Disclaimer: No one in the WORLD would take ownership of this one but me! The characters aren't mine, though. Life's a bitch.|
Summary: A teen sci-fi show's director is unhappy with the chemistry (or lack thereof) and believability of his characters. He gets permission to take them to Roswell for a bit of atmosphere and a reality check. (You may notice some similarities between these characters' names and those of our beloved cast and creative team.)
Authors Note: Acknowledgment: The premise for this story is really based on a fic idea from Jane of my Roswellnet list. She has not only allowed me to use the idea, but to warp it just a bit for our purposes. Thanks, Jane! Caution: Most of you who read my fics are used to some serious plot, character development, etc. Quit looking. This is a fluff piece I wrote over the holidays. The readers at Jenn's board VOTED on what would happen at the end of each installment from 3 choices I gave them. They dictated the direction and emphasis. (I've kept the choices they had to choose from in here, so you could see what they DIDN'T choose!) So don't think too hard! Just sit back and enjoy! Here's what I told them to begin: Setting: We want everyone getting along in this one, so let's say it's just after "Sexual Healing"
|Liz's mind flew through a range of possible explanations for those opening words of her journal, and she made an instantaneous decision.|
"I'm working on a short story for English," she lied. "We've been reading The Diary of Ann Frank and some other journal-based novels and we have to try writing like that ourselves."
Cheryl looked at Liz's wide eyes and tense face and knew she was lying. Besides, what she had in her hand was much longer than any short story, not to mention the fact that no one writes a class assignment in a hardbound journal. This just added to the mystery, but she decided not to push it now.
"Interesting," she said. "Listen, I'm tired. I think I'll turn in."
"Yeah, me, too. Oh! I almost forgot. Maria and Marla are going shopping at the mall in the morning before your call. They've invited us to go, too. Interested?"
"Absolutely! I never turn down shopping," Cheryl laughed, walking toward the window. She climbed through and handed Liz her journal. "Better not leave this outside."
"Right," said Liz uneasily, clutching the journal against her chest. "Goodnight."
Cheryl left the room, taking the opportunity to almost close the door behind her. Once she was in the hall, she turned back, and through the cracked door, she watched Liz tuck the journal into its hiding place in the wall. This whole thing was getting stranger by the minute.
Max was sound asleep, but Isabel was pacing a path in her rug. There was something about Mason that made her jumpy. His attitude was aggressive, arrogant, and insensitive, but she kept catching glimpses of someone else inside that gorgeous body. She didn't know if he was just angry because Jamison had forced him to go "slumming" by staying with them, or whether he had other issues that had nothing to do with them.
She usually resisted her urges to dreamwalk people. She had long since recognized that her ability to get into people's heads could be easily abused and concluded that dreamwalking people she knew should be saved for emergency situations. But it was different this time, she reasoned. This time, there was a stranger right in their home, and he posed a potential threat to them if his anger or his arrogance gave him a motive to look for a way to hurt them.
Giving in to her uneasiness and, to be honest, her curiosity, she pulled out the latest teen magazine in which Mason was featured and studied his photograph. Then she lay down on her bed and closed her eyes. Within minutes she was creeping cautiously toward the edges of Mason's dream. To her surprise, his dream wasn't so much a dream as it was a review of the evening's events, like he was somehow analyzing how he felt about all he had seen and experienced. She found him observing the goings on at the party that night and sensed his extreme loneliness as he watched the cast members and the Roswell teens laughing and bonding. There may as well have been an ocean between him and the others. A part of him wanted to join them; a stronger part kept him aloof, detached, alone. It was safer to be alone. You were less likely to be hurt.
His own need to stay in control spawned the idea of spiking Max's drink, but his amusement was empty as his eyes followed Liz and Max out the door. He seemed to take very little pleasure in his mean-spirited prank. Then Isabel watched nervously as Mason and Cheryl approached the room where Max and Liz were making out. Isabel rolled her eyes when she saw what had them transfixed. Didn't Max and Liz ever get enough of each other? Then she remembered Max had been drunk. Still, Liz should have known better.
Isabel's nervousness turned to horror, though, when she saw what Cheryl and Mason had seen. Max and Liz were sharing a passionate moment and Liz's skin began to glow under Max's touch! Max had referred to that happening before, but stopped short when he realized he was revealing too much personal information. Isabel had honestly thought he was just exaggerating anyway, and had let the notion drop. Now, through the stark semi-reality of Mason's dream, Isabel could see that this wasn't wishful thinking on Max's part. This was a real phenomenon, and Cheryl and Mason had witnessed it!
Isabel had little time to digest this shocking bit of information before she was swept forward in Mason's dream to their own house. Unlike Mason's visible reaction of disdain and boredom, Isabel realized that Mason was attracted to, if uncomfortable with, the close family bonds that he observed and the caring way Mrs. Evans had greeted him and seen to his needs. Isabel picked up on memories of Mason's childhood filled with material comforts but devoid of emotional warmth, and her heart gave a slight squeeze as she began to understand his attitude as a defense mechanism.
When she saw him being a jerk about Liz in front of Max, and Max's predictable and firm defense of her, she detected the respect and envy Mason felt. This young man was in constant turmoil between what his heart was telling him he wanted and the walls he had built around himself to avoid being hurt. He had a lot in common with another "alienated" boy Isabel knew and cared for. Funny, she thought, how they each dealt with the loneliness differently. She had built a fašade of popularity and beauty, when that really meant nothing to her. Max had hidden behind his tree, carefully guarding his secret and his emotions-until Liz. Michael had compensated with aggression and a constant veil of anger. Mason certainly fell into that category. He and Michael could have given lessons.
Suddenly Mason's dream turned toward Isabel. As soon as she became aware of the lustful urges passing through Mason's body as he faced her earlier scolding, she knew it was time to back out of the dream. That was too creepy. She awoke with a start and an unexpected understanding of their guest. That understanding, however, gave rise to even more worries about his intentions. Jealousy, anger, insecurity--any or all of those emotions could push him to strike at them. He had to be watched. Carefully.
In the morning, Max called Liz one more time to reassure himself that she wasn't angry and that he hadn't hurt or upset her. He also needed a ride to work, since Liz had kept the Jeep overnight. She soothed his fears and promised to pick him up if he would meet them at the set after his shift at the UFO Center. Mason waited until he heard Max leave before coming into the kitchen for breakfast. He was greeted by Diane and Philip Evans and Isabel, who looked stunning, as usual. A place had been set for him at the table and Diane was serving pancakes with blueberries, sausage links, and fresh grapefruit. Once again, Mason thought of Leave It to Beaver, but in his innermost heart, he found the scene strangely comforting.
"Good morning, Mason. Please have a seat. Your pancakes are almost ready," smiled Diane.
"Thanks," mumbled Mason, unsure of how to react to such kindness when he knew nothing was being asked in return.
"Mason." Isabel turned her charming smile on him. "Your call isn't until 2:00 today, right?"
"Right. They're working on a couple of outdoor sets before we can start shooting."
"Perfect! How would you like to take in the sights at our local mall? We may not have the stores you're used to shopping in, but it'll definitely give you a feel for Roswell teens. We fill the place on Saturdays."
Mason agreed, unsure about why Isabel was being so nice to him when she'd read him the riot act the night before. But he didn't mind being seen with the beautiful blond and he had nothing better to do.
An hour later, they were wandering the halls of Roswell's mall, doing more people watching than window shopping. Mason was used to being swamped with fans whenever he went out in public, but so far no one had recognized him. He didn't know whether to be relieved or hurt, but he found some enjoyment in his anonymity. Isabel had slipped her arm through his and was chatting about which stores were the most popular, which mall jobs were considered acceptable, and how the food court really needed to offer some healthy food options. Then she stopped and pointed.
"Mason, look! Cheryl and Marla are here with Liz and Maria. Let's say hi."
She pulled him toward the other group and suddenly his invisible bubble burst. Perhaps it was seeing all three stars together that triggered it, but someone in the crowd yelled, "Look! It's those people from 'UFO Undercover'!" Then all hell broke loose. It seemed everyone in the mall was trying to fill the small circle around the three actors and Liz, Maria, and Isabel were squeezed out. Soon security was on the run, pushing through the crowd to break up the fight, or whatever it was that had this mob so worked up. When they reached the center, they found three familiar faces looking a little panicked, fending off the multitude of shirts, shopping bags, and notepads being shoved at them for autographs. The youngest of the three security guards grasped what was happening. "Let's get these three out of here!" he yelled to the others. The nucleus of three guards and three actors pushed through the amoeba-like crowd until they arrived at the security doors to the mall office. They squeezed their charges through the doors and closed them securely. Liz, Maria, and Isabel fought their way toward the doors, explaining to the posted guard that they were the actors' hosts and had brought them to the mall. The guard only promised to "look into it." It was going to be a long wait.
Inside the mall office, the three were shown to a small meeting room. The mall manager joined them. "We're certainly pleased to have you with us today, but in the future, I would appreciate a little warning so we can offer you some security. We're not all that accustomed to celebrities here."
"We so sorry," Cheryl offered contritely. "I didn't even think. We're so far from LA and I just wasn't expecting anyone to recognize us, or care about it if they did. It was foolish and we're sorry for causing such a disruption."
"Well, I'm trying to reach your people at the set and we'll get things calmed down outside. Meanwhile, is there anything I can get you?"
"No, thanks," Marla said. "But we came with our local hosts and they're probably out there wondering what to do. Can you show them in? Liz Parker, Maria DeLuca, and Isabel Evans."
"Certainly," replied the manager, and he left them.
"This really was stupid." Marla shook her head. "I can't believe we didn't see this coming."
"Never mind that," interrupted Mason. "Marla, I need you to do something for me."
Mason glanced at Cheryl. She recognized that look and tried to stop him before he got started.
"Mason, no. Let's not make a big deal out of this."
Marla was intrigued now. The raven-haired beauty enjoyed the company of her fellow cast members. They were among the few people with whom she could be herself and not worry about whether it was her fame, her beauty, or her clout that attracted them. These were her friends and they accepted her for her. She was eager to share in any schemes they were cooking up.
"Tell me," she urged. "What's going on?"
Mason grinned at Cheryl and turned back to Marla. "Last night at the party, I spiked Max Evans's drink and the wuss was plastered after about two swallows. He left with his girlfriend, Liz. Cheryl got worried about him, so we went looking for them. When we found them, they were making out like horndogs. But what's interesting is, wherever he was touching her, he skin was glowing."
He sat back, waiting for Marla's reaction.
"Her skin was glowing? What do you mean, like a sheen or what?"
"No! Glowing! A bright trail of light that his hands left behind where he'd touched her!"
"What are you saying?"
"Marla, we don't know what we're saying. I'm not even sure what we saw. It was just weird."
"Anyway," Mason continued, "all I've done is piss off the two Evans kids. Isabel yelled at me last night about the spiked drink thing, although today she's being really nice. Not sure why. But Max won't want to talk to me, so I thought it would be cool if you got his attention for a while. Maybe your particular charms will loosen his tongue a little. Cheryl, did you find out anything last night?"
Cheryl shook her head. "Not really. I mean, I did see one thing that was odd, but I don't know if it means anything."
"Well, what?" Mason asked impatiently.
"I picked up what I think was a diary, but I swear I didn't know that when I opened it. Anyway, its first lines were, 'I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. Then things really got weird.' She caught me looking at it and got pretty tense. She wound up telling me that it was a short story for English, but who drafts English assignments in a hardbound journal? And who is that jumpy about writing a short story, which this was not, by the way. Short, that is. Still, I don't know what it means or if it has anything to do with Max."
Mason snorted. "I don't know what it means, either, but I'd bet money it does have something to do with Max. Those two are so hot for each other. He got really pissed last night when I made some little comment about her. Then I heard him on the phone. All goo-goo eyes and drool." Mason recalled the image of Max's face as he hung up the phone the night before. So happy and full of love. Mason shook his head. That was storybook stuff; too good to be true. Feelings like that didn't last. "If anyone can distract him, you can, Marla."
"Yeah, I heard them on the phone, too," added Cheryl. "But it was sweet. Don't do anything to come between them, you guys."
Marla smiled. "It's just a bit of fun, Cheryl. If they're really in love, then I can't do any damage, right? Besides, I've been watching Max. I wouldn't mind a little challenge with that mysterious hometown hunk."
Jamison came through the doors looking like a peeved father. Liz, Maria, and Isabel were trailing close behind. "Have we had enough fun for one morning, kiddies? Let's go. Time to work."
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
We need to shake things up a bit. I'm offering three very different "feels" for this one. Take your pick!
1. Uncertainty: After an uneventful afternoon of filming, the gang goes to visit the teen club where Alex's band and Maria are performing. As the evening progresses, another fan fiasco breaks out and the group hides out in the closed UFO center. Anything could happen: Heart-to-hearts? Night moves? Revelations?
2. Awwwww: On the set, Marla puts the moves on a stunned Max while Brent shows an interest in Maria. Mason does some reflecting on his own priorities. But when Cheryl gets hurt (not badly enough to "save"), it brings the group closer in a variety of ways.
3. Just for fun: Jamison continues to be frustrated with his actors' portrayal of average teens in extraordinary circumstances and has different humans/podsters step in to run different scenes. Jealousies erupt, an excitable Maria gets into it, and in the context of a scene, someone lets a secret slip.
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