by Stephanie A
Disclaimer: The characters and universe herein don't belong to me. No
Summary: Michael/Liz- What happens in conditions that you really can't change?
Category: Unconventional Couples
|When he yanked the screen door shut behind them, the hinges screaming in
ungreased protest, and locked it firmly, taking a moment to catch his breath,
Liz sank to her knees against the opposite wall, her eyes welled shut, and
slid her head back, her hair falling in tangles over her shoulders. Her robe
was half undone, and one long, slim leg was folded under her, and she
collapsed in exhaustion, both emotional and physical.
Michael watched her silently, as he fell back into the nearest chair, the Salvation Army recliner with the fat dent where his foster father generally sat whilst drinking himself into a stupor, equally tired. He ran a hair through his own gold-shot spikes, which were generally a mess, and was relieved to discover them unaffected. He slouched, for a few moments, feeling spurts of pain shot up from his calves and ankles, and listened to her alternately gasp and choke, trying to hold back tears. There were no lights on in the dinghy trailer, but the dirty yellow glare of the floodlights in the center of the park spilled through the unshaded windows, flooding her in dim, but still garish neon illumination. Specks on the glass were shadowed on the white plane of her cheek, and curiously, he observed their movement.
He wasn't sure exactly what to do or think. It wasn't pleasant to watch her cry, and yet he was struggling with some equally unpleasant guilt. The best friend of your non- girlfriend, and the non-girlfriend of your best friend. Why did saving her life feel so damn illicit? *It isn't illicit as long as you don't do anything* his conscious said self-righteously.
But the floor was dusty, and when she abashedly swiped a hand across her face, there was a sooty mark on it, from the grime. He stood up, and she cowered in his shadow, feeling as helpless as she ever had.
"Get up" he said, gruffly.
She looked dazedly up at him.
"I'm fine" she said resolutely, not realizing how ridiculous that sounded.
"Oh" he remarked. "So you generally sit on the floor?"
Liz bit her lip, and he squirmed.
Michael detested girls that blushed. Nothing could make him as supremely uncomfortable. Of course, Maria did a lot of that too.
Talking and getting all red, he mused, totally gone on a tangent. No wonder they were on the off-again part of the relationship.
She wasn't talking, though. While he pensively reflected on the mysteries of the opposite sex, she had sat, cross-legged, on the far edge of the couch, and was currently engrossed at looking at him when she thought he wasn't paying attention. Like a hunted man, he was constantly watching her out the side of his eye, whether she knew it or not. Michael's vast mindful of entirely esoteric knowledge knew that the only thing more dangerous than a babbling girl was a silent one. Who knows what she could be thinking?
Liz wondered, tiredly, what the hell was going on. Part of her thought she should just kick back, relax, and resign herself to ... waiting. Waiting for morning, waiting for her parents to come back to their ransacked home to find their daughter missing... waiting for him to say something? She couldn't relax in front of him. Truth be told, she was just a bit afraid of Michael. She always had been, but she didn't know him then. He was aloof, and biting, and he could look straight at you, but you'd never know what he was thinking. Now he was a tentative acquaintance of his, basically due to the fact that they were in one, big, life-threatening situation, and... he was exactly the same. Liz had no idea whatsoever what her best friend ever saw in him.
Oh, yeah, sure, he wasn't exactly dog-meat, either. Michael had that whole constant-bad-hair-day thing going on, but he had a nice body, too, Liz reflected abstractly. Slim but strong, and his face was striking, to say the least. He was handsome in such a different way than Max, she observed, which might explain why she never really thought about it. Feature-wise, Max was darker, and their eyes were a study in contrast. Where Max's were big and open and sympathetic and caring, Michael's were... hard. Cold. Insensitive. *Windows to the soul* she thought, moodily, leaning her head back. If she didn't know better, and had to pick the one person at Roswell High who she thought was definitely not of this earth, Michael would certainly be her winner. He was, in all respects, quite the alien.
And glaring at her, since she was obviously staring without noticing.
"What's your problem?" he snapped, shattering her analysis of him.
"Nothing" she murmured. "At all. Can I turn the lamp on?"
He did it for her, stalking across the floor with heavy, leaden footsteps, and leaning over the table right by her elbow, flicked the tiny switch.
"Happy now?" he asked.
"I'm fine" she cut back, refusing to let him intimidate her.
"Good." He went back to the chair, and fished up a remote from somewhere in the crevice of its cushion, brandishing it like a weapon.
"Mind if I turn on the TV?" he asked, comparatively mildly, not turning his head.
Liz crossed her arms.
"I don't care. It's your house" she replied.
He laughed obnoxiously, just to bug her. "Right. It is."
The power flickered on the seventeen inch, which had clearly seen better days, and Michael proceeded to channel surf. After about twenty minutes during which the only sounds she heard were the static of inactive stations and the dull click of the buttons, Liz came to the conclusion that there really wasn't anything on TV on weekends. Apparently, their choices consisted of a female mud wrestling match on one of Hank's adult channels (which made her blush), a rerun of "Laverne and Shirley" (which got passed over without a word), and an old horror flick, which he ultimately decided on. An army of seventeen-foot high fire ants were attacking a pair of horny teenagers parked in the woods.
Liz became entirely engrossed with the cracks on the paneled wall.
"Don't like classic B-cinema, eh?" he remarked, flipping around in the chair.
"No" she said, annoyed, still not facing the screen. "They give me nightmares."
He chuckled, to himself.
"What's so funny?" she snapped.
"You" he answered, honestly. "Tell me... 'cause I've wanted to know for a while... how do you greet people? 'Hi, I'm Liz Parker. I like school, and my favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla?"
Michael enjoyed his own crack, while Liz fumed.
"You're not a comic" she said icily. "One. And two, excuse me if I'm not bundles of fun- my house is being intruded by the alien bounty hunters from Hell."
He sighed, and changed the channel. Liz looked over, and was shocked that he looked about half repentant.
"Sorry" he said, putting his hands up. "Granted. And it does suck. But it's not like there's anything we can do right now."
He had said 'we,' she noticed. Plural. Liz narrowed her eyes at him.
"My journal's hidden on the balcony, Michael. You've read it. If they ever found that..."
His expression was irritated, but if he had anything to say about the fact that she still obviously wrote confidential information in her diary, he didn't express it.
"They won't look that far" he insisted. "They weren't out for your stuff, Liz. They wanted you, I've told you that already."
"Yes, you did" she said, agitated. "I realize they wanted to hurt me, Michael. You think that's easy to deal with?"
He rolled his eyes, since she was, as he saw it, getting jumpy again.
"That's not what I said..."
"You think you know everything!" she exclaimed, effectively cutting him off. "How do you know so much, Michael? How did you know about Topolsky? Tonight?"
He was about to say something, before her last question, but it died on his lips.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.
"You know too much" Liz summarized, as the frustration and paranoia of the entire evening finally catching up with her as tears started in her eyes. "How am I supposed to know..."
His eyebrows were raised.
"So, in other words, I conspired with Topolsky to raid your house" he concluded.
He wanted to be sympathetic. He really did. But that was too much.
"God almighty, that's stupid" he said. "You just need to calm down, take a few deep breaths, get in touch with your inner scientist, whatever, but hyperventilating won't get you anywhere right now." He took a deep breath, exhaling proudly at the end of what he considered to be a very sensitive and empathetic pep talk. "Plus, it bugs me."
Liz screwed up her face.
"Maria was right" she accused. "You really are a terrible talker."
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