FanFic - Crashdown After Hours
"No Place Like Home"
Part 1
by Kit
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me, but someone would probably just die if they knew what I was doing to Isabel or Maria. But I do it, because I’m totally in love with Isabel, and halfway in love with Maria, and there can be nothing better than a slash fic involving those two.
Summary: Set in the future after “Wipe-Out” and each chapter will alternate between Isabel and Maria's POV. So this chapter is Maria, and chapter 2 is Isabel and so on.
Category: After Hours
Rating: NC-17
I held my child in my arms hopelessly as she took her last breaths and cried the tears of death. There was nothing I could do to save her, and that knowledge killed me. The only person that could save her might very well be dead, too. The fear of her death is much more real than the fear for my own life. I realized, belatedly, that I was bleeding too, harder, and faster.

My child is beautiful, a babe of not yet four, and I will not let her life be in vain. She was the key to everything from the first moment, and she will not die now in this way. My child looks just like the mother who birthed her, with long blonde hair and dark, enigmatic eyes. Her chubby body might one day be long and lean and voluptuous like her mother’s, if we can get past this day, and her death. Her brother is still an infant, and I will never explain to my son why his sister isn’t with us, and that is why I have to get up and save her.

The children that Isabel and I have together I may not have carried in my womb, or birthed from my body, but I love them as fiercely as any mother loves their child. I never thought that I wouldn’t have my own, but no fertility treatment in the world would help me to conceive a child—I was barren. But my life wasn’t, and that’s the best part about it. Isabel took a horrible thing and turned it into something so wonderful. All of the talks and debates we ever had about destiny, and who belonged to who and for the longest time we never knew that our fates were entwined. That she was mine and I was hers. I suppose it’s our love and the love of our children that is making me pray right now in feverish abandon of all other sensations. How could I not believe in God when He has provided so well for me?

Believing in God is a hard thing to do in this day and time. I suppose in the Middle Ages, believing in God was easy, because religion was based on fear, and oppression. Even in the age of Puritans, their hang-ups, and obsession with witchcraft, and deviltry, it must have been easy to follow the rules, knowing that if you followed them, God would keep you safe. But now, it’s so different—we know that diseases aren’t signs of demon possession and just because people are quiet and keep to themselves doesn’t mean they sit at home and practice the dark arts.

God is harder to see now, in the cracks and crevices of our society, and faith has depreciated in value. Despite my questionable hippie-free-love-laid-back upbringing, I always thought that I believed wholeheartedly in God. I may not have gone to church every Sunday, or prayed every day, or ministered to others, but faith is not like a badge you wear, and I was okay with that.

After I found out about Max, Michael, and Isabel, I began to wonder about God. There are at least a few, maybe hundreds of thousands of other planets populated with other beings probably much more advanced than us. Did God create all of these peoples? Why didn’t we know about it from the very beginning?

Aliens are such a foreign concept in our world today, and I guess living in Roswell buffers my view of the way others think about extra-terrestrials. Roswell is a different sort of town, and here, everything is different, and anything seems possible, sometimes. Aliens SEEM possible.

Anyone else living anywhere else would push aliens off as crazy talk. How would we ever be able to explain the existence of something—someone—that seems impossible in the eyes of physicists and astronomers everywhere? Maybe we’re all aliens, just deposited on this rock or that one until God returns to Earth to take us….well, somewhere. Heaven, I guess. So I could say we’re all but visitors on this planet, to pay a little homage to the X-Files. Some people are just more…qualified than others.

When Liz told me about Max, and Michael and Isabel, it didn’t take very long for me to accept, and begin to believe everything she had told me. It was just because after I’d had the facts outlined to me, it just sort of made sense. Max, Michael and Isabel began to make sense. The way they always hung out together, and kept to themselves, and treated us like *we* were the different ones, it all made sense.

Then Michael began to get more and more mysterious—more and more exciting, more alluring, more….attractive. After I got over the whole alien thing, falling for Michael was almost immediate. I’ve always prided myself on being somewhat of a feminist, and now I’m almost disgusted by how long I allowed myself to fawn over him. It was sick. Especially when it was clear he wasn’t interested any longer.

Soon enough, I realized it wasn’t me. It wasn’t me at all. In fact, I think Michael still might love me in his own strange way. What Michael doesn’t want is obligation to this planet.

And since I’m on it, I suppose that includes me too. I guess the fact that he could walk away from me so easily was just proof he wasn’t human enough for me after all.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I *enjoy* mulling over this. In fact, I think the most painful parts of life are rejection, and thinking about things that are unpleasant. Especially all of the embarrassing, guilty, painful moments in life that slip into your head when you really aren’t intending to think of them. Frequently, I’ll be thinking about my day, or about schoolwork, or the new waiter at work, Matt, and how handsome and smart he is; and in that moment, I’ll think of a particular time I’ve made a fool of myself, or been wasteful, or hurt my mom’s feelings, and my cheeks will burn bright with the sting of shame. Thinking of Michael is like thinking of those moments. It’s something I try to avoid by thinking of something---anything else.

All the logic in the world won’t undermine what I know in my heart, and that is that we are here for so short a period in the vast span of time, and to be unhappy for any moment of that time is unthinkable.

That’s where this story begins, I suppose. The story of my children, the story of my youth, the story of my wife. It’s funny how events begin and come back to the same conclusion, the same apex. For me, everything begins and ends with Michael Guerin, as much as I hate it.

It was the early spring, and the fact that every college brochure I had read assured me that the California weather was “refreshing” and “balmy,” the weather in Los Angeles that day was anything but. It was hot, and my hair, which I had meticulously curled that morning, was now frizzing terribly in the humidity. That was the one safe thing about living in Roswell—you never had to worry about hair frizz.

I sat in the un-air-conditioned office and waited patiently for my name to be called. My mother, who’d been feeling a little woozy that morning when she’d awoken, promised to meet me for lunch, and after that we were supposed to begin to hunt through the lists of apartments that we’d been given by the apartment locators. That is, if I would ever get in to see an apartment locator.

I’d put ads in the school and local paper in Roswell before I graduated, looking desperately for someone else moving to Los Angeles and looking for a roommate, but to no avail. I’d not heard a single response to my ad, and finding a cheap, one bedroom apartment was looking less and less likely as I looked around at all the men and women standing around alone, waiting to see one of the two harried women shoved behind two desks. Both were trying to talk over one another as they discussed options with their prospective clients.

Liz was going off to an East Coast school, one primarily pre-Med, but I had forgotten what school the minute Liz told me she’d be nearly three thousand miles away. Liz had cried when she promised me that we'd see each other every holiday and we would even plan trips to see one another. Max was planning to follow Liz to the East Coast, but both had assured me that their schools were nearly an hour away from one another and that that would afford them few trips back and forth to see one another. I want to know whom on Earth they thought they were fooling with that lame excuse.

Isabel, oddly enough, had doubled up on required classes our junior year, and after some night and summer classes, she’d graduated the summer before senior year and was already off at school…somewhere. Max was never too clear on exactly where Isabel had gone. And Max, ever practical, had convinced Michael that regardless of their roots, they still needed to get an education, and so Michael chose a vocational school in Oklahoma, and he was going to study to be a car mechanic, or something like that. I had decided to move away from him, and from Roswell, I might add, long before he chose to leave too.

My mother and Sheriff Valenti started dating again seriously after Christmas our junior year of high school, and by June, they were married, and I had gotten three new roommates. Kyle offered to sleep on the couch, but knowing the arrangement would be for a little less than a year, I bit the bullet and insisted that Tess share my room so Kyle could have the spare room.

I have often thought that the only reason Jim Valenti had married my mom was to understand Kyle a little better. Sometimes, I’ll see him stalking out of the kitchen or living room muttering about what fools they were, and I will walk in to find Mom and Kyle talking about their distaste for red meat, or how the flower beds needed to be weeded, or ancient Indian relics.

In time, I began to see Kyle and Tess become very close. They stayed home together when everyone else went out, Tess spent a lot of time in Kyle’s room, and for some reason, they like to polish Tess’s lamp collection…frequently. I shook my head indifferently. As long as Mom isn’t riding my ass about anything and everything anymore, I really didn’t care what any of them did. As far as I could tell, Tess and Kyle were staying in Roswell, close to the Sheriff for a while, for what reason I have yet to determine.

Lunch was rolling around and I decided to make a day of it. I saw at least four people there before me who’d not even seen one of the two overworked women yet. I decided to come back in the morning when they opened at….seven. Jesus, too early…make it eight and bring a bottle of water and a paper fan, I decided, pulling out my phone to call my mom. On her way out of the door, I spotted a gold sedan pulling in with a flourish of dirt. I got into my car as the big-breasted blonde got out and flounced into the small office. Were all the bitches in California blonde with big tits? Implants, I decided, definitely implants. At least my mother is a brunette. I think I’ve seen enough blondes to last a lifetime.

* * *

“Maria, honey, you’re going to be late…” Mom shuffled into the bedroom door of our hotel suite.

Jim was not far behind, carrying coffee. Mom wrinkled her nose in disgust, and Jim shrugged, taking it away.

“Mom, I think you’d say that if I rose every morning at six am. You’d wander in about five thirty, and say ‘Maria, you’re going to be late’ in the dead middle of summer vacation. Late for what, I ask you?”

“Well, you actually wanted to *see* someone about an apartment today, right?” my mother asked with a raised eyebrow. She padded out of the room softly, carrying her paper.

“Yes, by all means,” I shoved the covers off my bare legs as Kyle came through the bedroom door and dove into the spot next to mine. “Hey, ape, this is my bed.”

“Well, I’ve had to sleep on the couch the last two nights while Princess Tess got the other bedroom, so can it. Besides, I like warm sheets.”

“Then go steal Tess’s warm sheets,” I shot back. “And that’s Queen Tess, Buddy,” I smirked, bowing royally.

“She’s just Tess to me,” Kyle replied softly, and from the doorway, Tess smiled sleepily.

“That’s the sweetest thing I think I’ve ever heard Kyle Valenti say,” Tess giggled and climbed into the big bed next to Kyle, snuggling down into the warm covers.

“Charming,” I muttered from the bathroom as I shoved the toothbrush into my mouth.

“Hey, Maria, do you want me to come with you today?” Kyle offered.

“Sure, if you want to come. Yesterday was hellaciously hot,” I warned him as I shut the door and changed into plain khaki shorts and a darling red halter-top. I swept my long hair up into a French knot, and quickly pinned up the stray strands. Forgoing make-up, I decided it would only melt off. Instead, I rubbed lotion into my arms and chose some strappy brown sandals that showed off my great legs. I nodded to Kyle when I left the bathroom, and he got up to go get dressed.

Fifteen minutes later, we were on our way downtown, driving slowly through traffic. Kyle drove--he always insisted, and I rode shotgun, watching small trees and shoebox buildings pass, and halfway empty parking lots start to fill.

Finally, pulling into the parking lot of the apartment locator, and finding it already mostly full, I reluctantly got out of the car and Kyle walked beside me, silently. Finding seats in the small office, we sat down side by side.

“You don’t have to go off, Maria,” Kyle offered earnestly.

“What do you mean, I don’t *have* to?”

“Well, we weren’t going to tell anyone until after school got out, but Tess and I are getting an apartment sometime in the summer, and if you want to stay with Dad and Mom, er, your mom, I know the community college will pretty much accept any application. I know the junior college doesn’t have a whole lot of offer, but you could at least take some of your basics there.”

“Wait a minute, you and Tess are moving in together? When were you going to tell Mom and Dad, er…your Dad?”

“Well, technically Tess’s birthday is not until May 28th, and since your mom really doesn’t know about the whole alien thing, we have to wait until then to sign joint leases and things like that. We want to be able to move out after we tell them, so if they kick us out, we’ll have somewhere to go.”

“Why would they kick you out?”

“Well,” Kyle coughed delicately. “Maria, surely you know…”

“Ohhhhhh,” my eyes widened as my mouth dropped open. I promptly shut it and sat back in my chair to process his implication. “So, the lamps?”

Kyle ducked his head and nodded, coughing again.

“Ohhhhhhh,” I said again, almost unable to believe what I had heard.

“At first I just thought she was really hung up on Max Evans…and let’s face it, what girl in Roswell isn’t? But after she moved in and we started spending more time together, we just really began to see things in one another that…”

“I’m not sure I want to hear this,” I grimaced awkwardly. The mental imagery was a little disturbing.

“Well, to make a long story short, we started trimming the lamp of wisdom after Christmas junior year, and…”

“Trimming the lamp of wisdom?” I asked incredulously.

“Sleeping together,” he admitted quietly, ducking his head again.

“Jesus, Kyle…you guys were only sixteen!” I hissed quietly.

“I know,” he replied. “Look, it’s not like we’re proud. But we are together, and I think we’ve got a good chance to stay together, once we get our own place. I love Tess,” he finally said with a content sigh.

“I know how that feels,” I replied softly, ducking my own head. We sat quietly together waiting for my name to be called.

“Would you think about staying in Roswell? I know I’m not ‘Big Max the Leader’,” Kyle said with a cocky shake of his head, “but I still think we’re safer in numbers.”

“I’m ready to be out of Roswell,” I replied wistfully. “Besides, Michael’s on his own…Isabel’s out on her own, too,” I shrugged, “wherever she is.”

“Do you miss Isabel less now?” Kyle asked gently.

“Not really,” I admitted. “I never had very many friends, and I just always—foolishly, I might add--imagined we’d be together—all of us, living in Roswell, or close to one another at least, for a long time. And then when Isabel left, it just really hit home that I wouldn’t always have these friends, and that we were going to eventually, all split up.”

“Tess knows,” Kyle acknowledged blandly. “Tess knows where Isabel is.”

“Well, you’ll have about as much luck getting it out of Tess as I had getting it out of Max,” I rolled my eyes.

“I have my ways,” he grinned lasciviously.

“Ewwww, Kyle, T-M-I!” I laughed and shoved his arm, pushing him forward in his chair. We both grew silent once again, and finally, I said, “You could move out here.”

“I think I need to stay at home for now,” Kyle rolled the words around in his mouth as if he were seeing what they tasted of. “Something inside me is just telling me to stay put for now. All good things, you know?”

“I don’t get it, but its not like I’ve never done anything strange before,” I shrugged. “Hell, we all do unexplainable things. Michael dumped me and won’t speak to me. Liz decides to major in chemistry instead of biology. Isabel leaves without saying a word to anyone…well, anyone besides her family and Michael and Tess. What kind of sense does any of it make?”

A bell jangled on the door to the office, and the big-breasted blonde from the day before strolled in, propping her sunglasses atop her head and looking around with a frown.

“Speak of the devil,” Kyle said, his voice incredulous.

“What?” my neck popped when I whipped my head around towards the door.

“Kyle? Maria?” Isabel stopped short, but that was all she said, she looked positively like she’d seen a ghost. She turned on her heel, leaving out the same way she came very quickly. Glancing at one another furtively, Kyle and I watched as one of the other women jumped up and hurried to the door.

“Isabel! Isabel! Where are you going?!”

Isabel continued to trot towards her car, and drove off in a hurry.

I looked at Kyle slowly. “Oh, my God. I can’t believe what just happened!” I said incredulously. Kyle nodded, still a little too shocked to believe, I think.

“That Isabel,” the woman who’d gone running out the door came back, grumbling. “Good riddance.”

I looked over at Kyle, wide-eyed and in disbelief. She never even said goodbye to any of us, and then to just see her, here in Los Angeles, was sort of impossible. So highly unlikely, and yet, it happened. Mom would call this fate. She would say my stars are aligning and have returned an old friend.

But I suppose the more important question is: why did she run away? What was she running from? I stood and walked to the desk, standing over the woman until she looked up and gave me a withering stare.

“I’m sorry, I had just had a quick question…”

“Yes, ma’am, but there’s a line…as soon as your name is called…”

“No, no, this is about the girl that just left, Isabel? Does she work here? I went to high school with her—we were friends,” I explained haltingly.

“Hmmph, well, she’s a beautiful pain in the ass, if you ask me. Running out of here like she had someone chasing her down. You can tell her that she can pick up her check on Friday, but don’t bother coming back.”

“No, I don’t talk to her anymore, but I want to see her. Is there any way you could give me her telephone number?”

“I really can’t under California state law, honey. But payroll is done on Friday at noon. If you want to come back, you’ll probably catch her then,” she informed me, more kindly.

“Thank you, I appreciate the tip,” I nodded politely and went to sit down again. We only sat there for a few minutes before my name was called, and I sat in the small folding chair in front of the other woman, who looked me up and down a little strangely.

“You knew….uh, know Isabel?”

“Yeah,” Kyle slumped into the chair next to me.

“You are…Maria?” she guessed tentatively. “And…are you Michael?”

“I’m Maria,” I smiled unsurely, “but this is my brother Kyle. Did she tell you about us?”

“Oh, you’re *Kyle,*” the girl smiled coyly.

“So, you know all about us?” I was still shocked by the whole situation.

“It’s all she talked about…well, during our free time anyway,” she shrugged.

“You guys have free time around here?” I raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“Yeah, like everything else, we have busy seasons,” she continued to stare at us wonderingly.

“Now, what kind of place were you looking for?”

“Same as everyone else, I guess,” I said, after a moment’s pause. “A single bedroom, maybe like an efficiency…in the best part of town I can get with reasonably low rent.”

“Honey, you can forget about a one-bedroom or efficiency now. You’ve waited too late in the spring. You’re wanting close to campus, I’m guessing?”

I nodded, discouraged already, “What about a two-bedroom?”

“That, maybe we can help you with. We can try to match you with someone else looking for a roommate, and see if you want to try something like that,” she nodded sensibly. In fact, Isabel is looking for a roommate. We’re more careful to screen the people we give recommendations to for her, but since you’re her friend, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. Her lease is up in July…let me get you her telephone number, and you can try to call her or something.”

I turned to Kyle with a raised eyebrow, and as soon as the girl got up to go to the file cabinet, I leaned over to him quickly. “Is this strange, or *what*?” I hissed.

“I agree, but we need to talk about it later,” he nodded as the girl came back and began to fill out paperwork.

"Based on your profile, I tried to get some other names for people who have similar interests and backgrounds. So if it doesn’t work out with Isabel, you do have some other options. I am also enclosing the brochures and information for the other complexes in your price range that are in the area…I will warn you, however….not a lot of two bedrooms are still available in this area, so I would get cracking if I were you.”

“Thank you,” Kyle shook her hand gratefully. She held on too long, still smiling at him flirtatiously.

“Hey, you know all of Isabel’s friends, right?” I couldn’t help but adding evilly.

“Yeah,” another breathy sigh from the woman.

“Well, he’s dating Tess.”

A look that could only be described as disgust came over her face, and she let go of Kyle’s hand. “You’re being wasted on *Tess?*” she asked, irritated.

“That’s enough of that,” Kyle pointed at me and I giggled as we walked out towards my car.

Soon, he was laughing too, and we were keeled over my car, laughing like idiots. Soon it got too hot to stand out there and laugh, so we got in the car and turned the air-conditioner all the way up for the drive back to the hotel.

Almost immediately, my mind slipped back to Isabel…it slipped back to that day she tried to “fix” my air-conditioner. We weren’t even friends…she didn’t trust me, didn’t like me, and didn’t know me. And to think, how quickly it all changed, and moved forward. Our junior year, she and Max and I hardly spent a moment apart, and it was the happiest time of my life, or as happy as it got without Michael. I rolled my eyes at that thought.

“What are you doing?” Kyle asked with a laugh, sliding a glance my way.

“What do you mean?” I asked, suddenly aware of what I was doing.

“You’re over there, huffing and sighing and rolling your eyes,” he laughed.

“Oh, God,” I put my head in my hands and wrinkled my nose, amused. “I’m sorry—I’m just thinking about Michael Guerin…what else?” I shrugged.

“Yeah, I can’t believe she thought that I was him. I’m much better looking,” he insisted.

“No argument here,” I crossed my arms over my chest. Kyle got quiet after that, with that little smile he gets when he thinks about Tess, I guess. I still can’t get over that. Tess….uggh, Tess. She sheds all over the bathroom, and she walks around without a bra, which, okay, from a guy’s perspective, wouldn’t be so bad, I guess. But she can’t cook, well, naturally, anyway, and she’s not such a great conversationalist, either. Max Evans is my destiny, blah blah blah, I miss my home planet, blah blah. I caught myself rolling my eyes again.

Isabel had looked so good, in her tight jeans and her purple top. Isabel always looked great in pretty much any color, but purple was one of her best shades. She managed to look beautiful without even trying—that’s what always impressed me at first. She always managed to look so pristine, and yet so…seductive at the same time.

“Whatcha thinking about?” Kyle finally asked. I looked to find us in the hotel parking lot. I hadn’t even realized that we’d come so far.

“Oh, nothing,” I shook my head and tried to smile brightly.

“Maria, we’ve been sitting in the parking lot for about five minutes now…what’s going on in there?” he pointed to my head and started to get out of the car.

“Just thinking about Isabel really…why she took off like that. You would think she would want to talk to us, and okay, maybe not spend the rest of the week with us, or anything like that, but at least have dinner with you, me and Tess,” I confessed.

“I don’t think we should tell Tess,” Kyle finally replied heavily.

“I agree. I do think we should tell Max…and maybe ask him why she would do that to us,” I said softly. “I also think I am going to call and see if she’ll talk to me, at least.”

Kyle agreed with a nod of his head and we walked towards the hotel door slowly. “Well, whatever we do, let’s try not to think about it too much. Dad and Mom are waiting to take us to lunch, and if we’re not going to tell Tess, then we’re not going to let Tess know that we know anything, either.”

“I agree,” I nodded with finality. Kyle took my hand in his as we walked across the lobby and boarded the elevator.

Index | Part 1b
Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours
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