Disclaimer: I own so little, I know without looking that Roswell is not in there.
Character Focus: Mi/L, Mi/I
Author's Note: Michael remembers Liz. And thanks, Debbie -- for everything!
A little more under the eyes. A little smudging, to capture that haunted quality. That absolute stillness.
He remembered the look on her face as she watched the four of them leave. Leave her, her friends, and her life. Something about her had caught his eye at that moment, and it was only for a moment, but the image had stayed with him since.
Darker brows, fuller, more expressive.
He used a charcoal-like substance to create lines and curves, each stroke reminding him of something else about her.
He didn't know why it's her that he feels compelled to draw now. Something about the pain trapped in her eyes, about the way the world seemed to freeze, to stop around her.
He always saw so much in her expression; it's one of the reasons he pushed her away whenever possible, when he still could. But now he felt a certain kinship with her, maybe not love but maybe something more fundamental. Nothing as trite as lust, although he won't deny she was attractive. Subtly compelling, even.
But he'd never appreciated subtle, before.
Straight nose, slightly wider at the tip than at the bridge. Not perky, but proportional.
In some ways they had been so different, in others so alike. So protective of their friends, so determined to do the right things, so unable to achieve absolute detachment from the things that hurt, that reminded, that struck at the soul.
Of them all, he might have been the only one who really knew her. He knew what she wanted in life, had read her most private thoughts, had listened to her inner voice. At the time he had thought of it as self-defence, as more of an imposition on him than it was on her. And maybe it was. But maybe it was something else.
Looking down at the picture, he thought that he may not be a great artist, but this was pretty good. He smiled, remembering the crayons of his childhood as he waves his hand over the image, filling it with colours he saw with his mind, a subtler palette than the paints of his youth could ever achieve. Solemn eyes gaze up at him now, and he relived that day.
About a week before they left Ava had come back, had asked to come with them.
But in the end she couldn't leave Liz. Couldn't leave the only person who had hugged her - spontaneously, sincerely - and now was hurting so much. From the loss of Alex to a scholarship overseas, from the pain of knowing that Maria and Kyle were only going to be around until Jim and Amy had settled into their new life several counties over. They'd asked Liz to come, there was an open invitation to stay with them anytime, but she had to stay with her dad. He hadn't been the same since her mother's accident, and he needed her, just as she needed him.
The cheekbones weren't right. They looked too angular. Softer, they'd been softer. Smoother. This wasn't right.
Irritably he flipped the page, nimble fingers filling this new void with two lithe figures. Liz and Ava, hand in hand, each one a paradox of innocence and wisdom, of youth and knowledge. One perfectly round tear about to fall down one cheek, to disappear in the shadow beneath.
He remembered that moment with crystalline clarity, remembered looking back at her. He knew that she had not been alone, that Maria and Kyle and Ava stood with her and shared her pain. But in that moment, she could have been standing in a crowd of hundreds and she would have been alone. Set apart.
Absolutely still in the midst of turbulent emotion. The eye of the storm.
What was it that had made her feel things so deeply, with such shattering intensity? He didn't know. But at the time he'd paused for a moment to study it, to fix this image in his mind, before one arm had reached back to pull him along with the group. Because for once he wasn't in the lead, pushing his way forward, making a path for the others.
Tess had led, he remembered. Isabel had been right behind her. From the angle of the grip around his elbow he knew Max hadn't dared look back to see him falter, had instead sensed his hesitance and reached back blindly to pull him along.
Long, heavy strokes to show hair hanging straight, no breeze pulling it about. No evidence of breathing, not a twitch of the hand to prove that life remains within the shell. Except in the eyes. They shine with intensity against the setting sun, glimmer with hints of every emotion imaginable. Smudged shadows underneath create an illusion of depth.
Now, as then, he sensed a presence pulling at him now, from behind him. A different presence, but just as powerful. He didn't hide what he was doing.
"It's beautiful, Michael," Isabel said, and her voice was low and deep and sorrowful. For all that she'd wanted to escape her past, she understood his fascination with its images and didn't object to the reminders he created to fill (but not decorate, never would she call these decorations; their power did not lay in their aesthetic quality) the walls of this, their most private room. Sometimes he drew Alex for her, and she would weep and smile and place them where she would see his gentle grin when she awoke. She liked falling asleep under the gaze of familiar eyes.
They had come together out a mutual need for comfort. And now he felt her gentle hand on his shoulder.
He allowed himself to be turned about, to be pulled along. But before he did, he looked back at the images he had made and thought of a lone, solitary girl standing against a setting sun.
And he spared one thought before closing his eyes to think of her, to wish her well.
Wherever she was.
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