Rating: PG-13 for angst and language
Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own anything.
Description: AU -- What if Michael had saved Liz in the Pilot? Version 1 - based more closely on the motivations of the original Pilot.
Acknowledgments: Thank you Bennie, Courtnay, and Whiteotter for your feedback and assistance.
Feedback: I couldn't decide between 2 versions, so that's why I posted them both. Please let me know what you think about the different interpretations.
He sits in the dark, staring at his hands. His hands. Hands that, mere hours ago, saved a girl's life.
He's still in shock. He, Michael, the eternal screw-up, actually used his powers successfully. He did something good for a change.
Or did he?
He may have saved Liz Parker, but he did so at the expense of his own safety, his own existence. And the existence of the only other two people to ever give him the time of day.
Getting up, he goes to the trailer window and stares out at the cluster of dilapidated boxes that represent people's homes. On the one hand, it's not like he would really miss living in this trash heap or being subjected to Hank's abuses. On the other hand, he doesn't have anywhere else he *can* go. No money. No education. No family except Max and Isabel, who are in the same predicament that he is. Hunted. Or they will be, as soon as word gets out as to what happened at the diner.
Shit. Only you, Michael. Only you would be able to take something good - saving a life -- and turn it into something that will kill you in the end.
He still knows that if he had to live this afternoon all over again, he would probably react exactly the same way. Better for him to suffer than to let Liz die. He's used to suffering. But Liz -- the very idea of going around and living his life while Liz had hers snuffed out is intolerable. She's been the reason he's kept going as long as he has, even if she doesn't know it. Her enthusiasm, her cheerfulness, her intelligence. She always has a kind word for everyone. Even Max and Iz, as much as they mean to him, haven't given him the same drive to go on. Perhaps it's because they're too much like him. He has no reason to hope when he looks at them because all he can see is the same dark future -- always being hunted, always living in fear.
But when he looks at Liz ... he sees hope personified. He sees someone with a future full of possibilities, a life of light and joy, of success and of love. It should make him bitter, that he can't share that future, but it doesn't. All he feels is happiness that she exists, the bright spot in his dark life. Even her imperfections make him happy, signs that she's real, and not an untouchable fabrication.
Absently, he rubs one palm with the fingertips of his other hand, trying to remember that colossal and surprising moment when he'd felt the healing energy emanating from within, blazing a warm path into Liz's soft flesh, repairing the damage, dissolving the bullet. He'd almost pulled his hand away in shock, stunned beyond measure that he'd been able to accomplish anything at all. He hadn't expected that. He'd just heard the gunshot, seen Liz fall, and had simply reacted. Without thinking. Typical, Guerin. But really, he hadn't had any time for thought. Liz was dying. No time to consider the fact that his powers never obeyed him. No time to acknowledge that he was in a room full of witnesses. Save her save her save her. Don't let the light go out.
And he had. Saved her. Seen only whole skin when he lifted his hand away. Seen her brown eyes flutter open and look at him. And that had been his undoing. To see the dark pools gazing at him in recognition and confusion and ... and what? He didn't know. All he knew was the panic that suddenly surged through him as he took in those eyes. He didn't know what to do with the emotions that overwhelmed him -- fear, elation, confusion, relief, love -- so he ran. Ran as he'd never run before. Away from the curious onlookers, away from the condemnation he was sure was awaiting him from Max and Iz for blowing their secret. Away from those eyes.
And now he paces in his dark bedroom, with only the faint moonlight to illuminate the shadows. He hears Hank bang the door on his way out, probably heading to the bar. But still he stays in his room. It's his shelter, his refuge. His prison. He can't leave and he can't stay here.
The hopelessness of the situation hits him and he almost crumples on the spot in despair. He will never regret what he did. If he never does anything else right in his life, saving Liz will be enough. But to leave and never see her again ... why does that make him feel so alone? So tired?
He hears the screen door open again and braces himself for the onslaught from the drunken Hank. But nothing happens. No sound but light feet taking the three short steps to the middle of the living room. Curious, he opens his bedroom door to take a look.
Nervous now. Why is she here? In silence he moves to join her in the tattered space. He looks at her, trying to fathom the emotions brewing in her depths. And then it happens.
She puts her warm hand on his arm.
There are a million unspoken words in her eyes. He sees this. He understands the message.
And he realizes that he's just been given a reason to stay. Realizes that maybe he can survive the pressures and dangers and everything ... because she will be there. And, for the first time in his life, he feels his hope become reality. She is there with him. She is saving him by simply standing by his side.
"Thank you," he tells her.
Click here to read Version 2
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