I don't know how to explain how things have changed since Michael came back to Roswell.

I don't have the words.

He tried to shrug off my help at first, telling me he could figure it all out on his own. I told him that wasn't the way things were going to work anymore.

To my amazement, he replied, "Fine. How are they gonna work?"

Michael doesn't believe in moderation. It's pretty much all or nothing, night or day, yes or no. I always thought his absolutism was what would come between us.

I didn't think it would make us so close.

For some reason, when he came back - when he said he trusted me - all the stuff that plagued us before was just over. He was done with it. He told me he figured we had a whole new bunch of stuff to deal with, and it wasn't going to help to keep dredging up things that we'd already dealt with.

So he asked me what I thought. Listened to my opinions. I didn't tell him what to do: that would never work, and really, I had too much respect for him to even try that.

But we were figuring out our lives. Together.

Who knew?

The night he came back, he told me about the whole emancipation thing Is had told him about.

"Michael, that would be perfect," I breathed. "You'd be on your own, you wouldn't have to deal with the foster thing - you've got to talk to him right now."

"Liz, I can't just show up there in the middle of the night -"

"Michael, come on, they want you to do this."

"- and, what do I say?" He asked, waving his hands. "'Hey, here I am, here's my problem, fix it'? "

"Michael - they want to help, okay? Just let them help. Just - do something nice for them."

He frowned. "Nice," he said. "Like what?"

"I don't know -" I shrugged my shoulders. "You know, just - go over and make coffee or something."

"Coffee," he repeated, shaking his head. "That'll never work."

He was partially right. Coffee and breakfast did it.

"Wow, Michael," I whispered to him the night the judge made it official. "You're, like, responsible now."

"Funny, Parker."

I nearly fell off the bed laughing.


Apartment prices were crazy. $400, $500 a month, and me with no job. Every place wanted security deposits, first and last month's rent...

And references. Yeah, I had a ton of those.

"Maybe it's the hair," she said, her head tilted, her lips pursed. I was sitting on her bed.

I threw the classifieds down and put my head in my hands. "I'm telling you, Liz, there's nothing. I've been to every complex in a two-mile radius. Nothing."

I turned away from her and looked out the window. "This is crazy. I can't do this."

"Come on, Michael," she sighed. Her arms wrapped around my chest. "We'll find you something. Don't worry."

"Worried," I said, snorting a laugh. "Who's worried?"

She kissed my cheek. "I'll come with you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow's a school day, Liz."

"Yeah," she said softly. "But I'm not feeling very well."

So she told her mom she was feeling sick and skipped school to go apartment- hunting with me. I'd never seen one person charm so many people in my life. Isabel could charm her way out of a ticket if the cop was a guy, but if it was a woman, forget it.

Liz had everybody wrapped around her finger. She flirted with the men and played innocent with the women. She got me a studio apartment, month-to-month, and talked the lady down to $200 rent.

No deposit. No first and last.

"You're dangerous," I muttered when we left the building. It wasn't fancy - just a beat-up studio apartment - but it was all I needed. And it was about four blocks from the Crashdown. "Don't ever try to pull that on me."

"How do you know I haven't?" she asked, smiling. "How's the job search going?"

"I've got an interview with a telemarketing place tomorrow."

"Ohhh," she said. "Well, if that doesn't take off, I heard my Dad tell my Mom that he needs another fry cook."

I looked at her. "You know there's no telemarketing place, don't you?"


I rolled my eyes. "Me. Flipping burgers. Please, Liz," I said. "It'll never happen."


"IhatethisjobIhatethisjobIhatethis -"

"What?" she asked, smiling. Her antennae were bouncing.

{You're just loving this, aren't you?}

{I don't know what you're talking about, Michael.}

I rolled my eyes. Her dad told me he wanted to see a trial run - me cooking for one afternoon. Liz told me he did it with all the new cooks, just to make sure they didn't burn the kitchen down.

So far, so good.

"Hey," Maria said. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," I said, glaring and putting a special under the heat lamp. "Order up."

{I think the bandana's kinda sexy.}

{Shut up, Liz.}

She grinned and went back out to the customers. I watched her lean down to take a little girl's order.

Damn, she was beautiful.

I turned back to the grill and flipped a greaseburger. The pay was alright. Free dinner. And I got to see Liz every day.

Life was finally starting to feel - normal. Like I could finally breathe. Relax a little. Ironic, since I'd never been so busy in my life. School, job, Liz... it was a lot.

But I didn't care. It was totally worth it. It was great.

For the first time, I felt like things were gonna work out.


We were making out on her bed. Trying to be quiet. It wasn't working.

She was underneath me and her arms were wrapped around my neck. I gathered her up in my arms and rolled over fast, pulling her body on top of me.

"Wow," she breathed, placing her hands on the quilt and pushing herself back to look at me. One of her hands came up to pull her hair back.

"Don't," I whispered, catching her hand with my fingers.

She stopped and lowered her hand back to the bed. I trailed my fingertips through her hair, pooling like a soft curtain around both of us, closing us off from everything. We were both silent for a minute.

I loved touching her.

"I like this," she whispered.

"Yeah," I said, looking up at her. "Me too."

"Maybe 'like' isn't the best word," she whispered, staring at me.

Waiting for something.

I blinked and looked back at my hand, sliding through her hair. I could see the moonlight filtering through my fingertips.

"I, uh -" I pursed my lips and took a deep breath.

"I don't think words work," I said, not looking at her. "Not with this."

She didn't move. I looked back up at her.

She was smiling.

"Yeah," she whispered. "Me too."

She traced the back of her hand over my cheek, turning it over when she reached my neck, letting her fingers glide over my chest. I felt my breath catch. Her hand stopped over my heartbeat.

We still hadn't figured that out.

She leaned down to kiss me again, and I leaned up to meet her halfway.


We were curled up on my bed. Michael was doing something incredible to my neck with his tongue.

And, way too soon, he stopped and sat up.

"Wh - what?" I mumbled. "Come back here."

"Nonono," he muttered, waving his hands. "Okay, there's never going to be a good time to ask this. I've been waiting for the right time but -" I reached up to kiss him and he stood up, backing away from the bed.

{Michael, what's the matter?}

"Nothing," he mumbled. "I mean, really, nothing. I just have to ask you something."

Hurry up, I thought.

"Have you, uh -" he swallowed. "Have you, um, talked to Max? Since the, uh -"

Max? "Michael... I thought we were done with this," I started.

"We are," he said quickly. "We, uh, we definitely are. I was just wondering."

I waved my hands. "Well, I haven't talked to him since I kissed him in front of half of Roswell," I said. "Well - except for that time he came to see me about you."

"When did that happen?"

"Just before you left," I said quietly. "He, um - he told me he didn't want to lose you." I looked down. "He said he'd never seen you that upset."

He didn't say anything. It was probably the truth.

"That was - that was really hard, Michael."

He walked over and knelt in front of the bed, his face level with mine. "Yeah," He said, touching my hand. "It was."

"I don't want to feel like that again," I whispered.

He nodded. "Me either. But I don't think we have to worry about it," he said, touching my hands. "I mean, this is - different. Than it was before."

I nodded.

"And if he hasn't said anything to you -" he shrugged. "Maybe we don't have to worry about it."

"I don't think I could do it," I said. "Be with him, I mean. Not now."

"Yeah," he whispered, looking at me. "I know. It's okay."

"You don't care," I said slowly. "If I'm not with him."

He shrugged. "Look, it - I just think you made up your mind," he said. "And, you know, I've made up mine."

I couldn't believe it. I smiled.

He looked at me, shaking his head.

"What?" I whispered.

"Nothing," he whispered. "You're just beautiful. That's all."

I reached for him and kissed him. I was so happy. I didn't think it was possible to be that happy.

I should have known it wouldn't last.


Lately I've been having these feelings, like I'm changing inside, and part of me doesn't want to change. Part of me always wants to be my mom's little girl.

But the thing is, these feelings are strong - dangerous. Undeniable.

It's like I have no choice. It's like it's -


The cafe was absolutely dead. Michael had passed my Dad's trial run and started next week. There was nothing to do except wash the produce, and I just didn't feel like it.

I felt like thinking about Michael. I didn't think anybody would ever feel that way about me, that I would ever want somebody that much.

It still amazed me that he thought I was beautiful.

I remembered the night in my shower, when Michael was imagining watching me. How that felt to have someone thinking about the water on my skin, the steam, the body wash...

Yeah, I wasn't getting any work done today.

I'd never felt that kind of attraction to anyone or from anyone before. I don't know what I was thinking when I was with Max. I knew he had feelings for me, and I cared for him. I really did. But -

But he wasn't Michael.

I wondered what Max would have done in that situation. Hmmm...

I tried imagining my shower and immediately stopped. That was too personal. It reminded me of Michael.

The girl's locker room. Way more neutral.

I imagined standing there, under the shower. Turning the water off.

Turning and seeing Max.

He'd stare at me. He was always staring at me.

This is silly, Liz -

Oh come on, I argued with myself. Play it out.

I tried to give up control of the daydream, just let things happen.

He was next to me, staring at me, and he...

...picked up my towel and wrapped me up in it.

I almost burst out laughing. That was so Max. I shook my head.

Now Michael... he wouldn't let that kind of opportunity get wasted. I smiled. He was -

Words failed me. Not for the first time.

I thought about his kiss, his hands on my hair, touching my face, his fingertips on my neck -

"Liz," Maria said. "Nice strawberries."

I practically jumped out of my skin. Strawberries went flying everywhere.

"Whoops," she said. I groaned. "Sorry."

We bent down to gather them up, and she picked two strawberries out of the bowl. I heard the door swing open. She stood up and walked away from me.

"Sweet," she said. I looked up at the tone.

She was handing one of the strawberries to Max.

That was weird.

I could've sworn she just looked him up and down when she said that.


{... Yeah, I'm here. What's up?}

{How weird would it be if Maria got together with Max?}

He was shocked. Then he laughed. {Weird? Don't you mean perfect?}

Max walked over to me, bent down to help.

"I hope this isn't my fault," he said.

Michael and I were still linked up. Communicating. Michael was silent.

I knew he still thought Max or Is might be able to hear us.

"Why -" Focus, Liz. "- why would it be your fault?"

"If I startled you."

"Oh - no," I said. Why was he here? "I always knock strawberries over this time of night. Especially on Thursdays -"

I was babbling. I could practically see Michael rolling his eyes.

I couldn't help it. I just didn't want to be alone with Max.

"- Right, Maria?"

"Huh?" She breezed right by us. Great. I tried to think of an excuse.

"I'll get more berries from the, uh, back," I said. Kitchen. He won't follow you there.

"Wait, Liz -"

I turned around, ready to tell him it was over. We can't be together, Max, it's just not -

He was holding a strawberry.

"- here's another one," he said.

I swear I felt Michael let out a sigh of relief.

Okay, so maybe things are finally okay. I smiled a little and went back into the kitchen.

He followed me. I didn't try to stop him. Maybe he was going to tell me we couldn't be together. That would be a relief.

"What are you doing here, Max?"

"Well, I have orders from my planet to take over the Earth," he deadpanned.

I smiled. That's good. Humor is good. "Besides that," I said.

"I want to make sure we can still be friends," he said.

I smiled. Thank you. Thank you.

"Yeah," I said, shuttling between the refrigerator and the bowl. "I mean, we are."


Good? It was fantastic.

"Why wouldn't we be?" I asked, moving fast.

"We really haven't been able to talk since - that night," he said.

"Max, people do a lot of dumb things when they're drunk," I said, trying to minimize the smile. I didn't want his feelings to get hurt. "Anyway, I understand."

"And we're friends?"

"Yeah," I said. "We're friends."

"Just friends?"


"Yeah," I said. "We're just friends." I moved for the door.

That's when he grabbed me and kissed me.

He caught me off guard. I was too surprised to do anything. But - but we just -

Michael and I were still linked. He knew what was happening.

Oh no. No -

I had to get him off me.

I tried to get my arms against his chest to push him away. His lips left mine, moving down my neck.

His lips hit my pulse.

Stars hurtling past me.

{Liz -}

A galaxy, spinning in the darkness.

{- LIZ -}

Stars exploding.

It was - beautiful. The most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

I had to stop it.

I wedged my hands between us and pushed hard, breaking the kiss. The vision disappeared.

{Liz? Are you okay?}

Michael. He was communicating with me.

If Max heard us -

{I don't care, Liz. Are you okay?}

{- yeah, Michael -}

Max was staring at me. I waited for him to hear Michael's voice. To understand.

He didn't. He didn't hear anything. Not even a flicker of recognition.

"Liz," He breathed. "What's wrong?"

{- I don't think he can hear me, Michael.}



{I'm here. Don't worry.}

{Michael, I didn't know he was going to do that.}

He laughed bitterly. {I did, Liz} He sounded tired. {Just - get away from him for right now. Okay?)

He wasn't angry. Thank God.

Max was still staring at me. Waiting for me to say something.

"I have to go," I whispered. "I, um -"

This wasn't just Max's memories. Or just a constellation I'd seen before.

It could answer questions for all of them.

I think it was the crash.


I got away from Max and went into the back. {Michael? Are you -}

{Yeah, I'm here. What was that?}

{Michael, I swear, he was saying we were friends and I didn't -}

{Liz. I said it's okay. I was there.}

{Yeah, I - I'm sorry, Michael -}

{It's okay. Any residual doubts I may have had are gone. I thought you were gonna panic.}

{Yeah, well - it was a distinct possibility.} I ran a hand over my hair.

{Tell me when you close. I'll come over.}

I felt the connection release, evaporating into nothingness.

I missed him immediately. I couldn't believe what just happened.

Someone said my name.

Maria. "Liz, you did not look normal," she said.

"I didn't," I said. "I didn't feel normal, Maria -"

I fumbled for the words to explain the stars, the galaxies, how everything looked. How beautiful everything was. She just rolled her eyes.

"No, no, Maria," I said. "This was different."

"Different how?"

"Like - beyond. Listen, I saw things, Maria -"

I had to ask. Please let her say no -

"- did you, uh, see things when you and Michael kissed?"

Her eyes narrowed. "What exactly did you see?"

I tried to explain it and failed. "Stars," I said simply. I didn't want to believe it. What it really was.

The crash.


He slipped through the window. I reached over and pulled the curtains shut.

"Maybe this is a bad place to meet, Michael," I said. "Max could just stop by and find you here -"

"I'm not worried about Max," he interrupted. "I'm worried about you."

I bit my lip without thinking about it. Then I remembered he knew that meant I was worried and looked down, trying to stop.

"Quit it," he whispered, smoothing my hair down. "Come on, Liz, it's okay -"

"It is not okay, Michael, it's -" I looked around the room, trying not to look at him. "Michael, you saw it, didn't you? The stars, the way they were - the way it looked like I was passing them?"

He nodded. "Yeah," he said, his voice raspy. "I did."

"Do you think that's -"

"Yeah," he whispered. "I think it was the crash."

I wanted to cry. I'd seen that with Max.

Why couldn't I see that with Michael?

He pulled me into a hug. "I don't know," he whispered.

"I hate this," I said. "I wish he hadn't kissed me, I wish I hadn't seen it -"

"Liz, it was just a flash," he said. "It must've come from Max, he must remember something..."

"So now what," I whispered. "What do we do now?"

He looked at me.


And then he looked away.

Oh, no...

"Liz, don't - don't freak out about this."

"What?" I demanded. I was crying now. "That we're back to you wanting me to be with Max?"

"This is different," he stressed. "This is just to get information. That's it."

"It doesn't feel different, Michael," I said. The tears were coming faster now. "It doesn't feel different at all, it feels like -"

"Okay," he whispered. "Then we don't do it."


"You're kidding," I whispered.

"No, I'm not. Liz, if you feel that uncomfortable about it...Look, I'm gonna be honest with you. Either way, I lose on this. I can lose information about who I am and why I'm here, or I can know that you're - you know, with Max. Either way tears me up."

My heart felt like it was going to break.

"But I think there's only one way that tears you up, Liz," he said quietly.

"I've been thinking about this all day, and I don't want you to do anything that's gonna hurt you.

"It's your decision, Liz."

I love him, I thought. I really do.

If he heard me, he didn't say anything.

He'd spent his entire life trying to find out the truth about himself, why he was here, looking for any shred of evidence, and I'd just uncovered the holy grail of knowledge, and he was -

- giving it up. For me.

{Not just for you, Liz.}

I tried to smile and failed. I took a breath. "Michael, when he - kissed me," I said weakly, "- it must have been..."

"Choose your SAT word," he finished, looking at the quilt. "It's not your fault, Liz, but - yeah." He closed his eyes and looked back at me. "It was bad."

"But I could feel it wasn't what you wanted," he added. "That helped. A lot."

"I don't want to hurt you," I whispered.

He nodded. "I know."

"Can we - could we not talk about it tonight?" I whispered. I felt the tears coming again.

He pulled me close to him and I clutched him tighter, breathing in the smell of him, feeling his arms wrap tightly around my shoulders, his hands smoothing my hair and sliding over my back.

I listened to his heartbeat, resonating against his chest, still in sync with mine, and I felt enveloped. This is where I should be, I thought, This is where I belong...

With Michael, I felt protected. Safe.


I shut my eyes and tried not to think about the flash.


A few hours later, I was watching him sleep. I'd never done that before. He looked so - peaceful, I guess. I watched the rise and fall of his chest. I reached out my hand, trying not to wake him, and placed it over his heartbeat.

His hand moved up his chest and covered mine. I felt a lump in my throat.

I can't do this, I thought, I can't be with Max.

It would be different if I could kiss Max and think about Michael. But then Max might see us through the flashes...

And Max deserved better than that. He'd risked everything to save me. I think he was in love with me. He deserved to be with someone who wanted to be with him just as much, who loved him just as much.

It just couldn't be me.

I'm sorry, Max...

My hand felt warm. I looked down.

Michael's hand, the one covering mine, was glowing.

So was mine. Over his heart.

The light was pulsing faintly in time with his heartbeat.

I felt the sob rising in my throat. It wasn't fair.

He'd changed me so much. He would probably say the same thing about me. Ever since he'd come back, things had been... perfect.

And now Max was between us again.

No, I thought. Not Max.

Max was just the catalyst.

This was about finding out what happened to Michael. Maybe we could find someone, someone who could explain why he was here, what was happening to him. To both of us. I watched the light dancing slowly under our hands.

Maybe this was a chance to find out what was happening with us.

If I didn't take it, we might never know.

I couldn't do that to him. Or to us.

That's how I made my decision. Watching him sleep, with the light flickering between us.

That's what made me decide to go back to Max.


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