|"August and Everything After"|
Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with either the Roswell books or TV series
other than being completely obsessed by them.|
Summary: My own thoughts of what happens after destiny.
Authors Note: Feedback is appreciated.
| Overall, this was turning out to be quite an incredible day for Maria. First of
all, for once she had a Saturday that she wasn't working the breakfast shift at
the Crashdown and instead of sleeping in then spending the morning lounging
around in her pajamas she had still gotten up at 7 a.m. so she could get ready
for the five hour drive to Los Alamos.|
The second incredible thing was her driving companion for the trip, Tess. It was a good thing in that Tess having her own car meant that Maria wouldn't have to take the Jetta away from her mother or risk more damage from elite government forces, but it also meant that someone would actually have to sit next to Tess for long periods of time. And today it was her. Okay, Alex and Isabel were there, too. But in the back seat. She had tried talking to them at first, but they all felt kind of awkward talking like normal around Tess and had eventually just settled into an uncomfortable silence. So they drove through the boring grasslands, each keeping to their own thoughts. Only occasionally over the radio would she hear the murmur as Alex and Isabel talked softly to each other.
Somehow, in the silence, the most incredible thing so far had happened. She actually started to feel sorry for Tess. She had just been staring at Max's jeep in front of them thinking about all that had happened in the past couple of months and began to realize that she and Tess were kind of similar in a weird way. With Liz gone and trying to keep at least an emotional distance from Michael, Maria had really begun to feel a little isolated from the whole 'where did we come from' thing. It seemed like the only real meaning it had for her anymore was that it was important to them, and they were her friends.
Tess's situation was almost the exact opposite. She had finally found the three other people on the planet who were just like her and with them was starting to figure out the mystery of her purpose here. But that was about the only reason she was here. Everyone was still walking on eggshells around her, still too full of doubt and mistrust to have formed any kind of friendship. In a way they were both outsiders, a degree removed from the bonds that held the rest of them together.
The highway sign announcing Vaughn was 30 miles away sped past the window. The trip still wasn't even halfway over and it suddenly seemed far too long to spend sitting quietly.
"So Tess, I heard you got a job at the Roswell Boutique. How do you like it?"
Max was absolutely going crazy. He had barely thought all day about the fact that he was soon going to see Liz again. It was kind of like being six on Christmas Eve and not thinking about Santa Claus, but somehow he'd managed it. He'd thought that driving here would've been the hard part. Alone in the jeep for hours with only Michael for company, he was sure he'd be thinking about Liz constantly. But instead he'd been able to get into a kind of driving trance, succumbing to the mind-numbing relentlessness of the thin black line cutting through the broad vistas out the front windshield. He knew that he and Michael had talked on the way up, but about what he couldn't remember. Then they had arrived at Bandelier and had a few mundane distractions. Picking a campsite, finding a parking space. But now there was nothing left to do but wait while the others picked up Liz. Nothing to think about except that Liz would soon be there.
His mind, freed from the forced inactivity, was running at double time, churning up all the thoughts he had been trying to escape. Their conversation on the phone had been so short he didn't get a sense of what Liz was feeling. Would they be able talk to each other like friends? Would she try to avoid him? Had she met someone else? Would he be able to be so close to her for so long without touching her hand, without pulling her close?
Luckily he was rescued from the course his thoughts were taking when he thought he saw Tess's car come down the drive. Instead the car only contained some irritated children and their tired parents. But the sight gave Max a stab of panic. Why had they decided to have Tess pick up Liz? They had thought that it might make Liz's aunt and uncle feel better to see a bunch of girls, but what if Liz saw Tess's car and decided not to come?
He had to stop thinking about it. "I'm going to check out the visitor's center."
Michael had the jeep seat leaning as far back as it could go. He peeked out from under the arm he had draped across his eyes blocking out the sun. "Knock yourself out."
The gift shop was full of the standard Indian souvenirs, nothing Max hadn't already seen in every other tourist trap in New Mexico. He perused the snack bar menu with disinterest before heading into the museum. He walked past the dark alcove where a movie was playing and instead wandered through the displays. Clay people scrambled over stone walls gathering food and greeting neighbors in the miniature village in the case in the middle of the room. Artifacts were shown along faded pictures of turn of the century Navajos. Sometimes there was just an empty niche with a placard explaining the item had been returned to the tribe. He walked along the back wall that was lined with different styles of pottery. He was about to turn away when a small bowl in the corner caught his eye. The bold black design was the symbol from his vision in the pod chamber.
One of the rangers must have noticed Max's interest because he walked over to stand next to him. "Hello, young man. Can I answer any questions for you?"
"Yeah. This bowl, does the pattern on it have any kind of meaning?"
"Well, the broken circle is pretty common in Native American artwork. They sometimes leave a hole or interruption in the pattern to allow any spirits that might have been caught in the making a way out. But this triangle design is unique to the Anasazi."
"That's the pueblo Indian word for the people who lived here. Roughly translated it means 'ancient enemy.'" He waited while Max absorbed this information. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
"Uh, no. Thanks."
"If you are interested in finding out more, there's a pretty good video over there. It repeats every 15 minutes. And we have lots of good books on Native American design in the bookstore."
"Yeah? I'll be sure to check it out."
The ranger moved on to the next family and Max continued through the ranger station towards the door back out to the parking lot. He could see that Tess had arrived and pulled into the parking space next to the jeep. Then, as he stood watching, the back door opened and Liz stepped out and looked uncertainly around the parking lot.
Michael paused to wipe away the sweat that was stinging his eyes. He hated this time of year, cold in the morning and evening but blazing hot in the middle of the day. He almost wished he had varied his normal outfit of black jeans and dark tee shirt until he looked again at Alex's baggy shorts and remembered why he didn't. "Liz, are you sure that we're going in the right direction?"
Liz turned around slowly, carefully taking in her surroundings. "Yeah. I mean, I think so."
"I'm just asking because we just left Bandelier." They all looked to where he pointed at the yellow sign stating that they were leaving monument land and were entering federally protected forest. It was attached to a barbed wire fence that had been pushed down to allow the path to go through.
"Oh, I didn't notice that before. We were going pretty fast." Liz noticed Max's look when she said we. "I was really just following Sierra. But I haven't seen any other way to go, so this must be it. I don't think it's too much further."
Isabel had taken the opportunity to sit down while Liz and Michael were talking. "God, I hope so." This was not her idea of a good way to spend an afternoon.
As they continued down the trail Liz thought she began to recognize the area where Sierra had waited for her. Then she noticed the footprints in the gravel above the trail. "I think this is it. Yeah, there it is."
It was a hard scramble up but soon they were all in the cave. It seemed much smaller to Liz now with so many people crammed in it. She moved to the mouth where Maria had hung back to allow the rest to get a better look. Isabel concentrated hard on the symbols as if they might magically start to make sense. But of course they stayed the same, unintelligible yet familiar. "Well, this is great. More little drawings that tell us absolutely nothing."
"But look at this." Michael pointed to one of the figures. "This is the symbol from your pendant, but it's flatter and kinda sharper. And these five were ones that Nasedo left in the cave, but the rest are new."
Isabel didn't get why that was so interesting. "But we still aren't any closer to knowing what they mean. What are you doing?"
Tess had walked up next to Michael and was waving her hand over the symbols. "I'm looking for a trigger, like the one for the pod chamber." She got to the end of the writing and continued on down the wall. "It could be anywhere." They all waited expectantly until Tess had explored every surface of the cave then turned around with a shrug. "I guess not. So what now?"
"I think we should go back and set up camp." Max said. "Then tomorrow we'll see if we can find anything else."
Alex stood back to admire their accomplishment. It had taken awhile but he and Michael had finally gotten the tent up right. He hoped. He clapped Michael on the back. "See, no problem." Michael looked at him, then headed over to the jeep to get the sleeping bags. "Okay, maybe it shouldn't have taken 45 minutes, but you weren't exactly a tent expert, either."
He ignored Michael's response and tried again to get the rain fly to stretch to the last hook. He heard some rustling behind him and peeked into the girls' tent where Isabel was struggling with her sleeping bag zipper. He crawled in next to her. "Let me give you a hand with that, little lady. This looks like a job for a real outdoor man."
She handed it to him with a smirk. "Know any?"
"You know, it's going to get pretty chilly tonight. I think I remember from my boy scout days that one of the best ways to stay warm is to share body heat. You might be warmer if you zip it together with someone else's."
"Is that right?" She acted like she was considering it. "I'll bring it up with Liz and Maria."
"Not the response I was looking for." His smile was mischievous. "But it gives me a mental image that does kinda warm me up."
Isabel glared at him. "Shut up."
"You gonna make me?"
"Maybe." She leaned back, pulling Alex with her. The air had started to get chilly, but she was nice and warm where his body rested against hers. He smoothed her hair so it fanned out over her pillow, then brushed his hand against her face and down her neck. His eyes were clear blue like the sky or a swimming pool and made her think of warm summer days. She smiled and hooked her fingers in his hair and pulled his face down to hers. His lips were cold but his breath warm and gentle on her face. She felt his hand tighten around her waist and gave in to the relaxing feeling of just being alone with him, not thinking about anything but the sensations. She tenderly bit at his bottom lip and was answered with a gentle lick to the sensitive flesh just inside her lips. Instead of tickling like usual, she was suddenly aware of an acrid metallic taste in her mouth, then a queasy feeling in her stomach. She pushed Alex aside and sat up.
Alex rolled over and groaned, then noticed the look on Isabel's face. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I just don't feel too good. I'm not used to hiking, and with the long car ride, my stomach's a little upset."
"Maybe you're just hungry. Let's go see how Max is doing getting the fire started."
Isabel laughed. "I think he can manage." Alex grabbed her hand and helped her stand up.
"Without the awesome powers of Outdoor Man? I don't think so."
Max crouched over the fire-pit, his arm outstretched, gazing intently at the pile of kindling. It sputtered and smoked, then blazed up as he quickly pulled his hand away. It didn't even seem odd to Liz. To her that's just what Max was inside, all light and heat. It seemed natural that he should transfer it to everything he touched. Just like when he touched her.
She shouldn't think about that.
Maria and Tess were unloading the back of Tess's SUV, talking easily as they planned what they should do next. Liz hadn't expected to see that. She and Maria were best friends, that wasn't in question. They had hung back from the rest on the hike back and completely filled in each other on everything that had happened since Liz had left and Maria had explained that she'd talked with Tess on the way up and they were getting along pretty well. Tess belonged there, it was good that someone was connecting with her. But Liz couldn't help but feel a little betrayed. If someone was going to be Tess's friend shouldn't it be Isabel or Michael? Tess had already come between her and Max, did she have to have Maria, too?
Liz immediately felt guilty for her thoughts. Tess hadn't ended her relationship with Max, she had. And in her effort to get away she had left Maria alone and now was upset that she had found someone else she could talk to. She tried to force the logic on herself but couldn't stop the feeling that her life was in shambles and she couldn't see a way to get out of it.
She heard the soft crunch of pine needles and looked up to see Max stopped a few feet away. She had known she wouldn't be able to avoid talking to him the whole trip. She tried to push the sadness away and act normal. "Max?"
"Mind if I sit down?" She slowly exhaled, trying to calm the butterflies in her stomach as he sat down on the picnic bench next to her. "So, how are things going at the Labs?"
"Good. The people I work with are really nice, and I'm learning a lot. I've been working in the gene-sequencing lab, just what I always wanted to do. Did you know that they're really close to having the whole human genome decoded? It's really exciting to know that I'm able to be a part of it, if even in a small way."
"Sounds a lot more interesting than biology class."
"Yeah, the kind of thing you someday tell your kids, 'I was there when.'" She immediately felt embarrassed talking about having kids in front of him. She wondered if in the exchange of thoughts he had ever seen her fantasies about their life together, what their wedding would be like, what their kids would look like. She felt her cheeks getting hot. She forced herself to look at him, not let on that what she'd said had any meaning for her. But she knew as soon as she saw the light in his eyes that she had no secrets from him. "Maybe talking is really a bad thing to do."
He stopped her before she was able to get up and walk away. "Why, because you can't ignore the connection between us? Did you really think that it would go away just because you put a couple hundred miles between us? It could be a thousand miles, a million miles, it wouldn't matter. What I feel for you is not going to just go away. I love you."
"I know. I love you, too. But sometimes that's just not enough."
They started out early the next morning, wanting to explore as much of the area as possible in the coolness of the morning. Michael was glad they had to decided to split up, he wanted to go back to the cave to examine the symbols longer and really didn't want any company. The morning sunlight hadn't penetrated the opening yet making it much darker and colder than it had been yesterday. He sat down in the soft, fine dirt, pulled out his sketchbook and began copying the symbols in meticulous detail. He wanted to be sure that it got everything exactly the way it was on the wall, the curves, the size, their exact relation to each other. Several pages were begun and discarded until he was satisfied that he had it right.
He put the sketchbook away and pulled out the book of Indian designs he had bought in the gift store and began comparing them with the ones on the wall. The styles were kind of similar, but the Indians were all fairly simple ideas and easy to figure out from the drawings. Thunderclouds, corn, sun, night, day, they all pretty much looked like what they were. He thought he had something when he saw the squiggly lines that represented water, but looking more closely realized the symbol on the wall was much different. He threw the book down. Maybe if he just concentrated. He tried to clear his mind, hoping that if the meanings were buried in his mind somewhere they might surface if he just relaxed.
Frustrated after a few minutes, he stood up and began pacing around the cave. It was almost time to meet the others. If he was going to figure this out it had to be now. He walked closer to the symbols. One in particular seemed to stand out. An x with one long crooked arm. It made him think of a pirate of something, drawing an x to mark the spot then just suddenly getting goofy and adding a big flourish at the last minute. Except that it was obviously done on purpose, the grooves were so deep and smooth, like it had been stamped there.
He reached out to feel the smoothness of the rock, but as his hand made contact his mind was flooded with images. A massive stone formation. A dark room empty of anything but a chair rising up from the material of the floor. More symbols chiseled into a smooth surface lit from behind with a fiery intensity. The earth from space with spider-webs of light appearing at the poles, then growing out towards the equator and finally shooting out towards space with blinding brightness.
The images faded and Michael knew what he had to do. He grabbed his binoculars and climbed the rest of the way above the cave to the top of the mesa. He could see all around him for miles. He turned his back to the mountain range rising to the north a began scanning the valleys that dropped away in front of him to the south until he saw it, a pinnacle of white rock standing alone at the end of a ridge.
|Part 13 | Index | Part 15|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|