Breaking Through

I slammed the door on my mother and covered my face with my hands.

I couldn't stand it. Maria gave me the third degree and then my Mom.

"It looked like it was getting pretty serious," she'd said in her car on the way home. "This isn't you, Liz."

It was. It is. This is who I am now. And it's all because of Michael.

I wanted to cry for the things I was willing to do now, just to help him uncover some information. Just to keep him. Seducing Max, lying to my parents, to Maria, to everyone.

"I just don't want you to go too far," she'd said.

I think I want to.

It was really - strange, I guess, to realize that. That I wanted to take that step with him. I'd gone out on dates. I wasn't a prude, but sex was just - not something I thought about.

I guess I always wanted the timing, the person, to be exactly right.

I thought about his clothes, the way they seemed too thick, keeping his touch, his warmth away from me.

I think I want to.

I dropped my hands and stared up at the ceiling. What if I get sick? I thought, How do I explain that? Could I die from it?

I felt like I might die if we didn't.

I shook my head. First things first. Contact Michael and let him know about the flash. I reached out to him.

He was on a car outside the crashdown. {Michael -}

I found him. I was connected with him.

But he didn't answer.


{So how'd it go, Liz?}

{ went - okay, Michael. I - I wanted to tell you - I got another flash.}

{That's great.}

Something was wrong. He was too quiet.

{Michael, are you -}


He looked over at Maria. "Hey," he said.

"I was, uh -" She looked nervous. "I was looking for you at your apartment, but I found Max and Liz instead."

"Yeah?" He said. Still too quiet. "They still there?"

"No," She said. "I just drove Liz home."

"Great," He said, getting off the car and shoving his hands in his pockets. "I don't have to miss the hockey game."

{Michael -}

{I could see everything that was happening, Liz.}

My jaw dropped. {You - why would -}

"Who knows," he growled. "But I did."

I started to panic. {Michael, you know I did that just to get information. You know that.}

"Yeah, I know," he mumbled angrily. "Know what, Liz? It isn't worth it."

He wasn't even communicating with me. Just letting me hear him speak out loud. He must be furious.

{Michael. Come on,} I reasoned. {I don't like it either, but we have to-}

"I've gotta do something, Liz," He said abruptly. "I'll talk to you later."

I gasped a little at the shove. It was harder than usual.

He'd seen everything. Max and me in his apartment. No wonder he needed some time to himself.

That didn't mean it didn't hurt, though.

Focus, Liz. First things first.

I opened the door to my room. Mom was gone.

I grabbed my journal and a pencil and went out through the open window.


I opened the door to my apartment and stood in the doorway, waiting for the images to surface. My hands were clenched and I could feel the fire in my hands burning against my fingers.

All the candles were out. I flipped the lights on and waited for something to hit me.


All or nothing, Guerin.

I took a breath and walked inside. Still nothing.

I started to relax. The fire in my hands started to cool. Maybe I didn't have to worry about it. Maybe those - images, or visions, or whatever they were - were over.

I walked over to the kitchen and shuffled through some papers until I found the one I was looking for. The page with the symbols.

There has to be a way to make it work.

I reached into the fridge and grabbed a soda and the bottle of tobasco, still staring at the paper, trying to force myself to understand the alien language.

Nothing. It was like licking hieroglyphics.

They had to mean something. I opened the soda and poured in several drops of tobasco, finally taking a swig. They have to mean something -

If I deciphered the symbols, then maybe Liz wouldn't have to be with Max.

Concentrate, Guerin. You can do this.

I collapsed into the couch, still staring at the paper.

Just concentrate. You can -

Max running his hand down her arm, leaving a glow on her skin.

"Can you take your shirt off?"


"Can I? Yeah -"

Max kissing her. Candlelight flickering on their skin.


Leading her over to the couch -

My eyes finally cleared. I jerked my body off the couch as if it was on fire.

I could still see them. On the couch. A faint image. Max kissing her neck -

I felt the rage roaring in my blood and heard the howling start. My fists unclenched.

Everything went white.


"Liz," someone called. I put down the journal and looked over the ledge of the rooftop. It was Max.

"Hi," I called softly.

"I couldn't sleep."

"Yeah," I said. "Neither could I."

He reached for the fire escape and started climbing. I reached for the drawing when he reached the top.

"Max, I saw something. It was something being buried, and it felt like it was something - important," I said. "It was here."

He took it from me and looked at it. "I know this," He said. "This is the old radio tower by Highway 42."

"Highway 42. Isn't that -"

"Yeah," He said slowly. "Just a couple miles from the crash."

"Well, there's something buried there," I said.

"I should go there with Michael."

I almost nodded. Instead I reached out to Michael. To let him know Max was coming for him.

{Michael -}

He was in his apartment.

He was destroying everything.

{Get out of my head, Liz.} It was like a snarl.

{Michael -}

{Get. Out.}

I felt the shove, and I was out.

I stared up at Max. His eyes were locked on the drawing.

He was turning to get Michael.

"Wait, Max -" I said, grabbing his arm. Think, Liz, think -

He couldn't find Michael like that. He'd ask questions.

"- is that what you really want to do?" I asked. I already knew the answer.

"No," he said softly. His eyes were warm.

He can't find out about us -

Whatever Michael was doing or going through, I couldn't help him.

I went with Max.


I stood over the broken fragments of my couch. My vision was finally clearing. Permanently this time.

My apartment looked like it'd been hit by a tornado. I glanced down at the fibers and stuffing, scattered loosely all over the floor. The couch was a total loss.

How did I do that?

I didn't remember much. I remembered the visions - but they were faint now, like a distant memory.

Not how I saw them before.

I turned around loosely, trying to catch my breath. My hands were still warm.

Everything was destroyed.

What the hell did you do, Guerin?

I reached out to Liz. I wanted to talk to her. I didn't remember anything of what I'd done and that made me nervous.

I was surprised when she didn't answer back.


I came out here to find something.

No turning back now, Liz.

"I guess we could just start digging," I said.

"Or, uh -"

Or we can go back to making out.

There was no other way. None I could think of. We could be digging for hours. Days.

"- or, we could look for the next clue," I finished for him.

"Yeah," He said, smiling. He leaned in to kiss me.

He's not Michael -

No going back, Liz.


I was in her room. She wasn't there.

Her bedroom window was still open.

Liz -

I stepped out onto the rooftop and tried to find her.

{Liz, where are you?}


"The clue idea seems more -"

"More efficient," I said, trying to smile.

"Right this minute, I can't -not touch you," he whispered, leaning in to kiss me again.


I paced on the rooftop. Nothing. I couldn't find her.

And for some reason, my gut was telling me I had to reach her quick.

Maybe you're going about this the wrong way.

I raised my head and looked at her room. At the quilt.

I'm having these feelings, Michael -

For you.

I went for the window at a dead run.


"Let's just - lie down," I said.

Just stalling for time, aren't you, Liz? The voice in the back of my head was getting nasty.

Not surprising, considering what you're about to do.

I didn't say it wasn't accurate.


I was on the floor of her room, reaching under her bed, grabbing the pictures I'd drawn. She knew she couldn't hang them up but she wanted them near her, she said, so she kept them under her bed.

I pulled out the first book. It was the one I'd started after our first kiss.

I have these - feelings for you, Michael -

I opened the book. The first picture was the two of us kissing. One of the few that I'd done of both of us. She said it was her favorite. I loved her for saying that.

I nearly dropped the book.

I loved her for saying that.

I loved her.


He had a blanket. Of course he would.

"Are you scared?"

Yes. I'm terrified.

I almost reached out for Michael again. But we were too far out. Michael and I had never communicated this far.

"Well, I know I'm supposed to be, but -"

He pulled me into another kiss. I tried not to think of Michael. It didn't work.

No going back.


I loved her. The simplicity of it stunned me.

You can't love her. That's impossible.


Because you're an alien? Because you've never loved anybody else?

I looked down at the picture. It was good, I thought, a little in shock. I was my own worst critic, and sketches of Liz couldn't compare to the original - but I was proud of this one.

I put my hand to the paper.

It was like I was flying through the desert.

Like I knew the destination.

I saw the tower first. Then the jeep. It was almost pitch-black.

Max and Liz.

Found them.


"What's that?" I asked.

I knew what it was. I grew up here.

He didn't even look up.

"Coyote," he said, pulling me into another kiss.

I'd played every card I had.

He broke the kiss and looked down at me.

"Are you sure?" He whispered.

I opened my mouth to say yes.

{Liz -}

I couldn't believe it. {Michael?}

{Yeah. Don't, Liz. Don't.}

I almost cried with relief. {Michael - we're by the radio tower -}

{I know where you are, Liz. Don't do it.}

{Are you sure?}

{Absolutely. Don't do anything.}

{But -}

{Listen. Do you hear that?}

{Michael - you know you hear better than I can -}

{It's a beeping sound. To your right.}

{Are you sure -}

{Yes. Listen.}

I heard it. Faintly at first, then louder.

Thank you. Thank you.

"Oh, my God," I said. "That's it."

"What?" Max said, confused.

"That's the sound I heard in my vision," I said, scrambling to get up.


I waited until Max was asleep to contact Michael. He responded immediately.

{How did you do find me, Michael? We've never been able to communicate this far.}

He shrugged. {I just figured something out. That's all.}

{About your powers?}

{Yeah.} He paused. {Sort of. I think so.}

{What are you doing?}

{I, uh - tore up my apartment. I'm repairing some stuff.}

I felt a lump in my throat. I knew why he tore up his apartment.

{Michael, I'm sorry. We never should have been there.}

{No, you know what, Liz? It's okay.} He moved his hand over some shredded fabric and a couch pillow mended itself.

{It forced me to realize some stuff.}

{What stuff?}

He waved his hands. {I'll tell you later, okay?}

I smiled. Even when we were communicating, Michael still used the same mannerisms as when he talked.

{Thank you for finding me, Michael. For finding us.}

He nodded. {I'm just glad I got there in time.}

{Michael, I don't know what would have happened if -}

{Yeah, but I found you.} He tossed a pillow onto the couch. {So you don't have to worry about it, Liz.}


He picked up a handful of glass. It reformed itself into a drinking glass.


{Yeah.} He almost smiled. {I'm getting the hang of this.}

I smiled in the dark, in the desert, sitting next to Max's sleeping body, the orb next to us. Michael and I talked about nothing until I fell asleep.

It was wonderful.


There was a knock on my door early the next morning. I glanced around the room before opening it. It looked just about the way it had last night.

I didn't want to make things look too fixed up.

Maria was standing in the doorway. She looked worried. "Max and Liz aren't -"

"I heard," I said.

"Look, I just really need you not to be cold or mean," She said. "If that's impossible, you can just let me know."

She was so defensive. Ready to bolt.

I'd given her enough reason.

"You want to come in?"

She looked surprised. "Yeah," she said quietly.

"Have a seat."

"Thanks," She said, moving to the couch. "Can we talk about what happened?"

"Talk on," I said, waving my hands.

"I want you to know that what I said about you being all shut down and that's why I had to fake the flashes, that was - wrong and very unfair."

I sat down next to her.

She took everything on herself. Took everything back about me being closed off.

I don't know why I felt different today. Yeah, that was a lie. I knew why.

I couldn't tell her Liz was okay, but I could tell her about the truth about the flash.

"It's not true about you being shut down all the time," I said. "I happen to know that for a fact."

"Really?" She said, not believing me. "How?"

"Because you let me see you. The red sneakers, Maria. One had a Kermit patch on it, and the shoelaces were blue, and you had your dalmatian dog with you there, licking off your tears. And I - I saw a whole bunch of other stuff as well."

Her parents fighting. Her Dad leaving without saying goodbye.

I didn't mention any of that.

Maybe not having a family was better sometimes.

"Yeah," She said. She looked shocked. "Um - that dog died when I was, like, 7. Right after my father left."

"Kinda rough?"

"Yeah. I'd say so," She said. "Michael, I really didn't care about the stupid flashes. I just wanted us to be close."

"Thanks," I said. What else could I say?

She looked like she was going to cry or laugh. I couldn't tell which. Max is the expert on women.

I kissed her on the forehead and pulled her into a hug.

I hoped Liz and Max were already on their way back.


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