|"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!!!
|Liz woke up with a feeling of dread.
Today was the day. She had let three days go by
without doing anything, even though she had promised
Maria and Max that she would take care of it.
fear was irrational and she hated herself for letting
it rule her. In fact, even right now, she wanted
nothing more than to call Max and bawl over the phone
to him about it. Then he would rush over and take care
Or at least he would try.
But this time, it could be even more dangerous for him. This time, she had to handle it for him, like she had said that she would.
She headed for the shower, practicing the words she would say to her mother. Yes, she was putting it off again. Slightly. But definitely after the shower.
Joey woke up when the truck stopped. She glanced over at the grizzled trucker who was getting out of the cab without a word.
“Thanks,” she mumbled as she sat up and opened the door. The bright afternoon sun blinded her and she shaded her eyes as she slipped down from the truck’s high cab. Her legs felt rubbery and a bit numb from the long ride.
Suddenly, she realized that she had no idea where she was. She glanced around and saw the trucker head into the gas station. She followed him and glancing around inside, immediately knew where they were.
She fingered a plastic alien doll and looked at all the wacky memorabilia with a lopsided grin. “Let me guess... Roswell,” she said under her breath.
Joey shifted her bag and felt the strange sphere against her hip. She had studied it many hours over the last week, but it still remained a mystery. The symbol on the top was familiar/strange, and the circumstances of it getting to her were positively Orwellian, but those were the only conclusions she’d come to.
Joey turned away from the display of alien-themed sunglasses and caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror beside the aisle. Her normal features were skewed by the alien-themed mirror. The reflection had her hazel eyes and dark curls set in a face with green skin and long antennae sticking out of her forehead. It was shocking and she stood and looked longer than she should have. Something was tickling the back of her mind.
Maybe she should visit Roswell.
“So, Mom, what were you and Larry talking about in the Crashdown the other night,” Liz asked somewhat casually, joining her mother in folding the clothes in her parents’ bedroom. “Maria happened to drive by and saw you arguing about something.”
Nancy jumped and stared at her a moment before speaking. “Oh, we were just talking about Jennifer’s schedule, trying to find a few more hours for her to work during the week.”
Keep it light, she reminded herself “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Mom? She’s not exactly the best waitress we’ve had.”
Nancy finished folding the shirt and laughed thinly. “That’s completely evident in the fact that she has asked for a raise twice in two years.”
Liz gave her a knowing look and they both said, “No tips.”
Nancy broke her gaze away first and Liz felt her own casual facade crumbling. She couldn’t keep this up.
“So, whatever happened to Doug Shellow,” Nancy asked, her eyes on the towel she was folding.
Liz’s head snapped up and she fought to her face neutral. “I don’t know, Mom. Um... I haven’t seen him since... uh...”
Nancy looked up. “Since the night Max came home?”
Liz’s lips parted as she thought of the implications.
But she couldn’t tell her the truth. Doug had been an evil alien hunter, bent on killing Max. And she didn’t think that explanation would go over too well. “Yeah, I think that’s right. But Doug knew Max was coming home and he probably just didn’t want to keep getting in the way.”
Nancy paused a moment before speaking. “Liz, no one has seen him since that night. He just disappeared.”
“Oh, that’s awful... he was so... nice.” How had she lost control of this conversation?
A towel. Grab a towel. Fold.
Nancy turned back to her laundry as well, but Liz looked up to see the calculated disinterest on her face as she spoke her next words. “From what I hear, so was Tess.”
Liz froze. “Tess?” Her mind was whirling. What possible connection was her mother hinting at?
“Yes, wasn’t that the name of the girl who disappeared during your sophomore year at school?”
What is this? The “Name that Alien” Game? Tess had been Max’s intended mate, another alien who just appeared mysteriously two years ago. Max chose Liz over her and after several horrifying events, she died. It still gave Liz the shivers to think of how she had tried to take Max with her into the next world.
Liz finally managed to force out the words as she focused on the towel she was re-folding, “Um... yeah, Tess Hart.”
“Did you realize that the last place she was seen was at the Evans’ house,” Nancy asked Liz with an unreadable expression.
“Mom... what are you trying to say,” Liz tossed down the towel. “That Max just... killed Tess and Doug?” Her emotions were close to the surface, too close.
“No,” Nancy said quickly, too quickly. “I didn’t say that. I just... want you to be careful, Liz.”
Liz bit out the words in spite of herself, “Careful of what?”
Nancy moved closer to Liz, her eyes wide and intense. “I know you don’t understand this, honey, but sometimes parents know things. And this is one of those times. Max is not meant for you. He is... dangerous for you-”
Liz couldn’t listen to anymore. “You didn’t believe me, did you? I told you that he and I are the same now-”
Nancy stepped forward and grabbed Liz by the shoulders. “No,” she said, emphasizing her words by shaking Liz. “Don’t say another word.”
Liz was stunned by the action. Her mother’s hands were gripping her so tightly that they hurt. She had never done that before...
Liz stared motionless at her mother’s terrified face until she suddenly released her and walked back over to the laundry.
“We will not talk about this again,” she said over her shoulder. “I’ll take care of it.”
Liz took several deep breaths, trying to calm her pounding heart. She wanted to ask her mother how she was going to take care of it, but the words stuck in her throat. Overall, one thing was coming to the forefront of her mind.
“Mom, if you force me to choose between you or Max... I’ll choose him.” Liz watched her mother’s back for a moment, then headed out the door.
When she reached the stairs, the memory of what she’d just said hit her full force and she sat down heavily.
She wasn’t sure, but she had probably just made things worse.
Joey walked around town for a while, enjoying the anonymity in the midst of such strange familiarity.
She felt like she’d been here before. She stopped and sat down on a park bench. She needed to sit still to think. And ever since she’d arrived in this town, that was all she wanted to do. It felt as if something was awakening in her, calling her forward.
It sounded like a load of crap when she tried to put it into words, but the feelings were absolutely undeniable, nonetheless.
It was possible that she’d been here before. She had ended up in Oklahoma City when her third foster family had moved there in the midst of trying to adopt her.
They were so certain, the courts were so certain of her adoption that they allowed them to move her hours away from her counselor. Stupid. No sooner had they gotten there than things had turned sour. The family got heavily into debt during the move and Mr. Spielman lost his job almost immediately. Mrs. Spielman had to go to work and Mr. Spielman had been a poor substitute for her in the house, drinking and being worse than useless. For some reason, he seemed to blame Joey for the turn of events. Things got rough before she finally had enough.
After that she spent four years on the streets, learning where to go, where not to go, who to trust (no one) and how to stay alive (any means possible).
She reminded herself of that as she looked around Roswell. Yeah, the people seemed friendly. Yeah, she felt strangely at home here. But that could change the moment anyone knew the truth about her.
Joey swallowed hard and steeled herself. She had to keep her guard up. But at the same time...
She stood to her feet, suddenly becoming aware of a sign down at the end of the street. UFO CENTER, it said. She walked almost in a daze toward the setting sun.
That place held answers for her. She passed the Crashdown Cafe without a second glance.
Max watched the busy waitresses buzz around the cafe, wishing his favorite waitress would come downstairs and make an appearance. Plenty of people around to run interference for their urges. And plenty of memories that stirred up those urges. As usual, Max was at war with himself.
At least he was too tired and sore from work at the constuction site to even think about running upstairs after her. His thigh muscles ached from squatting so much and his back was still cramping occasionally from the effects of the heavy lifting. But after a shower and a nap, he felt pretty much ready to take on the world.
“So,” Alex interrupted his thoughts with a grin. “What‘s the countdown now, chief, or do you need a calculator?”
Max smiled briefly. Like the date of the wedding wasn‘t tattooed over his heart. “Eight and a half days, or one hundred, eight-seven hours.”
Alex raised his eyebrows in a not-so-surprised grin. “Think you’ll make it?”
Max chuckled, but stopped as he saw a very tense Michael heading from out of the kitchen. There was a fierceness in his eyes that had Max on his feet by the time he got to the table. He only had a second to wonder before Michael spoke. “You better get upstairs- NOW!”
Max’s jaw dropped open just a little, but he didn’t waste time asking questions. Something was wrong with Liz. He brushed by Michael and almost ran through the swinging door. As he glanced up, he saw Liz. She was seated up on the first flight of stairs from their apartment, eyes wide and unfocused. He turned the corner and bounded up to kneel in front of her, ignoring the protest of his sore muscles. He rested his hands on her knees and tried to make eye contact with her. “Liz, what happened?” Now that he was close, he could almost feel the cold waves of fear and denial that held her emotions in check. She finally looked into his eyes, but shook her head rapidly. “It’s your Mom, isn’t it,” he said without hesitation. “What did she say?”
Liz looked off past him again, biting her lip. He saw a few tears dart into her eyes and the feeling of helplessness and anger that took over forced him to act. “This isn’t working, Liz,” he whispered, then glanced up the stairs. He was going to talk to Mrs. Parker, try and convince her of his good intentions. “Did she threaten to turn me in?”
“No, thank god,” Liz negated his statement eyes weakly. “She just... said you were dangerous.”
Max shook his head. “Liz, I have to talk to her,” Max held her hands and her eyes with his own. “Whatever she’s thinking... it’s not good.” Liz buried her head in her hands. “I know, I know,” Max whispered as he reached a hand out and caressed her hair. “But I have to do it. I’ll be right back.”
Liz looked up at him as he stood. He waited, but she only grasped his hand tightly. Michael appeared at the bottom of the stairs and Max met his eyes briefly. He would take care of Liz. Max nodded and took off up the stairs.
He had to focus. This talk could be the unraveling or the salvation of their dreams. If only he could figure out how to lay Mrs. Parker’s fears to rest. He knocked on the door. He heard a rustling and then the door opened to reveal a suddenly flustered Mrs. Parker. She opened her mouth to say something and then clamped it shut.
“Mrs. Parker,” Max jumped in before she could shut the door. “Can I come in?”
She stared at him with an odd expression. After a minute, Max swallowed nervously. Something was going on in her mind as they stood there. She was wrestling with herself, maybe over her fear of him? He tried to look as non-threatening as possible as he waited.
Finally, she smiled briefly and stepped back into the apartment. “Come in, Max. I think you already know that Liz is downstairs, am I correct?”
“Yes, ma’am. I really wanted to speak with you.” She halted in her progress to the couch, turning to stare at him. Max stopped as well, flustered by her reaction. What was she thinking? He suddenly realized that she was eyeing the hallway as if trying to gauge how quickly she could get there.
Max felt a dull thud in his stomach. She was scared of him.
“Really,” Mrs. Parker said in a high-pitched voice, one hand easing its way up her neck. “What about? Is there some problem with the wedding plans? We gave Liz free reign so there shouldn’t be any questions, really.”
Max moved slowly to sit down in a chair, trying to make her realize his intents were good. “No, it’s about me. About your problems with me.”
“You, Max,” she tittered. “I don’t have any problems with you, Max. There’s nothing to talk about.”
Then her eyes were almost pleading with him, but Max was completely confused as to what she wanted him to do. “Mrs. Parker, Liz has tried to tell you what happened to her-”
“No,” she jumped forward and reached out toward him, effectively shutting him down for almost another full minute. In the silence, she turned away and paced across the room.
Max just watched her, trying to figure out what to say next. There were underlying meanings in everything she was saying and doing, but he was at a loss to know what they were. So he just kept quiet and watched her.
She finally turned back to him. “Max, you should leave before you say something you’ll regret,” her eyes were full of meaning, but Max still couldn’t understand.
He rose to his feet, trying to comply with her wishes. But with his heart in his throat, he just knew he had to try again. “Mrs. Parker, I love Liz and I’d do anything for her-”
“I know that Max,” Mrs. Parker‘s face had gone completely emotionless, something Max knew wasn’t a good sign. “I just don’t think you two are... compatible. Surely you can see that you aren‘t.”
“No, what I see is that Liz loves me, no matter who I am.”
Nancy cut him off with an irritated gesture. “Max, I am trying to help you out here. Liz is off limits to you. If you push this...”
Max‘s mouth was suddenly dry, his throat ached. He swallowed and cast his eyes around the room for the correct response to that. It was a threat. She had just threatened him. “Mrs. Parker, you’ve known me since I was a child. Have I ever given you any reason to think that I might be dangerous to Liz?”
She blinked. “No, Max, to be fair, you haven’t. But- what you are is dangerous to Liz.”
Max suddenly had to blink several times to clear his eyes. She thought of him as a thing now. She had called him a “what”, not a “who”. He took a step backwards. As his bravado failed him, she suddenly seemed energized.
“Let’s define our terms here,” she offered in a clipped voice. “What exactly do you call yourself?”
Max just stared at her for a moment. Apparently the decision she had been wrestling over was now made, and not in his favor.
“I call myself Max,” he stumbled backwards towards the door, his words sounding hoarse even to his own ears.
Mrs. Parker walked closer, even though she was trembling with what he recognized as fear. “Where are you from, Max? Where is your home?”
It was a nightmare, plain and simple. He blinked back tears again, forcing himself to continue talking until there was no hope left. “Roswell is my home. I don’t know anything else but Roswell. And Liz. Liz is my life. Can’t you understand that?”
Her eyes narrowed. In the silence that followed, Max let her read everything she could from his face, hoping that somehow she could see the humanness there. “What is your greatest fear, Max,” she said in a low voice, her eyes never leaving his face.
Without hesitating, he answered her. “Losing Liz.”
With sudden tears, she raised her eyebrows at his answer. “That’s mine, too.”
They stared at each other for another moment. Did she understand him after all?
“She’s my baby girl,” Mrs. Parker continued. “And I’ll do anything to keep her safe.”
Another thud in his stomach. He was beginning to feel sick. He stepped forward, desperation showing on his face. “Please don’t do anything you’ll regret, Mrs. Parker. You don’t understand what will happen if you tell someone-”
Mrs. Parker backed away from him, effectively cutting him off as her face instantly transformed into terror. “Jeff,” she called loudly.
Max was stunned. She was scared of him, honestly scared. He shook his head. She’d misunderstood him. He’d meant what would happen to him, to Liz and Michael and Isabel, not what he‘d do to her. “No, wait-”
“JEFF,” she called and backed down the hallway. Max took a step toward her, then stopped.
“Honey, what is it?” As Mr. Parker’s voice came from the back room, Max was galvanized into action. He cast one more look in her direction and fled. Liz had been right. He had just made things worse.
“Jennifer, all you have to do is give the drawer a shimmy and a shake before you hit the button,” Liz explained with a breathless demonstration. She had to get back in the back before Max was done.
“I know, I know, but my shimmy-shake thing doesn’t work half the time. I‘m sorry. I have wider hips than you do.” Jennifer’s earnest face made Liz feel bad for being impatient. “Hey, it‘s no big deal. I’ll see you later.” As she headed for the back room, Michael’s face suddenly appeared in the window.
*Max just left. He wouldn‘t talk.*
Michael’s feelings communicated all the panic and confusion brought on by Max’s abrupt appearance and disappearance that his words didn’t say. She pushed through the door and stood silently in front of Michael. They looked at each other and then looked away.
Their feelings and thoughts were just echoes of the other’s.
Something bad had happened, something that changed everything.
|Part 4 | Index | Part 6|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|