|"Here Comes The Sun"
by TJ Thwaite
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine, I'm just playing in the WB's pool for a while.
Summary: The Monday morning after the rave at the soap factory, Liz and Isabel talk, unaware that they have an eavesdropper
|Liz Parker walked into the courtyard at West Roswell High with a
dreamy smile on her face. Her mind was busy, as it had been doing
constantly since she woke up this morning (and all weekend, really),
replaying in exquisite detail every moment of last Friday night's kisses
with Max Evans. Over and over again.
In her happy daze, she nearly walked right past Isabel without noticing her. Liz had to actually look directly at Isabel's face before recognizing her. And Liz's happy mood just evapourated.
Totally out of character for 'the Elle McPherson of the sophomore class', Isabel looked like Hell. She was just slumped on the seat at one of the tables, her face was totally devoid of cosmetics and there were dark circles under her eyes. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a rather haphazard, off-center ponytail. And while Isabel's jeans were of the standard tight variety, the baggy grey sweatshirt was a definite public fashion faux pas. That was a comfort shirt, to be worn only in the privacy of your own home while doing some serious brooding. But it was her expression that really shocked Liz. Isabel looked....bereft. Staring off into the distance. One of those thousand yard stares sometimes heard about, but never really understood until actually seen on someone's face.
"Isabel?" Liz asked as she shrugged off her knapsack and dropped into the next chair.
"Isabel?" Liz tried again, this time putting her hand on the other girl's shoulder and giving it a little shake.
Isabel nearly jumped out of her seat at the contact, startled.
"Oh," Isabel said, her voice flat and emotionless, "Hi, Liz."
"What's wrong, Iz?" Liz queried, worried that something had happened since she'd last seen Max.
"Nothing," Isabel replied, not looking at Liz.
"Is it Max?"
Isabel looked up, then shook her head.
"It's Alex," she sighed, dropping her eyes to stare at her hands.
At the table behind the two girls, a solitary boy raised his eyes from a textbook and glanced over his shoulder. Alex Whitman nearly turned to say 'Hello', but Isabel's words stopped him.
"How could he?" Isabel muttered angrily.
Alex stopped himself from turning and demanding an explanation, but kept his ear cocked. He could feel the anger welling within him as he shamelessly eavesdropped on the girls' conversation. He couldn't believe that Isabel was trying to somehow blame him for what had happened on Friday.
"How could he what?" Liz wondered.
"Think that I would....," Isabel stammered, "That I was trying to...."
"Isabel, you're not making any sense," Liz said patiently when Isabel trailed of into incoherency, "Take a deep breath and try to start at the beginning."
Isabel breathed deeply, but slouched further down in her seat. Avoiding eye contact with Liz, Isabel gathered her control and explained.
"At the rave Friday, I started to tell him the truth. About everything. But I didn't get the chance. I got as far as saying that I thought we, all of us, could trust him when he....when he...."
Liz reached out and took one of Isabel's hands in her own when the distraught blonde trailed off.
"Tell me," Liz entreated.
"He practically accused me offering to sleep with him to buy his silence. Then he just got up and walked away," Isabel offered heatedly, then her eyes misted over, "How could even think that when just the night before..."
"The night before what?" Liz prodded when Isabel broke off again.
Isabel jerked her hand out of Liz's, folded her arms on the table and dropped her head onto her forearms. Liz was stunned by the reaction, but then she remembered Isabel's rather cryptic comment from last week:
//I'll look into it.//
Suddenly, something Maria had been freaking about over a month ago came back to the front of Liz's mind. The time Isabel had showed up in one of Maria's dreams.
"Oh God, Iz," Liz whispered, "You didn't?"
Isabel managed to nod without raising her head from its resting place on her arms. Liz's eyes widened.
At the other table, Alex leaned back slightly in his chair, straining to hear their soft voices. He wondered what Liz was afraid Isabel had done. And Isabel's odd comment at the rave that she knew he liked the way she looked in red popped into his brain. A cold chill ran up his spine. They couldn't possibly really mean....?
"You went into his dreams?" Liz asked breathlessly, "Why?"
Alex managed not to turn and stare at the girls, but only with difficulty. Everything Liz had told him in the cell played back in his mind. He'd known at the time that Liz believed her story, but he was having a much harder time believing it. Isabel, Max and Michael: Aliens? No way. Not even here in Roswell. That was just too much. But this dream thing? Alex would have an easier time accepting something like ESP than the premise that the girl he'd long thought of as the woman of his dreams, literally, was really and truly 'not from around here'.
"To see if he was going to say anything to Valenti," Isabel said, raising her head and looking Liz in the eye, "Damnit! I was scared! You've known him for years and *you* were worried. I had to know. Hell, I even had a packed bag in my closet. I was ready to get Max and Michael and split town. Just hop in the Jeep and go. But then..."
"What did you see?" Liz implored, her worry spiking high.
While she and Alex were in jail, he seemed to have decided go along with staying quiet, but Liz was afraid that if Isabel had been that ready to bolt, there might still be a lot to worry about. And after that kiss she'd shared with Max, Liz was even less willing to just let him leave her life without a fight. She had to know what had caused Isabel to switch from being on the brink of pulling a Houdini to wanting to tell Alex everything. That was quite a turnaround. Isabel had seemed, of the three of them, to be the most afraid of being found out.
[That must have been some dream,] Liz thought.
"I think it was the most romantic thing I've ever seen," Isabel answered softly, a wistful little smile tugging at the corners of her lips, "And I realized that I was right all along; Alex is a really great guy. Dangerous as Hell, but a really great guy and probably worth it."
"Dangerous?" Liz echoed wonderingly. She'd never thought of Alex as dangerous, at least beyond the fear that he might inadvertently reveal 'The Secret' to the wrong people. But Isabel seemed to mean 'dangerous' in some other fashion. Especially with that 'probably worth it' bit tacked on the end.
"Dangerous," Isabel confirmed, "I mean, he's not like most of the other guys. It's fairly obvious that they are pretty much enslaved by testosterone. Talking isn't very high on the priority list on a date with one of them. It's been easy to keep the walls in place. My main worry has always been avoiding their octopus tendencies. But Alex? His brain doesn't shut down. He'd be interested in actually getting to know the girl he's dating. You know....sharing."
"You got all this from his dream?" Liz asked, "Really?"
"Oh yeah," Isabel nodded, the wistful smile returning, "He was dreaming about me. And not one those smutty type dreams. There was candlelight. And music. And he danced with me. A waltz. It just totally blew me away. He was....was....gentlemanly. And that tux he was wearing made him look....look....yummy. It really opened my eyes. And I knew, just *knew*, that he would be on our side. That's why I was so shocked at the rave. In the dream he seemed to understand that I don't let people get close. That I'm afraid to let anyone inside. But then when I started to open up to him at the party, to actually tell him the truth and, for the first time in my life, really let someone know who I am, he cut me off and practically came right out and called me a whore."
"It hurt," Isabel continued morosely, "A lot. And to think I'd been starting to wonder.... Maybe..."
"What? Liz asked softly. She stared at Isabel, fascinated by the emotions flitting across her face. And Isabel's eyes....talk about windows to the soul. Liz was stunned to realize that, somehow, Alex's opinion had become seriously important to Isabel.
"It's always been really hard," Isabel stated, startling Liz with the apparent change of subject, "Lying to Mom and Dad. And knowing that it would hurt like Hell if we really did find a way home or had to leave suddenly. They've always been at the top of the list...."
Liz didn't say anything when Isabel's voice lagged again, knowing that the blonde was struggling with a revelation of some kind. As confusing as this conversation was at the moment, Liz didn't want to break Isabel's train of logic with questions. It would all tie together in the end. Liz hoped.
"Reasons to be sad about leaving," Isabel finally confessed, "And that's all I ever thought I'd have, reasons to be sad about going. But Friday, when I was getting dressed for the rave, it suddenly hit me that I wasn't thinking of Alex as another one. I was starting to think that he might....might....maybe...."
Liz reached out again to clasp Isabel's hands. Liz tried to keep her objectivity and her expression to one of concern, but it was hard to do with Isabel's eyes brimming with unshed tears. All Liz wanted to do at that second was to hug Isabel hard and tell her that everything would be okay, that it would all work out for the best.
"That he might what, Iz?" Liz asked, her voice quavering slightly with her own emotions.
"Be a reason to *stay*!" Isabel burst out. Then her face crumpled and she dropped her head into her hands.
The confession hit Alex like a thunderbolt. He whirled in his chair to stare at the girls, his face a mask of pure shock. Liz heard the faint scrape of the chair legs and looked over her shoulder.
"Alex?" she whispered.
[This could be bad,] Liz thought.
The stunned expression on Alex's face and the way he was staring at Isabel told her that he must have overheard some of the girls' conversation. Maybe all of it. Which could be a good thing. Or an equally bad thing.
Isabel glanced up from her hands at Liz's whisper. When she saw that Liz was looking over her shoulder, dread welled up in her chest. Isabel turned in her seat and saw Alex staring at her.
"Oh, God!" Isabel breathed.
The tears she had been holding back burst from their dam. Isabel jumped up and started to run away. She couldn't face Alex right now. Maybe not ever again.
"Isabel, wait!" Alex shouted, launching himself from his seat and chasing after her.
Heads turned throughout the courtyard at the outburst. Most took one look at the scene and returned to their own concerns. But a few of the gossips watched intently. Whatever was going on was sure to prove very juicy indeed. Isabel Evans was a very visible figure, one of West Roswell High's internal celebrities. Beautiful, popular, very much in control of herself. Usually. But seeing her actually running from a....well, nobody like Alex Whitman was just too bizarre for words.
"Isabel," Alex said, catching up to her and grabbing her arm to stop her flight, "Talk to me."
Isabel couldn't meet his eyes. She studied her shoes intently, her mind a whirl of conflicting thoughts and desires.
"It's true, isn't it?" Alex asked quietly, "What Liz said; you really aren't from around here."
Isabel looked up, then dropped her gaze again. She nodded jerkily.
"And you went inside my dream the other night?"
Isabel nodded again, biting her lip, expecting an angry retort.
"And you saw it all?"
Isabel looked up again. There was something in Alex's voice; he almost sounded...embarrassed.
[At least he isn't pissed off,] she thought, [Yet.]
"Most of it," Isabel confessed, "But I woke up just when it was getting interesting."
Isabel closed her mouth with a snap, blushing fiercely. Alex looked stunned.
[Getting *interesting*?!?] he thought, unable to believe she'd actually said that.
Isabel gazed at Alex. She wanted to know, but she just couldn't do it. Not with him looking at her like that. She didn't have the nerve.
"Close your eyes," she said suddenly, "Please?"
Alex faced her for a moment before complying, wondering what she had in mind. He certainly wasn't expecting what she did. Isabel leaned up and kissed him softly. Alex's eyes snapped open and he jerked back. Isabel's face fell. He could see the shattering disappointment and embarrassment in her eyes. He caught her arm as she started turn away.
"You just caught me by surprise," he explained, "Next time I'll be ready for it."
"Next time?" Isabel asked breathlessly, feeling her heart beginning to race.
Alex nodded, grinning shyly, unable to believe that he could hear expectation in her voice.
"Will I have to wait long before the next time?" Isabel encouraged, feeling her face heat.
"About three seconds," Alex replied as he leaned forward.
Isabel met him half way. Her arms snaked around his shoulders as their lips met. She felt his arms going around her waist and pulling her closer to him. Her body seemed to mold itself to his and she parted her lips slightly. Alex opened his mouth to her, their tongues briefly caressing each other's.
The sound of the bell broke them from their embrace, only now becoming aware of the catcalls and wolf whistles being aimed in their direction. Liz slowly joined them, her own backpack securely on her shoulders as she held out the new couple's backpacks.
"C'mon, guys," Liz said, grinning at them, "We don't want to late for class. You can take a break in the eraser room later."
Liz walked off toward the doors, leaving Isabel and Alex standing there, blushing at each other. Finally, Alex grinned and extended his arm. Isabel smiled back, linking her arm in his. The pair walked into the school oblivious of anything but each other's eyes. And the promise they could see there.
Isabel looked around in amazement. She stood on a low dune on a fabulous beach, the endless stretch of white sand practically glowed under the starlight. The ocean was calm, as smooth as glass, extending out to meet the stars at a razor's edge horizon. Less than twenty yards away to her left, a small fire pit radiated a warm orange glow. Next to the pit, lounging back in the sand and staring up at the diamond studded blackness of the sky, Alex Whitman lay with his head resting on his crossed arms, seemingly oblivious of her presence.
She slowly strolled over to the supine figure. For the first time ever while dreamwalking, Isabel felt like an intruder. She stopped several feet from Alex, studying his face. His eyes never left the bejeweled expanse of the heavens as he drew one arm from behind his head and poked at the fire with a long stick he'd had at his side.
Isabel turned to leave, suddenly ashamed of herself for invading Alex's mind and trespassing on this quiet, personal moment.
"Don't go," a soft whisper entreated, "I was kind of hoping you'd drop in."
Isabel looked over her shoulder. Alex had sat up but, instead of looking at her, he was now staring into the fire.
"Alex?" Isabel asked softly, loath to shatter the peaceful silence by speaking louder.
Alex merely patted the sand beside him, inviting her to join him while he kept his eyes on the flames. Isabel hesitantly stepped up and lowered herself to the ground. She shivered slightly, more from the emotions she couldn't quite define than a physical need. Alex must have noticed, because he was suddenly behind her, his chest and stomach pressing against her back. His left arm snaked around her waist and he rested him chin on her right shoulder.
"Watch," he whispered, pointing toward the horizon with his right hand.
Isabel silently obeyed the injunction, leaning back into Alex's warm embrace. She could feel the fear that had been a constant knot in her middle ever since she and Max had realized they weren't like other people slowly begin to melt away. It just felt so safe, so right, to be here.
"I don't know why so many people make such a big fuss about how beautiful sunsets are," Alex murmured in her ear as the darkness began to retreat from the sky.
Colours slowly seeped back into the world as the stars began to fade. The sky brightened. Soon, a golden arc appeared at the horizon, chasing away the darkness. Isabel couldn't take her eyes off the glory of the sun as it began its celestial journey.
"Sunsets mark an end," Alex commented as the golden majesty separated itself from the horizon to take its rightful place in the heavens, "But a sun*rise*....well, that marks a beginning. The dawn of a new day. With the future spread out before you, waiting for you take up the challenge. Now that's something to be awed by."
Isabel leaned her head back against Alex's shoulder. Her hands covered his at her waist, her fingers entwining with his. She sighed happily. The dangers of the waking world couldn't touch them here. Her fears, the differences between them, none of that belonged here. For this one perfect moment, the only thing that mattered was being here in his arms.
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