by Candy Doris
|Disclaimer: The characters are not ours, just the creative circumstances in
this particular fanfic came from our minds.
Summary: All our favorite characters are chasing hope...in every sense of the word. When the aliens leave to follow destiny, their earthling counterparts are forced to follow a destiny of their own with Hope being their only guidance. But what happens when the past and future, destiny and hope blend together and the future becomes past and the hope becomes destiny?
Author's Note: There are two imaginations behind this fanfic. One in California, one in Florida. A chance meeting empowered us to work together, each using our individual talents of editing and writing, respectively, and ultimately taking the first steps in achieving our dreams. Please let us know what you think. (Your conscious will eat you alive until you do!) Please copy both of us at the following email address: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
|Michael sat alone in his quiet hotel room. He concentrated deeply on a torn
photograph that lay in his open palm. With his other hand, he gently
caressed the picture taken of he and Maria five years ago. The candid
snapshot was taken at the Crashdown while the couple was preparing for
Isabel's surprise birthday party. Maria was smiling and Michael had his arm
around her shoulder. He smiled remembering the fun they'd had decorating
together that night.
His smile faded as his eyes moved to the damaged top right corner of the photo. During the war on Antar, fire was set to the bunkers where he and Max slept. Before fleeing to escape the fire, Michael reached for the only piece of hope and motivation he possessed on the unfamiliar planet. Though extreme heat curled the photo and melted one corner, Michael felt lucky to have saved his favorite thing on the entire planet.
Michael lay back on the bed and closed his eyes remembering the unusually hot night in December when he first realized his feelings for Maria. He remembered the conflicting emotions that raged through his body as he stood outside the Crashdown peering through the windows at Maria cleaning. He stood outside for a long while trying to figure out what brought him to the closed cafe. When Maria finally looked up and noticed him, Michael had no doubt why he'd left his air-conditioned room and ventured into the heat of the night.
A faint knocking on his hotel room's door interrupted Michael's thoughts. He rose to his feet and strode across the small room. He was surprised to see Liz when he opened the door. "Come in," Michael spoke as he stepped aside to allow Liz to enter the room.
"Thanks," Liz replied and slowly walked over to sit in the chair next to the bed. She wasn't sure what had brought her to his room. She only knew that Michael deserved more than she had given him earlier. Liz wanted very much to tell Michael the truth, but for now she would have to settle for giving him the fabricated truth.
"How did it happen?" Michael asked getting right to the point. He moved to the window and placed his hands in his jeans' pockets. He stared out the window and watched as a squirrel climbed a small, dying tree. Michael knew his question likely had an answer hid didn't want to hear, but he needed to know.
Liz picked at her fingernails and began talking. "We met at the movies...me, Maria, Alex, and Kyle. (Later in the story when Michael is learning that his patient is actually Maria, he can begin putting two and two together and ask Liz what movie they went to see the night Alex and Maria were killed. He can remember how scripted her story sounded and when he asks, she can fumble and finally choose a movie that would not have been in the theaters during that time. That can be one of the man clues Michael has to learning her true identity.) After the movie, we made plans to meet at my house for pizza. I rode with Kyle. Alex drove Maria's car. Kyle and I stopped to pick up the pizza. When we got to my house, Alex and Maria weren't there, yet. We knew something was wrong. After about half an hour, Kyle and I backtracked from the Crashdown to the movies. We found Maria's car three miles from the theater. A van ran a red light and..." Liz paused as Michael moved from the window to the end of the bed. He propped his elbows on his legs and rested his head in his hands. Liz feared he might break down.
"Was it instantaneous?" Michael asked.
Liz resumed her story. "They were rushed to the hospital. The car was hit on Maria's side. Alex was released that night with minor injuries. Maria suffered from internal bleeding and died the next morning. She never regained consciousness after the accident. The doctors said she didn't suffer since she was unconscious the whole time." Liz stopped. She had nothing more to relate. The actual accident was all she and Maria developed. She looked at Michael and felt his sadness. She closed her eyes so as to give him a bit of privacy and allow herself a moment to reflect. A single tear rolled down her cheek - a tear for Michael, Maria, and herself.
Michael listened as Liz spoke. He could hardly believe the horrible truth. The only thing that had kept him alive on Antar was the memory of Maria and the goal of one day returning to her. But she was gone. She had been gone nearly the entire time he had. Now he'd returned, but she never could. He turned his head and took in Liz as a tear escaped from her closed eyes. Though the news of Maria's death hurt him greatly, he knew how much it must hurt Liz to relive the terrorizing event in telling him now three years later. Michael moved closer to Liz and slowly put his right arm around her small shoulders.
The caring gesture and his move to be strong for her even through his own pain was nearly more than Liz could take. She gave in to her pain and leaned into Michael. The pair sat holding each other crying over what was lost and what could have been. Michael's uninhibited tears made Liz feel even worse about lying. Still, she felt the truth might hurt Maria beyond repair. Liz felt certain Michael would be able to move on.
After a long while, Michael and Liz broke apart and sat quietly. Liz noticed the curled photo of Michael and Maria and reached across the bed to pick it up. As she did, Michael spotted the strange mark on her shoulder.
"Liz," Michael said trying to smile and lighten the atmosphere. "Did you get a tattoo?"
"What?" Liz responded surprised and not understanding what prompted his question.
"There on your shoulder," Michael said reaching for Liz's upper forearm just above the sleeve of her t-shirt. "I saw that. You can't hide it from me. Come on, what is it?"
"Michael, I don't have a tattoo," Liz said seriously. She could not let Michael see the bruise on her arm.
Michael playfully pulled on Liz's sleeve. "Come on, what's it of? Does it say Mom?" Liz tried to keep him from seeing the mark, but she didn't want to act suspiciously. She playfully pulled her sleeve back down each time Michael tried to lift it.
"Okay," Michael said. "I give up." He put both hands in his own lap and turned away from Liz. When Liz let down her guard, Michael jumped at the opportunity to finally see her new tattoo. He pulled her sleeve up and gasped at what he saw. "Liz, what..."
"I fell," Liz finished. In a near panic, Liz jumped to her feet and walked to the dresser across the room. "I fell, that's all. No big deal."
"Liz...I...it must have been some fall." Michael remained on the bed watching Liz nervously pace the room.
"Yeah," Liz fumbled. "I was...coming down the stairs. I left a shoe on the step and..."
Michael rose and met Liz in the middle of the room. He touched her arm silently asking her to stop pacing. Liz stood still and began calming down believing she had fooled Michael. Without asking, Michael put his open palm over the bruise on Liz's shoulder. In an instant he experienced flashes that scared him. He saw Liz as she crouched in a corner of her bedroom crying. He felt fear, worry, and extreme pain. He saw Liz applying makeup to a black eye. Then he saw a man he didn't know. He saw him lifting his hand into the air.
"What are you doing?" Liz practically yelled as she pulled away from Michael.
"Liz," Michael said trying to understand the images he had just seen.
"When did you...how..." Liz asked holding her arm.
"I've been practicing," Michael said not thinking he might intrude on Liz's privacy. "I just wanted to help make it go away. I didn't mean, I thought...sorry." Michael returned to sit on the edge of the bed.
Liz kept her eyes on him as she pulled herself up to sit on the top of the dresser. She leaned against the wall and stared at Michael. Thoughts raced through her mind. She wondered what Michael had seen. Max always had flashes when he touched her the way Michael had just done. Based on the look Michael had before she pulled away from him, Liz feared Michael had seen more than she was ready to share. "What did he see?" she thought. "Did he see Maria? Did he see Hope?" Her thoughts were cut short when Michael spoke.
"I could have saved her." Realization struck Michael like a brick wall. He could have saved Maria. If he hadn't left, he would have been able to heal her after the accident. Anger replaced his sadness. He was angry with himself for not being there to help her. He was angry at having to fight in a pointless war that left him miserable and alone. He was angry at fate.
"No, Michael," Liz said grasping the emotions that soared through Michael's veins. She moved across the room to comfort him. She sat next to him on the bed and touched his hunching back. "There was no way. You couldn't have known this would happen."
"I never should have left. If I'd put her before myself..." Michael spoke shaking his head.
Liz watched as Michael's emotions played out across his face. Then his hands as they shook involuntarily. Liz knew she could ease his pain. Even amongst all his own pain, Michael had tried to help ease some of Liz's pain by healing the bruise on her arm. Liz fought the need to tell him the truth. If only she could let him know that his love was in L.A...with their baby girl. But Liz refused to betray Maria's trust.
"Michael, you can't blame yourself." She hated this act. Michael deserved to know.
Michael reached and picked up the picture of he and Maria that he'd treasured on Antar. He sighed once and made a declaration. "I will make it up to her."
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