|"Fading Into Twilight"|
Disclaimer: It’s not me, really. It’s all them:
Melinda Metz (the creator of such amazing characters),
Jason Katims (the perpetrator of such a lovely t.v.
show with those same main characters), and the actors
who flesh them out for us so wonderfully. Please take
no offense at my offering; this is just a tribute, not
a theft. :0))|
Summary: Tess is gone. Doug is gone. Both aliens brought more harm and fear than good. But there is more out there “than is dreamt of” in their philosophy. More to discover, more to fear. More danger approaches as they move toward learning about their origins, their purpose.
Authors Note: This is an alternate reality to WB's Roswell. My characters are in line with the show up through "Sexual Healing" and then we deviate into "Captivated by Darkness", and two years later, we see the group in “Fight the Break of Dawn,“ the prequel for this story. My storyline doesn't follow the show at all after Sexual Healing: so remember, Topolski never returned, Max was never tortured, Nasedo never told them they were part human and the Mom-0-Gram never happened. Try and bend your mind around that!! Dedication: to Irene, Joey, Miranda and Bella, who are such encouragements to me; you make it worth while-- really!!!
|Joey lay reading on her bed, feet propped up on a
pillow in front of her as though she hadn’t a care in
the world. The Silver Chair was her favorite book, as
evidenced by its dog-eared state, and she could quote
it at will. But somehow, it never surrendered its
magic for her. For a few hours, she could lose herself
in that dependable other world, where evil was so
clearly distinguishable and where the heroes only had
to persevere to save the day. Bad choices had
consequences, but nothing like in real life. Nothing
She shook her head and re-read the last paragraph, having completely missed the meaning of it in her reverie. Her long fingers wound their way up into her slightly matted dark, spiral curls. She had them up in a ponytail moments ago, but the tension had given her a headache.
Or maybe it was because she was hungry again.
She focused her attention on the book, only to have it called away by noise from the other room. Joey sat up.
The multi-colored knobby quilt was immediately thrown aside and she bent to pull on her sneakers. She couldn’t help it; a little ball of burning nervousness had begun churning in her gut.
A knock at the door.
Nexie stuck her head in. Her blue eyes were wide and she glanced around nervously before she spoke.
Not a good sign.
“Carl’s here,” Nexie shot out as she distractedly ran her hand through her frizzy blond perm.
Joey blinked and watched Nexie adjust the skin-tight spandex holding her breasts erect before she left the room. Trying to get perfect for Carl. Joey’s lip curled in distaste. She would just leave before things got too weird. No problem.
Joey moved about the room as efficiently as possible.
First, she stuck her hair back up in the ponytail holder. Next, the short list of survival items to get for the night: long, blue cardigan, her book and a half-eaten package of crackers. She was at the door in twenty seconds. Cautiously she peeked out the door and checked for Carl’s whereabouts.
Stilted laughter and a boisterous cackle rang out from the kitchen and Joey headed for the front door. But she stopped short. Carl’s guard, Samson, was standing there, over six feet, five inches of mean and ugly. “Joey,” she froze when she heard the gravelly voice behind her.
Her mouth immediately went dry. She gulped and felt her skin start to grow cold as she turned around.
He was smiling at her as he took a seat in one of the sagging chairs spaced around the room as an afterthought. His black fedora perched on his head like a rude parrot on a pirate’s shoulder. The black silk suit was darker than his brownish skin, but certainly lighter than his heart. The roguish smile revealed two rows of neat, white teeth. Apparently, she was on his “to harass” list for today.
Joey had a hard time keeping her face impassive. She didn’t even want to think of how many lives had been ruined to get those teeth that perfect.
“Joey, baby girl, how’s tricks?” She bristled at the inference, but forced herself to keep quiet.
Behind her, Samson chuckled. Nexie and Sylvia nervously laughed as Carl swept a look in their direction.
“You’re looking good,” his eyes turned back to Joey with a long, calculated look. “How old are you getting to be now, baby girl?”
She felt like her spine had been replaced with brittle steel. Her birthday was last week. “Sixteen,” she managed to say evenly.
“Sweet sixteen, yes indeedy. Now, I bet you thought I forgot all about ’cho birthday, didn’t ‘choo?”
More like hoping, Joey thought as she took a deliberately deep breath.
After another glance at his girls, Carl turned to her and gestured.
Joey braced herself and jumped as something was draped over her shoulders. She automatically reached out to grab it before it fell. Her hands touched black, buttery leather. A coat, a winter coat. She stared at it a moment, then slipped her arms through the sleeves and smoothed the soft leather as it fell down to her knees. It was sleek and fit right over her sweater. And it was warm. She’d never felt anything like it.
But from Carl? She looked up at him, trying to keep the wonder off her face at the extravagant gift. She looked over at Nexie and Sylvia, who both smiled back hesitatingly.
“Thank you, Carl. It’s... beautiful.”
He looked pleased and Joey allowed herself to relax. The sweet smell of rich leather was so familiar and comfortable to her, somehow. It felt real, solid. And safe.
Sylvia was beaming a mile-wide grin as she walked over. “Oh, eet looks bueno, baby girl.” She reached out her long, striped finger nails to caress the coat.
A small smile crept across Joey’s face, tugging up one side of her mouth.
“Yeah, it’s a Happy Birthday for sure now,” Nexie agreed, standing uncomfortably still in the doorway. She looked so hesitant that Joey felt some of her wariness return. But maybe Nexie just regretted only being able to get Joey a pack of gum as a gift last week.
“Well, now,” Carl caught Joey’s attention again. “Let’s talk about our living arrangements. I think some changes are in order. You’re old enough to pull yo’ own weight, baby girl.”
“I do pull my weight,” she said through tight lips. “I gave Nexie a hundred dollars last week. Remember, Nexie?”
Nexie nodded silently, begging Joey with her eyes to be careful.
Joey tore her eyes away to look at Carl as tears began to sting her eyes. Why was he doing this now?
“I don’t think yo’ understand,” he said more loudly. “Yo’ cost me money. It’s time yo’ started paying me back.”
Horror was turning her stomach to lead. “Right,” she managed to force out. “I‘ve been trying to find a job.”
Carl stood to his full height, and looked down at her. The shift in energy in the room pushed Joey back a step.
“I still don’t think yo’ understand. This isn’t about yo’ making money. This is about yo’ costin’ me money, mo’ money than yo’ can make somewhere’s else. Every night that room is not being used by my girls, I lose money. I‘ve been way too generous with yo’, baby girl.”
Joey shook her head. Nexie had been generous... she had been the one who begged and placated Carl enough to let Joey stay.
Her slight negation fired his ebony eyes. “Don’t yo’ dare shake yo’ head at me. I own this house! I own them,” he paused, leaning closer. “And after three years of investin’, I own yo‘, too!”
A steely resolve filled her, burning away the fear. She could not allow someone to say that to her. Ever. “No. You. Don’t.”
His hand moved faster than she could see and she was suddenly on the floor, feeling the numbness and wet aftermath of the back of his rings. Her breath came in short gasps as the pain rocked through her. Her fingers came away from her cheek covered in red. Hatred flooded through her. She even hated his alligator-skin shoes as they came to a stop in front of her.
“You bring me one thousand dollars tomorrow or yo’ out on yo’ sweet, little baby girl ass at sunset.”
Joey pushed herself to her feet with an efficacy of movement that surprised even her. Her silent fury helped. She took the coat off and dropped it on the floor.
“I’m leaving,” she said breathlessly, afraid to say more. She forced her hands down by her side and let the blood drip down her cheek.
“Pick up the coat,” Carl said with warning in his eyes. Joey’s eyes flickered over to Nexie, who nodded desperately.
She looked back at Carl and just stared. His eyes began to grow cold with fury. Joey’s lips parted and she fought back tears. She couldn’t back down. She was beginning to panic when Sylvia ran over and picked up the coat. “Here it is, Carl. No harm done.”
Joey felt relief crash through her as his eyes relented, but she kept herself from blinking or moving the tiniest bit. She knew how dangerous he was. And one hit was all he was going to get off of her, even if she had to-
Carl finally waved his hand at her dismissively, looking away as he spoke. “Leave, then. I give yo’ one week out there on yo’ own. People used to take pity on yo’, but not now. Yo’ be back in a week or yo’ be dead.”
Joey just backed away, then took a long look at Sylvia and Nexie. Their tear-filled eyes almost undid her, but she steeled herself and turned around. Samson stood looking at her, unperturbed by her obvious desire to leave.
“Let her go,” Carl finally said and the guard stepped aside.
Joey walked forward and exited the house quickly. As the door closed behind her, she felt the first bitter tear fall.
No going back. Not that she had a lot of stuff anyway. Drifting had taught her to travel light. But three years...
She wiped away the tears. Nexie and Sylvia were as close as she’d had to family. But Carl was right; he owned them. If he said Joey was out, she was out.
She realized her feet were automatically setting a course for Central Park, her favorite place to hide out for the night. At least she had her book. And her sweater.
“Joey,” a loud whisper behind her stopped her in her tracks.
She turned to see Sylvia sticking her head out of the kitchen window and waving wildly at her. Joey jogged back, trying to erase all signs of her tears. She stopped under the window, unable to say a word because of the mix of fear and despair in her stomach.
If Carl heard them...
“I couldna’ let you go without your theengs, Joey,” Sylvia whispered. And with that, she bent down out of sight and appeared with a full drawstring bag. “Here you go, chica.”
Joey’s eyes again filled with tears as she took the sack. She clung to Sylvia’s rough hand and found herself kissing it before letting go.
“I will mees those bee-yoo-tee-ful eyes of yours, Joey,” Sylvia touched her face gently and then pulled back in the window. “Via con dios.”
Joey nodded and stepped back as Sylvia closed the window and lowered the shade. She was alone again. And her cheek was killing her. Joey walked numbly for a few minutes and then slipped into an alley. She swiped her hand over the bruised, cut flesh and felt relief from the pain. Her fingers lightly brushed her now-smooth cheek, wiping away the final tears.
If only she could wave her fingers over her life and make it whole, too.
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