It was much later when they both woke up. The room was dark and quiet, shrouded in night shadows. Liz moved and stretched her arms out. She shook Michaels shoulder as he fell back as if to sleep.
"Guerin, come on, get up. I'm hungry."
"All right, Parker, keep your pants on." Michael grouched jokingly.
He stood up slowly and yawned. Crossing the living room into the kitchen with Liz at his heels, he opened up the refrigerator and stared at its contents blindly. Liz elbowed him gently and moved around him to get together eggs and milk.
"For pancakes." She said in reply to his silent question. Nodding in acquiescence he set about preparing the batter and the grill.
"Banana pecan?" he inquired.
"Mmm. Yes. You're the best, Michael," Liz replied.
It wasn't until they were both settled on the counter that they spoke again, the silence a welcome change as they worked together.
"Michael, please tell me what happened?" Liz asked as she glanced at the bandages on Michaels hand.
He sighed. Trust Liz Parker to never rest until she got the truth. He realized it would be easier to give in and tell her, and knew that she would find out eventually. He rather she heard the story from him. He didn't want her to feel like she was at fault. Anymore than she already did.
"I broke the mirror. In the bathroom. The glass cut my hand. Isabel fixed the mirror. But I didn't let her fix me."
"Why?" Liz asked quietly, almost afraid of the answer she would receive.
"I didn't want to forget. I thought I had lost you forever. As we rode back into town, I could feel the way you held yourself back, as if you never wanted to touch me again, like I disgusted you or something."
"Michael, no. That wasn't it at all. I--"
"Let me finish, if I stop now I won't tell you and I think you need to hear this. I got back here and Isabel was watching TV on the couch. So I went into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror and I was disgusted.
"Liz, why is it that everything I touch withers away. What is it about me that poisons the world around me?" Michael's voice shook with the emotions he was suppressing.
Liz stood up from her chair and wrapped her arms around him. Stroking his hair and neck as he held onto her like a man who was drowning.
"Michael, listen to me. You are so good to all of us. You have protected us without fail. Your heart is so beautifully kind. I don't know what I would do without you. I lost Alex, and Max. Kyle is so busy dealing with the whole Tess thing and helping Isabel. Sean is the shallowest person on the planet. What's kept me sane, has been spending time with you."
"Shh. My turn to finish. I was frightened by what happened this afternoon, because I thought it meant that I would lose you. And that's why I reacted the way I did. I wasn't disgusted. And I dont think it's possible for our friendship to wither away. You'll always have me Michael. Just like I'll always have you, right?"
She held him for a few more minutes, until he slowly let go and they stared into each others eyes with slight smiles. Liz looked at his hands meaningfully; he followed her gaze and healed his wounds. She unraveled the bandages before moving back to her seat and taking a bite of the pancakes.
"This is delicious, Michael."
"Thanks. When are your parents getting back?"
"On Friday. Its weird being left alone like this though, my dad is usually so overprotective and they just decided to run off for a week. Its crazy. But they're in Vegas. I remember when we went, the fun we had."
"Fun. Yeah, me getting locked up, losing all my money. Sure." Michael said dryly.
Laughing, Liz poked Michael's side, "Oh, come on, you know that the point was that you wanted to blow that money. Besides youre the one who called me exhausting! Maybe I should have taken more offense at that."
"You are exhausting. But who said I wanted to change you? I wouldn't have Shirley Temple any other way."
"Yeah, sure Doctor Love."
They laughed, relieved to have rediscovered their camaraderie.
"I should get home, it's late." Liz said as she stood up to put her dishes in the sink.
"Stay. The t-shirt you slept in last night is still at the foot of the bed, and I don't mind sleeping on the couch again." Michael suggested quietly.
"Are you sure?" Liz asked as she bit her lip.
"Yes. Come on." Michael grinned that charming grin of his, and Liz knew she was lost. She would stay the night again. She hated going home to the emptiness of the apartment. She really didn't want to be alone with her thoughts.
"You open tomorrow?" Liz asked as she washed the dishes.
"Yep. You don't mind leaving a little earlier than usual?"
"No. What about Maria?"
"She'll be back on Wednesday, so we'll be short-staffed til then, unless Agnes actually shows up for work." Liz dried her hands on the towel, and they both made their way into the living room. Michael shooed Liz into the bathroom, where she got ready for bed.
They made a short work of their preparations. Afterward, Liz came to hug Michael good night.
He pressed a kiss against her forehead and wished her sweet dreams.
They went to their respective beds and fell asleep soundly, exhausted by the emotional ups and downs of the day.