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Things That Break

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As far as Michael is concerned, the competition for the alien with the most complicated love life is now a three-way tie.

Isobel, still mourning her dead husband, or the idea of her dead husband, who'd turned out to be an alien serial killer.

Max, who'd blitzed that serial killer (who had murdered his girlfriend's sister) and still probably wanted to tell Liz that her dead sister's burned body was in a pod in a random cave.

And Michael, who'd managed to fall in love with the son of the man responsible for torturing and killing the family he never knew he had. And who now has to figure out a way to explain his magically perfect hand, because Max couldn't keep his healing powers in his pants.

Tequila, Michael thinks. Tequila will solve this problem. But Maria is the keeper of the tequila, and right now, Maria is not in the mood to dispense any drinks.

"You went...to a doctor. Who fixed your hand." Her voice doesn't convey the kind of belief he was hoping for. He should have been smart and figured out a more plausible story before showing anyone his newly unscarred hand. But he'd wanted to see her, to reach out for something good and uncomplicated, something untouched by all the danger and death and violence.

He also hasn't slept in at least twenty-four hours, and he's been knocked out twice, so maybe he's not at his sharpest.

"Yeah," he says, trying to tough it out. "It's amazing what medical technology can do these days."

"Guerin," she says, fixing a glare on him. "Don't try and bullshit me. I'm supposed to believe you, what? Drove to Albuquerque or El Paso and had orthopedic and plastic surgery sometime between now and the last time I saw you?"

"Look," he says. "I can't really explain it, okay? But it's a good thing."

They're sitting side by side on barstools, and he leans in to kiss her again. She smells sweet, like something light and flowery, and he pushes his hand into her hair to feel the softness of it between his fingers.

She's smiling as she pulls back, but refuses to be distracted. "Whatever it is, you can tell me."

"I know," Michael says. And he does. If anyone's tough enough to handle this whole fucked-up situation, it's Maria. He just has to talk to Max and Isobel first and clear it with them. "I can't right now. There's some stuff going on."

Her smile dims. "Stuff with you and Alex?"

"No." Shit, Alex. He'd told Alex to come back tomorrow and talk, and tomorrow was today. "I mean, yeah, but not that."

"I don't know if I can do this to him," she says, leaning back, her arms coming up to wrap around herself. "He's one of my best friends, and he's been hung up on you for years."

"The thing with Alex was a long time ago." Mostly. Two minutes ago she was kissing him, and now he's on the defensive with everything she asks. This isn't going how he wanted it to go. Maybe he should just tell her about aliens, so they can stop talking about Alex.

He gently unwraps her arms, takes her hands in his, and tries to project the sincerity that he actually feels for once. "I'm here. I want to be with you. Things with Alex were...just a disaster, every time we tried. I like you. You like me. Nice and simple. And you own this bar, which is a big plus for me."

His attempt at humor doesn't go over well. She pulls her hands away. "Is that supposed to be some kind of compliment? That I'm simple?"

"No, you're not simple." He huffs and scrubs at his head, hoping to jump-start his brain. "You know I didn't say that. I just meant—"

"You meant that I'm the easy option." The scary thing is, she doesn't even look mad. She looks serious, and a little disappointed, which is way worse than mad.

He tries again. "Things are really complicated for me right now."

"Things are complicated for everyone, Guerin. You can't use that as an excuse to skip right to the sex."

Deep breaths. There's got to be some way he can make her understand. "Look, I—I really like you."

She surprises him then, kissing his cheek. "I know. I like you too. Don't tell anyone I said that."

"I want to give this a try. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't." He shrugs. "Maybe we end up wanting to strangle each other, which leaves us no worse off than before."

"Maybe," she repeats skeptically.

"Which one?" he teases.

She smiles that sweet, tentative smile he's almost never seen on her, and leans forward to kiss him again.

Two things happen before they can touch. A powerful feeling of wrongness slams into him, worse than anything he's ever felt. Waves of nauseating pain, noise and blinding color so overwhelming that he can't even parse it at first; he just doubles over in psychic agony and clutches at the bar to stop himself sliding off the stool.

And Maria's phone, lying on the bar, vibrates.

"Guerin, what the hell? What's wrong?"

He waves her off, unable to speak around the combined agony and panic. Her phone silences for a moment, then chimes with a text. She takes a quick look at the screen as it flashes.

"It's Liz. She says it's an emergency."

He takes a deep breath and manages to find his voice. "Call her, find out what's wrong." Whatever Liz's emergency is, he's betting it's tied to whatever's setting off his alien alarm.

When Liz answers the call, she's talking too fast for him to understand what she's saying to Maria, but the panic in her voice comes through clearly.

"Max?" Maria says into the phone. "What about Max?"

Shit, Michael thinks. What the hell has Max done now? Amped up on all that power, not thinking clearly. Hopefully he's not standing in the middle of town, calling lightning down from the sky again.

Maria puts her hand over the phone's mic. "Liz isn't making any sense. She said something about Rosa?"

Of course. Of course he couldn't leave it alone. Max and his goddamn hero complex. But the stabbing pain in his gut doesn't make it seem like a good sign. He must have done something stupid and put himself in danger.

"What did Max do?" He's already making plans: gun's in the truck, fortunately, and he can call Isobel on the way, maybe swing by to pick her up if she hasn't already left for wherever Max is...

Maria tunes back in to the torrent of words coming from the phone, and her eyes widen in disbelief. "She says he's dead."