Rearranging the Pieces

Author: Bennie
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I own nothing Roswell.
Character Focus: UC fluff, primarily Mi/L, and some slashiness. Be warned!
Spoilers: Not hardly. In fact, I scoff at the notion. Scoff!
Author's Note: Oh, you haven't noticed that I'm on a fluff kick lately? Well, I am. I have decided that fic is art, art reflects life, and life is absurd. Ergo, fic is absurd. See? Math backs me up on this one. Relevance, I must conclude, is irrelevant.




"Oh, shit!"

This couldn't be good.

Liz stood, dismayed, and looked at the damage. She'd been so busy venting her frustration and hurt that she hadn't noticed the new furniture arrangement.

The nice solid wooden coffee table that had graced the centre of the living room for as long as she could remember had evidently been replaced by wrought iron and glass. Of course, she could only imagine how the glass had fit with the iron because it had shattered on impact when she'd placed her backpack - swollen with library books - on top of it. Okay, maybe "placed it" wasn't entirely accurate. Maybe, "slammed it" was. Whatever. However it had happened, the fact remained that her parents were going to kill her.

Maybe she should run away.

Nah, that was overreacting. A little. She'd save it for something really big, like the day they tried to turn on the expensive-but-never-used chandelier in the dining room. When they discovered the damage from that last indoor softball game with Maria.

Maybe she could replace it?

Now there was a thought. But she'd never seen it, not whole. How would she know what to replace it with? She studied the iron support instead. Maybe if she could track down where they bought it, she could find out what the glass top had looked like.

It was a good plan. All she had to do was - wait. It was Saturday. And the stores were probably all closed at this hour. So, all she had to do was make it until Monday, after school …

"Argh!" she shouted again, well aware of how ridiculous she sounded, even to herself. There was no way her parents weren't going to notice for a whole weekend.

She sighed and fetched the broom to sweep glumly at the shards of sparkly glass that littered the living room floor.

She stopped only once in her labours, when it occurred to her that maybe that was how she looked inside. Broken. That's kind of how she felt after seeing them kissing in the library, behind the book stacks.

Damn, she thought, and surveyed the clutter that seemed to mock her and the mess her life had become.

Her day just kept getting better and better, she groaned, and bent down to pick up some pieces.

"I said I was sorry," she mumbled, using the back of her hand to wipe tears from her eyes. It didn't help. She couldn't get the image of her parents' faces out of her mind.

Her father had looked disappointed. Her mother had been so upset she'd almost cried.

Liz had tried to explain, had promised to replace it, said she'd use her savings, but her mother told her that it couldn't be replaced. That it had been a gift from a relative who hadn't seen Nancy since she was a child but remembered how much she had loved this table when she came to visit.

Then her father had suggested Liz go to her room until they could discuss it calmly. That had been hours ago.

Now there was a knock at her door, and it opened to admit her father.

"Liz, I want to take your mother out of town for the weekend. Will you be all right if we leave you in charge of the Crashdown?"

Liz nodded. Hesitantly, she asked, "Is Mom okay?"

Jeff Parker shook his head but tried to reassure her. "She will be. She just needs a little time to cool off."

"Dad - "

"We'll talk about it on Monday, Liz."

And he closed the door after him when he left.

Liz listened as her parents packed their overnight bags and made reservations at a little bed and breakfast she knew they liked.

Finally, alone in the apartment, she ventured out of her room.

"Damn," she said, and didn't like the way her voice seemed to echo, emphasizing her feeling of isolation.

She sat in front of the TV and, not really seeing the screen in front of her, put her feet up and flipped mindlessly through the channels.

The wood table was back in front of the couch. But it didn't fix the way her family seemed to break apart these days, the way her parents found it easier to put some distance between them rather than deal with her.

"C'mon, take the stupid message!" she yelled at the machine, which just blinked at her while the phone rang and rang and rang.

She really wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone.

Finally, blessedly, the machine kicked in and she listened to the sound of sobbing and slurred words. Liz frowned. If she didn't know better, she would swear that her best friend was drunk.

"Liz, Lizzie, please, I know you're there. Please talk to me. He - hic! - left me, Lizzie. Left me high and dry. Again. I n-need you, Liz, please?"

Liz picked up the phone then.



Her friend sounded broken.

"So tell me what happened. And give me that bottle."

After wrestling the half-empty wine bottle out of Maria's hand, Liz considered the dark red contents and took an experimental sip. Not bad. Bolder now, she drank some more as Maria sobbed on her shoulder.

"And we kissed, and it was g-g-great, Liz, it was like old times, but then he stopped and he said he couldn't. That there was someone else."

Liz gulped, covering the motion by swigging an even greater amount of wine. Coughing a little at the taste, she managed to hug Maria comfortingly. "I thought you didn't want anything more to do with him," she said then.

"I didn't," Maria said, and hiccupped again. "I don't. Not that way. In fact, it was stupid to kiss him with everyone so near by." She looked at Liz earnestly. "Oh my god, Liz! We were all at the library together - what if anyone saw? We only just got together - now I'll be all alone again, and I don't want to hurt anyone, Liz. Really I don't. It's just …"

"Just what?" Liz asked sympathetically. "Nostalgia? Like the time I kissed Max at the Christmas party and Alex got really angry at me?"

Maria snickered a little at the memory. "Yeah, who knew Alex could be so possessive? Poor Max. I heard he was in the doghouse for a week." She sniffed then. "I knew you'd understand," she said gratefully, and yawned. "You always understand."

And as she snuggled into Liz's warmth to fall asleep, Liz looked down at her friend and spoke gently.

"I do understand. But if it happens again, I'll kill you both with my bare hands."

And when she was sure Maria was asleep, she snagged the rest of the wine and staggered into the night. But she was careful, as always, and somehow she managed to keep the bottle from breaking. Like their friendship, it had stood the test of time but it could be fragile too. It could shatter with one good blow.

"Okay, dad. I'll see you both tomorrow night," Liz finished, and hung up.

"Whew!" she sighed, and collapsed on the couch. The phone had been ringing when she got home, and she'd told her parents she had been doing her homework on the balcony - thus explaining why she sounded a little out of breath and hadn't answered the first four times they called.

Now she looked at the bottle in her hand and took a long swig, enjoying the warmth that seemed to start in her belly and work its way outward until she felt slightly but deliciously heady.

She headed out on her balcony for real this time, and laid back on a lawn chair while she chugged a little more and enjoyed the night sky. Soon she looked at the bottle in disgust.

"I thought this was supposed to do something! How much does it take?" She yelled at it, angrily. "I've had a bad day, damn it! I want to get drunk! I want - I want -"

But then she forget what she wanted, because she saw something much more interesting. Something pale, hovering in the dim light before her, kind of floating, and … and moving. It was sort of swaying, like an underwater plant pushed by unseen currents. And it was moving closer.

She gasped as the top part of it separated into several long appendages, and felt her heart pounding as it came closer to her face but the way it kept going in and out of focus made it difficult to tell exactly what it was. A huge moth of some kind? An … an alien?

And then it touched her nose, kind of gripping it. At the same time, she was dimly aware of a strange pressure in her hand -


Her muddled mind tried to put it together. There was something gripping her nose. And there was something putting some pressure on her hand. Maybe she should try an experiment. She couldn't move her nose, but her hand - ah, now that she could use!

And then she shrieked in pain and surprise as something clamped down - hard - on her nose. Suddenly she heard pounding as someone climbed frantically up her ladder, leapt over the balcony wall and rushed to her side, anxious to know what had harmed her.

Even the tears that coursed down her cheeks couldn't hide him from her. She looked at him imploringly. "Michael?"

Michael studied her, utterly perplexed.

"Liz," he started, hesitantly. "What's wrong with your nose?"

"Something's got it. And it hurts," she sobbed.

He blinked at her. "Is that it? Nothing else happened to you?"

"No," she sniffed, or tried to. "But it hurts, Michael."

Finally catching sight of the bottle in her lap, he nodded in understanding.

"It's okay, Liz," he reassured her. "All you have to do is let go."

And he pried her clenched fingers off a sore and reddened nose, careful to pick up the now empty bottle so it wouldn't fall to the ground and break.

"My hero," she breathed, as he helped her back into her room and onto her bed. "Stay with me?" The coy invitation in her voice was unmistakable.

"Sure, Liz, whatever you say," he agreed, removing her shoes and contemplating whether she could undress herself. After a moment he just left her; to do otherwise might be a bad idea.

"My hero!" she insisted, then swung her head to glare at him blearily. "No, wait! Not my hero, not! Not!"

"Huh?" he asked, wondering what she was blathering about now.

She raised a hand to poke him in the chest, only missing once or twice and generally showing enough intuitive aim to make him wince and move back, out of reach.

"Kisser!" she said darkly.

"Huh?" he asked, trying to understand what the hell she was saying. It sounded like … uh oh.

"Liz, let me explain," he started, but she cut him off.

"She told me! She told me, Michael," she said loudly, accusingly.

"It was an accident, Liz," he said. "It should never have happened."

"You betcha!" she yelled, balling small fists to swing in the air, presumably demonstrating what she planned to do to him if he ever came back within arm's reach. "You betcha it shouldn'ta happened!"

"No," he said soothingly. "It shouldn't have happened, and I'm sorry it did. In fact, I promise that it will never happen again."

"I told her," she said.

"What?" he inquired politely, not at all phased by the abrupt shift in conversation.

"If it does happen again, I might have to - hurt you," she said, and began sobbing in earnest. "I don't want to hurt you guys. I love you guys. I love you!"

He just hugged her and grinned. "Ditto," he said casually, but he couldn't stop grinning, especially when her hand fell in an interesting place in his lap.

"Liz, maybe this isn't the best time -" he began, reluctantly, but his protests met only the sound of light snoring. She'd fallen asleep.

"Oh well," he sighed, and wriggled to get more comfortable himself. This could be a long night, and he just hoped that the suitcases he'd seen the Parkers carrying earlier meant they weren't going to be home tonight.

Then he reached out one hand to make sure the bottle was secure on the bedside table. The last thing he needed was to worry about broken glass in the morning. He was far more concerned about not breaking the heart of someone he cared about.

Liz moaned. Someone had done something to her head. It felt much too heavy to be hers.

She opened one eye, cautiously, and immediately regretted it.

"Ohhhhhh …" she moaned again, and this time felt a little seasick as the ground shifted beneath her.

An earthquake? She panicked, and tried to push herself up, to stand in the doorway like they did on TV. But her hands encountered something unexpected, and her arms couldn't support her, so she fell back down, making the ground grunt.

She giggled, then realized that there was something wrong with that idea. Counting to three, she slowly opened her eyes a merest slit and waited patiently for the world to come into focus.

There was something underneath her. No, someone. And judging by the response she got to falling on top of them, a male someone.

"Who is it?" she whispered lightly, and propped herself on one wobbly arm to explore his identity. And maybe to wake him up, so he could explain what the hell he was doing in her room - she assumed she was in her room - and underneath her.

"Liz?" The voice was cautious. Maybe because of one strategically placed knee. Hey, she hadn't taken that self-defence course for nothing. Okay, it was one class, and she had been more interested in getting through gym period than learning about self-defence, but a couple things had stayed with her. "Liz, what are you doing?"

She leaned down. "Michael?" she asked, mildly astonished, although rationally, she had to admit that if she was going to wake up on top of a guy, he would be the logical choice.

She frowned. No, he would be her fantasy choice. To hell with logic; she wasn't ready for that kind of intimacy with him yet and she knew it. They was too new together, too raw. And there were other factors to take into consideration, other people. She wasn't about to give up a perfectly promising relationship just for the chance to explore that tall, masculine body with the tip of her tongue, and maybe a feather - yes, yes, definitely a feather. She giggled at the thought of all the reactions she could elicit with a judiciously applied feather.

"Feathers," she murmured, and snorted slightly. Right, like Michael would let her anywhere near him with a feather, or a feather duster, or anything else with feathers - but wait. Pillows had feathers. Duvets had feathers. In fact, a lot of bedding had feathers built right in …

"Michael?" she asked again, this time to get his attention.

"Uh huh?" he asked sleepily, idly wondering what was so funny about feathers in the morning. His arms automatically wrapped around her, pulling her down and into the curve of his body as he shifted.

She didn't resist, and in fact, she leaned into his warmth eagerly. And when she looked up, she was looking directly in his face. He bent down for a kiss, but they both pulled back quickly.

"Do you have an extra toothbrush?" he asked. She nodded, and after a moment to gather strength and momentum, they both sat up and then moved towards Liz's washroom, where they stood side by side to brush their teeth.

It was kind of nice, Michael thought contentedly, and immediately choked.

Liz spat hastily and turned to him. "Michael?" she asked, concerned.

"Nothing," he coughed, and rinsed, using the delicate glass Liz kept on the counter beside the sink. Carefully he set it back down - safely - and she smiled.

"Hey, what were you doing on my balcony last night, anyway?" she asked, as they sat down to an impromptu breakfast of milk and pop-tarts.

Michael hesitated but forged forward bravely. Besides, what could she do to him? She was moving so gingerly he knew she had to be feeling the effects of the wine she'd drank the night before. Reaching out, he touched the back of her head lightly and concentrated.

"I came to explain about what happened yesterday," he said. She looked at him, and he was pleased that it had worked, at least a little. She wasn't wincing anymore, although she still looked pale. But … he wasn't sure the look he was getting now, that seemed to see right into him, through him, was much better.

Ouch. As weak as she was, she could still get to him.

"So tell me what happened."

"I was in the back aisle, looking for a book, and she fell into my arms."

"Oh, Michael," she said reproachfully. "You can tell me the truth, really you can."

"No, I'm serious!" he protested quietly, mindful of the way she was keeping her head very, very still. "She had climbed up to get a book off the top shelf and fell back. I just happened to catch her, and all of a sudden - well, you know."

Liz let out a long, moody sigh. "Yeah, I know," she admitted. She could see it happening, too. "But don't do it again," she said, a trifle grumpily.

"Why?" he asked. She just looked at him for a moment, then reached out to smack him lightly on one arm.

"You know why."

"Jealous?" he held his breath.

"Maybe a little," she conceded, and he grinned. But he sobered quickly.

"So we're okay?" She rolled her eyes but nodded. He really could be a little insecure sometimes.

"But what about …" he couldn't finish the sentence. He could only think of one person who could seriously get in the way of his being with Liz. And as much as he loved her …

"All right, I know. I've talked with her, and she says she's okay with this. At least, she's willing to try. But how about we meet with her before the meeting this afternoon to make sure?"

"Okay," he agreed, and they munched on their pop tarts together, and Liz thought about the way hers crumbled in her hands. And suddenly it occurred to her: sometimes things need to break, needed the opportunity to shake things up, try something different, to make a change before settling back into life's routines.

"So what's the big news?" Kyle asked, a little breathless because Maria had been … distracting … him all day. Damn, but it was really something to live in a house with two hot chicks and parents who lived their second marriage like one big honeymoon, oblivious to the escapades going on under their very noses. Tess had been the first one to see the potential, and had convinced him readily enough. And they'd only just convinced Maria to join in the fun too, and boy, had she made up for lost time, he thought with a grin.

And now Tess came up behind him and kissed him and then Maria lightly before sitting down next to them on the long couch.

"I don't know. Michael called the meeting. Does anyone know where he is?" Max called from one corner, where he sat in front of Alex's chair to get a really thorough shoulder massage. "Or Isabel, or Liz?"

"We're here," Liz said from the doorway, flanked by a rather smug-looking Michael and a slightly flustered Isabel.
"Isabel, are you okay?" Alex asked, not missing the way she looked from Liz to Michael and back to Liz again, as if working something out in her mind.

"I'm fine," she said, a little weakly. Michael frowned and Liz looked concerned. "I'm fine," Isabel repeated, and both of them relaxed to hear her tone strengthen. "But we have a couple things to discuss - all of us."

"What's that?" Maria asked from the couch, demurely holding Kyle's hand and resting her head against Tess's shoulder.

"Well," Isabel stated, "I think we should all get it out in the open. Just who is with who these days?"

There was a moment of silence.

"I think it's pretty obvious, don't you?" Max asked. "But if you really want to know …" and he smiled and leaned back as Alex leaned forward to wrap long arms around sculpted torso.

"Ditto," Tess said, snuggling into Maria's side and reaching around to work her fingers through Kyle's hair. Both couch-buddies nodded candidly.

"What about you, Iz?" Max inquired gently, knowing that she'd been a little touchy about the subject since Grant died. He was gratified when she smiled at him now, openly happy, and only a little surprised when she stepped back to pick up Liz's hand.

"I win. You owe me five dollars," Alex murmured in his ear.

Turning slightly, Max spoke just as quietly, but Alex could hear the smile in his voice. "It's worth it. The sexual tension was getting out of hand."

Next to the chair, on the couch, Kyle grinned to hear the exchange. For the first time, he was happy that Liz had moved on to someone other than him.

But then Michael stepped forward to take Liz's other hand, and everyone fell silent, taking in the way Isabel smiled in acceptance, Liz fairly shone with joy, and Michael … Michael …

"Oh my god, it's one of the signs of the apocalypse," Maria said disbelievingly, and Michael and Liz both looked at her, concerned and worried she hadn't gotten past what happened in the library.

"Michael smiled," she proclaimed, and everyone grinned to see him roll his eyes.

Liz just smiled sweetly and pulled both Michael and Isabel to her, possessively. Maria laughed, and just shrugged at her best friend, who shrugged back and all was forgiven. "How's your head?" Liz asked, and Maria pointed at Tess, miming a little extraterrestrial hangover cure.

Liz grinned back and gestured towards her own alien lovers in complete understanding and mutual delight.

Today was definitely turning out better than yesterday. The pieces were definitely coming together.

"Hi Mom, hi Dad," she greeted them with a hopeful look in her eye.

Thankfully, they both gave her a hug as they came through the door. As her father went to take the bags upstairs, her mother stopped to hug Liz a little more firmly.

"I'm sorry, honey. I overreacted."

"I'm sorry too, Mom. I should've been more careful."

"It's all right. Besides, I was thinking about getting a new tabletop anyways. Glass gets scratched so easily."

The look on Liz's face was comical. "Really?" she asked, weakly. "Oh."

"Liz? What is it?"

Liz took a deep breath and thought of the lengths she'd gone to that weekend, to get another glass tabletop. And then to have Michael and Isabel repair it, when the three of them had gotten a little enthusiastic on the couch beside it.

"Mom …" she started, but was interrupted when Jeff Parker yelled from upstairs.

"Liz! Nancy!"

Followed closely by her mother, Liz burst into the living room and had to laugh. There stood her father beside the new tabletop, looking downright bewildered.

Nancy turned to her daughter. "Liz?"

Liz's smile faded and she squirmed a little. "I know I couldn't really replace it, but I thought … maybe … we could make our own memories … or something …" and her voice trailed off as her parents exchanged glances and then started laughing.

She smiled a little too, the laughter was contagious. "What's so funny?"

Nancy laughed as Jeff went back downstairs. He was back in a moment carrying a similar sheet of glass to the one on the table. "We had the same idea, I guess. We picked it up at an antique market off the highway."

Liz nodded, and hugged her as they watched her father try to figure out what to do with the extra glass.

And for a few blessed minutes, all was well in Roswell, New Mexico.

Across town, Max laughed hysterically as Alex leapt from chair to chair in his parent's living room, proclaiming loudly - and earnestly - his superhuman prowess as lover and protector of bunny rabbits everywhere.

And then he stopped laughing, and shouted in concern.

"No, wait - Alex!"


"Oh, shit."

The End

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