Light from the streetlamp outside filtered through the window, illuminating the room in odd patterned patches. When Liz woke, at first she couldn’t recall where she was or what had happened. Realizing she was wrapped up in Michael’s arms she started trying to extricate herself without waking him. He had been really good to her this afternoon. Michael’s change of heart had been so gradual, it was easy to miss. But he was letting people see he cared and she knew what a big deal that was for him. She shook her head sadly thinking it ironic that when Michael discovered his sensitive side, Max of course would be an all around asshole.
“How are you?” At the sound of Michael’s voice Liz turned to face him startled, before relaxing into a gentle smile. It still surprised her, the extent of his concern for her.
“I’m good. Really. You helped a lot Michael.” They shared a glance. Hers conveying gratitude she felt for his care that afternoon, for everything he had done for her. His expressing the understanding and affection he was going to let himself feel, as well as the fact that whenever she needed him, he would be there.
Michael moved to fumble with the light switch, managing to turn it on after a couple seconds. The brightness was overwhelming at first, and as one they both groaned and fell back into the couch. Still somewhat dazed from the nap and from the emotional maelstrom that came before it. At the knock on the door Michael stood up and answered it.
The rest of the group stood there. Maria greeted her boyfriend with a long kiss. And proceeded to walk in talking a mile a minute as per usual. “So I called Liz and she didn’t answer and she wasn’t at the Crashdown when I swung by there, so I guess we can fill her—oh Liz. You’re here.”
Liz smiled weakly at her best friend. “Yeah, I wasn’t feeling well when you dropped me off. Michael brought me over here so that I wouldn’t worry my parents.”
“Michael, why didn’t you call me? Chica…I’m so sorry I wasn’t there I just needed to get home. You know Mom was already throwing a mini fit. I would have so been here if you needed. Michael behaved didn’t he?”
“Maria, chill. Michael was cool.”
“What happened that Michael had to bring you here Liz?” asked Max.
“She fainted.” Michael announced flatly.
“I did not.”
“She did. I had to carry her here. She was out for a while.” Michael glared at her, daring her to contradict him when she knew he was telling the truth. She just shook her head and sighed.
Maria rushed over to embreace Liz, “Oh my God! Liz, chica, are you okay? I mean what—“
“Maria, yeah, I’m fine now.” She glanced at Michael as if to say, this is why I didn't want to tell anyone. But he ignored her.
“But what caused you to faint Liz?” asked Isabel curiously.
Liz hesitated before saying softly, “I…well there’s something that I’ve been keeping from all of you. And now that this whole thing with Tess leaving, I guess…well I guess it’s okay if you know now. Michael and Maria both know something about the story of Future Max.”
“Future Max?” Max questioned incredulously.
“Yes. Max you came to me, from fourteen years in the future. The world was ending and you needed my help.”
“Why? What? How could—“
“Just listen to her Maxwell.” Michael interrupted.
“You see the world was ending because we loved each other.” Everyone sat in rapt attention as Liz told her incredible story. “When you came to me Max, I had just gotten back from a fortune teller I had gone to with Maria. I was fooling around, sort of playing dress-up, when lightening flashed and you were there, outside my window. Only you looked older, more rugged, your hair was longer and you seemed so scarred, so raw. I didn’t believe it was you at first. It wasn’t until you told me you would be serenading me that night, two seconds before you started to sing, and telling me how you remembered that I loved white roses not red when they were in mid-flight that I could even begin to consider that it was really you. And then you explained your mission. And what you told me broke my heart.
“Because Michael had just died in your arms, Isabel two weeks prior. Your enemies had found you because Tess hadn’t stayed in Roswell. You believed that she was necessary for your survival and to make her stay you needed me to make you fall out of love with me.”
“Brilliant plan, Evans!” snorted Kyle.
“So I did just that. I gave you that speech in your bedroom, and I tried to set you up with Tess. But you forced me to realize that the only thing that could tear us apart was if I betrayed you. So I asked Kyle for his help. You had told me that you would come to my window with Gomez tickets that night, but instead of finding me alone, you found me in bed with Kyle.”
Michael had sat beside her the entire time she spoke, and whenever she choked up he would rub her back. His support, silent and strong, gave her the strength to continue when her voice faltered. When she was done, the room was completely silent, pin-drop hearing silent.
After a few moments, Isabel stood and walked towards Liz, enveloping her in a tight hug. “Liz, I know I haven’t always been supportive or fair, but the sacrifice you made for us…was…thank you.”
“So that’s why you wanted to pretend to sleep with me. I never completely bought your story, Parker.” Kyle chimed in from the corner. “So now what, though? I mean Tess is gone. She…well…does this mean the world will end anyway?”
“Actually, Kyle I think that Future Max was still right, in theory. He didn’t realize who was among his enemies. Obviously Tess was working from behind the scenes, but now we know she’s, well, she’s evil. Since we spent more time together in this timeline we've developed our powers as a unit, so we are much stronger already. Also Tess left in the previous timeline before we figured out how to use the granolith, so she must have remained on Earth and therefore could have caused more havoc that way." Michael looked at Max and Isabel meaningfully. "I feel like we're safer now that she's no longer on this planet."
“Good points, Michael. But Liz, how do you know you changed the future?” asked Max.
“You disappeared right before my eyes. You ceased to exist in front of me. That was how we knew. You wouldn’t have disappeared unless I had changed the future. And also, Alex would have lived. He was at our wedding. I’m so sorry I failed him.” Liz broke off into a sob thinking about him. It was still too painful to talk about Alex.
“Liz you didn’t fail him. Tess did. We did.” Isabel spoke up with tears in her eyes.
Kyle spoke up pensively, “He told me something once, when we were trapped in the cave with the gandarium. We were both questioning our fate, you know whether or not we would live or die—“
“And does this have a point, Valenti?”
“I would if you would let me finish, Guerin.” Kyle glared at Michael before continuing. “I asked him if he regretted knowing, being a part of this mess you people call lives. And he said that given the choice, you know like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, he would chose to know. Because we were part of this amazing thing. No matter how long it lasted. Or we lasted. It’s not your fault, Liz. And it’s not yours, either. If we're going to blame anyone we should blame the person at fault, and that is Tess.” His gaze encompassing all the aliens.
“What was your answer, Kyle?” asked Liz curiously, without hiding the tears that were freely falling down her cheeks. Amazed that her best friend had felt the exact same way she did. Knowing the aliens had changed her whole existence, and while some things were harder, on the whole her life was better, richer for knowing them.
“I agreed with him. Knowing all of this has made my life something it wasn’t. I wouldn’t want to go back now. Besides I can't." At his answer Isabel walked over, took his hand in hers, and sat down next to him on the floor.
During the conversation Max had merely looked at Liz. Awe and love shining in his eyes. He finally spoke up, saying, “Liz, I’m so sorry. For everything. For asking you to do what you did. For not trusting my instincts. For not trusting your instincts. For betraying you so completely.”
Liz stood and ran to where Max was sitting and threw herself into his embrace. She had already forgiven him. His words touched her heart. She knew him better than anyone and she knew he was hurting from all the guilt. It wasn't his fault though. He might be an alien, but that didn't mean he was perfect. He was also a teenager, just like the rest of them. Everyone made mistakes. It was part of life, the only thing they could do was move forward. There was no space for anger and recriminations now, they all had to make sure they were safe and that the world wasn't going to end in the near future.
Michael watched, as Liz and Max seemed to reconcile. He would keep an eye out for her. Maxwell had hurt her deeply, and she deserved to be loved truly, honestly, and completely. And he wasn't sure that Max could love Liz that way. Michael thought, maybe, Liz deserved better than whatever it was Max could give. Maybe love that was so hard to maintain wasn't meant to be. That thought pricked at him too. He would need to make some changes with Maria, if he was actually staying on this planet.
Liz felt Michael’s gaze on her back. Turning her head slightly she met his intense stare. And stared straight back. She knew he would watch out for her. That he cared. She would tell him later how much she appreciated it. How it made her feel safe.