Disclaimer: Mine? Ahahahaha! Are you off your meds?
Summary: Now that Michael and Liz have grown closer together, they fear that their secret will tear the group apart. Part 2 of the In Your Eyes Trilogy.
Author's Notes: Sorry for my suckage, you guys. I'm trying to update this in a timlier (is that a word?) fashion. But I do love them reviews like the pigeons love popcorn.
"Liz, what's going on?" Michael asked, feeling more than a little cautious. They'd finally got their relationship all out in the open-hell, Iz, Kyle and her parents were actually happy about it-and she'd been avoiding him all week. If there was one thing he'd learned in two years with Maria, it was that not aknowledging a problem only gave it time to get bigger. But he had no desire to have this conversation. He had the sinking feeling it was going to start with, We need to talk...
Wonderful. The 'nothing' game. My favorite. "Liz, it's not nothing."
"Michael, really. Nothing's wrong." He would have bought that if it weren't for her strained smile.
"If nothing's wrong, why have you been avoiding me for the past week?" he snapped. He couldn't stand waiting for the other shoe to drop, for her to break his heart-if it was going to end, he'd end it now.
"I don't want to talk about it," she replied stiffly.
Progress. At least she's admitting something's wrong. "Well, that sucks for you, then. Because we're talking about it anyway."
"Liz, for Christ's sake, just tell me!"
"You don't want to have sex with me!" she yelled back.
There was no more baffling phrase in the English language. Michael was silent for a moment, knowing his first reaction-hysterical laughter-would probably get him killed. "I thought you weren't ready," he said. There, that sounded appropriately sensitive.
Her brow furrowed. "I'm not," she admitted in a very small voice.
Michael sat back down. "I'm officially lost," he conceeded.
"I'm not ready, at least I don't think so...but why don't you want to? I know I'm not as pretty as Maria-"
He shushed her with two fingers over her mouth. "Okay, first off. I do want to. Believe me, I do. A lot."
"Uh-uh, not done." He used his whole hand to quiet her this time. "But I don't want to because I'm horny, or because it's expected, or any of the reasons you probably think. I want to because it's you. Because no one has ever loved me like you do. But I like to think that no one's ever loved you like I do either, even though that's probably not true," he added with a rueful smile. "And I know that you've never...and it scares me. Eighteen years of expectations is a lot to live up to. I want it to be perfect. Part of it being perfect is you wanting it just as much."
He lifted his hand and she started to laugh. "Sorry, sorry," she managed between giggles. "I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing at me. How ridiculous am I, that I get mad at my boyfriend because he's not pressuring me for sex!"
Michael joined in her laughter, though his had an edge of slightly hysterical relief. "It's a good thing I don't expect you to make sense." He paused, remembering something else she'd said that had nagged at him. "And who told you you're not pretty?"
"Well, no one, but Michael, I'm not exactly your type."
"One girlfriend does not constitute a type. I've liked you since the ninth grade."
"Really?" A smile like a slow sunrise graced the curve of her lips.
"Baby, it drives me nuts when you wear red. And if your Dad knew how many fantasies I've had involving that Crashdown uniform, I'd have a tragic meat-grinder accident."
"You don't say," she drawled coyly.
"Come on, you know you're gorgeous."
"Look who's talking. Rowr," she added, then giggled.
"Liz, honey?" Nancy Parker's voice came from her bedroom doorway.
"On the balcony," Liz called back.
"Could you come help your father with the schedule for next week?"
"Okay!" She pecked Michael on the lips and slipped inside, calling, "My Chem book's on the desk if you want to get started without me."
Michael barely refrained from rolling his eyes. He'd started focusing more on his schoolwork, but he still didn't like it. "Sure, see you in a few." He followed her back in the window and started poking around on her desk, not really snooping so much as procrastinating. He lifted up a CD case and managed to knock over a pile of papers. Cursing under his breath, he knelt to pick them up. The letterhead at the top of one caught his eye. Berkeley? What the hell?
I wished to extend my personal congratulations on your acceptance...
Michael froze. Liz hadn't said anything about getting acceptance letters yet-it was too early for them, wasn't it? It was only February. He scanned the rest of the letter. ...will recieve a full scholarship plus stipend...looking forward to your tour of the campus the week of April 11th...pleased to welcome you to the Bay Area.
His hands started shaking. Liz was leaving. Liz was going to California, in just a couple of months, she was leaving Roswell-leaving me, a small voice cried-where she'd meet a hundred better, smarter guys, clamouring for her attention, and once she had all that why would she ever need to come back?
She hadn't mentioned it. He had the brief, vain hope that maybe she hadn't mentioned it because she didn't plan to go, but why else would she save the letter? And even if she didn't go to Berkeley, she was going to go somewhere-Harvard was even further away. He felt stupid that it hadn't occured to him before. They were going to graduate, and Liz was going to go off to college. He supposed that he'd assumed she'd go to school with Isabel, but Liz was too smart for a local school. Isabel had been planning to go away to school too, she just...hadn't. But the alien chaos wasn't Liz's problem; Max wasn't her king, to decree whether she could stay or go, and with the way he'd been acting lately, Michael couldn't blame her for wanting to get as far away from Max as possible.
There was really only one option that he could stand. He had to go with her, somehow, but he wasn't about to get offered a scholarship and didn't really want one anyway. He reached for the princess phone on Liz's nightstand and called Jake Callaghan in Meta-Chem's HR, the man who'd given him the news on his promotion two months ago. "Hey, Jake, it's Michael Guerin."
"Mike, hi, what's up?"
"I just found out my girlfriend got a scholarship to Berkeley."
"Hey, that's great. Tell Liz congratulations from me, yeah?"
"Sure, I will. Listen, the reason I'm calling-"
"Moving to the Bay Area, right?"
Michael managed a weak laugh. "That's why they pay you the big bucks, huh?"
"A little early to be giving your notice, though, isn't it? Not that we don't appreciate the extra time."
"I was actually wondering about the possibility of a transfer. Doesn't Meta-Chem have a facility in California?"
"Sorry to be telling you this, Mike, but our facility out in Cali is in Barstow. We could probably set you up with a lateral transfer, but that's a helluva commute."
Michael rubbed his aching temple with two fingers. Of course it wouldn't be that easy. "Yeah, it was just a thought. Looks like I'll be giving my notice after all, Jake, sorry. I'll let you know when we have all the dates nailed down."
"You do that. Congrats again, Mike."
"Thanks. I'll see you next week for the performance reviews, yeah?"
"Wouldn't miss it. 'Bye."
"Goodbye." Michael hung up and resisted the urge to put his fist through the wall. "Dammit!"
When Liz came back upstairs, they settled in to study, but Michael couldn't concentrate, and eventually mumbled an excuse about needing to catch up on his sleep and headed home. He sat on his couch for nearly an hour, the phone waiting next to him, turning a small card over and over in his fingers. Finally he stopped stalling, picked up the phone, and dialled.
"Gina Halvorson, please." When he heard the muffled Hello? on the other end of the line, he spoke quickly, before he could lose his nerve. "Gina, it's Michael Guerin, we met at Phillip Evans' dinner party. I thought about your offer to buy some of my paintings, and I've decided I'm interested..."
Am I evil to end it there? Probably. But I'm okay with that.