|"Who I Am When I Am With You"|
Disclaimer: I do not own Roswell or any of it's characters and i am not affiliated with them in any other way.|
Summary: Maria returns after 10 years away from roswell.
Authors Note: inspired by the quote: "I love you not for what you are but for what I am when I am with you"~ Roy Croft
|I had met my match in Michael Guerin, stupid and insensitive, but incredibly sweet and sexy, Michael Guerin. For months on end we
fought, kissed, loved, then everything changed. The day Michael said Isabel was his destiny, my world flipped back right side up. I didnít want to believe it, couldnít believe it, but every time I saw Michael holding Isabelís hand or whispering in her ear, I was reminded of the truth and of something so perfect, it couldnít happen in such an imperfect world.|
High school had sucked, well my junior year at least, because every day I was faced with another icy look, and the soft sweet ones, now awarded to Isabel. It wasnít fair, but hadnít her mother always told her nothing in life was fair. Hadnít she learned from everything sheíd been through, nothing was ever fair.
He had told me that it couldnít be, that the only one for him was Isabel. He had left me in tears alone and angry. We havenít talked since. I cut myself off from the group, out of the world of tabasco sauce and futile hunts, out of the world of aliens. Liz and Alex had tried to stay with them, but it became too hard since they always seemed to be fourth and fifth wheels.
When I was with him, Michael had come to school more often. Junior year he started out good, for Izzyís sake I guess. But as the year continued he came less and less. Senior year he dropped out all together. I never understood why he left, but he just never showed up anymore. After senior year I never saw him again.
Not until right now, the moment I walked into the Crashdown Cafť I could tell he was there. Amazing how some things never change. Now ten years later I was faced with the part of my life I never wanted to remember but couldnít bear to forget.
I had come back to Roswell after almost eight years away. I left to go to college, but after failing a few classes and a few relationships, I just gave up and moved to New York City. For three years I worked as an exotic dancer at some chintzy menís club to make ends meet. Yeah I know it doesnít sound like me at all, but stranger things have happened. At the moment I actually had two jobs, one decent, a bar waitress in an expensive hotel, one not so decent, a waitress at some stupid bar.
I had thought of returning to Roswell many times before, but the fact that Michael was there turned me away. I had been scared for my mother, but after she had married again I couldnít go back. Even though I knew my father was never going to return I couldnít think of my mother with another man, especially not Jim Valenti. Now she was dead. Yeah what a happy reason to return. I wondered why I even came, but I knew. I knew I couldnít let her die without me saying goodbye, and I wanted to see Michael whether I admitted it or not.
She had died suddenly. Forty five was too young, but she was gone. I didnít quite know how she had died, I didnít want to know. All I knew was there had been an accident and she had died on the spot.
Now I was in the Crashdown, looking around, staring at everything, trying to soak it in. But nothing had change. Just like Roswell, nothing ever changed. The tables, the napkins, the uniform, hey probably the salt and pepper were still coming from the same box she had used when she worked there.
Nothing had changed, Michael and Max were still sitting at the same booth I had last seen them at. The day I left I went by the Crashdown, wanting to see Michael one more time, but when I reached the door I couldnít open it, my feet stuck to the ground and my arm tensed up so tight I couldnít move an inch. I couldnít even look through the window, I might have stayed.
Michael looked up. ĎOh my god,í I thought as his eyes met mine. My heart skipped a beat. I couldnít take my eyes away from him. ĎKeep cool, donít look at him,í I kept telling myself, but I was powerless to stop what he did to me. He could make me forget everything I ever knew, he could make me want to leave everything, just to be with him.
I saw Michael rise from the booth and Max turned around to see what had captivated his friend. "Maria, is that you?" Max exclaimed.
"Yeah, itís little old me," I replied, walking toward the booth. Michael kept coming toward me. ĎWhatís he doing?í I thought. It was so unlike Michael to be polite, maybe something actually had changed. ĎNah.í
"I heard about your mother," he said, embracing her.
"How could you not? This is like the smallest town in the west, news travels fast.
"You all right?" he actually sounded concerned for her.
"I think so," I replied. I actually didnít know how I felt. I hadnít seen my mother in eight years. Well actually I had seen her once, she had come to visit me, but other than that I had only talked to her. We had talked once a month, but it hadnít been enough. But life was full of regrets, I couldnít let them nag at me, or I would have been dead years ago.
"So where you staying?" Max asked.
"I was going to stay at the Parkers," I replied, "Liz was going to come back. But she couldnít." I saw a smile start to form on Maxís face but quickly fade as I finished my sentence.
"The Parkers are out of town," Max said.
"Oh," I replied. "Then I guess Iím out of a home."
"You could stay with me," Michael suggested.
"With you?" I said, not sure I had heard him right. After all this time I still had feelings for him. At least I could admit that. How was I supposed to stay with him? How was she supposed to refrain from doing what she had always wanted to, and now after all her experiences, had the courage to initiate? It wouldnít be right, something would happen. Especially in the situation she was currently in. She was vulnerable, weak.
"Yeah," he said with a knowing smirk.
"Ok. That sounds fine," I smiled back at him. The words had escaped, I hadnít meant to say them, but I couldnít stop myself. This was bound to be interesting. Maybe it was just that I could never back down to a challenge, and his offer had been sweet, especially after how he had left.
I wondered where Isabel was, whether she was there, but I didnít ask, not yet. "You still living in that dump you call an apartment?" I asked.
"Yeah, how bout you, where you liviní?" he asked. I had expected him to come back with some smart ass remark. He must be sick.
"New York City. I live in a small apartment, but itís good enough for me and Daniel." Daniel ws my cat, but he didnít need to know that. I could see jealousy reflected in his eyes. He was confusing me. I thought he would be with Isabel and when I came back he would ignore me, like he had done the two years before I left. It felt kind of good to be able to make him jealous, although it was cruel. I had been in so many bad relationships that it was nice to see someone paying positive attention to me.
"Oh," he said, "will Daniel be jealous youíre staying with your handsome ex-boyfriend?" That was a little more Michael.
"Heíll get over it. Iíll explain that Quasimodo nicely offered his apartment and I had to accept to avoid hurting his feelings." I couldnít believe that I was being like this. I guess I hadnít changed much either.
"Haha, very funny De Luca," he teased. I guess he had just been warming up before.
"Well itís not like heís going to hop into a taxi and come all the way to Roswell, New Mexico to claw you to death," I said, still enjoying his reaction to this conversation.
"Claws? What kind of person is he?" Michael almost shouted. He was still protective of me.
I gave him an innocent smile, "Danielís my cat," I declared, laughing.
"But you saidÖ" Michael stumbled. Max, who had remained silent the whole time burst into laughter. Michael and I couldnít help but follow.
"You didnít have me for one second, missy."
"Sure," I tried to say through my laughter. Finally I sat down at the table, the ice had melted and it seemed as if we had never been gone from each other. Well maybe it was a little different, we had both grown up a little, well really a lot.
Turning to Max I questioned, "What are you still doing in Roswell? I expected you and Tess and Isabel would all be living on some exotic island working at some high paying profession, trying to support Michaelís sloppy sorry ass."
Max laughed, but his expression was distant and guarded. "Yeah, well we never left. I guess weíre still hoping for the impossible."
"What about Nasedo, he still around?"
"No he died," his voice was matter-of-fact. I felt so out of the loop. Why was I even talking to them. It had all been a mistake. I looked at my watch.
"Well boys, Iíve got to get going. Iíve got a date with the funeral director."
"Lovely," Michael smiled, his smile looked sympathetic. Things had happened that I didnít know about, things he didnít want to talk about, and neither did Max. "So Iíll see you at my place later?"
I hesitated but decided it was too late to back out now. "I guess," I sighed. It would be too obvious why I backed out. I just couldnít. "Iíll be there around seven."
"All right. The door is unlocked. I have work until ten tonight. I should be home around 10:15. Just go in and make yourself at home.
He worked. Wow, life was full of surprises. I couldnít wait to be surprised again. "Thanks," I smiled at him.
"And no parties."
"Oh you know me," I replied looking at him tentatively.
"I do." Michaelís voice had become serious. What did he mean by that? I asked myself. I mean he was acting so weird, so different. This wasnít at all what I expected and I couldnít figure out if it was a good or bad change. The jury was still up.
"Ok, well Iíll see you see you later then," I said trying to act casual and I walked out the door. I took a deep breath trying to soak in all that was happening. The encounter I had just had shook me up a little, it had taken me off guard. I didnít know how I was going to stay at Michaelís. It was going to be one long weekend.
The meeting with the funeral director was exhausting and depressing and all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep for a thousand years. I wanted to forget all that was happening in my life and around my life and just not be. I didnít want to die, I just wanted to not be. Itís hard to explain.
True to his word, Michaelís door was unlocked. I let myself in. One of the neighbors walked by and saw me. She gave me a suspicious look but lucky for me didnít say anything. She probably thought I was some random girl friend.
As the door clicked into place behind me I glanced around the room that had once been so familiar to me. I could feel the memories of what had been flood over me and fill the room like ghosts. I could see Michael and me sitting on the couch, hugging one another. I could hear Isabel as she insulted Michael for being such a pig. I remembered all the times the six of us had met in the small dimly lit room to think up a plan. A shiver ran down my spine.
The apartment was messy, like it always had been, but there were small differences around. There was a bit of a female influence reflected in the new chair, well new to me, and in the hangings on the wall. Isabel, I guessed. But Isabel wouldnít have let the apartment look like this, she had always been very neat. Again I wondered where Isabel was.
I kicked off my shoes and neatly put them next to the door. Next I proceeded to pick up all the trash that had been thrown on the coffee table and around the room, I wasnít going to be living in a pig sty for four days. Even my apartment at home wasnít this bad.
First I picked up all the old cereal boxes, obviously still a staple food in Michael land. Then I cleared the wrappers of little cakes and tabasco sauce and other random food wrappers. I stacked all the magazines into a neat pile on the table. I couldnít help but notice that half of them included naked women on the covers. I put those towards the bottom so he would not be embarrassed, though it was tempting to do just the opposite.
When the living room looked like it might be decent I moved into the kitchen, carrying with me a stack of dirty dishes. There was already a good sized stack there and it looked as if he hadnít washed dishes in a month. I opened the dishwasher and obviously it had been longer judging by the smell that escaped. So I started scraping the grimy leftover food into the dish disposal. How did he live like this? I thought.
I filled the dishwasher with detergent and as many dishes as I could and turned it on. While I was waiting for the first load to finish I attacked the bedroom. I wasnít sure if he would see it as an invasion of his privacy, but I did it anyway. Maybe I was curious.
The bed was unmade, the sheets crumpled in the middle of the bed and the comforter on the hanging halfway on the floor. I gathered them up with the rest of the clothes on the floor and finding a washer, started a load of laundry. I checked the guestroom but obviously no one had been there for a while since you could actually see the floor.
When the laundry finished I decided I would take the opportunity to snoop in the form of trying to be helpful, which was what the whole cleaning thing had been about anyway. I opened his dresser drawers to put away his clothing. His style hadnít changed much. When I opened his closet to hang up his suit, yes, Michael had a suit, surprising I know falling hangers and clothing attacked me. I picked them up and put them away. Michaelís scent was imbedded in the clothing, the scent of chocolate and Tabasco sauce and something distinctlyÖ Michael, a smell that could not be described. It was over powering.
When everything was finished I was exhausted. I went into the bathroom that I had also scrubbed till it shined and turned on the shower. After all the dishes and laundry I had done I did not expect the water to be hot. So when I stepped underneath and it burned me I didnít mind, rather enjoying the heat.
I guess I hadnít looked at my watch cause moments later I heard the door to the apartment open and Michael screaming. "De Luca, what the hell?" I guess he was surprised. It wasnít quite the reaction I had been looking for but it was close enough.
He must not have heard the water running because the door to the bathroom opened and Michael followed it. "Oh my God," he stammered. "Sorry, Iím sorry." He must have seen my clothes on the floor.
"Itís all right, everyone takes showers," I said. "Well at least all humans do. But do me a favor and leave. Iíll be out in a minute." He turned but his feet must have been glued to the floor or something because it took two times repeating myself before he turned and walked out, he just stayed there, I could see him through the glass, he just stood there.
After he left I stepped onto the mat, forgetting this was supposed to be my time to relax and forget everything. I looked at myself in the mirror. I thought I still looked pretty, but time and hardships had taken their toll, I looked warn out and thin, too thin. I found a towel and dried my hair a bit, then I wrapped it around me and stepped into the living room, stupid me had forgotten to bring them to the bathroom, but I didnít realize Michael would be home.
"Excuse me," Michael said when he looked up from his cereal bowl. "Were you planning on clothes or is this your house now?" I blushed a bit.
"UmÖ I just forgot to bring them with me."
"You mean, you donít have clothes?" I could see him trying to hold back a smile, but it reflected in his eyes, even if it didnít show on his face.
"No, silly, why would I do that?" I teased, he just sat back on the coach. I could see him looking me up and down with his eyes. They seemed to burn through the towel, I felt exposed. "So if you donít mind Iím just going to grab my suitcase and head back to the bathroom to change." From the look on his face I could see that he minded, but I just ignored him, he was male after all, even if he wasnít human.
I could feel his eyes follow me as I walked to my suitcase and back to the bathroom. As I dressed I imagined him sitting on the coach all hot and bothered over what couldíve been, what could be. He made me feel sexy, wanted. I liked the attention, but I wouldnít let attraction get the best of me again. It had happened too many times before and all it ended in was nothing.
I couldnít put my pajamas on cause they were all too risquť to wear around the house with him there. Even if I wasnít getting any, I still liked the pretty, lacy crap they sell. I settled on sweatpants, thank god I had decided to bring them, and a tank top. It was the best that could be done.
I went to face Michael. When I got into the living room I just stood there, hands on my hips, staring at him. "So you cleaned my place?" he half asked, half stated. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. You werenít expecting me to live with that mess for four days?"
"You always were such a princess," he scoffed. I just made some little noise that sounded like a snort. "Why donít you sit down?" he said, so I did without taking my eyes off his face.
"Sorry for the awkward situation before," I apologized. This time he blushed. He mumbled something but I didnít hear it. Instead of asking him what he said I just let it go. We sat in silence for a few minutes but not being one who can take silence for too long I asked him the question I had been dying to know the answer to, but been afraid to ask.
"So," I started, he looked into my eyes. He was making this harder then it should be. I looked away, "Whereís Isabel?" Immediately his face went white as a sheet. He looked sick. "She didnít die, did she?" I asked tentatively, regretting it the moment I said it.
"No, she didnít die," he replied. "She left."
"Thatís it, she left. When?"
"Yeah, she left about a month or so ago." he sighed. "She couldnít stand Roswell anymore. I think in truth she couldnít stand me anymore." I didnít say anything, hoping he would continue without me asking.
He just sat there for a moment and I thought I might have to speak up, but eventually he spoke. "She needed to see more of the world. She needed to live this life, before we could leave for another.
"Iím confusing you arenít I?" he inquired.
"No, not really," I understood what he was saying. "But why donít you start from the beginning."
"When you and Alex and Liz left the group, Izzy was devastated. She had come to realize that since we were living on earth, we might as well live human lives."
"That doesnít sound like Isabel to me."
"I know, but I think she felt the loss of Alex very deeply." I looked at him to see if the same went for Michael, well not the loss of Alex. "We kept up a good front to try to keep you guys away and to try to keep Nasedo happy. I was afraid of what Nasedo might do if we didnít obey the rules.
"Isabel moved in with me after high school and Max moved in with Tess and Nasedo. None of went to college. Then when you and Liz and Alex left Roswell Izzy fell into a sort of depression. Then when Nasedo died two years later everything fell apart." I could see this was hard for him so I got up from the chair and went to sit next to him on the couch.
"Go on," I encouraged him.
"Right before Nasedo died he had found a way to get us home. But the night we were supposed to leave, Isabel left. She just took off in the middle of the night."
"And you didnít stop her?" I said, not knowing what kind of answer I really wanted from him.
"No, I let her go. Truth was, I knew she couldnít go home, earth had meant too much to her, to all of us. The night she left she told me she had to go, that she would be back someday, but this was something she had to do."
"And you donít know where she went?" I was desperately trying to find out what I wanted to know, not necessarily what he wanted to tell me.
"No, she never told me. And I never asked. It was her secret, though she had many secrets from me. She hid too much from me. Isabel changed the moment she let Alex out of her life, she began to stay detached, even from Max and me. I knew if I didnít let her go something bad would happen."
I just sat there in silence, knowing I should feel something, but the only thing I felt was a sharp pain in my chest, right where they tell you your heart is. I wished that every word that had just been spoken had been from him to me. But some wishes never come true, or do they?
"Often I think about her and where she is. But somehow I know sheís all right, that sheís better off without me. I just got in the way. Many times I thought about leaving too, slipping away unheard, unseen. I would just leave without a trace so that she wouldnít have to clean up after me, or worry whether I was going to make it to work on time, or stay up to all hours waiting for me to come home. No twenty-six-year-old girl should have to do that. It wasnít right.
"I would lie awake at night, plotting my departure. I thought about where I would go, what I would do. But every daydream just ended in the same place every time." I wasnít sure if I wanted to know what he was going to say next, fear that they ended with Isabel ripped through my body, but the thought that it might have been me, that just scared me even more. And then he said it, the two words that changed my whole life. The two words that scared me more than I had ever been before, and filled me with more joy than I ever knew I could feel. "With you."
The whole time he had been speaking I had been staring down at my hands. Now I looked up. He was staring at me, passion in his eyes. The same passion I had seen a thousand times before, but this time it was a thousand times stronger. He had me trapped in his eyes, like a deer to headlights. No, thatís such a clichť but it totally described what I felt like. It was like he was using some power, some force to keep my head from turning the other way. I couldnít do anything but stare. He leaned in and I thought he might kiss me, he probably was going to and I wouldnít have objected, but so fast it seemed as if kissing wasnít a possibility he laid back on the couch again.
"With me?" I suggested, not sure whether I had just made it up, made the whole conversation up.
"Yes, I dreamt about going to you, finding you. Every night since the day you stepped out of Roswell; in fact since the day you stepped from our circle and told the group you couldnít do it anymore, that you couldnít pretend anymore; I have hoped, almost prayed, that you would return, that it had all been a mistake, that you would realize that you and me were meant to be."
I didnít know what to do, I should have been flattered, I was flattered, but I was also scared. What did he want me to do about it? Why did he have to tell me? I would have been fine with the fact that he never thought of me, not like I thought of him every day of my life. It would have been fine if he never played the what if game; what if she had stayed? what if I had never been told about destiny?; like I did for fun now. I would have been fineÖbut I knew I wouldnít.
It was comforting to hear that he too was put through the agony of regret and lost hope. But the fact that he had been in pain all these years, longing to be with me, just made me ache for him, it made me want to hold him. I wanted to hold him and tell him everything would be all right, that I was here now and would never leave again. But I couldnít, I knew it was wrong. He couldnít have changed that much that he would let me in, and not push me out again. At least I was hoping so, cause to tell the truth, I think I just couldnít handle Michael, he had to handle you. And if he didnít want to, nothing worked.
I was still uncomfortable, sitting there on the edge of the couch, Michael laying against the back his eyes closed, his chest rising and falling with each breath. He looked like he was asleep.
After all this went through my head, which took approximately half a minute I looked at him, "Michael are you sleeping?" I asked.
"MmmmÖno, just resting my eyes."
"Michael I do know weíre meant to be, but not like this. We were meant to be in another time, another place. We donít belong here, we donít belong anywhere. Never in such an imperfect world could such a thing as us exist. Maybe we werenít meant to be. Maybe itís all an illusion."
"Maybe you're right."
Maybe I was right. All I wanted was to push him away, make him forget that we were destiny. True destiny. I didnít really want to push him away, I had to. He was bad for me, he had been the one who had caused all the pain, all the heartache, most of the problems I had experienced. He wore me down.
"Maybe you're right," he repeated. "I donít deserve you any way."
"What makes you say that?"
"Maria you deserve a knight in shining armor, a white horse, a ride into the sunset." He was angering me, ten years later and he still made my blood boil. He still didnít believe that all she wanted, all she needed, was right there in front of her. he was enough. Who cared what she deserved?
"How do you know what I deserve?" I snapped. "Tell me if youíre so smart. Why do I deserve anymore than I need, why do I deserve anything less than the best?" I was trying to imply with my words that he was enough, but either Michael still didnít understand or chose to ignore it.
"I once heard you describe your dream guy. Thatís what you deserve," Michaelís voice sounded distraught. "It wasnít me, not even close."
I remembered the conversation I had had with Liz almost ten years previous. "You heard that?"
"Yeah," Michael replied, "I had dropped by the Crashdown to see you, to give you something, but I was too chicken. "You described the guy you said you would one day marry. As I said it wasnít me." I saw hurt reflected in his eyes. He had thought I didnít want him.
I reached out and grabbed his hand. "Thatís far from the truth."
Liz and I had been in the back of the Crashdown discussing the dayís events. We had just been told that the aliens, out aliens, had a destiny, and those destinies did not include humans. Liz and I had always shared everything, sharing our sorrows helped us to cope.
I had been disappointed about the news, and angry that Michael would never be mine. I would never be with him again. Liz was thoroughly depressed, there was no other description. I couldnít stand to see my friend so sad. I couldnít leave her feeling so bad.
We sat and talked for hours. We caught upon all the time we lost with each other because of Czechoslovakian relations. We talked about everything.
"I used to dream about the man I would someday marry," I had said, starting a new subject, believe it or not. "I would sit up all night fabricating him, making him exactly what I wanted." Liz smiled. "He was tall and handsome with brown hair and grey eyes, like a stormy sky." I had closed my eyes, seeing a vivid picture of what I was describing.
"He would come and take me from Roswell. He would be clean-cut and strong, but gentle. He would be charming and sweet and romantic, canít forget romantic. It would all be like magic. He would be perfect."
"That was the man I dreamed would come to me."
The flashback had been as much Michaelís as it had been mine. I knew it by the look on his face. But he had been the one to end it.
"Thatís where I left," he explained. "I couldnít take your voice, your smell, you, anymore. You had too much power over me, each word you spoke stabbed at me, like each word was a pin poking my heart."
I smiled. "What is it really that funny to hear I actually had feelings, have feelings?"
"No," I laughed. Breathing deeply I continued. "Michael you missed the most important part, you didnít hear what I was saying."
"I heard all I needed to. I wasnít good enough for you, and I never will be."
"No," I said. I realized I hadnít yet let go of his hand. I grasped it tighter, so as to share with him the rest of the memory.
"Yes that was the man I dreamed would come to me," the memory repeated. "But that was just a childhood dream." I had said sadly, glancing at my feet. I had been sitting my knees to my chest, my chin on my knees. I looked back at Liz, "But when I met Michael Guerin, the dream flew away. When I let him kiss me, let him touch me, let him into my life, the idea of "perfect" was erased from my mind. He is perfect. But heís not mine."
"I know what you mean," Liz cried in sympathy. "I had a vision too, but now there is only Max."
"Come on, Liz. Max IS the perfect dream guy." And the dream faded with the laughter of two lonely girls.
"Youíre my knight in shining armor, Michael Guerin. You have made my life miserable. Loving you has closed me off from ever loving anyone else. I canít love any one but you. No one. Michael donít you see." He just stared at me. His expression full of shock. I didnít even try to imagine what he was thinking at this moment, I knew that was impossible.
"Michael donít you see that you are the one I want, the one I have always wanted. I need you."
"I know, butÖ"
"But, what?" I cut him off mid sentence. "But you donít want me. You donít need me? Cause I know you do. You said so when you said you think about me every day."
He opened his mouth to speak, but I quieted him, placing my fingertip on his lips. "And donít try to tell me you donít deserve me again. I know what I want. You are the best thing for me, the only thing for me. And I know how you act, I know you Michael. I learned from the start how distant you can be, I know how cold you are and I know that you may leave. But I also know that if I go any longer with out you I will crumble. I need you in my life.
|Index | Part 1a|
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours|