown?”
“Yeah, and at Meta-Chem, I’ve got rent to pay.”
“Michael, you can’t risk healing yourself completely.”
“Liz, I’m not going to stay on these crutches for the ridiculous amount of time the doctors say I have to.”
“It’s for your health.”
“Hello, super powers!”
“Michael. Please don’t—make that face,” Liz yelled as she caught Michael rolling his eyes at her. It wasn’t as if her life hadn’t been turned upside down because the three aliens in her life had no real idea about how to hide in plain sight. If they could only stop drawing attention to themselves, maybe years of trouble could have been avoided.
“Liz?” Michael prompted her softly. All of a sudden she seemed fragile somehow, and the last thing he wanted to do was antagonize her.
“What is it Michael?” she sighed.
“Where’d you go then, you look like you are a million miles away?"
“Sorry, it’s nothing. You have two more weeks off from Meta-Chem, and three from the Crashdown, plus you were also granted a two week leave from school.”
“Shit. That’s a lot of free time,” Michael frowned considering his options. While he wasn’t too crazy about the cast maybe it would be a better idea to heal the human way, although if it really took that long, he’d give the healing a little push in the right direction. He looked at Liz and saw a sad faraway expression on her face, and wondered again what was wrong. She’d been acting strangely since she had arrived. “What’s on your mind, Parker?”
“Tell me. You know you can tell me anything,” he reminded her quietly.
“We’re friends aren’t we?”
“Yeah, of course we are. You’ve been great during this whole hospital thing,” Michael replied confused. He wasn’t sure why she would be questioning their friendship. She had proven to be someone he could count on ever since she'd discovered their big secret.
“So when you’re out of here, we can still talk right?”
“Liz, what’s going on?” He was so confused. Why wouldn't they talk when he got home.
“It’s nothing. Ignore me, I’m being silly. Let’s get you home.” Liz smiled and nodded at the orderly who had just appeared in the doorway of Michael’s room. She didn’t want to disturb the balance of their friendship. She needed it too much. And she was genuinely frightened of losing him, especially if she made him talk about his feelings.
Michael said nothing as the orderly wheeled him out the room. He was confused by Liz’s mood. She seemed sad about something, but he wasn’t sure how to ask her what going on and have her explain it in a way that made sense. This had to be some weird girl thing, right? Liz had been so wonderful to him during his hospital stay. She had been the only one of his friends to visit everyday.
Maria had never come by.
Although Michael wasn’t entirely sure if that was Maria’s fault, he got the idea from things Kyle had said on his couple of visits that Liz hadn’t allowed Maria near him since the day of the accident. And maybe that was a good thing.
They were protectors. Michael couldn’t help but smile at the idea that he and Liz had a lot in common. The more he got to know her, really know her, he realized that it was true. He remembered when Alex died, he realized then that Liz reacted to things the same way he did, by internalizing, becoming the stonewall. And just knowing that, made him appreciate her even more.
“I bet you're glad to finally be free, right?” Liz asked Michael once they were seated in the car and she saw the smile on his face.
“No kidding, Parker. I can’t wait to get back home and re-watch ‘Braveheart’ and have a decent meal instead of the shitty hospital food I’ve been eating for the past three weeks.”
“Do you have food in your apartment?”
“I don’t know. I might have some popcorn.”
“I’ll go to the supermarket for you,” Liz offered immediately.
“Liz, you don’t have to do that. You’ve done enough for me as it is.”
“Too bad. I’ll go as soon as you’re settled. We can’t have you starving.”
“I wouldn’t starve. I’ve got popcorn and Tabasco,” Michael said, adding after a moment of consideration, “Hey, would you watch it with me?”
“I’d love to.”
Michael was bored out of his mind. How Liz had managed to convince him that not healing himself was a good idea he’d never know, although he had the sneaking suspicion that her promises of visiting him constantly had something to do with it.
She had been over every afternoon. She’d spent so much time with him he was beginning to wonder how the Crashdown was doing with two employees missing in action. But her presence made him happy.
He would be in the foulest of moods and she’d breeze in through the door and make some silly comment about school, and he’d smile, bad mood forgotten. Michael was beginning to wonder if Monk and Fly were right. And if they were, what the hell he was going to do about it?
He’d called them up, but their idea of help was suggesting he cook her dinner. It was a good idea, he had a lot to thank her for, but didn’t seem to take into consideration the fact that she was Max’s girl.
She was later than usual. He wondered if everything was okay and was just about to call her on her cell phone when she walked in. He’d given her a copy of his key a week ago when he realized he couldn’t get rid of her.
“Hey Michael, whatcha up to?”
“Where were you, Parker?”
“What’s with you today? Grumpy, because you missed Pam Troy fall on her ass in the cafeteria today?”
“You’re late. She fell on her ass? In front of everybody?”
“Oh yeah, and not only that, we all got to see her fabulous behind!”
“Yuh-huh, she wears a thong.”
“Shit. Parker, I want back to school. I’m missing all the good stuff,” Michael complained.
“Yeah well here’s today’s list of assignments, did you get yesterday’s done?”
“Yes, Mom. You’ll stay and help me again, right?”
“Sure, now I brought us some food from the Crashdown. What do you prefer, a Deep Space Sub or a Galaxy Burger?” Liz asked briskly.
“I’ll have the burger, speaking of food…um seeing as how you’ve been really great during all this mess and all…I was wondering…how ‘bout I cook you dinner after I get my cast off?”
“That would be really nice Michael, I’d love that,” Liz was touched. Michael had a way of making gestures. He was always wonderful to be with, in fact, she would miss their afternoon rituals once he was back on track, but it moved her that in his own way he’d miss her too.
“Max won’t mind right?”
“Max has no say in the matter,” Liz replied matter-of-factly.
“Liz, what going on with you two?”
“Absolutely nothing. My father hates him, with good reason. And lately I guess I’ve noticed that it’s not the same. I thought we could forget the last year, but I can’t, and neither can he. Right now he’s in Los Angeles, looking for Lord knows what so that you guys can fly your spaceship out of here.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“Well, now you know why I’m spending all this time with you. Now dinner sounds great, let’s eat our snacks, and get started on that wonderful biology homework that Mr. Seligman was kind enough to send you.”
“Great. Sounds like you have a plan, Parker.”
“You know me, I’m a woman with a mission.”