Careful What You Wish For

"I still don't think this is a good idea," Michael muttered.

"Michael - would you relax?" Maria asked, looking over at him. She shook her head and looked back at the road.

"I'll be fine, Michael," I said quietly.

He pursed his lips and looked out the car window, his knuckles pressed against his mouth. I watched him from the back seat.

"You've got the camera," Maria said, her eyes flickering up to the rear view mirror.

"Yes, Maria, I've got it," I said, reaching my hand into my pocket and touching the small plastic device. I had it the last time she asked me. And the time before that.

"Okayokay," She muttered. "Just checking."

Michael muttered something against his fist. I ignored him.

Maria slowed and braked two blocks from Tess' house. "Alright," She said, turning around in her seat to face me. "So you're gonna wait -"

"Twenty minutes," I said, reciting from memory. "And then I go in."

She glanced at Michael. "Do you think we should wait longer?"

He turned his head to look at her. "If your driving doesn't get us killed between here and the warehouse, twenty minutes should be plenty of time."

She made a face at him. "Fine. Shouldn't we, um, synchronize our watches or something?"

Michael rolled his eyes and I turned away, smiling. Michael and I were already linked up. He'd tell me when they were all at the warehouse and everything was ready. Then I'd go in.

"I'll see you guys afterwards," I said, opening the car door and climbing out on Michael's side.

"We'll meet you here," Michael said, leaning his head out of the window. "We'll pick you up. Just get it set up and get out of there."

I nodded, leaning down and smiling at both of them. "Right," I said. "No problem."

"Hey, if you see that box Isabel was talking about, see if you can find out what's in it," Maria said.

"Box?" I looked at Michael. "What box?"

"Forget about the box, alright?" He said, his eyes narrowing. "This isn't mission impossible. Don't make it more complicated -"

"Michael, would you relax?" Maria interrupted. "It's, you know, a box. Isabel said Tess freaked out when she picked it up -"

"Whatever," Michael said, glaring at her. "Let's go before someone sees us."

She rolled her eyes and gave me the thumbs-up from the driver's side. She waved as she pulled away from the curb.

{You ready for this?}

{I took a deep breath. Yeah. Of course. In and out, Michael.) I looked after the Jetta, then glanced around the neighborhood. {No problem.}

{I mean it, Liz. Just plant the camera, hide it in plain sight, nothing fancy, and get out.}

{Michael, I can't let Tess get suspicious. What's she going to think if I just leave?}

{I don't care if she thinks you're a crackhead, Liz. Plant it, make an excuse and get out. Got it?}

He got so demanding when he was worried. I sighed.

{Yes, Michael. I get it.}

{Good.} I felt him relax a little. {You look good, by the way.}

I smiled, standing on the curb, communicating with him until they got to the warehouse, waiting until he reluctantly gave me the go-ahead to climb the front steps and knock on her door, my fingers anxious on the camera in my pocket.

You can do this. Place it and get out.

What could go wrong?


"Hi," I said. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," Tess said, opening the door wider and stepping to the side. I took a few hesitant steps and moved over to the window, watching her close the door behind me.

"Thanks," I said. "We, um - we kinda just need to talk."

{Talk? Liz, hide the camera and get out-}

"About what?" She asked.

I stared at her. About what? She knew what I was talking about.

"About - you know -"

She looked at me blankly.

"- about Max," I finished.

No response. Nothing.

"Actually, um, have you ever been in love, Tess?"

She shrugged, looking surprised at the question. "I've gone out with a lot of guys, but we move around too much for me to get serious with just one," She said.

"I'm in love," I said, hesitating a little.

She looked at me. I took a breath, warming the lie in my mouth -

"With Max," I said.

I felt Michael flinch. {I'm sorry, Michael.}

{Just hurry it up, Liz.}

She shook her head a little, her curls bouncing. "I'm sorry. I don't know what that has to do with me -"

"I saw him kissing you," I interrupted.

Her eyes locked on to mine for a second and then swept down. "I - I wish you hadn't. Honestly. I don't know where it came from," She said. "It surprised me as much as it did you."

If she was doing something, she wasn't admitting it to me.

What did you expect, I thought, that she'd immediately say oh, you're right, I'm playing mind games with him?

"Okay, look -" Focus, Liz. "The reason I came over here is that I just the two of us should just talk about it and get it out in the open. Because I know that you're friends with Isabel, and that we would be seeing each other."

She nodded. "You're right," She said. "I've just started to make friends here. And I like Isabel," She said, her voice sweet.

"But I like you -"


"- and the last thing I want to do is wreck that," She finished, looking at me. Waiting for me to say something.

Her eyes were locked onto mine. I'd never seen eyes that color -

"It's - it's just, he's -" I fought to say the words. "He's never done anything like this before."

I watched her for a clue. For anything.

"It won't happen again, Liz."

Nothing. She wasn't going to admit anything.

"I wish I could believe that," I whispered.

"Can I get you anything?" She asked. "A water? Soda?"

My mind raced. That wouldn't take long enough - "A cup of tea would be great."

She smiled. "Sure," She said, leaving the room.

I placed the camera as soon as I was sure she was gone, under a statue on top of the piano. They should be able to see the whole room from here -

{Good, Liz. Now get out.}

{Michael, I can't just leave -}

{That's exactly what you're gonna do, Liz. Get out, now.}

I turned to the door when my foot caught on something. I looked down at a box.

Isabel said Tess freaked out when she picked it up -

I looked into the camera. "The box is here," I whispered, bending down. "I'm going to go check it out."


I sat down in front of the screen, my fist pressed against my lips. I was gonna kill her. Her or Maria. She was looking through a box, and Tess could come back any second -

I told her. Place the camera. Get out. Tea was a good idea, it'd slow Tess down, but Liz should just leave.

{Liz, get out, now.}

She didn't respond. Damnit, Liz, get up. Get up -


The top slid off easily and I stared at the contents. Pictures of Max.

{Liz, get out, now. Get up -}

I picked up a handful, my hands flickering over them quickly. Max walking down the street. Max sitting in our science class. Max at the Crashdown -

He was telling me the truth.

I was ready to tell Michael when I felt the connection go taut, go cold, almost -

And then it was gone. He'd broken off the connection.

I was in the house. With her. Alone.


I felt the connection stretch and snap, separating the two of us. What the hell -

She'd cut the connection. What was she doing? I reached out to her again -

Nothing. It was like she wasn't even there.

Like our connection was gone. Damnit, Liz -

I froze, staring at the screen.

There was someone behind her. He saw her and turned towards her.

{Liz - someone's behind you. Get up -}

She didn't move. {Liz. Get UP.}

Still nothing. He was right behind her. I stood up in my chair, nearly yelling at the screen. {Liz -}

He said something to her. She jumped up, spinning around -

The screen tilted and went white.


"What are you doing?"

I jumped up, turning around at the voice. My elbow hit the statue and it went crashing down, smashing into pieces -

He stared at the smashed statue, then back at me. It had to be Tess' dad.

"Uh- Mr. Harding -"

Why didn't Michael warn me?

I reached out to him, and -

Nothing. I couldn't reach him.

Tess' dad was still looking at me.

"I'm -I'm sorry," I said quickly. "Um, I was - I was just admiring it. I didn't mean to -"

"Accidents happen," He interrupted, a smile softening his face.

"What was that? Oh my God," Tess said, coming back into the room, seeing the mess. "Dad -"

The camera was down there. I had to get it -

"Please, let me just help you clean this up," I stammered.

"We'll get it later," He said brusquely.

I bent down. "No, really, I insist -"

"We'll get it later!" He snapped.

I froze in place.

"We were getting ready to have dinner," He said, smiling a little. "Why don't you join us?"

I reached out to Michael again, trying not to panic.


"Please," He said, smiling broadly. "I insist."

I looked over at Tess. I couldn't reach Michael. The camera was right there with all the other pieces - what if they found it - what about the pictures of Max -

I tried to control the panic and the scream hovering in my throat.


The screen was blank. "What happened," I whispered, standing up in my chair. "What happened-"

"The camera's dead," Alex said, his hands flying over the dials.

"We've got to get over there," I said, moving for the door. Why were they still sitting there?

"And do what?"

"Get her out!"

Isabel was shaking her head, her words tumbling over one another. "You're the one who keeps telling us how dangerous these people are-"

"What, you just want to leave her there?"

"No," Maria said. "He's right. We've got to do something. We sent her in. We're responsible."

"What are we supposed to do, just break down the door?" Isabel demanded. "What if everything's fine? What if everything's normal?"

I couldn't reach Liz. Nothing was normal.

"Are you willing to take that chance with Liz's life?" I snapped.

Alex and Maria glanced at each other. "No," they said.

"Then let's go," I said, turning to the door.

"Wait," Maria said, running over to me. "You have to promise me that you are not going to do anything crazy. You're not going to put her life in danger."

I already had.

All I wanted was to get her out. Safe. "I won't," I said quickly.

"Ok, so if we get there and everything seems cool, then let's just let her play it out," Alex suggested.

Fine. Whatever. Let's just go, damnit -

"Good idea," I muttered, moving for the door.

I never should have let her go. Never. I knew better.

Now we had to get her back.


They were both staring at me. Calm down, Liz, just think -

"Dinner - uh, dinner would be great," I whispered, trying to make my voice sound friendly. "Let me just call my mom."

Mr. Harding smiled. "Now there's a good girl," He said, crossing the room and picking up the cordless. "Here you go," He said, holding it out to me.

They were letting me call someone. I forced a smile. "Thanks," I whispered, staring at the buttons.

I could call Maria on her cell phone. They'd all come over here immediately.

Including Michael.

I glanced over at Tess.

"Is something wrong?" Mr. Harding asked. I looked up at him.


"Aren't you going to call?"

"Oh - yeah," I said, nodding. "Yeah."

I tried to think logically. Michael wouldn't have broken the connection with me if he could help it - it was the only thing that convinced him to let me go in the first place. And the box was filled with pictures of Max, so there was something strange going on with her -

What if Tess was affecting the connection? What if she was controlling Michael now -

I looked at the phone. If Michael was alright, he'd be frantic with worry. I needed to get someone calm, and I needed to keep Michael away from here.

I pushed the buttons to call Max.


I stared into the window at her. Everything looked fine. They were passing mashed potatoes, for god's sake -

Why couldn't I communicate with her?

"Max!" Maria said. I turned around.

He was coming up to us, fast. He looked terrified.

"How did you know we were here?"

"I didn't," He said, shaking his head. "Liz called me. We have to get her out of there!"

-Michael, what if he's telling the truth about her -

-What if she's doing something to him -

"We can't go in there," I hissed.

"Why not?" He demanded.

I didn't answer. If Tess was controlling him somehow, he couldn't go in. If they were FBI, he couldn't go in -

"We could make things worse," Maria said. "That's why not."

"How could they be any worse than they already are?" He snapped. "If that really is the FBI in there, who knows what they'll do to her -"

"And if you go in there, we know what they'll do to you," I said.

"That's a chance I'll have to take," He shot back.

I glanced at the door. She'd called him.

I shoved my resentment to the side. If she wanted him to come get her, maybe she had her reasons.

I hoped it was a good one.

"Alright, Maxwell," I said, my voice low. "But just get her out. Alright?"

He glared at me. "Why do you think I'm here, Michael?" He gestured toward the street. "Wait there so they won't see you," He said, heading for the door.

Get her out, I thought, moving with the others. Just get her out.


"Maybe I should go clean that up, huh?" Mr. Harding said, walking over to the crumbled pieces on the floor and kneeling down.

"Please," I said, almost running to keep up with him. "- let me do that -"

"It's okay."

"No, really, I - I feel absolutely horrible about it," I said, moving closer. "Could I, uh - could I pay for it?"

"Don't worry," He said. "Homeowner's insurance." He dropped down next to the pieces, sweeping them all together.

"No," I breathed. "Please - let me -"

"I said no!" He snapped, turning to me angrily. I froze.

The doorbell rang. He didn't move. Just stared at me. I could hear my heartbeat pounding.

And then he was all motion, dumping the pieces into a wastebasket and rising quickly, moving to the door. I looked in the wastebasket, filtering through the broken pieces. Get the camera. Get it-

I pocketed it, barely catching the voices.

"Max?" Mr. Harding was saying. "Liz's Max? How did you know Liz was here?"

"Actually," Max said, his voice tense, "I came to see Tess."

I stood up behind Tess and her father, the camera hidden in the palm of my hand -

"But we have nothing to talk about," She said simply, leaning against the door.

"I think we do," He said, his eyes flickering over to me, then back to her. He looked scared.

I moved closer to the piano. Hide it in plain sight -

My eyes settled on a bowl of golden stones. Perfect. I placed it in the bowl and turned around.

Breathe, Liz. Breathe -

"I think we both made a mistake," He said deliberately.

"Okay, well, whatever happened, it's over now," I said quickly, moving past Tess and taking Max's hand. "So let's just go."

"Liz, I want you to go so that Tess and I can talk -"

"Max, Tess and I have already straightened everything out," I said, glancing back at her and standing between the two of them.

We have to leave, Max, now, let's go, now -

He stared at me for a second. "Well, I guess we should be going then," He said slowly.

Tess' father grinned. "Oh, but the night's not over -"

"Yes, it is," I said sharply.

"Aw, we're going to have to do this again sometime, Liz," He said, smiling at me.

I glanced back at him, suppressing the urge to shiver. The way he was smiling at me -

It felt like he was laughing at me.

We heard the door close behind us as we ran down to the street.

{Liz, are you alright -}

I could hear him. I could feel him. {Michael, thank God -}

Maria pulled me into a hug. "Liz, are you okay?"

I nodded. "You know that box?" I said. "It's full of pictures... pictures of Max."

Michael's eyes widened and he glanced back at the house. {Tell me you're kidding.}

I almost shook my head. {No, Michael -}

{What happened in there? Why'd you break the connection?}

{I didn't break it, Michael.}

He stared at me for a second, then looked up at the house.

{What the hell -}

"Let's get out of here," Isabel said. Michael turned back to me, his eyes flashing.

{You're riding back with us.}

{No, Michael, I think -} I glanced at Max. {I think it'll look suspicious. I'll go with Max.}

His jaw set. {Fine. I'll see you back at the warehouse. Stay connected with me.}

I nodded and followed Max, glancing at the house as we left.

Nothing had ever affected the connection between Michael and me.

What was she doing to us?


"You put yourself in danger," Max said. "Thanks for believing in me."

I tried not to look over at Michael. He was exhausted, asleep on Maria's shoulder. Neither of us had severed the connection. He didn't want me to know he was scared.

We were both scared.

"I went on faith. A lot of it. You know, you still kissed her, Max," I said, glancing over at Michael.

"I don't know if there'll ever be reason enough to explain that."

Isabel saw it first. "Max, Michael, come look at this."

Max stepped forward first. Michael was standing up, moving toward the television. "What's going on?"

"I'm not sure -"

Tess waved her hands over the broken pieces and they were moving, reassembling themselves into a shape, like a tiny whirlpool working backwards, creating instead of destroying -

I blinked once, then again, my mind trying to comprehend what I was seeing.

"What the hell," Michael whispered.

She looked at the finished product, the statue whole and unblemished on the piano, tilting her head slightly to admire her handiwork. My mouth dropped.

"Oh, my God," I whispered. I looked over at Michael.

I'd only ever seen Michael do that, reform something in pieces. She wasn't human -

We'd found Nasedo.


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