we pick up the story one month earlier then, after the jump...
One month earlier…
As they made their way down the jagged rock formation they each kept their thoughts to themselves. What could they say? How could they apologize for the anger, the mistrust, the hurt they'd each inflicted on one another. No one was innocent here. But they were all victims too. Silently they piled into Maria’s red Jetta and made their way back home, back to Roswell.
Liz watched the car pull away from the curb of the Crashdown as Maria left to drop off Kyle, Max, and Isabel over at the Valenti’s home. Michael had turned to walk over to his apartment and Liz was going to the diner. After dropping off the others, Maria was going to head home immediately to check up on her mother, Amy, who was still suffering the after-effects of Tess’s mind-warping abilities.
Liz was still reeling from all she had discovered. She felt shaky and nauseated. She had been right, about everything, about Tess all along. And it was killing her that she was. It was agonizing to be right about this. Tess killed Alex. She had screwed with them all. Remembering that night all those months ago when Future Max had come to her and begged her help in making Tess stay to prevent the end of the world, Liz stumbled. All the images, the what ifs, the possibility that this was all somehow her fault was overwhelming. It was horrifying. It was too much, and everything was spinning now, and the world went dark.
Michael had been debating whether or not to go into the Crashdown when he saw Liz sway, and in an instant he was there to catch her in his arms as she fell. Glancing at the busy diner, Michael decided to take Liz to his apartment instead. The Parkers already had enough on their plate, they didn't need to worry needlessly about Liz. Gathering up her petite frame in his arms, he walked the two blocks that it took to get to his place quickly. He wasn't interested in catching anyone's attention. He didn’t want to set the whole town asking questions and talking about that rebel Guerin and the Parker girl.
Until he unlocked his door, he'd forgotten his place was a mess. He had trashed the place after Maria had left, agonizing over his decision to leave. Pushing everything that lay on the couch to the floor he gently placed Liz on it, brushing away her hair from her face. She looked like an angel, and she was. He couldn't hold back the rush of warm emotion that settled over him when he looked at her. She had saved them, this tiny smart woman had saved him and Max and Isabel more times than they could count, with her intelligence, her ingenuity, her sheer determination to do what was right for them, to protect their secret. It never mattered how he antagonized her, she always did right by them.
How could he ever repay her for everything she had done for them? He'd always been cruel to her. He'd wanted to keep Liz at a distance. And it was hard, because she genuinely seemed to like him in spite of how badly he treated her. She'd always protected their secret no matter how many times he questioned her loyalty. No matter how hard he pushed Liz Parker away she always found a way in, and sometimes he worried that he'd let her get too close to his heart. She belonged to Max. There was no room for Michael. He needed to remember this.
Liz stirred. Her coffee-colored eyes flickering open. “Where am I? Michael?” She asked.
“Liz, are you ok?" Michael leaned over her and helped Liz sit up slowly. "I saw you faint and I brought you to my place so that your parents wouldn’t worry. What’s wrong? Why’d you fall like that?”
“Thanks Michael, I guess I just…everything sort of hit me at once. She killed Alex," Liz choked back a sob.
Michael looked at her closely. He could tell there was something Liz was holding back. "Yes, and now she's gone. But there's something you're not sharing Liz, I know it."
Liz was so tired of the lies and half-truths that had brought them all this far. All for nothing. Tess was still gone, she had lost everything, her love, her best friend, her light-heartedness, and the world would still end and she would ache. She would still end up with nothing. If Michael even suspected how she was responsible for this mess he'd never forgive her. He'd been the last person to trust her, hell, she wasn't even sure he trusted her now. How could she tell him. Tears welled up and a sob tore through her throat as Michael gathered her to his chest and she began to cry in earnest.
Michael didn’t know how long he held her. It seemed as if she would never stop crying. He could sense her pain, the heartache, the agony residing deep within her soul. He just held her and let her cry. Rubbing her back, brushing her silken hair with his hands, until after what seemed an eternity she quieted. Kissing her forehead chastely he asked her to tell him what it was that was eating her up inside.
Liz was drained. Emotionally, mentally, physically, and when Michael asked her to trust him, she did. He had been wonderful to her during the past few weeks. Saving her from the alien booby-trap, holding her hand as she revealed the truth about Tess to Max and taking care of her as she collapsed. Her promise to Future Max meaning nothing anymore, he was gone and so was Tess. She slowly poured the whole incredible story out, the only person she had dared to tell before had been Maria, and even then she had held back some of the details.
Michael listened in awe at the story Liz was telling him. He was humbled at the extent of her dedication, not only to Max, but also to all of them. She had broken her own heart, destroyed the future full of happiness that awaited her to save them. She had a core of steel and a heart that only amazed him.
“Liz, I…wow…I mean you did all of that for us? Why? I’ve never, and Isabel…she—” Michael was interrupted by Liz, who placed a finger on his lips.
“Shh. I had no choice. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I refused and known that in the end I could have saved all of you.” She smiled at him sadly.
“Thank you.” Michael whispered, humbled.
“Michael, what does all of this mean now? I mean I am so frightened that I did it all for nothing. That this is all my fault. Tess is still gone, and now Alex is dead, what if the end of the world still happens? What did I do wrong?” Liz couldn't stop the tears running down her cheeks as she leaned into Michael for comfort.
“Shh. We’ll figure this out. All of us. Max from the future didn’t know that Tess was working with the enemy, now we know. We know so much more about our powers, about Tess’s powers. Liz, I promise you that you didn’t do this all for nothing. None of this is your fault. I promise.” Michael gazed into her warm eyes, so filled with pain. He wanted to make things right for her, she had lost so much recently, she deserved a little happiness thrown her way. With Max doing what he did with Tess, getting her pregnant, fucking up so royally, he wondered how they would ever get Liz’s world set to rights. Especially since there was no way to bring back Alex. There was no turning back the clock on his death. Tess had so much to answer for, if only she hadn't escaped. Just knowing she was still out there somewhere burned in his gut.
“But Alex, he was at our wedding. Michael what if—" Michael interrupted her. He would not let her blame herself for anything.
“No. It’s all Tess’s fault Liz. You had nothing to do with it.” He moved to hold her more comfortably, placed her head on her shoulder, her back against his chest. “Shh.” He said as he tightened his grasp. “We’ll figure this all out Liz. We’ll make things right. But never blame yourself. Blame us. We’ve destroyed your life.”
“Michael…I…just know that I don’t regret knowing you, any of you, and knowing your secret has made my life extraordinary. And I trust you.” She settled back against him. Allowing him to comfort her. Slowly her eyelids dropped and she fell asleep. Michael watched as her breathing evened out. And shifted to make the couch more comfortable for the both of them. It had been a long day, and later on everyone would be meeting there. In the quiet, he too fell asleep.