Going the Distance

I woke up in Liz's room. I'd fallen asleep on the bed. I rolled over to pull her closer to me -

- she wasn't there.

"Liz?" I mumbled, sitting up and rubbing my eyes.

She was by the window. Sitting with one foot out on the rooftop, the other one in the room. She was staring out at the sky, not looking at me.

"Liz," I said quietly.

"I was -" she stopped. "I'm just watching the sunrise," she whispered.

She was crying. I could hear it in her voice.

I pushed myself off the bed and walked behind her, putting my hands on her shoulders. I felt her body shake.

"We don't have to do anything, Liz," I whispered.

"Yeah," she said, her hand coming up and wiping the tears from her face. "We do." She looked up at me, her eyes red, lips trembling.

"I'll talk to Max today," she said.

My heart skipped. I didn't expect her to say that.

"Liz, you don't have to -"

"Yes, Michael, I do," she interrupted. "I might learn something that'll give you some answers. Give both of us some answers. Maybe we'll find out about our hands are glowing, why our hearts are synced up.

"Why isn't it us, Michael?" She asked. "I feel so close to you, why isn't it us?"

I'd been thinking about that all night.

"Maybe... we're too close," I said. She looked at me, confused. "I mean, maybe we're too involved with each other for us to really, you know, key into anything else."

She frowned a little. Looked out the window again.

"Or maybe it's just Max," I continued. "I don't know. But I don't want you to do this unless you're absolutely sure, Liz."

"I'll be okay," she said, taking a deep breath. "It just makes me sad."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Hold on to me," she whispered.

I wrapped my arms around her. She felt unbelievably tense. I tried to focus on her, to radiate encouragement. Understanding. All the things I felt from her on a daily basis.

I didn't know what my life would be like without her. Empty. Angry.

I didn't want to go back to that. I felt her exhale slowly and her body started to relax against my chest. Finally, I thought. She was starting to worry me. I pulled her tighter, kissed her cheek.

"If you change your mind," I whispered, "Just stop. You don't have to explain anything to him. Or to me."

She nodded and looked out over the sky. It was fading into a dull gray color.

"You know what else I hate about this, Michael?"

"No," I whispered.

"We're using Max." She shook her head. "We can dress it up any way we like, Michael, but that's what it's going to be - using him to get information. He would hate that.

"I don't feel the way about him that I feel about you, but -" she shook her head. "I do care about him and - you know, respect him and it's - it's not fair. For anybody. I know that sounds childish, but it isn't.

"If it was anything but the crash, Michael, I would never do this."

I didn't say anything. There was nothing I could say. I kissed her softly.

"If you change your mind," I said, my lips just above her skin, "Just communicate with me. Okay? I'll find you," I said. I kissed her again. "I promise."

She nodded. "You better go," she whispered. "My parents will be up soon."

I pulled her into a bear hug. I couldn't help it.

If I left, that made it real.

"I don't want to go," I said.

"It's okay," she said, her hands on my arm. She looked up at me. Her eyes were still red but she'd stopped crying. "I'll be okay. I'll see you in a few hours. Go on," she whispered, touching my cheek.

I nodded dumbly and forced myself to let go of her.

"If you need me, tell me," I said. "Immediately. Alright?"

She nodded and smiled weakly.

"Go on," she said, trying to be playful. "I need to wash my face."

I kissed her and slipped out the window as the first rays of sunlight broke over the horizon.


Max practically hunted me down as soon as he got to school. Couldn't wait to tell me about the flash.

I forced myself to relive the experience again.

"So did - did anything like that ever happen to Maria when you two..."

"No," I said, cutting him off. Not with Maria.

I almost felt sick.

Stay close to the truth -

"Maxwell, let me assure you, you have not experienced anything I have not experienced many times," I said. "Or caused to be experienced."

"Then how can you call yourself my friend?" he asked, smiling at me.

My heartbeat sped up. Did he know about us?


"A friend wouldn't have kept something like that to himself," he said.

It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair.

He grinned and walked into his class. The class which paired him and Liz as lab partners.

Good luck, Liz. Make it quick. I closed the connection with her. I didn't want a replay of yesterday. I walked out the school doors and toward the bleachers.

I needed some air.


I was laying on the bleachers, my head on the aisle above me, when I felt her reaching out for me.


{Liz, where are you? Do you need me?}

There was a pause. {It - worked, Michael.} She sounded disappointed.

I banged my head against the aisle behind me. {So yesterday wasn't a fluke.}

{I'm sorry, Michael...} It was almost a whisper.

{So, did he just like attack you in the middle of the class?}

{No, it wasn't like that. But now I've got detention.}

I rolled my eyes and buried my face in my hands. I didn't want to know. I really didn't.

Yes you do.

{Alright, well - tell me later, okay?}

{Michael, wait. What if you were right this morning?}

{About what?}

{About us being too close.}

I shook my head. {So -}

{I think Maria's looking for you, Michael.}


I banged my head again. {You can't be serious.}

{Michael... I'm serious about anything that will get us answers fast.}

"Oh, Michael," someone called out. "Hi."

I sat up. Maria was leaning against the railing. I tried not to roll my eyes.

{I'm getting a migraine, Liz.}

{Michael... it's your decision. But the faster we do this, the sooner I can, you know, not be with Max. I'll talk to you later. Okay?}

I didn't answer, and felt the connection dissipate. Leaving me with Maria.

"Hey," I said.

"Did you hear?" She asked casually. I pursed my lips.

"The Max-Liz thing?" I asked. "She's your friend. What do you think?"

"That Max and Liz have discovered some new sensation?" She shook her head.

Oh yeah. She believed it.

"It seems somewhat unlikely."

I snorted. "Extremely unlikely," I said.


I was mortified. They found us in the eraser room. Me and Max.

And they called my parents.

At least now I didn't have to worry about my parents being suspicious of Michael. Not that they were. I think they thought he wasn't my type.

Max, on the other hand, fit the description perfectly. I shook my head.

I hadn't tried communicating with Michael all afternoon. I was half-scared I'd interrupt him kissing Maria, and while I might support it in principle, I didn't want to experience it.

I had a lot to think about during detention.

No one was there when I arrived. I looked around the room when I saw the poster. That was it. That was what I'd seen.

"Ah, Ms. Parker. I'm happy to see you're taking a renewed interest in science," Mr. Seligman said. "Well...well, go ahead. It looks like you have a question?"

"Yeah," I gestured to the poster. "What is this?"

"Well, that's the Whirlwind Galaxy," He said.

"Could there be a... a red star?" I asked. "Or a red something in this area that isn't on this chart?"

"Well - there could be a red giant," he said.

"A red giant. Isn't that - a star that's in its last stages of its life cycle?"

"Yes. The problem is, the light from a red giant is weak - so weak we usually can't pick it up with our telescopes."

"Oh," I said weakly.

If that was their home planet... maybe it wasn't even there anymore.

I needed more answers.

"May I ask what has inspired your sudden interest in astronomy?"

"It's just beautiful -" I started. Max walked into the room.

"- the, um, universe," I finished. "It's beautiful."

He gave us both some slips and left us alone.

"What was that about?" Max asked.

He had a right to know.

And maybe.... if he knew what was at stake... we'd get answers faster.

"Max, you know the things I saw, the stars and everything? I didn't make them up," I said, pulling him toward the poster. "They're real. I saw this. I saw it this afternoon."

I took a deep breath. "Max, I - I think I saw the crash."


I was sketching when I heard them knock. I flipped the book shut and hid it under some clothes before opening the door.

I didn't think Max would appreciate my sketches of Liz.

"Hey," they said.

"Housewarming groceries," Isabel said, stepping inside. "Oh... it's, uh... it's very -"

"It's fine, Isabel," I said, rolling my eyes. "C'mon."

They weren't two steps inside when he brought it up.

"Liz thinks she saw the crash."

Isabel rolled her eyes. "Michael, please talk some sense into him."

"What, um -" Focus, Guerin, focus... "What did she see?"

"She said it was as if she was inside the ship looking out...when it came crashing toward Earth."

"Did she see anyone else on the ship?" I asked. "Like our parents?"

"Yeah, or Captain Kirk and the Klingons?" Isabel said.

She always had a way with words.

"You got a paper-towel holder?" She asked.

"No," I said, turning back to Max. "Max, what if it's real?"

"It's not real," Isabel said. "What's wrong with you guys?"

"I see things from inside her head," he said quietly.

My breath stopped.

"Maybe she's seeing things stored deep inside me," he finished.


Liz hadn't mentioned that. Maybe she doesn't know -

"What do you see inside her head?" I demanded.

"I can't tell you," he said. "It's private."


"Since when do we keep secrets from each other?" I said, forcing the words out. Easy, Guerin - "Maxwell, come on."

"Do you have a juicer?"

"Isabel, you're pushing it."

"They're Liz's personal thoughts, Michael," he said. "Not secrets."

"Ok, yeah, so they're personal thoughts. How do you know they're real?"

He hadn't thought of that. "I'm not sure."

"Can't you just ask her?" Isabel said.

"I don't want to embarrass her."

Why would she be embarrassed?

"Maxwell, if this is real, if there's any chance this is real, you owe it to us and to yourself to find out.

"In the meantime," I said, opening the fridge, "I'm gonna pursue my own avenues."


I was waiting on the rooftop when he climbed the fire escape. He didn't even kiss me before telling me about Max.

"He's seeing your thoughts, Liz," he said, climbing through the window. He started pacing immediately. "He wouldn't tell me what they were."

"What? That's - Michael, that's impossible."

"I don't know," he said, waving his hands. "You see the crash, he doesn't. Makes sense he would see stuff from you and you wouldn't know it."

"But when I'm with you -"

"I know," he interrupted. "I know. We see the same thing."

"So why would he -"

"I. Don't. Know," he said, collapsing into the lawnchair. "I'm sorry, Liz, I don't mean to be short, but -"

"Yeah," I said quietly. "I know."

He looked up at me. "Nothing with Maria, by the way. Nothing relevant to the crash, anyway."

"What - did you -"

He nodded. "She was a kid, red sneakers, Kermit patch, blue laces," he said quickly. "If she saw stars, and I'm fairly sure she was looking for them, they weren't there."

He had a flash with Maria.

I looked down.

Isn't that what you wanted, Liz? No. It wasn't.

"Hey," he said, concern in his voice. I heard him get up from the lawnchair and turned away from him, trying to breathe.

"Hey. Hey, hey, what - what're you doing?" His hands were on my shoulders, turning me around, then on my face, trying to make me look at him.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, not looking up. "This is stupid - I told you to do it, and I know you don't care about her like you care about me, but I -"

"But it's different to hear it," he said softly. He sounded surprised. "It makes it real."

"It's stupid," I whispered.

"No, it's not," he said. "I felt the same today. When you were with Max."

I looked up. "Really?"

He took a deep breath. "Yeah, really." He pulled me into a bear hug. "Maybe this will be over soon."

I nodded against his shirt, resting there for a second. Then I pulled back. "Michael - I got more flashes today."

He closed his eyes and sighed. "Okay," he said, opening them again and looking at me. "So what did you see?"

I let my hand drop and held his hand, our fingers intertwining. "C'mere," I said softly.

He leaned in to kiss me.

Stars hurtling past us. Something exploding.

A scarlet planet - clusters of stars -

A large ringed planet -

Earth, the desert, barren mountains -

I broke the kiss first. "Wow," he said. "That was - amazing, Liz -"

"Yeah," I smiled, hugging him. "This exchanging information with you is pretty good."

He kissed my forehead. "So it really is the crash," he said.

"You okay?"

"Yeah," he said. "I just - we've never heard anything, Liz. Nothing. Ever." He waved his hands a little. "We used to sneak out to the crash site with a metal detector I found at a flea market, and we'd look everywhere for a clue. Some metal, a sign.

"We never found a thing," he said. "Just bottle caps and dust." He snorted. "Trying to build a spaceship out of bottle caps. What a waste."

I didn't say anything.

"This is the first sign that we could know something," he said, shaking his head. "I don't get it."

He didn't say anything after that. Just stared up at the sky, holding on to me. I pressed my face against the warm fabric of his shirt, listening to his heartbeat.

I imagined Michael walking through the desert in the middle of the night, running a metal detector over the ground. Looking for any scrap of evidence that might be left. After 50 years and a government cover-up.

I bet he went out there every night. That would be just like him.

And this was the first clue they'd ever received.

How far are we going to take this?

I was going to take it as far as I had to.


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