Rating: PG for mild obscenities
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Spoilers: Nope. Set immediately following MitC.
Summary: Liz *is* changed. An emotional overload reveals her new abilities.
Author's Note: And a huge debt of gratitude to Debbie, for reading this (how many times? I couldn't say), keeping excellent records (since I didn't), and encouraging me in this -- it would literally not gotten finished without her.
"Did you sleep with Kyle?"
The slightest nod. Yes.
The rest is lost in the haze.
He turns away. Leaves her. Again.
Alone, she finally acknowledges the emotion that flows through her, that grows with every passing moment that she stands there, doing nothing to take back the life she wanted, earned, felt in every fibre of her being to belong to her, her and no one else.
She feels rage. Pure, white-hot, unadulterated rage. It makes her see red. It makes her blood boil. It makes her forget everything except the injustice of, and disgust for, her sacrifice.
She's tired of it all. The pain, the fear, the stress, the never knowing.
But not *tired *, no. The energy courses through her veins, pounds in her ears. It builds within her, a fire stoked and nourished by unabated fury. Desperately she turns and grabs something hard off her dresser, hefting it in her hand and then hurling it. Hard. It hits the wall with a loud thud. The sound it makes releases something in her, and she begins throwing everything she can find, with all of her strength.
The crunch and dust of plaster and drywall fills the air as walls give way before the onslaught, as curtains rip and tear, as fragile relics of her innocence grind beneath her feet and crumble under small fists. Mirrors shatter and papers fly as if possessed. Door panels splinter as she kicks with bone-jarring ferocity and implacable aim.
But still the rage builds, and she needs something else, another outlet. A target. She searches frantically but every material thing she owns lies in ruins at her feet.
Looking out at her balcony, she realizes that night has fallen, turning her windows into mirrors, reflecting back at her the broken person she has become. And she gasps for breath, feeling the emotion roiling within her, possessing her, recreating her.
She screams. She screams loud and long and painfully high. She shrieks out her anger, her fear, her outrage, her loneliness, and her misery. She wails for her loss, for the burden of knowledge placed upon her by the one person she thought she could love beyond anything, *through * anything. Who was supposed to love her, to fill that empty place inside of her that always forced her to do more, achieve more, learn more, to find something or someone to give some kind of meaning to existence. To her existence.
Lungs burning, she renews her scream, determined to push every toxic emotion out of her before it's too late, as black spots threaten her sight and sanity.
And as she succumbs to the darkness, she hears the roar of a thousand dreams shattering, feels the warmth of a thousand bloody tears falling upon her in a baptism of fiery rain.
And then nothing.
"Liz! LIZ! Oh my god, what happened? Someone call an ambulance or something, oh my god, Liz! Oh god, you can't leave me, you can't oh god oh god oh god, won't somebody help me, somebody help me! Help me! MICHAEL! MICHAEL! HELP ME!"
"Maria, what happened? Is Liz - holy crap. Is she alive? No, don't touch her, not right now, okay, where's Max, he could help her!"
"Call an ambulance!"
"Why is everyone yelling? Oh my god - LIZ? What happened?"
"Isabel! Where's Max? She's - she's lost a lot of blood, I think, she's going to need transfusions or something. Does anyone know her blood type?"
"Liz's? "A" positive. Why? What - Holy SHIT! What happened? Was she attacked? Where's the ambulance?"
"Alex, oh my god, she's lost so much blood -"
"Shh, Izzy, it's okay, she'll be okay, she has to. She just has to. Oh GOD."
"Is she still breathing? Make sure her pathway's clear."
"Tess? What are you doing here - wait, breathing? How can you tell? She's so still!"
"I could hear Maria screaming from the street. Here's a mirror. See if her breath fogs up the glass."
"She's breathing! She's breathing! Oh god, she's alive, she's alive "
"It's okay, Maria, it's okay, listen, you've got to hold it together. Just a little longer, okay?"
"I'm fine, damn it! It's Lizzie who's in trouble! Oh god, not Liz, why Liz? I need Liz."
"The paramedics are here!"
"Let us through, folks. Where's the - holy shit. What exploded?"
Beeping. Rhythmic mechanical murmurs. The rustle of cheap starched curtains over old air vents. Quiet sobbing in a nearby room.
Dark. Broken by the soft glow of red and green switches and indicator lights.
Eyes swollen painfully, one held shut by something sticky and smelling faintly of antiseptic. The other open, watching shadows play across the ceiling.
Pain, everywhere. Agony outside, aching inside. Pounding headache. A maddening itch along one leg.
Movement. A dark shadow moving closer, identifiable only by a glowing nimbus of pale gold and piercing blue eyes that defied darkness, swallowed it and returned only light.
A pause. Eyes meet.
"You'll live." Quiet. Arrogant.
Grunt. I know.
"Good. We'll begin the healing, slowly so they don't notice anything out of the ordinary."
"Don't thank me. I'm not doing this for you."
"Some day soon, we're going to have a talk about how to channel your anger constructively."
Grunt. Not amused.
"What, you thought you just dreamed blasting those windows into a million pieces?"
"That's right. I don't know how, no one does, but you you used power. In a way you weren't supposed to. In a way you shouldn't have been able to. But you did, and now you're going to have to learn control."
Silence. Tired. Eyelids drooping.
"Okay, I'll let you sleep for now. But I'll be back."
The desert is hot. So dry that sweat evaporates in seconds.
Need water. Can't see clearly; the heat makes the air shimmer, creates pockets of oily illusion that obscure the targets.
Anger building. Feeling the energy flow. Parched throat scratching, begging for relief.
"Not until it's gone. Make it GONE!"
Energy explodes out of her, focussed through weeks of hard, relentless practice, channelled effortlessly into one bright burst that streaks across the desert floor and demolishes everything in its path, including boulders, brush and the hollowed husk of an abandoned '77 Buick they'd retrieved from the dump.
In a second it is gone. All of it. So much dust blowing about on scorched land.
Energy spent, she turns and accepts a bottle of water, and then another, casually throwing the emptied remains in the air and blasting them into nothingness.
Eye contact. Nod. Tomorrow.
"Has she talked yet?"
"No. She just stares, you know?"
"Yeah. Her parents are freaking out. They don't know what the hell's going on."
"So? Do you?"
"Stop it, you two. We need to figure out a plan."
"Why? Tess seems to have it in hand."
"Exactly, Michael. Tess."
"What? She helped me a lot."
"She knew what she was doing with you. So did you, so did everyone. Does anyone know what goes on out in the desert?"
"It can speak."
"Michael! Shut up. What do they do, Max?"
"They destroy things. I mean, completely obliterate them. Just by looking at them."
"It's not your fault, Max. Stop blaming yourself."
"It is my fault. It's all my fault."
"What do you mean? How could it be your fault?"
"Tess told me yesterday. I came back from the future, using the Granolith. Changed everything. And even before that I changed Liz."
Tess. "Nothing can hurt you. No one can hurt you if you don't let them. Go on; it's time."
Walking. Leaping easily over a child's wagon abandoned in the middle of the sidewalk. Intuitively dodging through traffic, knowing precisely where to move. Pushing aside the rusty gate that has blocked the old path for years.
>From ten feet away.
Murray Street. Third house from the corner. A knock on a bedroom window. A face appears in the shadows, then withdraws as the window swings open in silent invitation.
"Why are you here?"
"So what happened? She came to your room, and "
"She said it had to end."
"What, specifically? Details, I need details!"
"Stop it, Maria. I I don't want to talk about it."
"Be reasonable, Max. You need someone to confide in, I've lost the one person who's always confided in *me* to your alien wife!"
"She's not my wife." Woodenly.
"Well, whatever. All I know is that my best friend almost dies twice - twice, Max! - and yet again, she won't speak to me about it."
"She doesn't speak to anyone."
"She speaks to Tess. She speaks to you."
"I don't know if she actually talks to Tess out loud. And she hasn't spoken to me since that night."
"But she still talked to you, if only to tell you what happened."
"Tess told me. Liz just confirmed it."
"Whatever. You know what I mean - if she talked enough to tell you what you made her do to you 'cause you were such a jerk everyone died -"
"Oh Max, I'm sorry, I didn't mean look, I'm I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. And I wanted to tell you that she didn't betray you, that she still loved you. But I couldn't. I promised."
Quietly. "No you don't."
Sadly. "No, I don't."
"This is it. The Granolith."
Hard. Smooth. Cool to touch. Overwhelming her small hand.
The light intensifies, pulses.
"What are you doing?"
Hand at side. Pulses slow, fade.
"No, don't stop. Do it again."
"It can't hurt you." Pause. "You can't hurt it."
"How did you do that? Show me."
Energies merge. Blinding light.
"Tomorrow we'll show the others. Come on."
Hot. Heat coursing through her.
Red, all is red. Furious red.
"Liz! Liz, honey, wake up. It's just a dream. It's just a dream."
Gasping. Sweating. Shaking.
"Jeff, she's burning up. I think she has a fever."
"Get a bag together. We'll go to the hospital."
"Do you think -"
"The doctors said to keep an eye out for infection."
Sobbing. "No, oh no."
Ringing. Muffled, insistent.
"Max, wake up. I need your Jeep to go get Liz."
"I just got an flash from her. Her energy is surging. She needs an outlet."
"So take her back out in the desert where she can't hurt anything."
"I intend to. But Jim's out on patrol, Kyle's car is in for repairs and I don't have time to walk. Her parents think she has a fever. We need to stop them before they leave for the hospital."
"Hospital? Sick people? Kids? Girl with uncontrollable urge - and ability - to blow things up?"
"Be there in five minutes."
"Honey, get up. Come on, you need to go to the hospital."
Shaking head. No.
"Yes, now come on." Coaxingly.
"I can't carry you, honey. You need to get up and come with us. You need a doctor."
No. No, no, no!
"I think she's delirious. She doesn't want to go."
"Maybe we should call an ambulance. They could sedate her. Where's her duffle bag?"
"Jeff, did you turn the heat on? I could swear it's ten degrees hotter in here than it was five minutes ago."
"Oh my god "
"C'mon Max, we have to see if anyone's hurt."
"You mean alive, don't you?"
"Liz? Liz, are you in here?"
"Liz? Mr. and Mrs. Parker? Hello? Is anyone in here?"
"Tess! I think I see something, over there."
"I see it."
"Mr. Parker! Wait, don't move, you might be injured."
"Liz Nanc -" Coughing.
"We'll find them. Are they in here? Mr. Parker, was Liz here?"
"Max, there's something wrong with him. Look at the colour of his face."
"Oh, go ahead. Just don't do too good a job, Max. They'll notice."
"Hello! Is anybody in there?"
"Up here! We have one man so far, Jeff Parker. I don't know if he's injured."
"Okay, we'll take it from here. His colour is good. I wouldn't worry about him too much. Now, who are you?"
"Max Evans, sir."
"Were you here when this happened?"
"No, sir. We got here a few minutes after, I think."
"Um, I'm here with a friend, Tess Har - "
"Tess? Did you find her?"
"No, but I found Mrs. Parker."
"Young lady - um, Tess, is it? Don't move her! The paramedics are here."
"Sure. But, she's in a closet. You're going to have to move her to get her out. And she's - Mrs. Parker! No, don't move, help is here. Max, she's conscious!"
"Is Liz with her?"
"No, Max. It's procedure. They need to ask you both questions; it doesn't mean anything. I promise, we'll let you know right away when we find her."
Click. Dial tone.
"Okay, now my officers are patrolling the streets. What we need is to check all the places she could get to by foot. Go in pairs, and don't wander off. I am not going to be making any upsetting calls to parents tonight, understand?"
"Okay, here's a map. I've marked off where each team should look."
"Sheriff, is Liz in trouble?"
"No, Maria. We're just worried about her."
"I mean, does anyone suspect her or anything?"
"No. The fire marshall's been through the building, and doesn't think it was arson. Not sure what it was, but says there's no trace of any accelerants or triggers. But what with what happened to Liz before, and in the exact same room, they're starting to get suspicious. They know *something * is up, just not what, how, or by whom."
"So let's find her before anything else happens."
Dark. Warm. Comforting.
Can't hurt anybody here.
"Isabel! Any luck?"
"No. But Max, I was thinking, Liz was able to reach you in New York - maybe it works both ways. Maybe you could reach her. I can help."
"Let's do it."
Dark. Warm. Comfort -
No. Go away.
No one here.
Leave me alone.
Leave me in the dark.
"She won't let me in. She's blocking me somehow."
"It's okay, Max. It's not your fault."
"Maybe " Bleakly.
"Maybe she'd listen to Tess."
I know you're there.
No. No, I'm not.
Yes you are. We're coming for you.
Yes. You need us.
I'll kill you.
No, you won't.
I killed them.
No, you didn't. They're fine. They're worried about you.
You're not a killer. But you need our help.
Why are you helping me?
Tell me. Tell me why.
Because you're letting me. Because you let me in.
"Okay, I know where she is."
"The one place she felt safe. Where she couldn't hurt anyone else."
"Tess! Where. Is. She?"
"She's with the Granolith."
"Hey, wanna slow down a little? I think the Jetta's having a little trouble keeping up, and I'll never hear the end of it if Maria's insurance goes up any more."
"Max? She's right. We need everyone together to help Liz."
Silence. Slows slightly.
"Why do you care anyways?"
"I care, all right Michael? Leave it alone." Pause. Quieter: "I never hated her."
"What does that mean? Why should anyone believe you want to help her now?"
"Is it that hard to believe? I know what she's going through more than anyone here. Even you."
"C'mon, Fearless Leader. Don't tell me you buy this!"
Still angry, still red.
"Liz? Liz! Where are you?"
"Geez, Maria. It's a cave. I promise she can hear you without screaming."
"Shut up, space boy."
"Why don't you shut me up?"
Embers smouldering. Fanning.
Go away. Need the fire. The fury.
*Liz! Talk to me!*
Only want the flame. Go away.
Go away NOW.
"Whoa this is whoa "
"What can I say, Alex? We brought the fun toys with us."
"No kidding. What can it do?"
"We don't really know yet. Well, Liz says time travel, and it can do some neat light and sound effects. But other than that " Shrug.
"You should find out, Tess. It could be important."
*Liz! Answer me!*
Anger. Hate interruptions. Need focus.
"Liz? Isabel, she's over here! There's some kind of niche, or something."
"Max, don't shout. Give her some breathing room."
Urgently. "Liz, can you hear me? We're here to help you."
Gently. "Liz, I know you can hear us. I can tell."
Gasp. "Liz, your face you hands "
"Heal her quickly, Max. She could be going into shock. Talk to her."
Reluctantly: "Maybe someone else should." Pause. "Tess?"
"No. She needs you right now. She needs you more than I do. That way, at least."
Pause. Low. "Thank you."
"Just don't mess up. I'll be outside."
No, no, go away, doesn't matter.
Feel it - can't you feel it?
Stop it! Need to focus. Need to. STOP!
"Ooh, look at the colours how pretty I love how they swirl like that "
"Oops. Sorry, I know I said I wouldn't touch it. But, uh, okay, so I did and I said I wouldn't. But I didn't mean to. I just wanted to see where the light was coming from and it's so big I didn't think I could do anything to-"
Breathy. "That was to calm you down. Again."
"It didn't work."
"Michael Michael, stop it. When I touched the Granolith I saw flashes. For real this time."
Familiar. Filling. Feeding.
"I saw something. A green - something, like a wall. But kind of see-through. Shifting. It was holding back this fire, getting brighter and brighter."
"Green? Like a force field?"
"Yes! How did you know?"
"We need to talk to Max."
Shrinking. Expanding. Pulsing.
Roiling with power.
Raging out of control.
"Tess, look at her. What's happening?"
"She's surging. She needs a target. Get her outside, now."
"I think it's too late. Look at her!"
Target. Need a target.
"Max, something's happening."
Fear. Stumbling back.
"Michael, did you hear that? Hey, wait up!"
"No, Michael, stop. Look at them."
"What the hell is she doing, Tess? Is she trying to kill him?"
"No, don't you see? He's the only one who could take it."
"How long will his shields hold?"
"As long as they have to. I think he's *absorbing * the energy, using it."
"Huh. Maybe they really do belong together."
"So you were really that angry with me?"
The slightest nod. Yes.
The rest is lost in the haze.
He turns to her. Holds her. Again.
In his arms she finally acknowledges the emotion that flows through her, that grows with every passing moment that she stands there, taking back the life she wanted, earned, felt in every fibre of her being to belong to her, her and no one else.
She feels peace. Pure, soothing, untainted peace. It eases the red in her mind. It eases her pulse. It makes her forget everything except the joy of, and thrill for, her reward.
She wants it all. The healing, the comfort, the serenity, the knowing.
But it's time for him to go, and he rises quietly, reluctantly turning away from her.
And still the energy courses through her veins, pounds in her ears. It builds within her, a fire stoked and nourished by unabated want. Desperately she turns and grabs something off her dresser, hefting it in her hand and studying it. Hard. It is a picture of all of them together, and the image of Max smiling secretly at her gives her hope. She sighs, and the sound releases something in her, and she holds the picture to her with all of her strength.
The squeak of weathered wood fills the air as a window slides open, curtains rippling as the personification of her want climbs through. The papers on her desk stir before the breeze as if possessed. The door shuts quietly as alien will pushes against it so she won't be disturbed as she sleeps.
But still the want builds, and she needs something else. She searches the darkness outside her window hopefully, wondering if he can feel the want too. Wondering if he's already too far away.
The night has turned her windows into mirrors, reflecting back at her the person she has become. And she gasps for breath, feeling the emotion roiling within her, possessing her, recreating her.
She smiles. She cries a little too, because she knows now how important it is to feel her emotions, to admit she has them, to control them before they overwhelm her. But more than anything she smiles, for what she has gained, for the gift given to her by the one person she loves beyond anything, *through * anything. Who loves her, who fills that empty place inside of her but still encourages her to do more, achieve more, learn more, to find something or someone to give meaning to her existence. To their existence.
The window opens again, and she smiles harder to hear footsteps nearing her bed, to feel it shift under his weight, to feel Max's sturdy arms around her again. Warm breath tickles her neck as she snuggles closer, and then darkness beckons, a welcoming reprieve from the worries of the day.
And as she succumbs to the darkness, she hears the roar of a thousand dreams taking flight, feels the breeze of a thousand pale wings brushing against her cheek in blessing.
And finally peace.
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