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"
|It was a solemn group that settled into the waiting room, keeping a close eye on the doors through which they had taken Cheryl. At first, the nurses told Mason that he couldn't accompany Cheryl because he wasn't family, but he had made his emotional point that she had no family in Roswell, or even New Mexico, and that she would need a friendly face to explain what had happened. Finally, a red-haired nurse with kind eyes had taken pity on him and allowed him to keep a hold of Cheryl's hand as they wheeled her toward an exam room.|
There were so many of them waiting and worrying that they took up most of the seating area outside the ER. Liz sat on Max's lap, her head against his shoulder as he stroked her hair. Maria and Michael sat side by side, holding hands and looking grim. Isabel paced for a while until she came to lean against the Coke machine. Alex came up behind her and encircled her in his arms. She leaned back against him, sighing some of the tension out of her system.
The cast members of "UFO Undercover" were even more tense. Marla was seated alone in the corner of the room, arms folded across her chest, staring at the floor. She was worried about Cheryl personally and professionally. She wanted her friend to recover quickly because she cared about her, but she also knew the show wouldn't survive if Cheryl couldn't perform for a while. They needed everyone at their best to push the show out of the "questionable" column for renewal.
Rick, usually full of fun and wisecracks, was uncharacteristically silent. He was worried, too, and unnerved by the anxious faces around him. Especially Marla. No one knew, but he had become increasingly attracted to her. Not just because she was beautiful, but because she wasn't altogether comfortable with her beauty. She was a very genuine person who struggled with the whole concept of "image" versus reality. She didn't worry about her makeup and hair all the time, but she was always ready to laugh at his jokes or help with a prank. Right now, she looked scared. He hesitated, debating with himself about whether to approach her. Just then, she rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes. He crossed the room to sit beside her and without a thought, reached for her hand. She looked up, startled, but gave him a weak smile and let her hand rest in his.
Brent rushed through the door a few minutes later. "How is she?" he asked the group in general.
"We haven't heard a thing," Rick replied. "I'm sure Mason will come fill us in as soon as he knows anything. You know how long this stuff takes."
Brent nodded and flopped into the nearest chair to join the vigil.
Cheryl was hooked up to at least 3 different monitors and nurses had whooshed in and out, silently adjusting knobs, jotting down notes, and monitoring displays. They said nothing and Mason was getting more impatient by the minute. A doctor moved the curtain aside and asked, "Cheryl Appleton?"
"Yes," Mason nodded, "No one is telling me anything. How is she?"
"Well, we need to run some tests. She's not able to tell us anything, so we have to rely on our instruments. Do you know how this happened?"
"She tripped on some loose wires on the set and hit her head on a car."
"Set? Oh, you folks are from the tv show that's shooting in town now, aren't you?" Mason could just see him straighten up and put on his most serious and trustworthy face. "Well, rest assured we'll give Ms. Appleton the best possible care. Which show are you from again?"
"'UFO Undercover.' What difference does that make? She's hurt. She needs help. This isn't a publicity stunt!" He reached for Cheryl's hand and held it protectively. "Could you just tell me if she's going to be okay?"
Mason felt a slight squeeze and turned, startled, toward Cheryl. Her eyelids were fluttering open and she lifted the corners of her mouth slightly, trying hard to give him a reassuring smile. She had heard his caring concern for her and felt him take her hand. He had surprised her with his attitude, but she was even more surprised by the pleasure it gave her.
"Cheryl, you're awake!" He hovered over her, concern still dominating his face. "How do you feel? Are you okay?"
Cheryl lifted her other hand to her head. Something was throbbing and achy. She was trying to remember what happened.
"Did you get the license number?" she joked weakly. She really did feel like she'd been hit by a truck.
Mason smiled at her for the first time. "Should be easy," he teased back. "It's parked."
Cheryl's eyes opened wider as she remembered falling against a car. Now she felt clumsy and embarrassed.
"Oh, Mason. I tripped, didn't I? How stupid of me. Jamison must be furious."
"He's furious alright. At the crew who was supposed to have those wires covered. He's running them through the safety check of their lives as we speak," he grinned at her. "Sucks to be them today!"
Cheryl had to smile at that picture and Mason was relieved to see her reacting so quickly and normally.
"I'm Doctor Mendez," a man behind Mason said. "We're glad you're awake. We'll need to do an examination and a couple of tests. We'll have your friend wait outside."
Mason took the hint, gave Cheryl's hand a squeeze and leaned over her. "I'll be right outside. Everyone's waiting for a status report anyway. I'll come back as soon as they let me."
Cheryl nodded gratefully and watched Mason leave. What a nice friend he had been to her.
As soon as Mason came through the double doors, nine people rose, worry etched on every face.
"She's awake," he announced. "And she's talking and even joking, so it looks good. They're running some tests for now. We'll have to wait a bit more before we know anything else."
Everyone sighed with relief and quick smiles were exchanged, but they all settled back in their seats, anticipating another tense hour or two. To their surprise, it was only about 45 minutes later when Dr. Mendez came to talk to them. He approached Mason, since he was the only one Dr. Mendez had met.
"Well, it's just a concussion. That's a serious thing, of course, but it's nothing a couple days of rest won't take care of. Her memory and reactions are fine. The gash on her head required a couple of stitches, but other than that, she just needs to take it easy. Someone should be close by, however. I'm not comfortable with the idea of her staying alone at a hotel while she recovers. Is there somewhere she can stay?"
"My house," came the immediate reply. Liz stepped forward. "I'm Liz Parker. Ms. Appleton was staying with me anyway, and my folks work right in the same building, so there is always someone around."
"Sounds perfect. We'll just need to get some paperwork taken care of and you can take her home. Hang on just a bit longer."
Within two hours, Cheryl had been released and settled into Liz's bedroom. Liz had offered her that room so she could have a phone and the most comfortable bed. Cheryl had gratefully accepted, letting her friends, old and new, take care of her. She just didn't have the energy to do things on her own yet. She knew she would be there a few days, so she decided to relax and enjoy the break.
The next day was full of visitors and sympathy and one piece of unsettling news. When Mason came to visit her, he looked a little guilty. Sitting on the edge of her bed, he tried to make casual conversation, but for an actor, he was doing a lousy job of hiding the fact that he had something uncomfortable to talk to her about. Finally, Cheryl decided to force the issue.
"Mason, you are fidgeting like a 3-year-old. What's on your mind?"
Mason looked at her and blew out a loud breath. "Cheryl, Jamison and I had a talk today. We're only due to be here a couple more days, and we've shot almost everything we can without you. Jamison asked me to find someone to run lines and scenes with until you can work." He hesitated, noticing her frown.
"That's fine, Mason. I knew he'd have to work around me for now. I was just hoping I'd bounce back a little faster than this. But I'm okay with it. Who did you have in mind?"
At this, Mason swallowed hard. "I was thinking of asking Liz." His eyes shot toward her and moved quickly away. "I mean, you two look a lot alike, but she's a lot like you in other ways. She told me she did a little acting in middle school and thought it was fun. I just thought maybe she'd be most like you and that way, when you come back, the transition would be really smooth. Besides," he added shyly, "she has the same gentle way about her that you do, and that quiet sense of humor . . . ." He stopped, suddenly fearing he had revealed a bit too much.
"Mason!" Cheryl flashed a surprised smile at him and reached for his hand. "I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." She studied his face. "You know, I've always thought you didn't like me."
Mason shifted uncomfortably, and then looked up at Cheryl. "It's not that I didn't like you. I've just always made it a point not to get too close to people. It's been my experience that they always let you down eventually. It was because I liked you that I took great pains to keep you at a safe distance."
She pondered his words, realizing for the first time the hurt he must have experienced in his life to have such a cynical view of people. To her surprise, he continued.
"Ever since we got here, things have been different. People are different with each other. They treat each other . . . you know . . . nicely, like they really care. Especially Max and Liz. They've really got something special and I guess it made me a little jealous. I've never believed in 'true love' or anything, but the more I see them, the more I want what they have." He shook his head and chuckled bitterly. "One night, I made a flip comment about Liz and oh brother! You should have seen Max! He about took my head off. He was so worried about her reputation . . . about her. And then you got hurt, and . . . ." His face grew shy again.
Cheryl tugged at his hand to make him look up at her. "Thank you," she whispered. They looked at each other for a moment and he smiled with relief.
"Well, I gotta go ask Liz if she's willing to help with the scenes. I'll stop back later."
Cheryl nodded and watched him climb out the window. What do you know, she thought. The Tin Man has a heart after all.
Liz and Max were cuddled into a back booth at the Crashdown, talking quietly and enjoying the light touches that always got their skin to tingling. Every time Liz turned to look into Max's face, he couldn't resist the urge to kiss her lightly, and she made a point to turn to him often. Nothing felt better than being kissed by Max.
"Liz? There's something I want to talk to you about."
"Anything, Max. What is it?"
"Marla told me something the other day that has me a little worried."
"Marla? What in the world could she have said to worry you?"
"Well, the other day on the set, she took me aside, talked nonsense for about two minutes, and then kissed me."
"What?" squeaked Liz, sitting bolt upright in her seat and facing Max with an astonished expression.
"Wait a minute. Just calm down. It was nothing . . . ."
"Nothing? She comes on to my boyfriend while I'm right there and it's nothing? Why did you let her kiss you?"
Max worked to suppress the amusement he was feeling at her completely unnecessary jealousy. No one would ever take her place in his heart. If only he could make her understand that she was the only one. In the meantime, it felt good to know that this little incident could make her feel jealous and he felt a surge of love for her, adoring the sparks in her eyes and the obvious willingness to fight for her man.
"Max! Answer me! Why did you let her kiss you? This is not funny!"
Max pulled her back into his arms. "It is, in a way, Liz, because I could never be with anyone but you. She was just performing an experiment."
Liz eyed him skeptically. "Uh-huh."
Max's face sobered. "Liz, Mason and Cheryl told her that they saw us . . . you know, making out at the restaurant the other night."
"So? They've seen people make out before, I'm sure."
"Not when one of them was glowing," he said slowly.
Liz didn't react for a second, and then her eyes flew wide. "Max, they saw you making my skin glow?"
Max nodded. "So I need to ask you a favor."
"You know I'd do anything for you, Max, but how can we fix this?"
"Well, we can't fix this time, and Marla was already half convinced that they made it up or saw some indirect lighting shining on you or something. She only kissed me to see what would happen. She felt stupid when nothing did and apologized all over herself. What worries me is, we can't let that happen again. We need to figure out when this glowing thing happens . . . you know . . . I mean, at what . . . stage . . . ." Max sighed, feeling like he was bungling this whole favor-asking thing. When he looked back at Liz, though, it was her turn to suppress a smile.
"So, Max, what you're asking me is to make out with you again and see at what point the glowing thing happens, right?"
Max blushed at this indelicate phrasing of his favor, but she essentially had it right, so he just nodded.
"Well, Max, we sort of made a date to try that sober anyway, didn't we? I think that can be arranged." She leaned toward him and kissed him lightly, running her tongue over his bottom lip and resting her hand on his thigh.
Max jerked away, staring at her wide-eyed. "Liz! Not here!"
Liz giggled at his frantic expression and, so quietly he almost didn't hear her, said. "Your loss, spaceboy."
Max was about to respond when Mason walked up. "Mind if I join you two? I have a favor to ask."
"This is the night for favors, Mason. I just hope you're better at asking for them than Max is." Max threw her a sidelong look and Liz giggled again.
"I could come back later, if I'm interrupting something," Mason said uneasily.
"Absolutely not. Max has apparently decided to put off his favor, so I'm available. What can I do for you?"
"Jamison came to me today and said we're running out of time. He needs me to block a few scenes, run lines, that kind of stuff, for the last few scenes we're shooting here, but I can't do it alone. I need a partner to stand in for Cheryl. I thought maybe, since, well, you said you'd done a little acting, and you're so much like Cheryl, I mean, your size and . . . anyway . . . I thought maybe you'd be willing to help out. What do you say?"
Liz was intrigued. "You mean, I'd come to the set and read scenes with you?"
"Yeah, and we'd have to stand where they told us for sound and lighting and all. It's kinda dull, but since you seemed interested in how everything works on the set . . . ."
"Mason, yes! That sounds like great fun. But I have school tomorrow."
"That's okay. Just come over as soon as you're done. It'll take a few hours, I guess."
"It's a date!" Liz enthused. She glanced at Max, her excitement bursting from her face. His face was not enthused at all.
"Max? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I just thought we were gonna . . . you know . . . talk. About that problem we discussed?"
"Max, we can do that later, can't we? They need someone right away, and think of how much fun it would be. You could come and watch. Couldn't he, Mason?"
"Sure. I'll leave his name at the gate, too. Thanks, Liz. I'll see you tomorrow. Oh, and Cheryl is okay with this, but she's just a little bummed about being laid up, so play it down, okay?"
Liz nodded and Mason left, already thinking about when he would come by to see Cheryl tomorrow.
Liz turned to Max again and raised her eyebrows. "Max Evans. I do believe you are pouting!"
"I am not. I just don't see why he couldn't find someone else."
"He just thought I'd enjoy it, Max. Besides, it's not like I'm kissing him or anything, unlike certain other parties I could mention."
Max growled softly and pulled her back to him. "Maybe we have time for some research after all."
|Part 6 | Index | Part 8|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|